Friday, September 30, 2011

{this moment} Poppy

A Friday ritual. A single photo capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.
A surprise visit from Poppy.

Inspired by SouleMama.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Word on the Street

Word on the Street is an annual event which brings together all sorts of different organizations having to do with literature, from publishers to authors to bookstores to local theatre companies.  I believe this was our fourth or fifth time going.  It's a fun event, particularly for bibliophiles like us.  

There is a section of the festival called KidStreet which focuses on children's programing and exhibitors that are devoted to children's literacy.  We spent a lot of our time at the festival today looking around the childrens' book tents.  Jen even caught her first glimpse of Polkaroo, the famous and somewhat illusive character from the Canadian children's TV show The Polka Dot Door.   

Of course, there was also festival food.  We got poutine.  Again.  I love poutine.  

We came home with three new books.  Two were for The Bean and one was for my cousin who did a lot of cat-sitting for us while we traveled this summer.  Todd Parr came highly recommended from a friend.  The book of his we purchased, The Mommy Book, has bright bold illustrations and talks about some of the ways mommies are different (e.g. "Some mommies go fishing/  Some mommies go shopping") and some of the ways mommies are the same ("All mommies love to kiss and hug you").  I thought it was cute, particularly for a boy who has two moms!  The other book we picked up for The Bean was a little touch and feel book called Things That Go.  He seems to enjoy other similar books by DK (the publisher) and it was only $3, so it came home with us.  Of course, there were tons of other excellent looking books there and we could have easily come home with bags full of them, but instead I took photos of them, and will add them to the Amazon wishlist.  The holidays are coming up, and some books are sure to make their way under the tree.

Not sure what we'll be up to next weekend, but we've sure been enjoying all the street festivals going on here over the past month!  Hope you all had a great weekend too. 

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Montessori Baby

The school that I teach with started out years ago as a Montessori Casa.  Although it is no longer a Montessori school it has held on to many of the Montessori elements over the years, particularly in the kindergarten program, which is the level I teach.  I have had the good fortune of teaching with many experienced women who have shared their knowledge of Montessori with me. 

We did not set out to raise The Bean using a Montessori approach, but I find we have adopted many Montessori ideas into the way we choose his toys, set up his space, and interact with him.   

For newbies to Montessori, here are some of the basic principles: 
  • Respect for the Child -Adults must respect the child and their work.
  • The Absorbent Mind -Just by living, children learn from their environment.  The first six years are seen as extremely important in terms of learning as children absorb information so readily during this period.
  • Sensitive Periods -There are periods where children are can learn specific skills more easily because of their readiness for them.
  • The Prepared Environment -Children learn best in an environment is prepared in a way that allows them to do thing for themselves.  Learning materials and experiences are made available in an aesthetically pleasing and orderly format.
  • Autoeducation -Given access to a prepared environment, children have freedom to explore and thereby educate themselves.
 Here are some examples of things we have done:
  • We have tried to make his environment aesthetically pleasing.  The colours in his room are warm, without being overwhelming.  He has artwork on his walls.  His floor is covered with a cotton rag-rug and a lambskin rug which he loves to lie on. 
  • We have the ever-so-popular Ikea Expedit shelves in the nursery.  Once The Bean started moving around we took off the baskets we were using for storage on the lower shelves and placed a few age-appropriate toys in each section.  He is able to see what is there and choose what he wants to play with.  The selection is varied, but also limited as to not overwhelm him. 
  • I have always been fond of natural materials.  I find them beautiful and they hold a warmth that plastic just doesn't.  Don't get me wrong, The Bean still has his fair share of plastic toys that light up and blast music at him (which he loves), but he also has lovely toys made of natural materials like wooden cars and stacking toys, fabric stuffies, and wool pompoms (which he also loves).  
  • We've also given him quite a few everyday objects to explore.  He currently has a hinged box which he can open and which holds items like a pasta measurer, a vegetable brush, a wooden pestle, and a tea strainer.  He plays with these as much as many of his other toys. I really look forward to setting up Practical Life exercises for him as he gets older.  
  • He sort of forced us into this one by refusing to bottle-feed, but from time to time he drinks water out of a ceramic espresso mug or a glass shot glass.  They are the right size for him and although messy, we do encourage him to hold them himself and try to drink from them. 
  • We try to model things for him, but also let him explore on his own.  Of course we try to prevent him from bashing his head off of things, but we also try not to do everything for him just because it might be safer or easier (either for him or for us). 
I look forward to continuing to prepare a nurturing environment for The Bean in which he is able to grow and develop with our love and support.

