Monthly Archives: February 2013

Values Instilled

Everybody comes from somewhere. From somebody.
Everybody has a history. And a foundation.

We are changed by who we were.
Sometimes for the better; sometimes not.

Becoming a Family of Values

There’s this moment in motherhood: maybe it happened when they put that bundle into your arms, maybe it happened when your child emulated a bad behavior of yours. That moment when you realize how much you want for them. Things you want to show them and do with them. Values you want to instill in them. Knowledge you want to pass on to them. Habits you want to establish. Mistakes you want to keep them from. Just… stuff.

I think my parents “got” this. I always felt like they took their parenting gig seriously. I felt like my mom was able to balance showing me a Christ-following, servant-hearted mother with fun-loving, laughter-inducing friend. It’s a magical relationship. It starts off balanced more towards being a servant and behavior therapist when you have littles to a example-showing, wisdom-sharing friend when you find yourself an empty nester. She made it seem such a graceful, slowly fading transition. Having her as an example gives me confidence as a mother. Confidence that I at least know what I’m aiming for, what an amazing mom looks like.

My mom gave me so much. She’s the one that gave me my love of cooking, cleaning, and couponing. She showed me what motherhood was to her: fun, love, and [honestly] a lot of work. She showed me what marriage was to her: friendship, servanthood, supporter. She wasn’t fake. She didn’t put up a facade that life is easy or without challenge. Instead she met things head on. She put God first. She spent [and still spends] a lot of time praying for her family. Her priorities were in line. She just seems to get *it*. You know: what life is about, how to show others you love them, when to ask for help, and when to work it out.

My mom also made going to church as a family a priority. Three [sometimes four] times a week we were there. It wasn’t an option, but it wasn’t a chore. It was fun. When we were old enough to join the youth group, my parents served there too. My mom made thousands of batches of chocolate-chip cookies while my dad led young guys on their journey to manhood. Sometimes I thought they were more popular than we were [hehe].

gettin' hitched

My dad gave me a lot, too. It’s almost intimidating to think about how hard my dad worked to provide for our family. He graduated high school early by getting his GED. He worked different jobs and was eventually promoted to the manager of a fast food restaurant. In that role he interviewed and hired a girl because he thought she was so pretty [oh my]. They started dating, fell in love, and got married. He decided to go to school, and thankfully had the support of another family member to go. She was his rock and when the babies started coming, she made every penny stretch. Number three [hehe, that’s me] was a surprise and she wasn’t quite sure she could take on another babe when number two wasn’t sleeping through the night. Nights when she was home alone because her husband worked midnights and went to school during the day. Life is work.

three kids five and under!

I remember very distinctly being five years old and meeting my dad at the baseball field because not only was he working two jobs and going to school, he was also my coach and never missed a game. At the end of the season, he would type up individual letters to each of the players and laminate them with contact paper. He would use the letter to tell each kid what he thought was great about them and all I remember thinking every time I read that letter [it was prized] was how lucky I was that I “got to keep him.” He was my dad. And even then I knew I was lucky.

dad coaching teeball

 

[You can’t tell but I am definitely rocking the Minnie Mouse earrings with the tee ball uni.]

When I was 13, my dad graduated with his bachelor’s degree. It took him a long time. There was some perseverance required. But then just before I graduated high school, he got his masters degree. And I’ve been able to experience first-hand what happens when someone works and works and doesn’t give up. Doesn’t look for an easier route or settle for less than awesome.

And my dad brought those traits to fatherhood. He had high standards. He appreciated work and practice. Endurance and competition. He was kind of no-nonsense, but looking back I’m thankful for it. I see myself taking the same “no blood, no foul” approach with my kids. I see how I enjoy hard work. It’s still my favorite way to connect with my dad: whether it be training for a triathlon together or helping with yard work when we visit. There is a bond strengthened through sweat lost.

He showed me a great example of a father sacrificing for his family, leading them as the head of the household, and being just strong enough that softness is surprising [and genuine].

So what values do I feel like my parents instilled in me? What values do I want to pass along to my kids? I think it’s important [like any goal] to list them out. Put them in writing and commit to them.

Love God. Make Him The Priority in your family. Enjoy going to church. Be super involved. Make going to church together and the community that comes with that a cornerstone of your family.

Serve Others. Find value and fulfillment in helping others; whether it be with your time, talents, or treasures.

Work Hard. Life won’t be without challenge. Embrace it and thrive on it. Trust in God and lean on the people he’s put in your life.

