I'm not dead!

Just wanted to poke my head in and let everyone know I'm still alive! We are in the process of moving and I am in school part time so along with all of the other daily obstacles involved with being a stay at home mom, I am a bit swamped!
I promise I will write again soon, I know I need to!


Kickin' It Old School

One of the most common things I hear about modern cloth diapers is how there are "No more pins! They all have velcro closures and look really cute!"
It is true, diapers have come a long way from the Gerber birdseye flats and plastic pants.
But every time I hear someone disparage another from using prefolds and pins, I cringe.

We started cloth diapering Ethan when he was about 3 months old.
He had been in a variety of disposable diapers since birth.
First there was Pampers Swaddlers, which were tiny and cute. Then he got too big for those.
Then there were Huggies, which he leaked out of horribly.
We ended up using a combination of Luvs and store brand diapers towards the end of our disposable diapering days.

Throughout this entire time I was noticing how Ethan was getting a pretty nasty rash, not only on his bottom but on all areas of his body. I had read in passing about cloth on the internet, but didn't really look too much into it.
It was the price tag that really struck me. Twenty dollars for a diaper?!
We couldn't afford that.

We ended up at a local retailer's store and I fell in love with cloth.
They were so incredibly soft, I just couldn't help myself.
We left with a one size pocket diaper and an organic diaper cover.

Those early days were full of trial and error. I mostly washed by hand and then hung to dry, for fear of ruining our new diapers. I wasn't told straight away that we needed "special" laundry detergent made for cloth diapers and I was washing the diapers with Aveeno baby wash in the sink. Hey, they smelled good!
At that point we were still in disposables about 70% of the time anyways.

I went through so many different kinds of diapers.
There were one size diapers, which were extremely convenient, but a pain to stuff and un stuff.
I actually sized up in every thing that wasn't one size because Ethan was growing like a weed and I figured he wouldn't be in the smaller diapers for long.
It wasn't a terrible idea, but not the greatest idea either. Most of his diapers ended up looking saggy and weird, and I realized that he probably could have worn a smaller size for many more months.

Nowadays I look into my stash closet and see an array of diapers.
I've got my super cute fitteds, which are so easy and absorbent.
I've got my 2 PUL covers, a Flip and a Blueberry Coveralls. (These are the daddy friendly diapers as you can trifold a prefold and lay in the cover and fasten to baby.)
I've got my super cute fleece soakers.
I've got my wonderful wool and my few pocket diapers.
But my absolute favorites are my prefolds.

I was always intimidated by prefolds. Just seeing them in person was confusing.
"They're not cute," I told myself. "They look complicated to use."
So I put off using them.
When I finally did take the plunge and purchase some prefolds I ended up getting a snappi.
It was the most frustrating little thing I have ever used.
It never wants to stay put, and sometimes Ethan has gotten stabbed with the little teeth.
I felt horrible about it.

We use pins because they are easy.
No really, they are easy.
You get prefold in place under baby, get baby nice and distracted, and run the open pin through your hair.
Then glide pin through the prefold.
It is really so easy, and I have never poked Ethan with one.

I love the trim fit we get with prefolds and pins, and I don't have to worry about Ethan playing with the snappi and getting it caught on something. (Did I mention that the Snappi always likes to catch my clothes? It is not fun.)
I know you are supposed to put covers on over diapers.
We absolutely do when we go out, but when we are at home we don't feel the need to.

Another great thing about prefolds is how inexpensive they are.
Instead of spending 20 dollars a diaper you only spend about 2-3 dollars a diaper.
And that's if you buy new! You save a ton buying used, and they will undoubtedly last through several children.

Where can you buy prefolds?
You can get them from a number of stores.
In town there is Eden's Baby, Go Baby Go, and Craigslist (if you want to go the gently used route).
My favorite place online to buy them is Green Mountain Diapers.
The sizing is superb (shorter length and wider than most other diapers) and the price is great. I even got my pins from GMD.
None of the local retailers carry pins at the moment, but I wish they did!