Friday, September 23, 2011

{this moment] Smiles

A Friday ritual. A single photo capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.
One of the daily pictures we send to Allison at work

Inspired by SouleMama.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Thankful Thursday - Giving and Receiving

I didn't see the old man get struck by the car.

It must have happened just before I turned the corner.  He was lying on his side, the lower half of his legs in a puddle. Drivers gave a wide berth as they moved by.

My "quick" Monday afternoon trip to Costco already hadn't gone as planned. I chose the slowest checkout line in Costco history and The Bean decided he would cry the entire time we were waiting.  A manager who had been called over to authorize something felt so bad about his crying that she loaded all of my stuff up on to the belt, ducked over to the other side to help pack it in again, and was also egging her co-workers on to hurry it up and get me through.

I don't know if she felt bad for me, The Bean, or the customers around us.

When I went into the store there was a drizzle of rain.  By the time I was leaving it had turned into a steady stream of heavy drops.  In a mad dash I got The Bean to the car and buckled into his seat without him getting too wet. I didn't stay as dry but figured I would feel all the cozier when I got home and into some flannel and my slippers.

Then on the drive back home I turned a corner and discovered a 70 or 80 year-old man lying on the side of the road bleeding.

A woman and her husband had already jumped out of their car.  The woman was propping the injured man so his upper body was off of the wet ground and her husband was on the phone to 9-1-1.  As I said earlier, most other vehicles were driving past.  I hesitated for a few seconds not knowing what to do. 

I had a baby in the car. 

It was the coldest day since spring and it was raining, but someone was injured and lying on the side of the road bleeding.

Both Allison's grandmother and my grandmother have taken some nasty spills lately. 

I pulled into a driveway and parked about ten feet from where the man was lying.  I got out and locked the car so I knew The Bean would be safe.  As I was running around to the trunk I yelled to the woman to ask if she needed a blanket.  She said yes.

I grabbed a blanket that we keep in the trunk and also the plastic rain cover for The Bean's stroller and went over to cover the injured man with them.  The thing I remember most is seeing his feet in his leather dress shoes lying in the big puddle of water. And his arm covered in blood. 

In between trips back to the car to check on The Bean I took turns helping to prop the man up.  Emergency vehicles were on their way.  A firetruck was first to respond and when the firewoman jumped down and started tending to the man the other family and I left.

I must admit I hesitated a minute about leaving the rain cover.  Those things can be expensive.  But he still needed it, so I got in the car and started home.  There wasn't much more I could do to help and The Bean was way overdue for his nap.

I was a little reluctant to tell Allison about leaving the blanket and cover, but I knew that given the circumstances she wouldn't be upset.

That same afternoon, a former class parent dropped by Allison's classroom to give her two bags of clothes that her son has outgrown.  I don't know if it's karma, but not having to go out and buy The Bean as much will more than make up for the expense of a new blanket and cover.

The Bean's Hand-Me-Down Clothes
I am thankful that we live somewhere with an effective emergency response system, with universal healthcare for all residents, and where people are willing to help each other in many different ways.

Monday, September 19, 2011

On The Bookshelf: Farm Books

So, it has been a long time since I did an "On the Bookshelf" update.  I know I said I was thinking about making it into a monthly feature, but then I kind of dropped the ball on that.  Weekly updates I can more or less keep up on, but monthly are harder to remember for whatever reason.

Anyway, rather than showing you what was actually on the bookshelf this past week, I decided to pull a few books about farms that we've been reading to The Bean over the past little bit.

Farm, At the Farm and Biscuit Visits the Petting Zoo are all touch and feel books.  I like the photos in Farm, and the Biscuit book has cute illustrations, whereas At the Farm is kinda' "meh" if you know what I mean.   The Bean's attention span for stories has increased and he'll happily sit on our laps and look at a book, try flipping the pages, chewing on it, and with encouragement touching the "touch and feel" pictures.  The Biscuit book was probably my favorite of the three this time around because of the two I liked, it has a story line whereas the other is just photos with one word descriptions. 

On the Farm was kind of a fun book, because although not touch a feel, it has sturdy fold-out flap so it is more interactive.  It also does a count down from five to one, which might be interesting for an older child.  The last page has a mirror when you lift the flap and The Bean smiled at himself in it when we were looking at the book.  Cute!  