Value Family. Your family is a lot like a sports team. Everyone has a position they excel at and everyone has an integral role to play. Eat together. Play together. And when all else fails, call a family meeting.

Have Pride. Be Humble. Have pride in your work. Present your best foot. Take care of what God has blessed you with. Be humble and remember that, ultimately, it all comes from Him.

I know that a 3-year-old and an 18-month-old are too young to really grasp these values. But if there’s one thing parenting has taught me, it’s that you might as well start early because you’re definitely going to make mistakes so try to get a few out of the way before they can really remember them [hehe].

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Hey, Husband! [Lowering Your TV Bill]

Near the top of my list of answers for “How do you guys manage?” is this: we make choices.

We’d been flirting with cutting out cable for several years, but after my most recent “your-promotional-price-has-ended-and-your-bill-got-jacked-up-and-we-don’t-even-offer-anything-as-basic-as-what-you-want” charade with Charter, we finally decided it was time.

Here’s our setup and how you, too, can feel most of the entertainment satisfaction you’re used to, for a fraction of the cost and a small adjustment in habits.

1. Buy (or use an old machine) media center PC. We got this one from Dell Inspiron HD a few years ago. They don’t make it anymore, unfortunately, so I think now I’d choose a Mac Mini (no DVD), one of these from Asus, or a Roku player (no DVR, but cheapest of the options).  Besides having another Facebook machine in the house, you’ll be able to stream from your favorite services, DVR live TV from an antenna, and play your current library of DVDs.

1a: Invest in a TV tuner if you go the MacMini or Asus route. You could choose to only stream, but for $80 you can get a USB stick that connects to your basic cable or antenna and you’ll still be able to be a cool kid at the ol’ watercooler because you didn’t have to wait for your show to come to Hulu.

Antenna: The one we use for our OTA (over the air) watching is a very cheap model that comes with the Hauppage tuner. If we lived further out in the suburbs, I think we’d have to spend $30-$50 for a better one.


As you can see in the image – for less than $300, we were able to replace the hulking Dish DVR, upgrade our DVD player to BluRay, and stream to our TV.

2. Don’t buy a TV for your bedroom. You really just want to watch your DVR or stream video, so skip the expense and use your laptop, tablet, or iPod.

3. Since you’re no longer paying $50 (or more) for cable, if you don’t already, get subscriptions for Netflix and HuluPlus. You’ll need HuluPlus to stream on your mobile device anyway.

Alternative Alert: Amazon Instant Video may have more in their library that you want than Netflix. Get a free trial of both, check out their libraries, and weigh the options before you put all your entertainment eggs in one basket.


Here are the 9 apps we use or recommend the most:

BENEFITS TO CHUCKING YOUR CABLE/DISH

  1. You own your hardware, so there are no hassles with leasing fees or returning stuff after you cancel service.
  2. You’re (mostly) immune to rate hikes and “promotions.” I hate the “What promotions do you have for me now” conversation every 6 to 12 months.
  3. Controlling your channels controls the narrative in your home
    1. fewer commercials for the kiddos
    2. more content you actually want
    3. more control over what your kids might stumble upon

If you’ve got the money to get the cable/dish package of your dreams every month, more power to you, I guess, but I think even if we could have that back, we legitimately enjoy our current setup and would probably use the extra money to do more things together as a family.

Mama Note: We did invest in a few DVDs of the kids favorite shows that are harder to come by [Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Doc McStuffins] but I can find those on Amazon for $10-15 and they often come with a digital copy we can use for traveling so it works for us. I’m thankful for the tv set-up we have. We pay about $15 a month for subscriptions instead of the $75 we were paying for the premium TV and DVR set up. Thanks to my [semi-] nerdy husband for his media center knowledge.

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Snack Pack Winner!

Using a random.org generator, the winner of the U-Fill Snack Packs is:

20130220-070540.jpg

I’ve sent you an email, Casey! Yay!

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On Flying Solo With Kids

I did it. And I survived. If you can’t hear the surprise in my words, well I’ll tell you – it’s there.

When some super cheap tickets popped up at the end of last year for some spring travel, we snatched them up. An extra opportunity to see my parents: priceless. But it meant I’d have to fly with an 18-month-old and a 3-year-old by myself. And that my friends, just sounded scary.

My fear was compounded when we traveled the route for Christmas as a family of four and I felt exhausted by the last leg… with my husband’s help.

I tried to prepare myself as much as possible for this trip and I genuinely believe it helped make the trip more successful. So, I thought I’d share a few tips to help others with their travel aspirations [though I have to say I share from experience, rather than expertise].

