Monday, February 25, 2013

Why I Cloth Diaper...

Moms from past generations will tell you that it's too much work.

New moms will tell you they think it would be gross.

But moms that I've talked to who use cloth diapers OVERWHELMINGLY tell me they love it!

And so do I.

There are three main reasons I do it (not in any order):
  1. The cost - we raise our support for my husband's job and pretty much need every penny we've had donated so far. There's no way I could afford disposable diapers. No way. They cost SO MUCH!
  2. The convenience - we live over an hour (one way) from the closest grocery store and Walmart. We don't have the option to just run out when our stash is getting low. And, shipping is hit or miss here. Some things come quick, some take forever… so I can't count on online orders of diapers either.
  3. It is not that hard… or gross - They've come a LONG way with cloth diapers. They are not hard to maintain or clean. And, the benefits for the kids are awesome… no sitting in a chemical mess, no plastic.

Alright, let's break these down.

1. The Cost:

I saw this online and thought it was pretty eye-opening.

Essentially, what this is saying is that the average start-up cost to build your CD stash is anywhere from $300 - $500, depending on which brand you choose. But, you'll spend around $1,000 PER YEAR PER CHILD on disposables.

So, the choice is $300-500 one-time (possibly having to replace a few here and there)
$3,000 (per child) if you use disposables for about 3 years (which is about how long kids are in diapers these days)

Between the two brands I use, I pretty much have it all covered. I have the Fuzzibunz AIO's and Gro-via Hybrids with snap-in inserts for now, the Gro-via shells can act as swim diapers when you leave out the liner, and I'm planning to use them as training pants, too, when the time comes. (There are options for cloth training pants, and who knows? Maybe we will be purchasing them as well… we'll see.)

2. The Convenience

While most people who will read this won't have to drive a 3 hour round trip to pick up diapers like I do, they still are super convenient. There's no late night runs, no special garbage bags for diaper disposal systems, etc. Your kid leaks at night? Put in an extra liner! You're getting low on diapers? Throw them in the wash!

They're always here. I can never run out of diapers.
(or wipes - cause I use reusable wipes, too… more on that later)

3.  They're not that gross!

Seriously, let's put this myth to rest right now.

This is such a hang up for so many people I talk to.
But, honestly, they aren't that bad.
(Not to mention the fact that your child is so much less likely to have a diaper blowout with cloth. So, while you have to clean the diaper, you don't have to scrub their clothes or throw them away!)

You just need to find a system that works for you!

Here's my story:

I was introduced to Shawna from The Styleberry Blog when I was searching for tips on how to make my own baby food for the Little Mister. Then, I read her post on CD'ing. (She's a rockstar. I totally wouldn't have been brave enough to try it without having read her posts. Head over to her blog and look it up. You won't be disappointed. She also has a lot more info on her blog about sizing, washing, etc. Check her out!)

I was intrigued. It was something I never considered doing.

So, one day after having the Little Miss, I walked into RG Natural Babies just out of curiosity. Michelle was so unbelievably helpful. She shared her story of CD'ing with me and let me know that it was ok to try it out and NOT choose to CD after all. She took me into the back of the store and had me pick a few different types of CD's off the clearance rack to try out over a couple of weeks. She told me to come back to let her know what I thought.

So, I went home with 3 different diapers: Fuzzibunz, Bum Genius, and a Gro-via.

I'd have our daughter wear them all one day, wash them the next while she was in disposables, and then try them again the next day.

I love that the Fuzzibunz fits and gets put on very similarly to a disposable diaper. I could stuff them straight out of the dryer/off the clothes line, stick them in the drawer, and then ANYONE can put them on… they seriously work like a disposable. The only differences are that there are snaps instead of velcro and you put them in a wet bag instead of a garbage can. You adjust the hidden straps to fit your baby and expand them as your baby grows.

The Gro-via's are awesome, too. I use the Gro-via shell snap closure hybrids. I was torn between these and the Fuzzibunz (my stash later would consist of half these and half Fuzzibunz). I was using the regular fleece snap in liners and it was almost impossible for our daughter to leak in them. They hold in leaks incredibly well!

They are just a little trickier than the Fuzzibunz in that you have to unsnap the soiled liner and snap in a clean one while reusing the outer shell. I rely on these diapers when we go to camp and I need to know that she will not leak. You can also add liners for more absorption. (I throw an extra Fuzzibunz liner in-between the layers of the Gro-via liner when we need more absorption or overnight.)