Everywhere a Moo, Moo is more or less the song Old MacDonald with photo images.  Not bad, but not a favourite either.  

Tractor is a DK book, with nice photographs of different tractors and descriptions of some of the jobs they do.  I can see it becoming quite popular if The Bean ever goes through a "vehicles" phase, as many toddler boys seem to do.  

The New Baby Calf has illustrations by Barbara Reid who uses plasticine to create pictures, which is kinda amazing when you think about it.  The story is about a baby calf growing up and also about some of the things the Mama cow does to take care of him.  It has a nice cadence to it and The Bean seems to enjoy listening to it being read aloud.  

We have a couple other farm-themed baby books which I forgot to include in this post, how about you, do you have any good farm books that your kids enjoy?  

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Queen West Art Fest

Yesterday Jen, The Bean and I hit up another local art festival, The Queen West Art Fest.  It's an artsy neighbourhood with lots of small galleries spread around and there were events going on all over, but we stuck to the tents set up in Trinity Bellwoods Park.    

It wasn't too dissimilar from the arts festival last weekend.  There were many of the same vendors, but we noticed that this festival seemed to be more art-specific, whereas last week there were more vendors with handmade soaps and specialty foods and the like.   

The tents here were a little more spread out and it was easier to walk around without bumping into people.  We were also able to spend some time window shopping along Queen West, which was nice.  We like the neighbourhood but don't get down there too often.

We got some poutine to snack on when we got there and boy, was it good!  For non-Canadians reading, if you ever come to Canada it's worth seeking out this dish.  French fries covered with cheese curds and turkey gravy.  Best. Food. Ever.  Seriously, if the Republican Party, antiquated gay-marriage laws and health care costs didn't make you want to move to Canada already, poutine will.  We even let The Bean have a taste.  He seemed to enjoy it, but he was also munching on sticks and leaves...

I didn't take many photos of the artists' tents.  I always worry that if I do they'll get upset.  I suppose I could ask, but I didn't this time.  Anyway, here's a shot of a tent that had some neat poster type paintings.  The final shot is of The Bean, because it was just too cute not to include. 

 It was a gorgeous day and a fun afternoon spent together.  How did you spend your weekend?

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Using What You Have

In the final weeks before Allison went back to school we made a goal of cleaning out the closet in The Bean's room.  It was filled with a mish-mash of stuff ranging from crafting supplies to 15-year-old magazines to winter gear for The Bean.  It was overflowing, unorganized, and driving me crazy.

We tackled the closet like champs.  Then we did the hall closet.  Then the bedroom closet.  Then the kitchen.  And, even with Allison back at work I'm still looking everyday for things to get rid of, find better homes for, or make more useful.  I'm on a bender and I love it!  Maybe my nesting instinct was on a timed delay.

One day last week our cousin stopped by to bring me some files for my computer and when he walked in the door he had a huge smile on his face and a plastic bag in his hand.  He had been at a farmer's market earlier in the day and was chomping at the bit to give us a gift that he picked up there.

Enter conflicting emotions!

But first, a little back story.  Allison and I are both tea lovers.

Our Tea Collection - the top shelf is two deep at the end.
One Christmas my grandma gave me a ceramic teapot she'd had since she was a teen.  One time our brother-in-law gave Allison a birthday present of a cast-iron teapot. My brother gave us one that he picked up while living in Hawaii.

Suddenly we had a tea pot collection.

I suspect tea pots became a go-to gift when people didn't know what else to buy for us.  As of this week, I'd guess we have ten teapots stashed away in our kitchen.

So, now back to cousin Paul.  He was so excited about his find that he didn't even wrap it, and that's saying something for a gift coming from him!  He handed it over to me, I dug in, and this is what I pulled out.

It's a Pineapple!
It's so cute and he was so excited. Now, my first thought was "But we're trying to get rid of stuff, not get more."

I immediately felt guilty for thinking it.

So, I made a decision.

This is a teapot I will use.

It's going to be one more dish to wash and it might get a little banged up with every day use, but what's the point of having it if it's just going to sit in a cupboard collecting dust.

De-cluttering is about getting rid of stuff that you don't use or don't love so I'm not going to let this gift fall into either of those doomed categories.

I've used it every day since he gave it to us.

Allison used it this morning.

And it looks so cheerful sitting on our counter.

