Sunday, November 27, 2011

cloth diapering babies & toddlers

When I was pregnant we decided we'd use cloth diapers for the baby. I was able to try out a couple of different types while being my cousin's nanny so that helped narrow down the type we eventually decided on.

The Real Diaper Association states many reasons why a family should consider cloth diapering but I'll touch on a few that were most important to us:

Reducing trash: I'd always hated the idea of throwing so much garbage away and cloth diapering seemed like a doable way of reducing our waste. We do still use disposables when we're away from home for more than a day and for overnights but we've reduced our waste by using mostly cloth.

Reducing chemicals directly against baby's body: Disposable diapers use many chemicals including dioxin. According to the Real Diaper Association, dioxin is "a carcinogenic chemical, listed by the EPA as the most toxic of all cancer-linked chemicals.  It is banned in most countries, but not the U.S." Of course we're exposed to many chemicals on a daily basis, but this seemed like a good place to start reducing exposure. 

Reducing cost: This is a big one for us. For Devon, we spent $224.40 on 15 diapers that will last from birth to potty training. (I don't know the exact math for Tyler's diapers since they were a shower gift.) The average cost of disposables for two years is $1600 according to the Real Diaper Association. So we saved almost $1400! We choose to purchase new diapers for Devon since the velcro on Tyler's diapers needed replacing but were able to sell those diapers for $100 on Craigslist so really saved almost $1500. 

Devon at about a month old in a bumGenius 4.0 diaper

Cloth diapering isn't difficult and is something dads, grandparents, and babysitters can do easily. We use bumGenius one-size 4.0's. They're a waterproof pocket diaper that gets stuffed with a microfiber insert. We change the diapers just like disposables with the clean bumGenius pre-stuffed. When the dirty diaper comes off we take the microfiber insert out and put both pieces into a rubbermaid tub to be washed every other day. 

The basic washing routine is one cold rinse cycle with no soap. Then one hot cycle (not above 100° though) with a no-residue soap (we use Rockin' Green). Then one last cold rinse cycle with no soap. Then hang them to dry.

Tyler helping me with diapers,  May 2010

Cloth diapering seems difficult when you don't know much about it but it only takes a couple of extra steps for us (washing, stuffing diapers, etc). It really saves us a ton of money, makes me feel better about what's going against the boys' skin, and puts a bit less trash in the landfill. That's a win for me!

Does anyone else cloth diaper? If you do, what one thing would you tell someone considering cloth diapers? If you don't, what questions do you have about it? I will write more about it in the future but would love to answer some questions to help you make your decision about whether to cloth diaper your baby. 

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Saturday, November 26, 2011

thanksgiving pumpkin pie

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving with their families! We had a good time visiting with Aaron's family while eating turkey & pie!

I was tasked with making pumpkin pie. Actually two pumpkin pies. I've never made any pie except for banana cream pie. Pre-made graham cracker crust, a couple of bananas, and some banana pudding. Easy peasy. 

So I turned to Google and found a recipe at for Suzanne's Old Fashioned Pumpkin Pie. It didn't look too difficult so I gave it a try.

I went to the grocery store and got spices from the bulk spice section so I didn't have to buy a whole jar of some spices that I'd never use again. For the pumpkin, I wanted to buy a sugar pumpkin to cook and purée but I couldn't find one. Maybe shopping on the Monday before Thanksgiving was a bad idea. So I bought canned pumpkin purée. It turned out to be a good thing because I had a migraine all day Tuesday and didn't have much time for cooking pumpkins.

I started with a box of Betty Crocker crust and thought I'd just roll out the dough and be set. Turns out it's really quite difficult to roll out the dough. It said to roll it on a floured surface so that's what I did. Then when it didn't work it was so dry that I couldn't try it again. 

So it was time to run to the store and buy some Pillsbury pre-made pie crusts. I laid them down in the pans and put them in the oven for a few minutes. (My sister told me they cook better if they're partially cooked without the pie filling in them.)