Not to mention, they're SO CUTE!!!

The Bum Genius were not my favorite. I chose not to buy anymore of those because when the diaper needed to be sized smaller, the liner would be very bunchy and all I could think about was how uncomfortable they must be to sit on.

*There are LOTS of other kinds. I recommend reading other blogs and going to a store where you can actually see the different varieties. One kind may work for one family while another kind is best for you!

How I make it work (or the method to my madness):

As I said before, half my stash are Fuzzibunz One Size Elites. The other half are Gro-via Hybrids.

I love them both.

I use up one kind before I use the other. While one kind is being used, the other gets washed (using Rockin' Green Soap and the occasional dash of OxiClean).

Fresh out of the dryer or off the clothes line, I stuff the Fuzzibunz and place them in the top drawer of the Little Miss' changing table.

Then I can pull them out right when I need one.

I top them with the Bummis liners (they make cleaning off a #2 diaper so easy - it literally peels off. I use the diaper to keep my hands clean while I kind of roll the poo up so I can drop it in the toilet and flush. No disposable liners to touch. Nothing to spray off. No soaking or scrubbing. Easy Peasy.)

Then, I pull out the liner and drop the whole thing right in my PlanetWise wet bag.

When it's time to wash, I dump the whole bag into the washer, run a rinse, add detergent, wash, and dry! Totally doable.

The Gro-via's are a little different in that there is nothing to stuff. The liners snap into the shell. So, at diaper changing time, I unsnap the liner, drop it in the wet bag, snap a new one it and she's good to go. One side of the liner is waterproof so my hands stay dry.

The only downfall to these is for some reason they are always a bit stinkier than my Fuzzibunz… I'm not sure why. You may not experience this, though.

The plus side, as I previously mentioned, is that they NEVER leak. It's amazing. These are wonderful for when we head to camp because I never know what our schedule will be like. It's so great to not have to worry about leaks!

I've also used the shells as swim diapers. It's super convenient to not have to buy a different kind of diaper just to go swimming.

Gro-via liner covered in a Bummis fleece liner

Gro-via liners folded and put away

The little yellow patterned thing is one of the shells folded and put away

Gro-via also has a great option for traveling. They have biosoakers which are disposable liners that you can put in the shell while traveling so you don't have to drag your soiled liners around with you. If the shell gets dirty, they are super easy to just wash in a sink and they air dry surprisingly fast!

For wipes, I use a Prince Lionheart wipe warmer with a homemade solution. Typically it is boiled water, tea tree oil, lavender essential oil, thieves essential oil, and a squirt of Dr. Bronner's Unscented Baby Mild Castile Soap. You can use any wipes you'd like… really you could probably use strips of fabric, too.

I chose to use homemade wipes when I got tired of having to throw away the baby wipes I was using when changing her cloth diapers. It only made sense to me to be able to throw the wipes right in with the diapers.

So, there it is. Think I'm crazy?
That's ok.
I'm saving tons of money and my little one looks darn cute in her diapers.

Let me know if you have any questions!

The Styleberry Blog - where I was first introduced to cloth diapers being possible
Gro-via - one great option for cloth diapering on the go
Fuzzibunz - my staple. I love them.
Bummis liners - reusable and affordable liners
Rockin Green - great detergent
Planet Wise - wonderful wet/dry bags
Charlie Banana - I've heard great things about these, but haven't tried them. (Sold at Target)

*I am not being compensated in any way for anything written in this post. These are all my own opinions and the reason I wrote it is simply because people ask me so many questions about cloth diapering.

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Little Miss turns 1!!! (her story)

Well, I can't believe it.

My baby isn't a baby anymore.

How does time go this fast???

Just last year, this is what we were looking at this:

© Kelley Ann Photography

And, this is what she is now:

© Kelley Ann Photography


I can't stand it.
Many of you don't know our story with her. Why we call her our miracle baby.

Well, I don't know about you but it seems to me that when a medical professional refers to your baby as a "miracle," that makes it a legitimate thing to say.

So, here's her story.