Friday, September 16, 2011

{this moment}

A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Inspired by SouleMama.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Thankful Thursday

I'm sure there's a meme somewhere with that name already, because such an alliterative post title is sure to have been snapped up ages ago.

Anyway,  I thought I'd post a few links to things I have been thankful to have read this week.

diaper-eez gave a shout out to our cloth diapering series this week and we're stoked.  I enjoy reading Amanda's posts and think she does a bang-up job of making the company blog relevant and personal, not a giant ad for the store. If you live in Toronto, diaper-eez  is a great brick-and-mortar resource for cloth diapering.  They made me much less scared about cloth diapers when I was first learning the ins and outs.

1 In Vermillion made a post about products that they use and love.  Since Curly is older than The Bean this gives Allison and me a great resource as our guy grows.  There are some awesome looking things on there that I never even knew existed like these these Organic Pouches. Right now I'm most interested in the Green Sprouts Straw Cups because The Bean still won't take a bottle and we're not having much luck with sippy cups.

Even though Google doesn't have children, I still rely on it in times of parenting stress.  This week our little vampire decided to start biting while nursing (He drew blood!) and a quick Google search led me to pages with helpful tips on what to do about it.  For those keeping score at home, I'm trying to keep my finger very close to The Bean's mouth and as soon as I feel him open or start to bite I shove my finger in there.  Then he can either teethe on my finger or re-latch to nurse some more.  I feel bad, but I'm more reluctant to nurse now than I have been in months.

Monday, September 12, 2011

A Proud Teaching Moment

Today I was modeling a journal entry for my students.  I drew a picture of me, Jen and Oliver with an airplane up in the sky.  Underneath I wrote something along the lines of, "This summer I went on lots of trips with my family."  This was our first "journal" lesson and I wanted to the students to walk away with the idea that their description of their summer activities (which we were scribing for them) should correspond to the their drawing. 

Before reading it to them, I had the students guess what I had written about my summer vacation.  One student said, "You and your boyfriend watched airplanes."  I said that was a good guess, and asked if there were any others. Another student put his hand up and said, "You and your husband and your baby went on a trip."  "Closer.", I told them.  A little girl pipped up, "That's not her husband, that's her baby's other mom."  (Her big brother was in my class last year, so she's a little more clued into our family setup.)  Then, another girl I have in my class shouted out, "Hey!  I have two moms too!"  I, of course, already knew this, but it made me feel so happy that 1) She will have a teacher this year whose family reflects her own and 2) That she was not at all hesitant to share the fact that she has two moms with the class. 

It took me a while before I came out at work.  I was extremely concerned about what my co-workers and the parents would think and/or say.  I worried I would lose my job.  Fortunately I have run into nothing but positivity and support.  I feel very, very lucky for this every day.  I am glad that I am now comfortable talking about my family at work.  Playing the pronoun game and keeping my home life completely private was always something I felt uneasy about.  I can't imagine how difficult I would have found it trying to keep things quiet during the pregnancy and especially now that The Bean is here. 

The little girl's comment today made me so glad that I am out and also hopeful that one day The Bean will be confident talking about his family to his classmates, even if it's not the same as theirs.  

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Eight Months Old!

Today The Bean is eight months old!

It feels like so much has happened in the past month.  Looking back at our seven month update, I keep thinking, "That was only a month ago?!"

-The Bean has a tooth!  After months of teething, it finally popped through about a week ago.  It's the bottom right front tooth.  It's the most adorable tooth I have ever seen.  That said, it is still kind of hard to see unless The Bean is eating or yawning.  I'll try to get a picture, but I think it might be hard to.  His bottom left tooth is very close to coming through now.  I expect it will be here by the end of the week.

-More and more of the 3-6 month clothes are getting packed up and more and more of the 6-12 month stuff is starting to fit.  We had SO many tiny clothes, I'm glad he got to wear them for a while, at the same time, I love being able to put him into new outfits.  He's got some really cute stuff for the fall and winter.  (Wool sweaters!  Wool hats!  Yay for wooly baby goodness!)

-While still a good eater, The Bean is definitely starting to show some preferences in terms of the food he is eating.  Meat is not so much of a favourite, but fruits and sweet veggies are a big hit.  He's recently tried broccoli, cauliflower, kiwi, melon, parsnip and pumpkin.  We've also started blending some foods together and giving him foods that have some herbs and spices. 