Well it has been a while actually since I used the Tide on our diapers.
I'm not even sure where the pics went of it because they have been taken off of the memory card and I don't want to track them down.

I have recently been hearing great things about Tide from other cloth diapering mamas.
I decided that I had to try it out for myself.

I bought an 80 loads box of powdered Tide from a big box store for a little over $10. I got the original scent but I had to get HE because the only "regular" kind they had in original scent was a tiny box.
I was very excited to try it out since it was so cheap!

I got home and did a load of diapers. Only a bit of extra suds in the rinse cycle and I did an extra cold wash with nothing after my initial hot wash with detergent to get all the suds out. They came out of the dryer stink free and smelling vaguely of Tide.
I thought, "Hey, this just might work!"
Oh, I was so wrong.

After having the diapers washed with Tide on Ethan for a couple of days I noticed he was getting diaper rash more frequently than usual (and he almost always seems to have a rash, we have yeast issues).
And this seemed like a bad rash, too.
I washed with Tide a couple of more times because I wasn't sure if that's what it was but I knew after the 3rd wash that we just can't do Tide. My boy is just too sensitive to it.

I got out the rest of my Rockin' Green (Classic Rock in Fresh Linen) and did an overnight soak on some of our diapers. The water wasn't too bad in the morning but I just wanted to get a head start on washing all of the Tide out of our diapers.

We are now just using Tide on our clothes and I'm even going to stop washing Ethan's clothes in it. He has some eczema on his belly that has returned (from when he was a newborn and we didn't know better!) so he must be allergic to it somehow.

So my conclusion is, if you have a child who does not have sensitive skin, Tide will work great for you! It did seem to get the diapers pretty clean. I could feel a slight residue on them after coming out of the dryer, so it must be that there is some kind of softener in the detergent itself since it's close to what fabric softener feels like.
If you have a baby with sensitive skin I would bypass Tide and if you must use a mainstream detergent then I would look into using a free and clear formula.

Right now we are using Rockin Green's Hard Rock, unscented, and things are going a lot better. We are just using it on our diapers for now so we can use up the rest of the Tide on our clothing.



Wow, where did the time go?
Every day is just passing so quickly now, I can hardly keep up.
I've got customs to work on, graduations and baby showers to go to.
Then I get the quiet moments like this, when Ethan is in bed and Mark is craftin' away in the dining room.

For the last couple of years I have had a bit of a writer's block.
I realized the other day that I am (was?) very much an emotional writer.
Words just flowed out of me when I was sad, or pissed off, or jealous.
I could drop a poem in ten seconds flat when I was so elated, so enamored.
It's now, when I am satisfied just... being, that it is harder to write.
Being content does not make for very provocative writing.

My mind used to always be somewhere else. It was either dwelling in the past, longing for something I hoped to attain in the future, or sticking my nose in other people's business.
Now I look to the future with excitement. Ethan matures every day in front of me and I wonder what kind of person he will be.
Will he be tolerant? Will he be loving? Will he be intellectual? Will he be really good at soccer?
I'm so excited and privileged to watch him grow up.
So I don't care any more if I don't write whimsical poems and political snark. None of it matters as much to me. If I dwell on things like that too long I get too fired up and it leads me nowhere.

I am totally content with being content.


The Benefits of Rearfacing & Car Seat Safety

We live in San Antonio and it is pretty much the norm to turn your baby around and face them forward in their car seats once they hit one year.
In fact I don't think I have seen any other children extended rear facing as we do.
I'm pretty sure this is because most people just don't know about the benefits of keeping their kids rear facing.