It really starts with her brother. When I was training for a half marathon, we found out we were pregnant with him. So, I stopped training. Hubby ran the marathon (the full!) and I watched, partly jealous, partly ecstatic that we were pregnant! Having the Little Mister in December allowed me a year to recover before starting training again. This time I started training for the full. Go big or go home, right?

So, in May I ran the full Cellcom Marathon

I had a blast.
It was one of my BEST days. 

We thought it was time for baby #2 once I accomplished that goal.

Life was a little stressful at that time. I had a toddler, did in-home daycare, was doing photography on the side, and then my sweet Grandma died. 

This Grandma is the one that I lived with for most of my life. It was hard enough to be away from her, but to not have seen her all that much before she died was heart-breaking. I still think of her all the time and wish she knew my kids. Oh, how she would love them! Whenever I smell coffee, I think of their apartment. Gosh, I miss them… 

Anyway, the family got to preparing the funeral and I started bleeding and cramping. Bad. 

Stuff with the family was stressful (to say the least) because of all the decisions and planning that needed to take place.

I continued to have problems (I had not gotten a positive test at this point), but it stopped suddenly.

We took time off of work for the week of the 4th of July to come home for the funeral.

Then, the positive test!

But, the day I was supposed to get my period, I started bleeding again…

Just to add to all of this, I then received a notice to report for jury duty the week of the 4th!

At this point, I'm an emotional wreck.
Grandma died.
I have jury duty and possibly can't go to the funeral.
I'm bleeding when I'm supposed to be pregnant.
I'm sure I'm miscarrying.

The hubby was convinced I was depressed. Frankly, I might have been. 

Off to the doctor I went. About 3 hours worth of invasive tests later, my doctor (always super positive and sweet) says to me with tears in his eyes that he's "99% sure" I'm miscarrying. 

So, I wait… and wait… and wait… for the inevitable while visiting the doc every other day for them to take my blood to monitor my hormone levels.

My levels were rising… just not high enough fast enough. 

At this point, the doctor brings up the possibility that it's a tubal pregnancy.
He informs the hubby and me that we have three choices:
     1. Take a pill to "dissolve" the pregnancy
     2. Let him "clean the tube out" (could cause the tube to no longer work properly)
     3. Wait for the tube to burst (either killing me or causing me to lose the tube)
Also, I'm not allowed to travel (um,… funeral?)

Options 1 and 2 were out of the question. We couldn't justify either of those because of our beliefs. 

So, it was again a waiting game. 

Let me just say at this point that my prayer life had NEVER been better. 
I was heart-broken, scared, weak, exhausted, but sure. I was sure God would use this situation to His glory. And, I had a peace about that.

So, my girlfriends got on a schedule. While the hubby was at work, they called to check on me often to make sure that I was still ok. 

At this point, we actually told our families that I had miscarried, because I thought I had! I even had a dream where I saw her little face (she was a girl in the dream) and I watched her die. This was so hard. There was so much waiting.

I sent this to my cousin:
"and through this whole thing, everyone keeps quoting verses to me and telling me its ok. really? it's not ok. it's not. and it's ok for me to be not ok and to be sad for a while. and my faith is fine. i trust God in this. if He takes this baby from me, that's ok. i do want His will more and i trust Him. i'm just also very impatient to know what He's going to do. that's where my faith has its limit: patience. but i still trust Him. i trust His end result."

Then, I went back to the doctor and my levels rose to a point where the doctor labeled me as "pregnant with a high risk of miscarriage."

Our doctor graciously allowed me to take a few weeks off of the blood tests. He told me to try to relax and just let my body do what it was going to do. 

Still, there was hope. 

And, a reason to not go to jury duty. And, thankfully, with the doctor's excuse, they gave me a pardon.

During this time, I saw my sister graduate, we went to the funeral, we took a day trip to Door County and one to Milwaukee, spent time with family, prayed, played, cried, feared, trusted, hoped… all the while still bleeding.

And then, just when we thought it might be over, I headed back to the doctor to make sure my levels had dropped completely.

But, they hadn't.

They had spiked!

Not only that, but there she was on the ultrasound, all beautiful and with a strong heartbeat. 

The doctor called her our "miracle baby" from that day forward. Who am I to disagree?

The rest of her pregnancy (and even her delivery - emergency c-section) was a bit of a roller coaster. There was more spotting, more worrying, more tests and monitoring. But she came out perfectly healthy and awesome. 