-I hope I'm not jinxing myself here, but his sleep habits have gotten so much better.  He's now going down between 5:30 and 6:30pm most evenings, sleeping until 3:00 or 4:00am and then getting up for the day between 6:00 and 7:00am.  I was heartbroken my first day back to work when he didn't wake up until I was walking out the door.  It's really, really hard being away from him most of his waking hours.  Thankfully Jen is the best mom and wife ever and sends me a photo of him practically every day. 

-Oh, did I mention that we had to move the crib down?  About a week after he started sleeping in his own room he learned to pull himself up.  I practically had a heart attack when we walked in there after his nap time and he was looking up at us smiling.  I think we may move it down to the lowest level soon because I'm still a little anxious when I see him peering up over the side at us.

-He is a champion crawler now.  He really moves!  Sometimes he gets going a little too fast still and will take a header into the floor, as evidenced in my "Bumps and Bruises" post.  I think he's really enjoying his new-found mobility.  The cat, not so much. 

-His favourite toys the past month have been household objects.  Mostly things from the kitchen.  Jen put together a basket for him that includes a vegetable brush, a pasta measurer, a tea ball, tupperware, the lid to a juice bottle, and some other stuff.  He seems to think these things are way more interesting that the beautiful wooden toys we've purchased for him.  Flashy light-up make-noise toys are also a big hit, but we have limited quantities of them. 

-He still isn't showing too many signs of stranger anxiety.  My best friend was visiting from out of town for a few weeks and spent a lot of time with us.  He LOVED her.  Maybe he just knows good folk when he meets them.  Come back soon A!  (I'd post a photo of them together, but I know she'd kill me.) 

-He definitely knows who we are.  Maybe it's just a coincidence, but a few weeks ago I asked him where Mom was, and he very obviously looked around for Jen and smiled when he saw her.  I was shocked.  He also seems to say, "Ma Ma Ma Ma" for me and "Mom Mom Mom" for Jen.   His other word is, "Mmmm" which he says when he likes what he's eating.  He makes other sounds too, although  at this point they seem meaningless.

It was so wonderful being able to spend time at home this summer with Jen and The Bean.  I loved being around to see all of the growth and development he's going through.  It all happens so quickly! 

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Cabbagetown Festival

Today Jen and I took The Bean to the Cabbagetown Festival.  It's an annual weekend-long festival held here in the city.  For us, the main attraction is the Arts Festival in the park.  There's also a street festival, short film festival, community garage sale and walking tours of historic homes in the area. 
A statue outside one of the many beautiful old homes in Cabbagetown.

The last time we went was two years ago when we were just starting the whole TTC process.  It was nice to be back this time with baby in tow.  The Bean seemed to enjoy looking around at everything going on from his place in the Ergo.  When he was getting tired and fussy, we faced him inwards and he napped while we walked around for a little while longer. 
Taking a break.  Of course, The Bean did not want to lie on the big blanket we brought along.   
There was a nice variety of vendors.  Paintings, some pottery, clothing for both kids and adults, other textiles, specialty foods, soaps, etc.  I didn't take a lot of photos and we didn't buy anything, but we had a great time browsing.  Hopefully it's something we can make an annual tradition. 

Friday, September 9, 2011

{this moment}

A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Inspired by SouleMama.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

War on Baby Weight

The Bean and Jen at the pool. Do you love the swimcap?
 Eight months after giving birth and I'm in the position of many women.  I've lost a lot of the baby weight by not doing too much except for nursing, but I'm down to that last pesky five or ten pounds and I've plateaued.

And it's starting to weigh on me. (Sooo bad, I know.)

Yes, it took me ten months to put on the weight so I need to be patient in losing it, and I have been.  My pre-pregnancy buffet pants do fit me with a little muffin-top action, but I'm ready for my pregnancy spare tire to be dumped for good. 

So, I'm taking action in three ways. 

 1 - Eating

I've started watching what I eat and what we prepare as a family.  I've been trying to curb my cravings for sweets (and boy do I crave sweets!) by eating fruit or greek yogurt instead of chocolate.  I've also tried making sure we get very balanced dinners with a protein, a carb, and a veggie.  I'm also trying to switch to more vegetable based proteins and whole wheat carbs, both of which are difficult for me because I have IBS.