Prepare: Of course there are tons of things you’re going to have to do to get ready: adult stuff. But think about what you can do to prepare the kids. Get some books from the library about flying or your destination and add them into the mix. Talk about the flight and how long it is [in terms of episodes of Mickey, for us]. Talk about everything. What the plane does, going into the sky, the window, the flight attendants and captains, the tickets, the airport, what it feels like when the landing gear comes down: my kids want to know all of it. Also, Super Nanny style, talk to them about your expectations for their behavior. What is okay and what is not, what happens with good and bad behavior.

Organize: I like to have a separate bag for each kid. Lucy’s bag includes her headphones, her snacks, a special treat, and an activity. Landon’s bag includes lots of snacks, diapers, wipes, and extra clothes. I know him well enough to know he wouldn’t be into a lot of stuff so I simply don’t pack it; he’d rather people watch. My bag includes a change of clothes for me [leggings and a tee], empty sippy cups for the kids, an iPad and a kindle, and a Lara bar in case my blood sugar takes a dip.

Pack Snacks: With all of the increased security at the airport, a lot of people forget that you can bring food. We like to bring rice cakes [yes, they take a lot of space but they’re pretty clean to eat], cereal or puffs in sandwich baggies, bananas, fruit snacks, almonds, and more Lara bars. My kids eat a lot so I like the Lara bars [and clif kids bars]. It’s not a solution for everyone but I need a high-calorie snack to keep them full for a little longer and because of their allergies we can’t pick something up in the airport.

Keep Calm: Remember that all flights end at some point. Be relaxed and your kids will mirror your emotions. Each of my kids has a thing that calms them down. Landon loves a good song. It is incredible how quickly itsy, bitsy spider can calm that kid down. For Lucy, it’s a love and logic approach. She can’t be distracted but if you stroke her hair and listen to her she’ll usually pull herself together and ask for something [like a snack] and chill out. And hey, if calm means they’re watching a show from wheels up to wheels down: calm I choose.

Accept Help: You know that moment when you’ve just started loading groceries on the belt or you’ve just got in line to board an airplane and you hear faintly from the little person beside you, “I have to potty.” Lucy is the toddler queen of picking those inconvenient moments. So, this trip I boarded the plane and found the closest flight attendant to lend me a hand with Landon while I took Lucy to the potty. There was a man who offered to put my suitcase in the overhead compartment. Yes, thank you. You’re not a super mom for doing it all by yourself; you’re just a tired mom.

Laugh: Inevitably, usually also unfortunately, unexpected events are going to pop up during your travel. And you’re just going to have to laugh them off. You know, like when a security attendant has her hands in your pants giving you a pat down because your son’s nebulizer was run through the foreign substances machine and it showed a high level of something they won’t disclose to you. Maybe you just smile and think, “My husband didn’t get this cozy with me this morning.” Or when your son takes your daughter’s Minnie Mouse and she tackles him to the floor to retrieve it. Laugh it off. Maybe mentally tell yourself each incident deserves a Starbucks. Tally up!

Pray: Have everybody pray for you! The more, the better. Pray with your husband. Pray with your kids. Silently pray while the plane is taxiing. I’m serious.

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Valentine’s Day… I Totally Heart You

I can’t help it. I just can’t hide my V-Day love! I mean it’s a holiday where you celebrate all of the people you’re blessed with in your life. It’s about romance and friendship, chocolate and sweet cards. Don’t be silly; climb aboard the Valentine’s train.

One of the ways [there were many] we celebrated this Valentine’s day was making roll out sugar cookies. I was a little nervous because making low-sugar [by choice] gluten-free, vegan [not by choice] roll out cookies is … challenging. We made some for Christmas and they were an epic fail. You know cookies are bad when sweet-treat starved children won’t eat them. Imagine dousing a cracker in apple cider vinegar [shudder].

So this time we tried a new recipe and it was good enough to share. Though I have to say: if you don’t need a gluten-free vegan treat, I’m including the pre-food allergies recipe we adored because if you don’t have to make these g-f/v then I wouldn’t recommend it [if you know what I mean…].