All the spices and sugars got mixed together. 

Then the eggs, pumpkin, and heavy cream.

And then in the oven they went for 15 minutes on 425°, then turned down to 350° for about an hour. 

I whipped heavy cream, added a bit of sugar and vanilla for the topping. It turned out pretty good! Do you split cooking tasks in your family or does the host do all of the cooking? Did anyone else get assigned something they've never cooked before? Hope you all had your share of pie, I had my share and Devon's!

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Sunday, November 20, 2011

how we came to be a co-sleeping family

In Milwaukee there have been many babies dying in recent years due to unsafe sleeping arrangements, many reportedly in adult beds. So the Milwaukee Health Department just put out an new ad campaign to help reduce these deaths.

Sure gets your attention, but I don't think showing babies in beds with knives will help parents know how to put their babies to bed safely. They need to teach parents ways to help their babies sleep safely, either in a crib, co-sleeper, or in an adult bed. There are many benefits to co-sleeping (sleeping in the same room) and bedsharing (sleeping in the same bed) that they seem to ignore. Dr. Sears writes about the benefits here

How we ended up with four in our bed…
When I was pregnant with baby #1 (Tyler) we lived in Madison and had a crib all set up and ready for our new baby. A family member also gave us an Arm's Reach Co-sleeper that we set up and thought we'd use as a safe spot for the baby that was away from the dog, we never expected to be a co-sleeping family.

When we found out that we had an opportunity to move back to the Fox Valley we took down the crib and waited and waited and waited for Tyler to be born (he was born almost two weeks past his due date). During the crazy new baby days and moving to a rental house in another city with a 6-day old we used the co-sleeper next to the bed. Tyler was close and I could hear when he was getting hungry or could just put my hand on his belly to check on him.

There were a few nights that we tried putting Tyler in his crib but I was going back and forth from his room to ours between feedings many times a night and it seemed like I wouldn't hear him until he was screaming and very hungry. So most nights he was in the co-sleeper next to the bed.

Then we moved yet again when Tyler was three months old, this time to our own house! Tyler had been sleeping in the co-sleeper and then when Aaron went to work in the morning I'd bring him into our bed with me for a bit more sleep. At the new house we had the co-sleeper set up, and a crib in his room. Pretty soon Tyler ended up in our bed earlier in the morning or sometime in the middle of the night. But never in the crib.

I knew about safe sleep; no fluffy blankets or pillows, baby should be on his/her back to sleep, make sure baby can't roll off bed, don't let baby sleep by someone using drugs or alcohol, etc. (Dr. Sears has a Do's/Don'ts list here) and felt that we all slept better with him close. Aaron no longer was awake and trying to comfort a screaming baby. I would just roll over and feed him before he got to that screaming/starving/feed-me-now point. I didn't have to go across the cold house with a flashlight to get Tyler from his room because he was right next to me. And of course Tyler was happy to be fed without having to wake up much at all, I picked up on his feeding cues right away and he'd be right back to sleep. So he slept in our bed.

We ended up getting a toddler bed like this from Craigslist when Tyler was about 8 months old and he started taking naps in his big boy bed. We tried a few times to transition him full time to his toddler bed but we all slept better when he was already next to us. So sometimes he'd nap in the toddler bed but every night he was in our bed.

Fast forward to May of this year, Devon was born and we knew we wouldn't use a crib. We had a co-sleeper set up next to the bed again and Devon slept there for the first couple of months. Once we felt he was "big enough" we bought a bed rail for our bed (he was about 3 months old). In our king sized bed from the bed rail sleeps Devon, then me, then Tyler, then Aaron. Yes it's cozy but we like it.

our family bed

Of course there are risks we take with sharing a family bed but there are many risks we take every day with our children. How often do we think about how dangerous riding in the car is? We take precautions by buckling kids into their car seats and driving safely. We need to do the same for sleeping. Weigh the risks and then make a decision for our own family.