2 - Using The Bean

Throughout the day I'm trying to do body weight exercises with The Bean. I hold him and do squats.  Or lie down on my back and do "baby bench presses."  He loves the movement and it's good for me.  I'm also trying to go for lots of walks with him.  He's been a bit fussy before his naps and the fresh air really helps him fall asleep so when it's getting close to his nap time, I've been putting him in the ergo or the stroller and going for a 15-minute loop around the neighborhood.  We both are enjoying the walks in the cool air.

3 - Taking an Exercise Class

A mom friend of mine found an H2O Fit class and asked if I wanted to join her and her son.  Our first class was yesterday and it was great.  Half an hour of the class focuses on water aerobic activities for mom or dad while the babes have a grand time bouncing around in floaties.  The second half hour focuses on activities with baby and caregiver: splashing, floating, making swimming motions, and even getting dunked underwater!

After yesterday's class I was super-tired but it forced me to go to bed earlier last night so I'm also doing a fourth thing for my health which is to stop doing other things at night and go to bed!

Is anyone else struggling to lose a few pounds or start some healthier habits?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

What's In Your (Minimalist) Diaper Bag

We've been on a bit of de-cluttering kick around our place.  Over the past month I'd guess we've made at least 5 or 6 trips to Goodwill with donations and the car was pretty full each time.

I was also inspired to take a spin through our diaper bag and see if I could pare it down.  Recently, carrying the bag felt about as heavy as carrying The Bean! 

If you want to compare it to what I used to carry, you can check out my original post.  

You'll also see that a certain someone was a less cooperative model this time around.

On the Left
- blanket
- wet bag
- bottle for me
- one burp cloth (down from three!)
- one active baby chasing his travel bowl of rice puffs

In the Middle
- small backpack/pannier from Mountain Equipment Co-Op
- wallet

On the Right
- change mat with two regular disposables, one gDiaper disposable, and wipes inside
- gDiaper with one disposable insert ready to go
- foldable nylon bag

Not Pictured
I usually try to grab a jar or two of baby food + a spoon if I know we'll be heading out for awhile and I don't think the rice puffs will be enough.

When was the last time you looked through your bag or purse to see what could be left at home?

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Cloth Diaper Week -Dressing Cloth Diapered Bums

One issue with cloth diapering is finding pants that fit over the diapers.

The easiest solution is to put your baby in pants that are a size up from what s/he would typically wear.  The drawback to going up a size is that the length can be too long.  Usually nothing a cuff can't fix though.

Another solution, one that I'm itching to try, is making your own pants.  Here are a couple of patterns I have found in my internet searches.

These pants feature a rear panel that adds plenty of room for cloth diapered babies.

They're reversible!  Genius!
(photo courtesy of Sew With Sass) 
 Now I just need to get the sewing thing down!

Some work-around solutions for non-sewers like me are putting your baby in a skirt or leggings  (better options if you have a girl), purchasing some baby legwarmers like babylegs, or forgoing pants altogether and showing off their cute cloth diapered bum!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Cloth Diaper Week -Cloth Diapering on a Budget

One of the reasons many people seem to choose to cloth diaper is the reduced expense.  That said, I've had many tell me that their impression is that cloth diapering is more expensive than using disposables.   While it's true that it requires an up-front investment, the cost of using cloth drops off dramatically over the two and a half years or so your child is in diapers, not to mention the additional savings you will incur if you are able to use your cloth diapers for future siblings.* 

Many cloth diaper retailers recognize the sticker shock that the initial investment may cause and sell trial packs so you can see what works best for you before committing to any given system only to find out it doesn't work for you and/or your baby. 

Another option that may save you money is to seek out people selling handmade cloth diapers and covers on websites like Etsy.  Heck, if you're crafty you could even try making some yourself!
You could also scour websites like Craigslist or your closest Goodwill to find previously-loved cloth diapers.  (This is how we acquired the majority of our diapers.)  If you go this route, I would strongly encourage you to make sure that the diapers you buy haven't been ruined by improper washing.  It is a pain to try to get them back into wearable condition if they've got excessive detergent build up or have been put through the dryer with fabric softener. 

If you're lucky enough know a family that has used cloth for their kiddos, they may be willing to pass along their old diapers to you.  Most of the cloth diapering families I know get very excited at the prospect of someone they know trying it out!  

If saving the earth from 6000+ disposable diapers isn't enough of a reason to give cloth diapering a try, maybe saving money is!  