We made these cookies at 7 a.m. Some people are still sleeping; we’re making cookies.

sugar roll out cookies

The recipe called for sifted flour but my sifter is broken [and really, who’s got time for that. :)] so thankfully my kitchen helper really enjoys stirring things and aerated that flour like a champ.

roll out sugar cookies

[so… when do I get to eat something?]

sugar roll out cookies

Roll-Out Sugar Cookies
adapted from YumUniverse
Makes about 9-10 cookies

1/4 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup oat flour
1 teaspoon arrowroot
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons [packed] coconut oil
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon apple juice

Preheat oven to 350F. Whisk dry ingredients together. Cream together the vanilla with the coconut oil, making sure to leave no clumps. Add the coconut oil to the flours and blend. It’s a really dry dough. Add enough apple juice until you can work it into a ball with your hands. Roll out the dough between two pieces of parchment and cut with cookie cutters. [I rolled them quite thin and they still baked up nice]. We cooked our cookies on the parchment we rolled it out with on our pizza stone that was pre-heated in the oven. Bake for 6-8 minutes. You’re looking for the cookies to bounce back a little if you press on them with your finger; if they’re not ready you’ll just leave a dent. You don’t want to over-bake these. You want them to be a little soft.

To make our icing we decided to do something strawberry flavored. To make it we heated up some strawberries [maybe like 4 large strawberries, peeled and quartered] and then pushed it through a sieve until we had a liquid. We then added it to our favorite buttercream recipe, courtesy of my Kitchen-aid stand mixer’s recipe book.

strawberry buttercream

Buttercream
[half-batch]

6 tablespoons butter, softened [We used Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks for Lu.]
1 cup powdered sugar
3/4 teaspoon vanilla

Cream the butter. Add the sugar and vanilla and beat until creamy.

My kitchen helper did a great job decorating a cookie and then declared it “hard work” and asked Mama to finish up.

decorating sugar cookies

We then set up a Valentine’s day inspired table and had an indoor picnic while little brother was taking a nap. We read our favorite Valentine’s books [Dora’s Valentine’s Adventure and Clifford’s First Valentine’s Day]. Now every time we sit down at the dining room table it’s a picnic. After the picnic, we played with some construction paper to make a heart garland and some special Lucy “origami”.

valentine's day picnic

valentine's day picnic

[I made this for my brudder.]

valentine's day picnic

She likes to hold things up while I take a picture and then say, “Let me seeeeeee!”.

So if you’re not battling multiple food allergies, here’s the conventional sugar cookie recipe we used to use.

Rolled Sugar Cookies
Makes… a lot

3/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Cream butter and sugar. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour. Preheat your oven to 400F. Roll out the dough to 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Use your cookie cutters. Place the cookies on your cookie sheet and bake 6-8 minutes.

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Pack Your Snack [And A Giveaway!] – CLOSED

“Moooooom. I’m hungry!”

I probably hear this eight to ten times a day. Seriously. One of the “drawbacks” of being on a real food diet is that our bodies are remarkably good at processing what we’re putting in them. And consequently, these children of mine are always asking for a snack.

I don’t think it’s a bad thing to eat smaller meals throughout the day so I’m not one to only serve them at breakfast, lunch, and dinner [she said with a sigh]. But it does require me to carry food with us pretty much wherever you go. Because of the kids allergies, we can’t really eat at too many restaurants. Even if there are meals on the menu they can eat, they usually have to be heavily altered and they have sneaky ingredients [MSG is no friend of mine].

This has lead me to be a diaper bag and lunchbox [who am I kidding? It’s a lunch TOTE] carrying mom. It’s not so bad though. It’s considerably cheaper than eating out and I know what they’re getting.

But 18-month-old Landon requires some extra thought when packing a snack for him. He has an uncanny ability to spread, schmear, and wear everything he eats. It is a skill, but obviously not a desirable one. So while we’re working on table etiquette at home, I try to pack him the least messy snacks I can come up with for the road.

U-Fill Snack Packs at hey, beth baker!

[Sorry if that totally grosses you out. So cute and so, so messy.]

This led us to the baby food aisle and those amazing little pouches of food. So convenient. Until [there’s always an until] he got a little older and increased his food pouch consumption. At that point we switched from vegetable purees to applesauce because it was cheaper. But I was pretty unhappy with the increased amount of sugar. Not only do apples have more natural sugars, but a lot of those pouches are also sweetened with apple juice concentrate. And on top of that he was consuming two pouches at each snack time so that’s about $1 of applesauce at a time [Yes, I quantify snacks costs – mama is on a budget!]

So to the web I went in search of a reusable pack to fill myself. It actually took me a few weeks to decide which brand to buy [I like to research, a lot]. There are so many options! There are pouches with cute little animals on them. Pouches with large spouts and super lids. But the problem I saw was that all of the pouches ended up costing between $5-$10 per pouch [How bummed would you be if your kiddo lost one of those!?].

And then I saw the U-Fill Snack Packs [cue spotlight and intensifying music]. After factoring in shipping they came to about $2.50 a pouch and they were the same shape as the pouches we were already buying so I knew the kids would have a smooth transition [you have to think about these things!].