Here are some facts, taken from car-safety.org:
  • Rear-facing is safest for both adults and children, but especially for babies, who would face a greater risk of spinal cord injury in a front-facing carseat during a frontal crash.
    You are far more likely to get into a frontal or side crash than one from behind, especially ones at high speeds.
  • Rear-facing car seats spread frontal crash forces over the whole area of a child's back, head and neck; they also prevent the head from snapping relative to the body in a frontal crash.
  • Rear-facing carseats are NOT a safety risk just because a child's legs are bent at the knees or because they can touch/kick the vehicle seat.
    I don't know how many times I have heard that excuse for turning their children around: "Their legs will break if we get into an accident!" Besides, wouldn't you rather their legs break than their neck?
  • Rear-facing as long as possible is the recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatricians, and can reduce injuries and deaths. Motor Vehicle Crashes are the #1 overall cause of death for children 14 and under.

I can't begin to explain how passionate I am about this. It is so much safer to keep kids rear facing as long as possible, and I can't believe that hardly anyone extended rear faces.

Another important thing I want to note is the proper way to restrain your child in their car seat.
If they are in a 5-point harness, which is recommended for all children in car seats of any kind, make sure the"clip"part that goes up by their chest is level with their armpits. After you fasten them in make sure you pull the belt tight until there is no slack.
I honestly did not know the clip part was supposed to be up so high and I assume a lot of others don't know this either.

Something else very important is DO NOT USE AFTERMARKET PRODUCTS!
This includes little seat belt pads (which we used on Ethan's infant seat for many months until I learned better) and little car seat bells and whistles, like the toys that attach to the bar.
The rule is, if the product is not made by the same manufacturer as your seat and is not endorsed by them, then do NOT use it. Car seats are made to be "fireproof" and these aftermarket products are NOT! This includes seat covers and car seat "protectors" (that go under car seats). Aftermarket products are not tested for safety either, even if they have claimed to be.
(note: I do not know why everything is bolding now, it won't come undone.)

As for now we are extended rear facing Ethan in his Britax Marathon, which will allow him to rear face until 35 lbs, but we are going to start saving up to buy the Radian XTSL which rear faces until 45 lbs!

Addendum (8.19.2011): He is still rearfacing at 3 y/o and 35 lbs but we went with a Complete Air car seat which will rearface until he is 40 lbs. It has a pretty tall shell too.


Thirsties Prewash/Superwash Conclusion

I used up the last of my Thirsties Prewash/Superwash sample today.
I actually really like this detergent, and I think most of you would like it too.
Of course I only used it for a short amount of time, and we all know what it's like to successfully use a detergent for weeks before it goes stinky on us.

(Don't mind my strangely rotated picture. I don't know what happened!)

Did the prewash. This is the first time I actually did a prewash instead of a prerinse with the prewash detergent. Notice there are a few more suds this time than last.
I think this is because I actually added like 2 tbsp (or more?) of detergent instead of the 1 1/2 I was using previously. I just wanted to use up the rest of it.

Here is the rinse cycle after the hot wash. Notice there are still suds. I totally meant to do an extra rinse but got sidetracked because we were in the midst of leaving so I ended up throwing them straight in the dryer.

They actually do not stink much out of the dryer. I noticed less of a stink this time than last (which I didn't blog about, sorry!), so maybe it is because of the increased detergent.
I would really classify the diapers as "stink free" compared to the stink I have gotten with other detergents.

So all in all, here are the pros and cons of Thirsties Prewash/Superwash:

  • Seems to get the diapers pretty clean. I have experienced very little stink with it.
  • Made with all natural ingredients (including honey and lemon juice!)
  • Formulated specifically for cloth diapers.
  • Kind of pricey. I did a bit of searching and found that it was about $32 for the pack of prewash and superwash. And that's for only 64 "normal" sized loads. I for one know I would probably use more because I tend to do pretty big loads.
  • You'd have to buy separate detergent. I mean I'm sure you could use it on your clothes, but at $32 a pop I for one wouldn't want to "waste" my detergent on clothes too because that would get pretty expensive.
  • Not the absolute best at getting stains out. I have seen other detergents do better.
So despite the fact that this stuff is pretty expensive, it really does do a good job at cleaning diapers. It is the only detergent I've tried that did not give me stinkies of any sort out of the dryer! For that I will give it 3.5/5 stars.


