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I have been married for 6 years now, stay at home with my two wonderful boys (2 1/2 and 5 mo). I also watch 5 other children in their home part time. I cloth diaper both of my boys, using hand knit, by me, wool covers and prefolds. I try and make a lot of our food from scratch and hopelessly fail at keeping house, but I try.

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Pros and Woes of Cloth Diapers 2

Ok, so finally it's here ;) The first Woe of cloth diapering.

Washing Cloth Diapers.

So the laundry itself is not a woe at all. Unless something goes wrong. It can be a pain in your rear to find something suitable for a super sensitive skinned little baby. That would be my Dizzy. He actually started bleeding from his man parts at one point, due to his sensitivities to fragrance. Of course our uninformed Doc told us that his eczema was causing the bleeding from the very inside of the tip of his manhood. Eczema, really? Whatever, give me a new doc please, and pronto. Our new doc cloth diapered at least a few of his five kids and homeschools. He suggested trying a new detergent. And it worked!!!

Now however, that Dizzy is out of dipes but Little G is still in them, well duh. . . he's only 5 months old, we're having buildup issues. Here are a few problems buildup can cause:

Repelling (your dipes wont absorb as nicely or quickly, causing leaks and whatnot)
Icky Smells (the dirt doesn't get cleaned out as well due to the repelling)
Stains (since the water and possibly detergent can repel rather than sink in and rinse out, the stain fighting power is useless)

Repelling and Smells are the worst problems to me, but stains really bother some people. To me, it just seems that the babe's only gonna poop on it some more anyway, so what's the point?

Here are some causes:

Wrong Diaper Cream. . . . anything that doesn't state it's safe for cloth diapers is OFF LIMITS! Anything that creates a barrier on your babe's bum, will do the same on your diapers!! If you're using a widely available at the supermarket or department store brand or a perscription cream. . . . be safe and use some 'sposies. Here are my favorite brands, Northern Essence (scroll down and see their Better Butter Cream) is only available online now and Cj's Sewing Room is available at Circle Me and Top to Bottom or online. There are plenty of options out there. In fact just dabbing a bit of olive oil on your baby bum will keep eczema at bay and lots of naked time will help with rash prevention. You may be lucky enough to never need anything at all!! And remember just because it's all natural doesn't mean it's safe to use on your diapers, and most cloth friendly creams are all natural and less complex anyway!

Wrong Diaper Detergent. . . again, I don't like to use anything that's not specifically made for use on cloth diapers to wash them in. I actually use Rockin' Green or Allen's on EVERYTHING not just diapers. It's just as inexpensive as the cheap stuff at Walmart anyway, when you look at how much, or should I say how little you need to use anyway. Other than Allen's I would really stay away from anything that's a liquid. I've heard scary chemical burn stories about Charlies, but have not seen anything first hand. I tend to think it has more to do with sensitive skin than anything, but I wouldn't try it out myself. Some people swear by different 'free and clear' brands or cheaper powder detergents. I think if you're lucky and have the right kind of water you might be able to get away with it, but I can't. The cheaper a detergent is the less filler ingredients they have, so it could work I suppose. My best friend says that Country Save works great on her diapers and didn't cause any buildup at all, and I plan on trying that out soon myself, just to see. Here is a great chart to use when selecting detergents for diapers. Some of the things to avoid in your detergents are whitening enzymes (which can actually cause horrible blistering rashes on some babies according to Diaper Jungle) and soap products. The Diaper Jungle also recommends staying away from the following in your laundry detergent or wash cycle:

Bleach, due to it's wear and tear on fabrics and possibility of damaging the waterproofing of certain diapers
Fabric Softener, a big no no in the CD world. It causes that horrible buildup we talked about earlier. Don't even use it on your normal clothing, ever if you dry your diapers in the dryer. It puts a coating on your dryer that then gets on your dipes. Bad news kiddos. Don't do it! Besides most things don't need a softener of any sort if you wash your clothes with something that doesn't cause buildup in the first place. . . just like you don't need stain fighters as often if you use something that doesn't coat your clothing like commercially available detergents. For things like Fleece, that always need some static control throw some wool dryer balls or tennis balls in the dryer with them. If your clothing or diapers are a bit stiff out of the dryer add some vinegar. It helps neutralize body odor on your clothing too.
Pure soap, which causes a buildup of soap scum on your diapers. That equals buildup and repelling issues.