U-Fill Snack Packs at hey, beth baker!

The pouches came [I bought a pack of 10] and set up was pretty easy. I just snipped the bottom off and rinsed it out with warm soapy water. You fill them up from the bottom and then there’s a super zipper to close it up. I also noticed, and I don’t know if this is just by chance, that the line on the bag where it turns from white to maroon is the perfect place to fill up the pouch to get your 4 oz in without filling it up too much so that it wouldn’t close.

The caps are also the same as the pouches we were buying. In fact, I tested out one of those disposable caps and it fit on my U-Fill should you lose a cap and not want to buy a whole pack of replacement caps [reduce, reuse, recycle!].

U-Fill Snack Packs at hey, beth baker!

I’m having a super friendship with my pouches. We take them everywhere. I haven’t made any veggie purees to try in them. For now, we’re just keeping it simple with applesauce and yogurt. And as an added bonus I can fill them with unsweetened, organic applesauce for less than I was spending for sweetened, conventional [and apples are at the top of the dirty dozen list so going organic with them is a great idea].

U-Fill Snack Packs at hey, beth baker!

It also occurred to me that I can pack these for the adults when we go hiking, running, or cycling. I haven’t tried it yet but I’m dreaming of a puree of brown rice and sweet potato during a workout [go carbs!] or a banana with protein powder mashed into it for your recovery [go protein!]. How about putting some extra of your morning smoothie in a pouch [Am I the only one who always makes too much?!]? Really you could add anything as long as you’re keeping it about the consistency of applesauce. And I love that because have you tried those goos and gels? They’re seriously gross and creep me out.

So, like I said, totally fast friends with the U-Fill Snack Packs. In fact, I contacted them and asked if they would consider sponsoring a giveaway so that one of you guys could try them out, too. And what do you know: they agreed! Yay! Up for grabs is pack of SIX U-Fill Snack Packs.

U-Fill Snack Packs at hey, beth baker!

So the rules are similar to the last giveaway: simply share this post on your favorite social network [facebook, twitter, pinterest, etc.] and leave a comment here telling me where you put it. The giveaway is open to the U.S. and we’ll keep it open until February 19, 2013 at 8 p.m. CST. Good luck!

Disclaimer: I purchased my set of U-Fill Snack Packs on my own and liked them so much I contacted the company asking them to offer some up for this giveaway. They graciously agreed and here we are. They’re just too great not to share.

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On Cloth Diapering: The Laundry

I think laundry is usually at the top of the list of reasons to quit [or not try] cloth diapers. Maybe it’s too much to do the extra loads each week. Maybe they didn’t really factor in the waste disposal part [ever heard of the toilet swirl method?]. Or maybe they don’t even realize it’s a laundry problem and they just think they have a leaking problem. Whatever the issue, laundry is pretty critical to the process and a successful laundry experience is likely to lead to a successful cloth diapering experience.

cloth diaper laundry | hey, beth baker!

My laundry process hasn’t actually changed too much in the past three years. In fact, the times when I have changed it have been the times that I had issues. In my early cloth research, I heard a lot of people touting the importance of using a good cloth diaper safe detergent [one without any optical brighteners, additives, etc.]. My first experience was with Nellie’s detergent which worked “fine” but didn’t leave those diapers smelling super fresh. I searched around and tried a few more readily available detergents [like all free & clear] until I finally landed on Rockin’ Green. Woah. This is now the detergent I recommend to everyone I know who’s trying cloth. Not only does it get the diapers clean [priority numero uno] but they smell fresh and there’s no feeling of a residue left on them. Also [and okay really this is top priority], the kids do not have any skin reactions to it. It sort of looks pricey when you set out to buy it [~$15 a bag] but a bag lasts me 9 months so I don’t mind. Last time I needed some I bought a 2-pack through soap.com and they gave me free shipping and 15% off for being a new customer.

cloth diaper laundry 101 | hey, beth baker!

My other two laundry power players are bleach and plain blue Dawn. Bleach is probably pretty self explanatory. I add a splash in a couple times a month: nothing too crazy. The Dawn, however, usually gets a quizzical look or eyebrow raise thrown my way. But it makes sense, I swear, so stay with me.

cloth diaper laundry 101 | hey, beth baker!

Have you ever seen that commercial where there’s some kind of oil spill and all these cute little duckings are being cleaned with Dawn?