Night Gardening

I'm having a lot of fun "gardening". Technically it is container gardening because we live in a small 2 bedroom apartment. I long for a yard where I can grow my own vegetables!

After last year's ill fated attempt at growing tomatoes I decided to keep it simple this year. My veggie garden will have to wait so I'm sticking with herbs and random plants.

Tonight we went to Lowe's on a whim and ended up buying some French Tarragon. I love tarragon. It has the most subtle flavor yet enhances simple dishes so much. I especially love Dijon-Tarragon Cream Chicken.

I put it in with my chives and Spicy Basil.

I've been wanting to add some color to the porches so I picked up some purple geraniums.
There was a buy one get one sale on the flowers and tarragon and I ended up getting the tarragon for free.

Mark helped me pick the next one out to hang on the porch outside of our living area.
I have no idea what it's technically called but it was the most unique looking "hanging" plant we could find.

It was dark when we got home so Ethan and I ended up doing a little night gardening. I love seeing my little boy digging in the dirt, helping me scoop soil up into the pots. It's fun to let lose and just let him be a (very messy) kid.

Day 1: Thirsties Prewash & Superwash

After finishing up the Charlie's Soap a couple of days ago I was more than ready to try out the Thirsties Prewash and Superwash. I have heard some good things about these products!

Did my initial pre"wash" with the, er, Prewash:

There are some suds as you can see.

Then I did my hot wash with the Superwash. I don't have any pictures of this because the Natural Parenting meeting was starting and I was trying to rush.

Did my extra rinse after and after forgetting about the laundry in the wash (oops!) I transferred the diapers to the dryer.

When I got home I took them out and I was so relieved! No stink! At all.
The diapers smelled like nothing at all! This is the goal here!
So after 1 day of Thirsties I can say that it is my favorite so far. Stay tuned to see if it will keep the diapers stink free!

Last days of Charlie's Soap

Well, I have finished up all of the Charlie's Soap.
I have to say I am not sad to see it go.
Here is how the last day went down:

Hot wash (after initial pre rinse). Not too many suds going on.

Extra cold rinse. No suds left.

So all in all Charlie's seems to rinse well.
I don't think buildup was our issue at all.
We did have a lot of stink issues with this detergent.

So! My conclusion:

On Diapers: 2/5

I just didn't really like this detergent. We had stinky (think a musky kind of smell) diapers out of the dryer every single time.
They did smell fine out of the washer though, so maybe it is the heat of the dryer causing the smell to rear its ugly head.
So if you are going to use Charlie's and you have the ability to line dry, I would recommend doing so over drying in the dryer.

On Clothes: 2/5

I didn't really care for it when used on clothes, either. It doesn't seem to take the stink out of sweaty clothes, and I know it isn't just because it is unscented, either. We have tried other unscented detergents that did just fine.

Here are my final pros and cons:

+ Affordable
+ Unscented for those with sensitive skin
+ Can use on both clothes and diapers
- We had lots of stink issues
- Some people report their babies getting burns while using this detergent

Okay pretty much the stink issues make this detergent pretty bad for us.
Despite the other pros I just can't see myself purchasing and using this detergent exclusively again.


Day 1 of Charlie's Soap

Okay, I totally lied last time. I was all set up to use the Thirsties Prewash/Superwash and then I realized I had run the pre rinse without the Prewash!
So I decided to just go with the Charlie's Soap.

I liked Charlie's Soap. It was the first cloth diaper safe detergent we used when we started cloth diapering. I liked the smell of Ethan's diapers air drying in the bathroom when we first washed with it.
So back in the day when we used Charlie's we followed the 1 scoop rule on everything, diapers and clothes. This time I know that makes very little sense as we are doing pretty large loads and there's seriously no way one scoop is gonna cut it.