So my diapers are repelling or stinky. Now what do I do?

Strip 'em. And strip 'em good. Here are a few techniques to try.

A) Take your clean diapers (normal wash routine w/ detergent) and run them through 3-5 more hot washes w/out any detergents. You may even choose to turn your water heater up for the day to make sure you get the most out of your stripping. Send the kids to the park with dad though. . . don't want any burns on sensitive hands! Continue washing or rinsing until your water runs clear and suds free.

B) If you DO NOT have a HE machine you can use a squirt of dawn in your initial wash before your hot washes. This would be in place of your normal detergent. Make doubly sure to check that the rinse water is completely suds free ;)

I would like to state here that I have come across some sites recommending using the dishwasher. It's a fire hazard, use your brain.

Check out Zany's Zebra's Stripping methods and what to do if stripping doesn't work.

You can also boil your diapers, though it's a lot of tedious hot work and it's easy to get burns. I wouldn't do it if the kids are anywhere around you, somebody will have a nasty burn, so wait until they are in bed, or send them to Grandma's for the day ;) And make sure you enjoy your favorite forbidden treat while they're gone! Mine is anything with a good amount of pb on it since Dizzy's allergic. I have done this before, but without much success, which is why we're stripping again!!

You may need to wash your machines or add a water softener if things are shaping up with proper laundering. This article gives detailed instructions for cleaning your washer ;) To clean your dryer I would start by wiping it clean with a damp rag, then using hot soapy water to get it nice and clean, possibly dawn detergent. Then plain hot water to rinse it off, I would even change the water and rinse it a second time. Then spray it with a vinegar and water mix (using a 1:1 ratio) and rinse again before wiping dry. Make sure the first load through the dryer isn't your diapers, just in case!

Well, a little more informed, I"m about to go strip my diapers since we have smelly issues ourselves.

Be prepared for a break for the next two days. . . Sunday is Halloween after all ;)

Thursday, October 28, 2010


Wow, I did my readers a great diservice! I am so sorry!! Monday I was all excited about my week long series. . . and then here it is Thursday and I haven't even added a second installment! Tuesday I took the boys on a play date to the zoo, Wednesday I took them on a play date to make monster cupcakes and it's just been so busy. Of course I had plenty of time in the evenings, just completely forgot, even though I had a good idea for Tuesdays installment.

I guess I'll do that tonight. We just finished making popcorn balls. Dizzy had a great time, though most of it was spent eating the melted marshmallows! We made them orange they will be at Hub's office for the trick or treaters. Dizzy had the idea for popcorn balls, or maybe just inspired me to make them. He saw them on Unwrapped on the Food Network channel and wanted some. So naturally we made them, thankfully we have reasons to get rid of them easily! Maybe we'll make them to share with our cousins on Halloween and for church that morning, if we have time.

Ok, look forward to seeing Diaper Pros and Woes 2 this evening/ tomorrow morning!

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Pros and Woes of Cloth Diapers 1

I decided to start posting a little more frequently so to rev up my engine I'm posting on the pros and woes of using cloth diapers all week. Each day I"ll choose either a Pro or a Woe to rant on, trying to alternate them, but finding the woes for me is a bit hard. . . since I love a bubbly cd'd (cd= cloth diaper) butt!

Pro Number One

It's easy to save money. For your most cost efficient cloth diapering experience you can get started for less than $100 and be set for your entire diapering experience. Is this how I did it? No, it takes more time than I have and the desire to sew. . . a lot ;) You buy, or even collect from friends 100% cotton t-shirts and 100% feltable wool sweaters (as in labeled HAND WASH ONLY). If you're buying, only stick to the cheapest you can find at the thrift, I wouldn't pay more than $1 per shirt/sweater and if the sweater is prefelted that's even better, it just saved you a load of wash! Go here to learn how to make your own cloth diapers from your t-shirts and here to learn how to turn that unwanted wool into fabulous covers!!! You can also purchase inexpensive PUL covers to use instead of wool. I suggest Thirsties Duo sized covers. They come in two sizes and fit my boys at birth (both were 8 lbs 3oz on the dot) and Dizzy, being almost 25 lbs with a crazy long rise fits great in the size 2. For the average kid and situation you'll need about 25-36 prefolds or cloth diapers. If you're using covers instead of (all in one style) AIO's or Pockets then you'll need about 4-6 of those, but can get away with less.