I mean it makes sense, dish soaps are formulated to cut through grease. And it’s safe for your diapers. It’s even recommended on the bumGenius help page [which brings up a good point: you’ll want to check with your diaper’s manufacturer to see what they recommend. I think there’s even a bumGenius hotline to solve your diaper woes]. So anyway. I usually add 1/2 a teaspoon every other wash in my washer’s “softener” tray.

Speaking of softener, cloth diapers hate it. After we started cd’ing we switched from using conventional softener to using distilled vinegar. I mean first because have I mentioned my kids have sensitive skin… But second have you checked out the ingredient list on those things? Not so natural. And no. None of our clothes smell like vinegar when they come out of the wash.

So there’s the all-star line-up for what to clean with. Here’s the how:

SONY DSC

We keep a Planet Wise wet bag in a simplehuman trash can in Landon’s room and that’s our diaper pail. The way they fit together = M.F.E.O. I love this set up because his room doesn’t smell like diapers. Solids are emptied into the toilet and the diaper is given a spray from one of these. [If baby’s on a mama milk diet you can skip the rinse step altogether!] Then, if it’s a pocket diaper I shake the inserts into the pail, followed by the cover. When the hamper is full I take the wet bag out and head to the washer. I shake the contents of the wet bag into the washer drum and do a cold rinse. After the rinse is done I do a regular wash with hot water, an extra rinse, and the “more soiled” option that my washer offers [We have a 13-year-old HE front loader… still going (knocks on lots of wood). Well, sometimes it eats clothes but we don’t need to talk about that.]. So that puts me at 1:06 time wise for the second wash. I tried once to use the “whitest whites” setting on my washer and the diapers did not approve and started leaking. There’s no detergent for the first rinse but when I start the actual wash cycle I use 1/2 tablespoon of Rockin’ Green and if needed the 1/2 teaspoon of Dawn and 1/4 cup of bleach. So maybe this seems a little complicated but don’t let your husband use that as an excuse to get out of diaper laundry! Guilt them into it but showing them this cute little reminder sheet my hubs made and stuck by the washer [I’m kidding. I don’t condone the guilting of husbands. I do however love a helping hand and some good old-fashioned ‘I want to do it right’ initiative. High five husband, up high.]

cloth diaper laundry 101 | hey, beth baker!

So when my diapers are done, everything except the covers goes for a spin in the dryer. I’ve tried a few different methods for this. At first I wasn’t drying anything but it was taking two days for my Flip inserts to dry [two days!] and when they were finally dry they were also stinky because, you know, they’d been chilling out at varying degrees of wet for two days. If it’s a sunny summer day I’m way more likely to stick them outside though. They smell great after and the sun is the best stain remover I’ve ever met. When I evolved past not drying anything I would pick and choose what I put in there [i.e. drying the Flip inserts but not the bumGenius inserts] but then it occured to me that the dryer would probably dry faster if it had more in there to bang around and fluff things up [I won’t nerd out and tell you about my time trials]. For my dryer, it shaves off 4-6 minutes to do everything together. So that’s a win. And it softens everything up more than the drying rack. That’s a double win. I don’t, however, throw any of my covers in the dryer. I’m hoping they’ll stick around for a couple more future Baker babes [not that there are any in the works right now, don’t get too excited Mimi].

cloth diaper laundry 101 | hey, beth baker!

So that’s a rather detailed and explicit summary of how we do our cloth diaper laundry. Wake up, class. Kidding. I don’t know if you can tell, but I love doing laundry [weird]. And I love folding it [weirder]. I don’t even totally hate putting it away [weirdest of the weirds].

One of my friends asked ‘What do you do when that precious baby’s bum gets a rash?’ and this is totally the place to answer it. Honestly, we don’t get very many rashes since we switched to cloth. The only time I’ve ever heard a cloth mama complain about rashes was after a detergent switch. In fact, I’ve been using the same tube of Butt Paste since Lucy was a babe [I hope those don’t expire…]. If we do get a rash we can often stay in our cloth and use cornstarch to clear it up. If that doesn’t work I made some reusable liners out of a fleece pullover and I use those as a shield between the butt paste and the diaper [you really don’t want to get diaper cream on your cloth diapers]. If I’m not up for the liner adventure we stick him in a disposable and goo him up.

We also use disposables as our nighttime diaper now but we didn’t have to make that switch until Landon was about a year old. He was waking up from a wet diaper around 5 a.m. and mama needed a break. So we usually go through a box of diapers every couple months. Sometimes longer.

Any cloth mamas got any advice to add or cloth newbies some advice to seek?

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Drop It Down, Drop It In

Let us begin.

