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“You make me sad” – A response to my daughter

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The twins recently had their food sensitivity testing done and I have been swamped with transforming their diet. Oatmeal was a regular breakfast meal in our house, loaded with rasins. Well, DD can no longer have any dried fruits and our relationship with breakfast has been forever changed. Okay, hopefully not forever but all of these little things seem devastating when they happen in the life of a child – right? This morning I put a homemade papaya-pear jam in her oatmeal. I let her try the jam before I added it to the oatmeal and she said she liked it. Of course, after I served her the oatmeal she decided she didn’t like it.

After a short period of time away from the breakfast table, so that she could calm down DD tells me “You make me sad!” followed by another onset of tears and huffs. So today turned into a big lesson day.I replied, “Mommy doesn’t make you sad baby girl. You FEEL sad. You are in charge of your feelings. No one can MAKE you feel anything. Do you mean you feel sad because Mommy wanted you to eat your oatmeal?” “Yes” she replied. I explained to her that I too felt sad. I was sad that I made a nice breakfast for her and she didn’t eat it. I was sad for the wasted food and I was sad that she was still hungry. We talked about what she would like in her oatmeal and settled on a fruit that she isn’t sensitive to. I remade oatmeal and she ate it.

I wish I had learned early on that no one could make me feel anything I didn’t want to feel. I’m not suggesting that we don’t often feel things that we don’t like feeling. But this information is so helpful when raising children. They aren’t making us feel unappreciated or frustrated. WE are feeling that. There are more times than I can count when those feelings are all I hear. But, when I’m able to take a breath and step back, I realize that I’m exceptionally frustrated not because my kids are taking 30 minutes to eat a scrambled egg but because I’d like to get them to preschool on time. It’s all relative. Now that I’ve realized that my most extreme reactions are when I have a bunch of other things contributing to my feelings I’m better able to not take someone else’s overreaction personally.

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Quiet toddler entertainment kit

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I’m preparing for my sister in law’s wedding this weekend. Our entire family is in the wedding and DD & DS will be some of the only children at this wedding so I figured it’s best to put together an entertainment kit for them. In the past the kids have made excellent use of their magnent drawing boards but they no longer hold their attention for very long. My kiddos are now obsessed with writing with pencil on notepads. (YAY! Practice with letters!) So, to keep them quiet during the ceremony, I put together a quiet entertainment kit with one small new toy, colored pencils, stickers and a note pad. I may throw in a small pouch of applesauce. These bags that our Squooshi reusable pouches arrived in have come in handy!

entertainment kit

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A book in the works…

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I have had a book on the brain for some time now. Of course life likes to add roadblocks to our dreams but what kind of “dream come true” would it be if it were easy, right? So, 2 months post-op, with hormones slowly settling into their sweet spot, I’m feeling like I can get this dream accomplished. Unfortunately, I am still human with limited hours in the day. Soooo I will be cutting back on blogging even more. I have a product review in the works and I’m sure I’ll need to post something here once in a while, but… focus will be on the birth of this book. Part of the process will be digging up older cloth diaper related posts I’ve written and updating them. I’ll share links and post on Facebook when I update posts. The book is cloth diaper related – surprise! ;-)

I will continue to teach cloth diapering classes to the community as well as hold monthly meetings. I’m sure you can understand why it will be difficult to continue with updating the blog several times a week with all of this going on! I hope you’ll stick with me and enjoy the fruit of my labors in the end. And maybe send a prayer or thought or two my direction every once in a while because I know this will be a challenge!

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Flats and Handwashing Challenge 2013

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When I talk about cloth diapers to people that aren’t currently using them, I often get questions about how it’s possible to use cloth if you don’t own a washer or dryer. I also have many people concerned about how much it costs to start cloth diapering – even after I tell them that they can save $1,300 by the time their child is 2 years old!

In light of this question and concern, I want to talk to you about the Flats and Handwashing Challenge. Last year my kiddos were still in diapers and I joined Kim Rosas of Dirty Diaper Laundry in using flat diapers and handwashing them for one straight week. I have a hard time expressing all that I learned from this challenge but I will try to summarize it here.

First of all – what is the Flats and Handwashing Challenge? For one week, limit yourself to using flat diapers or single layer fabric folded into a diaper along with covers to diaper your baby/babies. During this week “unplug” from your washer and dryer and turn up the elbow greese and wash those diapers by hand! While this may seem like a silly challenge to many at first glance, I assure you, it is not. Below, I will explain why.