The Milwaukee Health Department is doing a good job of getting people's attention but I think we need to focus on safe ways for babies to sleep instead of the obvious ways not to.

Do you bedshare or co-sleep with your children? Were you planning on it or did it just evolve like it did with us? What do you think about the new ad campaign?

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Saturday, November 19, 2011

mama necklace

I'd been eyeing up this necklace for a quite some time. I first saw it on this blog in January but don't wear a lot of jewelry so didn't ever put my order in.

My birthday was a couple of weeks ago so Aaron ordered it and managed to get it from the mail box to hide it in the garage without me seeing it. But I did know it was on it's way, there are different chains and is personalized with the kids' names so he wanted to check what I wanted before ordering. 

I love it! Tyler likes to point out his and Devon's names and he says I'm the pearl in the middle. What a perfect little mama gift!

Maybe your little ones need to get one for you for Christmas!
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Sunday, November 13, 2011

best car seat for your baby/toddler

When you find out you're pregnant you know you need lots of things. But one of the most important things you need is the car seat. If your baby is born at a hospital, they won't let you leave without it! There are three main types of car seats; infant, convertible, and booster seats.

The best seat is one that fits your child, your car and your intended use. We chose to go with a convertible seat right from the start with both of the boys. We have two Evenflo Triumph seats. This is Tyler's seat as it goes up to 65lbs, Devon's is Tyler's old seat and goes to 50lbs. Both rear face from 5lbs so we could use them right away.

Some convertible seats have low weight limits but the harness isn't able to actually get low enough for that small of a baby. However we've never had fit problems with these seats, the harness goes quite low. Also, the harness adjustment is very easy to use which I think is important, we change between cloth and disposable diapers so it needs to be adjusted every time.

Both seats, Tyler's on the left and Devon's on the right

There are a few reasons why we chose to go with the convertible seat right away:

• Our seat fits from birth to preschooler, until they need a booster. So we were able to save the cost of an additional infant seat.

• All seats must meet federal safety standards whether infant, convertible or booster so we weren't sacrificing the safety of the kids by using just the convertible.

• The convenience of being able to bring the baby into the house or store using the snap in base wasn't important to us. I love carrying my babies and I can't imagine the back pain from carrying around a bulky infant seat so I just get the little one out of the convertible seat and strap him in the Ergo.

• I've read many places that the "back to sleep" rule and the overuse of car seats can lead to babies with flat heads. There's a good article about it here.

• We only have one car so we rarely have to take out and reinstall seats to another car, so the extra base in each car argument didn't apply to us. We also have an attached garage so we're out of the wind/snow/rain awesome Wisconsin weather when getting them into their seats at home.

The seat itself and the harness must be tight in order to protect the child in an accident. To get the seat tight I kneel in the seat while Aaron tightens the LATCH tether. For the harness, you shouldn't be able to fit more than one finger on their shoulders—if two stacked fingers can fit you need to tighten the straps.

So what do we do to keep them warm in the winter? If you put a bulky winter coat on your child and then buckle them into the seat, the harness won't be as tight as it should be. To keep kiddos warm in infant seats, many people use car seat covers but those don't work for convertible seats. Our solution? Devon wears a thin fleece snowsuit and Tyler wears a fleece jacket. And then each of them have a fleece tie blanket to cover up in the car.

How cute is a little sleeping bear?!

How do you keep your kids safe in the car? Did you use an infant or convertible seat? What do you do in the winter?

If you need information on car seats this is a great place to start. Also, check out my resources page for more good sites.

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Saturday, November 12, 2011

leaves and snowflakes

All in one week we raked 27 bags of leaves and played in the snow. Tyler was a leaf throwing machine! I love how toddlers can make a game of anything and keep running and running and running and running for hours. I wish I had the energy to keep up!

27 bags full and that's only the front yard!

The snow came before we could get to the back yard. But Tyler got out his shovel and got to work.

 And then he turned around and said it was too cold outside!