Kids like putting things in other things. It’s innate. It makes them happy. It occupies them. It’s even a developmental skill [particularly the dropping and letting go]. And they make some cool toys [like giant singing pigs] to meet this kiddie demand. But for some reason [maybe the singing or maybe the fact that the pig can be used as a weapon] my kids are not fans. So when I found these counting astronauts at the thrift store, I knew they needed a rocket ship to be dropped into.

[p.s. I searched all over the internet for a link to the counting astronauts and could find no such thing. I did however find counting farm animals, bugs, and mini-motors.]

counting astronaut spaceship

Counting toys present tons of learning opportunities. Obviously, as the name suggests, you can line them up and count them. You can also sort them by color and use them to practice sequencing. I thought this was a good post on using them [though the cornstarch and water made me cringe a little]. Lucy is a big fan of sorting right now so I give her colored bowls and let her get to work [she takes it very seriously].

http://wecandoallthings.blogspot.com/2012/05/early-learning-with-teddy-bear-counters.html

When Lucy was a babe I gave her an old half gallon plastic milk jug with duct tape around the cut edges and some clothespins to drop in. She liked it but the jug did not hold up to her toddler ways and it was smashed pretty quickly.

drop in spaceship

[Is there anything that makes your ovaries flip more than looking at old pictures of your adorable babies?! Let’s be honest.]

Um, right, let’s get back on track. To make our rocket ship I took a half gallon paper milk jug and spray painted it white.

drop in spaceship

Then I painted the top black with some acrylic paint [to be like the nose of the shuttle]. I taped a line to help me get a straight[ish] line and taped around the hole where the lid screws on to keep paint out of those threads.

drop in spaceship

I then took a few different kinds of tape that I had around [some painters tape, some thick red flooring tape, and some washi tape] and used them to decorate. I used some scrapbooking letters for the ‘USA’ and black poster board for the windows. I used mod podge to stick everything on and then put two more coats on to seal everything up.

drop in spaceship

drop in spaceship

I used duct tape around the door because I knew it was going to be a ‘high traffic area’. It’s one of his favorite parts: opening and closing and opening and closing. He also really likes screwing the lid on and off, which I didn’t realize he’d be able to do so well [yeah fine motor skills!].

So, as you can probably tell, Landon LOVED it! He played with it for about 45 minutes, setting a personal ‘sitting still’ record! For Lucy, I tell her specific colors to put in or say a number of astronauts the shuttle needs for a mission. And it’s holding up so far. Granted, nobody’s stepped on it [yet].

drop in spaceship

Toys like this are important for me to make for the kids. I want them to know that toys can be created; that they need not be bought or come from a store. They saw all of the steps and saw the whole thing come together, which made it even more fun.

drop in spaceship

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First Trip To The Dentist

My sweet girl hit another milestone recently. One she was extremely excited about when she found out it’s something her older cousins also do: she went to the dentist!

I thought it was such a positive experience, though that may partially be true because of the discouragingly low expectations I had [you see, Juicy has a few sensory issues (read: she doesn’t like people in her face)].

Lucy's First Dentist Visit

[Yes, she dressed herself. And she likes it.]

I thought there were a few things we did to make the trip more successful so I thought I’d share those. First, I let her come to my last appointment [six months ago] so nothing about the experience was [brand] new for her. Also, I made her appointment right after mine so that she got to watch everything first.

Our dental hygienist is amazing. A.m.a.z.i.n.g. She’s a pro and she knew just what to do to make Lucy comfortable. She threw some Disney on the tv. Gave her the pillow and shades to “relax” with and made sure I was able to stay within hand-holding distance. She also shot water across the room [giggles] and let Lucy spray some into a cup and suck it up. She explained everything so well that Lucy sat in the chair and let her work her cleaning magic.

Lucy's First Dentist Visit

And then she ended the trip with rewards. You know, just in case Lucy didn’t love her already [impossible]. Lucy is still talking about the princess toothbrush and toy camera [no skimping here!]. Seriously. I just really love when other people make your life as a mom easier.

Lucy's First Dentist Visit

The dentist, however, she was not such a fan of. :)

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On Cloth Diapering: Making Your Own Inserts

I remember [very clearly] having a conversation with someone while I was pregnant with my first babe where I said I just didn’t understand cloth diapers. “If you have to wash the diapers multiple times to get them clean, isn’t that going to cost as much as just buying disposables?!” I thought cloth diaper bums were cute enough, but that was certainly not enough to sway me to the cloth side.