(By the way, not to toot my own horn or anything, but I was hoping to go all natural with her. I labored for 3 DAYS before they told me she was breech and I had to have the c-section.)

This is why her verse is 1 Samuel 1:27, which says, "For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition that I made to him." ESV

* * * * *

The other night, we got to celebrate her first birthday. It was very low key. Just us, some dinner, and a tiny cupcake. I feel bad that there were no big decorations, no gifts, no one with us to celebrate. But, she is loved. She is healthy, she loved that cupcake and she walked for the first time that night. Nana was on FaceTime when she did it, too, so that was really special. We got her on video shortly after that. (She is walking all over the place now!)

I hope our story can encourage you. God is sovereign and can turn even the most heart-breaking situations into blessings.


Friday, February 15, 2013

The Nicer Side of Vegas

You didn't think it had one, did you?

Well, it does. 

And we got to experience it earlier this month.

My hubby went to a school near Vegas for about a week and I took advantage of the situation by traveling with him to see my aunt and uncle who live there. As a bonus, my mom was able to come along, too!

I wasn't sure how Vegas was going to go with two little kiddos, but we had a great time!
Road trip
Yes, we did drive there with the two kids. It was about 11-12 hours and it got looonnnnnggggg! But, we made it! Driving through Utah was surprisingly beautiful.
We're so close

My mom and me with my aunt and uncle

Their awesome cat
 While John was at class, the kids and I had some fun.
First time at In-N-Out! (And yes, we did also get fries)
Enjoying one of Vegas' beautiful parks

So nice to enjoy the sunshine
 We were able to go to one of my cousin's kid's basketball games, a soccer game, and do a few dinners with everyone. It was so great to see how the kids have grown. It's been about 3 years since the last time I was there so they all looked so big to me! We found out we were having the Little Mister a few months after I got home from that trip so I guess a lot has changed for me since then, too...
Getting to know the cousins

Mocha - the cat who likes no one… liked my mom and me!!!
In the backyard
 My aunt took the kids, my mom, and me down to the strip for an afternoon, too. It was really fun to take them down there! One of the Little Mister's favorite things is m&m's so of course we had to go to the store. We got to see Kyle Busch's car and pick our own colors to take home and there was even a *free* 3D movie. I let the Little Mister pick something out from the store and all he wanted was candy… so we got him some stickers, too. He's a cheap date. :)
m&m store
Then we went to the Shark Reef in Mandalay Bay and it was super cool. We got to see a white/yellowish crocodile and there was a tunnel that went under the aquarium! In the bottom right picture you can see that my mom was actually able to catch a picture of a shark swimming right over our heads! The LM loved it all. He was busy chasing specific fish from one window to the next. And, I got to pet some sting rays! So cool!

Shark Reef in Mandalay Bay
Sting Rays!
Looking at the sting rays. The LM was not interested in touching them.

This jelly fish was SO cool!

We HAD TO take a picture by the sign!

The snack options were endless!

We were blessed with GORGEOUS weather!

 Once the Hubster was done with his class, we hung around for another night so we could get an early start to driving the next morning. We took the kids down to the strip to see all the lights.

World's Largest Chocolate Fountain

The Little Miss was super fussy at this point but once those fountains started, she was mesmerized. It was adorable.
I love the fountains at the Bellagio. 
Hubby and I had flown out here when we were sophomores in college because we were so stir crazy by the time spring break came around.  It was really great to be back. We were able to reminisce over the memories we made all those years ago.

A pict from way back then… we climbed Red Rock  :)

But, the best part was seeing my aunt and uncle love on my kids.

I was heartbroken when my grandma passed away because she never got to meet the Little Mister. We just couldn't afford the trip to go see her. Gma was such a huge part of my childhood/life that it was really hard for me to deal with the fact that she never knew my baby.

This doesn't entirely make up for that, but I cannot express how meaningful it was to watch my Gma's only daughter get to know and love my kids. This aunt is the one that everyone says I look like. I grew up loving her from afar. To see her and my uncle love on my kids was so special to me.

So, while we got to see and do some really fun things on this trip and I got the chance to rest and feel refreshed from a crazy winter/holiday season, the thing I will treasure most from this trip is the new relationships that were formed and the relationships that were deepened on this trip.

I'm so grateful.