Has anyone else refused to buy their toddler boots until you can find some that aren't $35?! Or am I just cheap? Did your kids adjust to the switch from fall to winter?  How did they do with Daylight Saving Time? (We just let it push bedtime back by an hour but Tyler was a 10pm to 10am guy so 9pm-9am is much better!)

The summer t-shirts are going away and the winter jackets are coming out. A post about car seats and winter jackets is in the works.

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Sunday, November 6, 2011

why i carry my babies

There are so many reasons to carry your baby it's hard to put them into one blog post. I'm sure I'll talk about babywearing in more detail at another time but first, why do I carry my kiddos?

One of the main reasons I carry my babies is because they're born to need their parents. Babies get over-stimulated so easily and just being close to either of their parents tends to calm them (yes, dads can wear their babies too!).

Tyler and Aaron in New York City last fall

Also, it's so much easier to nurse them while they're already attached to me with a carrier. My arms don't get tired, it's easier to position them and it's easier to keep myself more covered when we're out in public. I've nursed the boys while walking through Target and no one's noticed!

I like being able to do things with Tyler while I'm carrying Devon so having two hands free is great. It also saves my back, the weight is distributed more evenly between my hips and shoulders instead of tipping to the side with a big car seat.

Both of our kids have had stronger necks and no flat heads from being held so much. Devon had to go to a physical therapist because he was preferring to look to one side. She gave me a bunch of exercises and we came back in about a month to see how he was doing. Life got away from us and I'd forgotten to do most of the exercises but I was carrying him everywhere, just making sure to turn his head the opposite direction. When we went back she said she'd never seen a baby improve so fast and asked what we did. We carried him!

There are many types of carriers that I'll touch on at a later time but in case you're wondering, right now we have three carriers.
1. A ring sling that I used mostly for the couple of months when Tyler and Devon were still really light. (although they were born at 9lbs and 9lbs 3oz so they weren't that light!)
2. A Kelty hiking backpack carrier, ours is much older but it's the same sort of thing.
3. And by far my favorite, an Ergo.  I use this one daily!

The family in Canada this August

We also had a Moby Wrap and an Infantino baby carrier like this one, and I handmade a mei tai carrier using the tutorial here. But I've since sold those in favor of the three above.

This just happened last week…my Ergo was in the car with Aaron and I couldn't find my sling so I found a piece of fabric that was long enough for a wrap. It's the leftover from curtains for the boys' room. My arms were so tired from holding Devon all day I needed a way to attach him to me!

Excuse the terrible photo, crabby baby and I don't know how to use the nice camera!

Have you used a baby carrier? Which ones do you like? Are you afraid of carriers because of the recalls lately? (Psst…There are safe ways to carry babies in many carriers! We'll talk about that another day!)

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Saturday, November 5, 2011

pumpkin painting

Tyler is still a bit young to really get into pumpkin carving but I wanted to do something with the pumpkins we picked at the pumpkin patch. I saw this idea over here a couple weeks ago and thought Tyler would have fun with it too.

First we started out with some blue painters tape covering a large portion of the pumpkin. Then I used a marker to draw on a simple face.

With an X-acto knife I cut along the lines just through the tape. (Tyler wanted teeth but then decided he didn't so that's why those didn't get cut out.)

Then I stripped him down to his undies and let him at the paint. We used washable kid's paint that we had in an old plastic egg container to make it easy for him to dip the brush.

Here is the other pumpkin we did, all ready for paint.

Then I just removed the tape and used a hair dryer to speed up the drying. And here they are, two colorful pumpkins for the porch.

Since they were washable paints we knew they'd wash away if it rained, which it has this week so our pumpkins are back to orange. If you wanted it to last longer you could use a spray sealer.

Tyler seemed to have fun with it this year but maybe next year we'll try carving with him. How old were your kids when you started carving pumpkins with them? What are your favorite Halloween projects for the kiddos?

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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

november calendar

Each month I'll share a desktop calendar with you. This month features Crusty Rusty, my 1972 Schwinn Typhoon.

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