I ended up doing 2 extra rinses on Ethan's diapers on Day 1.
We are also battling a yeast rash right now and I used a 1/2 cup of Ecover bleach.
This was a pretty big load so I didn't hesitate to use the more than 1/4 cup they recommend.
I do not normally use bleach, just to let you know. Only every month and a half or so, and only when battling yeast, especially.
I have already noticed an improvement in Ethan's rash.

Anyways, out of the wash the diapers smelled great. This was the opposite of Country Save, where there was a slight stink out of the wash, but nothing out the dryer.
This time around there was some definite stink coming out of the dryer.
This is the same problem we encountered last time with Charlie's (after a couple of months of using it, mind you) and one of the reasons we stopped using it.
I am about to go do another load right now and I will update (with pictures!) with how the second time around goes.


Last days of Country Save

It's been a busy week! I meant to write a post a couple of days ago when I finished up the Country Save.

I did my last two diaper loads of Country Save.
Used 2 scoops the first time, didn't have time for an extra extra rinse.
They came out of the dryer with a hint of slight stink.

Used 2 1/2 scoops the last time. I just went ahead and used up the last of the sample I had.
This time I did at least 2 extra rinses after my hot wash/cold rinse.
I think it's important to note here that the diapers always stink when I take them out of the washer and put them in the dryer. Always. However, they only stank once when I took them out of the dryer. Very odd to me.
The last time I did a wash they came out of the dryer stink-free.

(Excuse my middle school "embellishments" there, lol)

On the couple of loads of regular clothes I did, Country Save worked fine.
I even washed my dirty rags from work with it.
It didn't get them super duper clean but it got them clean enough.

On Ethan's diapers I think it did okay.
I don't think it worked any better or worse than most of the detergents I've tried.
I didn't like the stink issues coming out of the washer, and I did find suds pretty often.
So if you are okay with doing several rinses, you will like this detergent.
DIAPERS - 2.5/5

  • You can use it on everything (clothes, diapers)
  • Fairly inexpensive for "safe" detergent
  • Unscented for those with sensitive skin
  • Does a moderately well job of getting stains out
  • Lots of suds, so possible buildup issues over time. Of course I may have been using too much but I didn't want to risk not using enough.
  • Have to run a lot of rinse cycles
  • Doesn't come in different scents for those that like that
  • Not widely available (have to purchase online, or possibly a health food/cloth diaper store near you if they carry it)
  • Not made specifically for cloth diapers (again, this is preference. I just mean that it wasn't formulated with washing diapers in mind, not that it can't be used or promoted as such.)
All in all I don't think I will be using Country Save again.
If it ends up being my only or most viable option I will consider it though, and I wouldn't hesitate to use it on my regular clothes.

Coming up next: Thirsties Prewash/Superwash!


A crafty kind of weekend

This weekend I've felt really inspired to get a craftin'.
Yesterday I went to Joann's to get some dylon dyes and fusible web so I could get started on making some appliqued baby gifts!
Okay, I also managed to sneak in a couple of shirts for Ethan.
While my newborn shirts were busy dyeing a beautiful blue shade in the sink I rummaged through my fabric scraps and found the leftover Mint Chocolate Zoo cotton knit from embellishing a prefold of Ethan's.
Mark's mom had just stopped by with a cute little green muscle shirt for Ethan and yay! it was plain and the perfect shirt to applique.

I settled on just the word "Earth" to applique to the shirt and it came out really cute!
The hardest part is sewing around the edges. A couple of other things I've done I ended up just hand sewing, because although time consuming at least I know I can make straight lines.
Here is the finished product, alongside the aforementioned embellished prefold:

Country Save - Day 2

Okay! Day 2 of using Country Save!
I still have not used this stuff on my regular clothes, but only because I have not done any laundry, lol. I am going to do a load with it after I finish this up!