This challenge, in combination with discussions with Heather McNamara of the Real Diaper Association, made me realize that most any absorbent material can be a diaper. If you think you have to spend money to join in this challenge, I challenge you to use only what you already have! Do you have receiving blankets? Do you have flour sack or single layer dish towels? Do you have some old tshirts? Cut them in half (at the side seam) and you have 2 diapers! Have any old sheets you aren’t using? Cut them into squares! All of these items make for great diapers.

Flat diapers (what my grandmother used) are the easiest diaper to wash because they are only one layer of fabric. They dry the quickest as well, making them perfect for this challenge. Flats can also be folded to accomodate for different wetzones, absorbencies, and body types which makes them a great choice for families with more than one child in diapers.

This challenge does more than teach you that you can upcycle items in your home into a diaper. It also teaches you emergency preparedness. What if we had no electricity? What if there were no gas and stores were shut down and you couldn’t buy disposables? What if you had a limited water supply? Did you have to make some diapering changes during the recent hurricanes on the east coast? Ever wondered how to travel with cloth? Ahem… flats baby!

I used flats confidently on our trip to Mexico last year after having practiced during the Flats Challenge. I washed those diapers in the hotel sink like a pro! They dried on our balcony in less than 12 hours. I also took flats on a camping trip! Give me a bucket, a faucet, some detergent, gloves and half of an old tupperware meat marinade container (the little pyramid bumps on the container made a great washboard) and I’m set!

And…. I was able to put a combination of two flats, a trifolded washcloth (in the wet zone) and a fleece liner together for a nighttime diaper that worked for both of my twins! SCORE!

So, back to the original question. Can you use cloth diapers if you don’t have a washer? Yes. You can hand wash your diapers, take them to a laundry mat twice a week or use a diaper service. It’s totally doable. As for how much it costs to get started, you can buy an inexpensive cover for less than $10. Buy 6 covers, some diaper closures like pins, Snappies, or Boingos and upcycle some materials I suggested above and you can diaper a baby full time for under $100. If you want to get fancier over time, go for it, but you have the basics and will never have to buy a disposable diaper again!

P.S. I had a good time doing the actual handwashing also. It was therapeutic in the same way that most physical labor is. I also plugged my earbuds into my Kindle and blazed through a book that week while washing away. It was me time. :-)

If you are interested in joining the Flats and Handwashing Challenge it runs from May 20th-26th this year! I highly recommend it. Even if you don’t complete the challenge successfully the experience is an amazing educational foundation! Cheers to Kim for dreaming up such a great educational experience of a challenge!

Here are links to the posts I wrote while taking last year’s challenge!

Why I’m taking the Flats Challenge

What supplies I’m using for the Flats Challenge

My favorite way to use flats

My thoughts on handwashing

What tips I have learned so far

Talking flat diapers with my grandma

Final post – reflections

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Got diaper rash?

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diaper rash?I’ve been seeing many questions about diaper rash in cloth diaper boards lately so I figured now is a good time to post about common causes of diaper rash!

When using diapers there are a few reasons that diaper rash may occur. Baby may be sensitive to chemicals (in disposables or detergent with cloth), heat (disposable diapers don’t breathe well), fabric allergy, bacteria, yeast, teething (can change the pH of baby’s poo), eczema, and changes in diet (eating more acidic foods) can all cause diaper rash.

Through working with many moms, other leaders in the cloth diapering community as well as my own experience, I have learned some common causes of diaper rash in cloth diapers.

First – basic cloth diaper facts and washing recommendations:

Using cloth diaper safe detergent will prevent detergent build up in your diapers. Detergents with live enzymes can cause diaper rash. Detergents with optical brighteners are made to coat fabrics with a chemical that makes clothes appear whiter when light hits them. This coating will decrease absorbency of your diapers, may cause leaks, and may cause diaper rash.

Use cloth safe diaper rash creams. Any diaper cream that contains Zinc Oxide, Fish Oil, or Petroleum will coat your diapers, decrease absorption and  give bacteria something to cling onto. There are many cloth safe diaper creams. One of the safest and cheapest is organic coconut oil. (I put a small baby food jar in my diaper bag with coconut oil for any hint of redness.)

Basic washing directions for a full load of diapers (18-24 diapers) are:

Dump solid waste in the toilet

Warm rinse

Hot wash with detergent (and water softening agent if you have hard water)

Rinse on warm twice

Dry inserts in your dryer and hang dry AIOs, and covers to increase the life and maintain the best function of your covers.

If diaper is stained, lay the wet diaper in the sun (UV rays still work on cloudy days). If the stain is stubborn, re-wet and squeeze a little lemon juice on the stain. Rewash any diapers with lemon juice prior to use on baby.