*If you Google something along the lines of "Cost of Diapering Baby" you'll come up with all sorts of websites comparing the costs, even going so far as to factor in things such as cost of detergent and water usage for cloth diapering your baby.  I won't get into numbers here because I know I won't be able to go into nearly as much detail as what is already available on the internet.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Cloth Diaper Week -Cloth Wipes and DIY Wipe Solution

Ingredients for our DIY Diaper Wipes
One thing that we hadn't planned on, but ended up doing and loving is using cloth wipes.  If you're already cloth diapering, it's easy to do.  You can either make or buy wipes made out of flannel, cotton, or another material.  After you've used them you just throw them into the pail with the dirty diaper. 

The wipes solution is an easy mix of a teaspoon of Dr. Bronner's baby soap mixed with about a cup water.  You can add some olive oil or essential oils (tea tree is nice because of it's antibacterial properties), but if you do this you may have to strip your diapers more often.   

We used to keep our wipes solution in a little bowl that we dipped into, but now that The Bean is crawling around and into everything, we've changed over to a squeeze bottle.  I've also heard of people using spray bottles.  I would say that whatever works for you best at any given time is the way to go.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Cloth Diaper Week -Cleaning and Caring for Your Cloth Diapers

One of the most intimidating things about using cloth diapers is the cleaning involved.

Speaking from our six months or so of experience, it is really not that bad.  You'll probably end up doing two to three extra loads of laundry a week.  But with all the extra laundry babies create, you'll probably hardly even notice.   

Here are the basics of dealing with cleaning and caring for your cloth diapers:

Wet Pail vs. Dry Pail
With a dry pail set-up diapers are placed in a covered pail. With a wet-pail you fill the pail halfway with water and cover it. My impression is that nowadays most people, like us, use dry pails.  Wet pails can get messy and there's the risk of infant drowning.  With a dry pail you can shake off the dirty diaper into the toilet, dunk it if necessary, and then throw it into the dry pail.  If the smell becomes an issue, you can buy a carbon filter or sprinkle baking soda into the bottom of the pail. (Before putting baking soda onto your diapers, check the manufacturer's instructions to make sure it's okay.)

Diaper Creams
You cannot use the typical oil or zinc-based diaper creams if you are cloth diapering.  The same ingredients that cause these creams to protect your baby's skin by keeping the moisture away from it create a barrier on your diapers causing them to repel.  There are many "alternative" diaper creams available.  The organics section of our grocery store has about half a dozen.  If you can't find one in your grocery store, many are available online. 

Although you should always check the tag for care instructions, most cloth diapers and covers can be machine washed.  The main thing is to find a detergent that is cloth diaper safe.  That means the detergent is free from oils, enzymes, brighteners and fabric softeners.  If your detergent contains any of these additives they can build up on your diapers and cause them to smell or leak.  The only way to get rid of build up is to strip* your diapers.  Which, although sometimes necessary, is a bit of a tedious job.

We use Rockin' Green detergent and have been very happy with the results. 

Our hands-down favourite way to dry our cloth diapers is to hang them in the sun.  Sunshine works like magic at getting rid of stains.  However, if it's the middle of winter and hanging your diapers outside isn't going to happen, try hanging them inside on a drying rack. (Quick tip: Pointing a fan on them will help them dry quicker because of the air movement.)  There's also always the option of running your diapers through the dryer, although this can cause them to wear out more quickly.  Make sure not to use fabric softener when drying (or washing) your diapers as fabric softener will cause the diapers to repel liquid (that counts for your towels too).

Washing Wool Covers
You need to take extra care when washing and drying wool.  The best method is to use Eucalan Woolwash and warm water. Once a month you will have to lanolize your diapers so that they maintain their water-repelling properties.  The best way to dry wool covers is by rolling them in a towel and laying them flat to dry.

Stripping becomes necessary when your diapers start to smell funky and/or lose absorbancy, even after being washed.  This usually happens because they have built up detergent, creams, or minerals from your water.

Our method for stripping is to wash the diapers as usual and then rinse them with the hottest water possible until there are NO bubbles.  We strip our diapers in the tub or sink by filling it with hot water and then topping it up with boiling water.  You could also just use the hot cycle on your washing machine.  It may take three our four rinses for your diapers to be stripped.  You'll know your efforts paid off if your diapers are clean, odour-free, and absorbent after you've stripped them.  If not, repeat the process.  
Before stripping be sure to check the washing instructions for your diapers so you don't accidentally damage them. Some diapers should not be washed in very hot water.

Okay, so maybe that seems like a bit much to process, but it's actually really easy!