You'll still save some money if you choose inexpensive pockets, AIO's or fitteds. Here is a good description of the different styles of cloth diapers. However I used prefolds and Thirsties, then purchased new and used fitteds with extra money. You can also get gently used diapers to save money too. In Lincoln NE Circle Me has a consignment day at least once a year. In Elkhorn NE Top To Bottom Baby Boutique does too. I only use PUL covers at bedtime and hand knit (by me of course!) woolies during the day.

If you're thinking that you'll be spending more money washing them. .. think again!! The normal wash cycle suggested for using cloth is a cold rinse (many dunk/swish their dipes in the toilet before putting them in the pail. . . I don't, waste of time) to get rid of the uckies. Then do a hot wash with diaper safe detergent. I use Rockin' Green and love it, I"ve also had good luck with Allen's and my BFF loves Country Save. Follow your hot wash with two cold rinses. On my machine that's older than dirt the wash cycle is followed by a rinse already, so I only add one more rinse. How much extra water was that? Um, 2 rinses. I usually throw in our towels if the washer isn't full enough. Then put them in the dryer. I don't buy ANYTHING that can't be dried on high heat. Air dry your PUL if you wish, but I don't. I actually have to do two runs through the dryer or one dryer and then hang on the line after that. You can sun dry them completely and not use the dryer at all. I do about 3 loads of diapers a week. NOT A LOT!!! See here on using and caring for wool. . . I'd go into it, but it would just be a repeat of all this wonderful information.

Ok, so you'll need to consider other necessary items when cd-ing. Wipes? Gerber washcloths work great, and are really inexpensive. Water works perfectly or you can google wipes recipes or even buy premade solutions or cubes to dissolve in water. Water is cheaper, duh, and I add a drop of olive oil since it's so good for the skin. Where to put the dirty diapers? I use a plastic pail with a swinging lid, I got it at goodwill for less than $5. Wet bags (PUL lined bag usually with a zip top) are great for out and about, and since they zip close there's less chance of smells, but w/ good cleaning I don't really notice any anyway. I also just use grocery sacks or zip top bags in a pinch w/ no problems. Pins or snappies are cheap. I like either one just fine, but hubs loves the snappy! diaper creams. . . get a cloth diaper approved cream, it's a must and doesn't cost any more than name brands that have all kinds of unpronounceable things in them.

All in all cloth diapering is inexpensive. . . unless you're buying the trendy more expensive brands which really aren't that much better than than the cheapo stuff ;)

A word on the cost of sposies: using Target brand (my preferred choice) I can spend about $15 a week if I change every two hours except at naps and bedtime. That's $60 a month or $720 a year. For three years that's $2160. That's based on the size 2 diaper, 42 diapers in a pack for $7. Then there are wipes, garbage bags, fancy pail systems (waste of money even if you do use 'sposies, just toss the stinky ones outside, DUH!) and what if your kiddo is allergic. . . it happens, then you need to try other styles/brands etc. What if you want all natural, chemical free, organic or whatever. . . more $$$ Now, it's easy to get your cd stash up to that price if you're not careful, but ask for a cloth diaper baby shower, if your friends and family are at least supportive (the more informed they are the more likely they will be) you'll get a lot from that. The average stash of AIO's and Pocket's is around $300-$500 depending on brands, sales and so on.

You can do this, because ANYONE can do this. . . proof? I did it, I'm sticking with it. . . and I really can't stick to anything!!!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Potty Training Success :D

I'd like to share my plan for potty training with the world. I am going to start by saying everyone is different, what works for one family is not going to work for every family. Likewise what works for one child may not work for their sibling, but here's what I did including what worked and what didn't.