Today I washed probably a little over 10 diapers - not as many as I usually do but Ethan was with grandparents all day yesterday and I don't think he was changed nearly enough.

Did a cold "pre" rinse:

Then I did my hot wash with 2 scoops of Country Save:

Here is the rinse cycle, notice there are still suds:

Here is the extra cold rinse I did afterwards, still some suds but I didn't have enough time to do another full wash or extra extra rinse:

And here is how his BG AIO Organic looked right out of the wash:

It honestly looks a little dingier to me than after being washed with Rockin' Green.
Maybe if I could do an extra rinse it would be better. I might use an extra half a scoop next load, but I am worried about buildup.
Out of the washer the diapers did have a little stink to them, but out of the dryer they smell decent.
So far I would say that Country Save is okay. It doesn't seem to be getting our diapers as bright and stain free as I would like but it is working okay.


Day 1: Country Save

Washed 12 diapers (with inserts and wipes) using my normal routine.
I was unsure of how many tbsp of Country Save to use so I tried it out with just 2.
I think next time I will use 3, as I had a little bit of stink after the diapers came out of the dryer.
I'm also going to take a peak in the washer during the agitation and check for bubbles.
So far I do not hate Country Save. I don't really like the smell of the detergent itself but it's not overbearing or anything.
I really like the idea of using the same detergent on our diapers and our clothes.
I don't want to have to pay double for detergent, and I don't want to have to deal with buildup from using 2 different detergents.
I think I will try Country Save out on a load of clothes tomorrow and see how they come out.

Detergent testing!

So I am helping out my friend Brooke from Eden's Baby and testing out some different detergents on our cloth diapers.
I have decided to take it a step further though and review a couple of other detergents.
We normally use Rockin' Green's Classic Rock (even though we did use Hard Rock for a few loads) since it is local and I don't have to pay shipping for it.
I am going to be testing the following detergents:
  • Country Save
  • Charlie's Soap
  • Thirsties Prewash and Superwash
  • Rockin' Green Hard Rock
  • Tide (maybe!)
Yesterday I washed about 12 diapers with Country Save. I will be consistently using each detergent until I run out of the samples I have.
My usual routine is wash every 2 days, and I usually have up to 20 diapers to wash, not including inserts and wipes.
I set my machine to heavy and use the extra large or large setting.
Then I:
  • Rinse in cold
  • Hot wash/Cold Rinse with 2 Tbsp (or scoops) of powdered detergent
  • Either rinse in cold or do an extra wash/rinse. Usually I only do the extra rinse.


Franklin Goose

This week should be interesting. Today I am expecting my first order of free loot from Franklin Goose, and I will post pics when I get it! I ordered 2 size 1 Thirsties Duo Wraps and 1 small Thirsties cover for our yet-to-be-conceived baby (I can't help myself with building a future stash!) and 2 Plan Toys for my son's birthday in August.

Tomorrow I start my part-time afternoon job and will only have mornings, evenings and Sundays off. Then in June I start school full-time.

Does anyone here practice the Fertility Awareness Method?
It is where you check your temperature first thing in the morning and chart it out to find when you ovulate and are fertile. We are using this method right now to avoid pregnancy, but I know a lot of people have luck with conceiving this way. It is working great and it is interesting to know more about my cycle. I can now predict when I am going to ovulate and when I am going to get my period. I did not have much success with birth control pills so after having Ethan I knew I needed to try another way, without hormones to disrupt breastfeeding. Not to mention the hormones drove me quite crazy.
If you are interested, invest in a BBT thermometer and check out Fertility Friend.

OK it's tiny, but you get the point. LOL. The crosshairs is where I ovulated. As you can see, the temperatures before I ovulated were quite a bit lower than after.
I am actually about to go take an OPK right now to see if what I'm feeling today are ovulation pains.