But then, when I actually had that kiddo things changed [anyone else have about fifteen things they thought they knew about motherhood pre-kids that they can laugh about now?]. First, God gifted me with this adorable child who also had incredibly sensitive skin. Also, after going back to work full-time for a month I was spending an exorbitant amount of time budget-crunching to try to figure out a way to stay home with my sweet eczema baby.

So like things tend to happen when God’s in charge, we caught a break. On a whim I’d signed up to receive newsletters from the cloth diaper store in town and they were letting me know that they were having a garage sale that weekend.

Off we went. And it was a sale of a sale. I was able to purchase an entire set of second quality diapers for about $150, including all the accessories I thought I’d need [I was kind of shooting in the dark]. So our journey began!

We started with a set of Flip diaper covers with organic prefold inserts and a few BumGenius that we double stuffed for night time. It didn’t take me long to decide the prefolds that came with the Flips were a bit bulky for a 3 month old so I spent about $30 to buy infant sized Indian prefolds. And they were amazing. They are totally what I recommend for itty bitty babies who need lots [and lots] of diaper changes.

There is a little bit of a trade-off in using prefolds. They are wonderfully cheap but they do require a little grunt work to make them ready to use. When I get mine home I set up the biggest stock pot I have with boiling water and boil each prefold for a few minutes. You have to do this because the cotton needs to release it’s oils to be more absorbant. It also makes them super soft. Super, super soft.

The amazing thing about the cloth diapers I bought is that you’re able to use them from a pretty early age through potty training. To do that there are snaps that make the rise adjustable. Eventually, Lucy needed the rise on her diaper let out. This meant the infant prefolds were a little too short so I was on another search to find a cheap solution to line the Flip covers. But this time, I wanted something that included microfiber. I’d seen how much the microfiber inserts of our BumGenius diapers absorbed [something like seven times their weight] and I wanted something similar. I tried the stay dry liner that was made for the Flip covers but they were both cost-prohibitive and not as absorbent as I wanted.

So I made some liners myself. Seriously. I bought a pack of microfiber cloths in bulk and found a remnant of an interlock knit. I folded the microfiber cloth like you would a letter to be mailed and sewed in in place. I then made a tube out of the knit and used it to enclose the microfiber. I sewed the whole thing closed and sewed a line down the middle to keep the microfiber from scooting around inside the knit. For about 50 cents each I’d made a set of liners that were long enough for the new rise and had three layers of microfiber absorbancy!

Make your own cloth diaper inserts!

To start I went to Sam’s and bought a pack of microfiber cloths from the automotive section. First, I washed them in hot water and dried them. Next, I folded the cloth into thirds and sewed around the edges. I also sewed down the middle but I later realized that wasn’t necessary.

Make your own cloth diaper inserts!

I laid each sewn microfiber on my interlock knit and cut out a piece that would be large enough to create a tube around the cloth. I found that I liked the inserts made with interlock best because they’ve stayed soft over the years [yes, I’m still using them three years later]. I tried some with flannel and some with upcycled t-shirts but both of those eventually turned rough and the fabric pilled. To measure the knit I laid it down on my work surface, laid the microfiber on top of it, folded the fabric like a taco on the microfiber and then trimmed around giving myself about 3/4 of an inch to use for seams.

How about a little 2010 flashback, just for fun.

Make your own cloth diaper inserts!

After it was cut I sewed up one of the bottoms and the other side to make the tube. I turned it right side out and inserted the microfiber inside. I then sewed up the side and sewed it all together to keep the microfiber from moving around inside the knit. I started out sewing around the edges but eventually realized I could just sew one line straight down the middle. You will have to use a heavy duty needle. And you should use a polyester thread so that it will hold up a little better.

Make your own cloth diaper inserts!

Sew along the black lines. Turn right side out. Insert microfiber. Sew end closed. Sew along the dotted line.

Make your own cloth diaper inserts!

So for somewhere between 50 cents and a dollar you can make your own inserts with three layers of microfiber protection. If you want to come in on the 50 cents side you’ll have to scour the remnant bins or find a great sale or coupon for the knit.

And I officially turned from someone who raised an eyebrow at cloth diapers to an advocate.

Make your own cloth diaper inserts!

Worth it.

*Cute baby not included.

[So I know cloth diapering isn’t for everyone but it’s something I feel pretty strongly about for a few reasons: it’s cost effective, better for the environment, and better for our babies skin. If you haven’t jumped on the cloth diaper train, or if you tried it and gave it a thumbs down, or even if you don’t have kids, bear with me for a little while. I have another post coming up in a little while about cloth diaper laundry. Pretend to be interested. Do it.]

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