If you have a Front Loader HE machine please check out this post I wrote for DiaperShops.com blog HERE.

For more details about washing visit the Real Diaper Association HERE.

So, your baby has a rash. To determine what the cause of the rash is, you need to answer several questions.

1) Do your diapers smell clean out of the wash?

If yes, skip to question number 2. If you answered no, you may have bacteria build up in your diapers. There are two common causes for bacteria buildup in cloth diapers.

A) You are not using enough detergent and your diapers are not getting completely clean. Check your diapers when they are on their last rinse cycle. Do you see soap bubbles? (Bubbles from water agitation are fine and will quickly pop. Bubbles from soap will linger and look lather like.) If you do not see soap bubbles increase your detergent by 1/2 tbsp and rewash your diapers. Continue increasing your detergent until you either see soap suds on your final rinse (which indicates too much detergent) or your diapers smell clean. If you have hard water you will find that it takes much more than the recommended amount of detergent to get your diapers clean. You can either use this larger amount of detergent or you can buy a water softening agent to add to your detergent.

B) You are using too much detergent or are not rinsing your diapers enough to remove all of the detergent used to wash them (you may also have leaks from decreased absorbency). If you see soap bubbles on your last rinse cycle you need to rinse your diapers until there are no more suds. Bacteria like to cling to things like soap or any other chemical coating your diapers which is why it is important to use a cloth safe, clean rinsing detergent.

C) You have used a barrier cream that is not cloth safe, causing bacteria to cling to this coating (you may also have leaks from decreased absorbency). To get that cream off of your diaper you will need to hand wash it with Dawn dish soap until removed. I say hand wash because dish soap in your washing machine can clog your washer and may void your warranty. Rinse these diapers by hand until suds are gone.

Note about bacteria buildup: To disinfect diapers check with your diaper’s manufacturer. My favorite method of disinfection is a few drops of Tea Tree Oil at the start of your wash. Many cloth users recommend BacOut, however some babies are sensitive to the live enzymes and may get a rash from using it. If you use BacOut, make sure you use it at the beginning of the wash, use very little and rinse very well.

2) Do your diapers smell like strong urine (ammonia) as soon as your baby pees? Do his/her overnight diapers knock you out when you change them in the morning?

A) You probably have ammonia build up. This causes an ammonia burn and the rash can sometimes blister. According to my pediatrician ammonia is the most common cause of diaper rash. Ammonia can build up in diapers because of too little water in the wash cycle, too little detergent (in hard water this is commonly fixed by adding a water softening agent like Calgon, RLR or Charlie’s Laundry Booster if you use Charlie’s Laundry Soap). See my post HERE for treating ammonia buildup.

Side note about ammonia buildup: Ammonia buildup frequently occurs around 12-18 months when baby’s urine starts to become more concentrated and their bladder holds more urine.

3) Is your baby sensitive to wetness?

A) Some babies are very sensitive to being wet. In these cases it is helpful to use a diaper liner. Make sure that the top layer of your diaper is fleece (synthetic) or raw silk (natural). Many pocket diapers have a pocket made of fleece. Fleece and raw silk allow moisture to pass through them and help keep baby feeling dry. Fleece liners also help babies sleep longer if they are waking from feeling wet!

B) Make sure you are changing baby every 2 hours during waking hours (or when you know they are wet or soiled). Frequent changes keep baby’s skin dry and prevent skin breakdown!

4) Have you (if breastfeeding) or your baby taken antibiotics?

A) If your baby has been exposed to antibiotics he or she may get an overgrowth of the normally small amount of yeast that is present in the body. (Check for thrush in the mouth as well.) A diaper’s warm and moist environment is a nice place for yeast and bacteria to flourish and this can cause a rash. Talk to your doctor about taking a good probiotic while on a antibiotic which will help keep yeast in check. To diagnose a diaper rash caused by yeast you should have your doctor swab the rash and culture for a diagnosis. Contact your diaper manufacturer for their recommendations about how to clear your diapers of yeast. Currently, the Real Diaper Association is doing the first lab experiment on how to kill yeast at home in your own washing machine. Check it out HERE!

Side note about yeast: Many a grandmother will tell you to put corn starch on a diaper rash to dry it up. Do NOT put corn starch on a persistent rash. If it is yeast, it will feed on cornstarch and get worse! :-(

5) Have you introduced a new diaper fabric? Has baby grown sensitive to your diaper fabric? 

A) Some babies can be sensitive to synthetic fabrics and some can be sensitive to wool. Natural fabrics include cotton, hemp, raw silk (liners) and wool. Bamboo is a wonderful material for diapers because it is a fast growing plant, causing less of an environmental impact than many other materials. Bamboo, however, is turned into a rayon in the process of becoming a fabric so that it is no longer a “natural” fiber. If you suspect your baby is sensitive to a fabric, try using cotton or hemp absorbent material (no need to buy all new diapers – fold up some dishtowels or t-shirts to see if the rash improves).

6) Is your baby sensitive to a chemical?

A) Babies can be sensitive to chemicals in detergents, barrier creams, wipes, cleansers and disinfectants. Have you introduced a new product that has brought on a rash? My son grew sensitive to disposable wipes and I found his skin cleared up quickly after we switched to cloth wipes! My pediatrician told me that all I needed to clean my baby’s bottom was water and I should have listened! Water cleans great and coconut oil is naturally antibacterial, so if using only water leaves you feeling uneasy, apply a layer of coconut oil after every diaper change. :-)

B) If you have changed detergents, try changing again or going back to your previous detergent. If it cleared up, take note of what was in the new detergent and compare the ingredients to your previous detergent to gain some insight to what your baby might be sensitive to. You could also try adding a rinse cycle to see if detergent residue caused the irritation.

Do you have another rash question I didn’t cover? Please leave a comment! I’m sure there are other issues that arise but these are some of the most common (and this post is already L O N G). I hope this answers many questions. I’d love to hear about your experiences and diaper rash cures!

This post includes affiliate links.

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The Ventura County Great Cloth Diaper Change 2013

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This year’s Ventura County Great Cloth Diaper Change was great! I am very grateful to the many volunteers that helped set up, sew the upcycled t-shirt bags and help me run this year’s event! There were many giveaway prizes (more than half the participants got a prize as well as their goodie bag)! Families from all across our county (and a few from outside of our county) got to meet up, talk about cloth diapers and discover some wonderful community resources! Thank you to Horizon Hills Preschool for opening up your arms to Ventura County’s Real Diaper Circle and The Great Cloth Diaper Change! For the most updated information about this year’s world record attempt please see the official Great Cloth Diaper Change site HERE. Our location had 66 babies participate!

The Horizon Hills playgrounds were open for children to play on and vendors were open for business at GCDC this year. You could learn about cloth diapering at the Real Diaper Circle of Ventura County’s table grab a snack, or purchase a wide variety of products including cloth diapers, eco-friendly toys, baby carriers, and hand crafted clothing and toys. Later in the afternoon, we had a free Kindermusik class with Miss Mary which kids and babies of all ages enjoyed!

If you missed out on this year’s Great Cloth Diaper Change you might be interested in participating in the 3rd annual Flats Challenge, hosted by Kim at Dirty Diaper Laundry! I participated last year and was thrilled about what I learned from the experience! Also, knowing how to wash diapers by hand would come in very handy in case of a zombie apocalypse. I’m just sayin…..

I hope you had as much fun at GCDC as I did! Our photos were limited due to not having a professional photographer (accepting volunteers for next year now) so if you have photos from this event please email them to me and I will add them!

official before and after photos

Click on photo twice to see details

Please see our local Great Cloth Diaper Change site for a full list of sponsors and give them some love!

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The neglectful blogger

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Here I am creeping back to my dashboard to post after a neglectful 2 and a half weeks. It seems like it’s been much longer than that since I posted but maybe that is only because this is the longest I’ve gone without publishing in the last 3 years! This time away from posting several times a week has given me perspective. I love to read and write and I dearly missed this outlet. After my hysterectomy (it’s been nearly a month now) it was difficult to sit at the table where I usually do my writing. It was difficult to set my laptop on my lap without discomfort and so I put off posting day after day. There were days begged for me to write! But, I couldn’t justify it when I was hardly keeping up with my ADLs (that’s nurse speak for “activities of daily living”).

I have to say that I believe some of my difficulties came from low estrogen levels. Recently, my doctor adjusted my hormone replacement therapy levels and things have improved. Those that saw me last weekend at our Ventura County Great Cloth Diaper Change would laugh at the thought that publishing a blog post was too much for me. I organized and implemented our event and am happy to report that it was a great success! I would, however, recommend NOT organizing a large event for one month post op. It was pretty intense and would have been impossible without volunteers to help but we did it!

So, although I have been a neglectful blogger for the past 2 and a half weeks, they have been weeks well spent. I’ve been recovering and moving cloth diaper mountains! Okay, maybe they were hills but if you think about how many disposable diapers are kept out of landfills with just one baby in cloth (several thousand on average), then maybe helping to convert a few families to cloth this week really was moving mountains!

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