It started in December before Gee was born (that would be 2009) when Dizzy was diaperless due to the constant battle with rashes. He was pretty good at staying dry for hours on end, but still, he wasn't even two yet. He accidentally peed on the couch and freaked. The child can't stand a mess, it's hard to believe he's really mine! So I grabbed a frog potty that we had ready to go and I suggest always having your potty training gear on hand BEFORE the need arises. I put it in front of him and said here is your potty. I pointed to his man parts and told them what they are called (we use proper names in our house) and told him that's where pee comes from. Then I pointed to the potty and told him this is where pee belongs. He loved peeing in it and dumping it in the potty. Yes, I let a not yet two year old dump his own pee. . . but he loved it, and if he hadn't been peeing in the potty it'd been on the floor anyway, so what harm was done? HE STAYED DRY, USING HIS POTTY ALL DAY!!

So after a week of all undies, he decided he was done and went back to diapers. I thought I'd try it again in January, but I didn't really try very hard. He just wasn't ready and I wasn't ready to fight him for it.

Then Gee was born in May, between the last potty interest in December and Gee's birth, Dizzy continued to stay dry for hours at a time and would pee on command, but we didn't press the issue. Then after Gee's birth, nobody had any patience for the training, so I only asked him to go if I was changing him, and he usually would.

In August I decided that we would start our own form of boot camp for potty training. I put him in undies and let him do what he wanted. Since he can get himself dressed and undressed with minimal assistance here's what the plan was: If he peed his pants (this would be due to his desire to stop playing and spend 3 minutes to use the potty) he had to change his own clothes. My motto was "your pee, your job". I was very matter of fact about it. I didn't get mad, frustrated or chide him (ok, so I did my best, but I"M only human right?). If he pooped I helped him with that mess, I wasn't really so concerned with him being trained for that yet. Whatever he was playing with, or doing was over when he peed himself. Pretty soon, he started to get the picture. If he had a movie in, believe you me, he did not pee his pants. I still have to stop it to ask him if he needs to go, bcs he just wont go in the middle of Finding Nemo. However, he was desperate for the special treat of watching a movie. If he was playing out side, well we had to go in and we were done playing outside for awhile. If he had his Mega Blocks out we had to put them away and find something else to do. If he's too busy to use the potty (which by this time he could do completely unassisted until he needed his undies pulled back up) then he's too busy to play. Soon we were staying dry very regularly, including when we go to a family's house to watch their kids for 2 hours after school. So we started wearing undies to church. Not such a good idea. Even though he normally would not have an accident at that time, there was always too much going on, and Dizzy is too independent to ask to go potty. He usually just goes. So our current plan is he wears undies to church, then as soon as he gets in the nursery he puts a pullup on, but is still expected to use the potty. He also wears a pull up for errands.

Yesterday we went to the zoo. He was in his undies, and stayed in them the whole trip. He still has some problems with number two, but is slowly getting the idea. We use treats, but he only gets them if he asks for them after pottying. For poop he gets a bigger treat, of course, since it's more work ;)

Here are a few pointers:

~Always be reassuring, loving and gentle when accidents happen. After all you wouldn't punish your kid for falling off his bike would you?

~wait until they are physically ready. This means they can pull their own pants down, and it's helpful if they can get them back on again. They can hold their bladders for at least 3 hours with out prompting, and can pee when they sit on the potty.

~Get a kid potty and a potty seat adapter thing and let them do WHATEVER THEY WANT with it. Dizzy like wearing his on his head and making the frog jump while he sat on it. His frog also growls. You do want both because some kids will only use one type (then gift the other to a friend/thrift store) or will like using both. Dizzy goes back and forth. I love it when he sits on the big potty and reads through my old magazines!

~Never punish them for putting ANYTHING in the potty. . . after all that's what it's there for! Just make sure to supervise them when they're anywhere near it.

~Using treats is great, but beware when the treats are done, they may be too :) I tapered Dizzy off by not reminding him or mentioning his 'pee pee tweets'. I only gave them to him when he asked (and was dry before going pee!). I also combined this with teaching his colors. To get the treat he had to tell me what color it / they were ;)

~have fun!

I'm sure theres' more I could add, but this is too long, I'm starving and it's lunch time! Bacon and eggs here I come!

Friday, October 8, 2010

My first class!!!!

Yes! I'm teaching a Knitting Class tomorrow for Create for a Cause at our church! At the same time I can't wait, but I"m also super nervous. I've never taught a class before, and I've got my own way of knitting, nothing special, just not the 'proper' form. A knitting snob might tell me I'm doing it wrong and would definitely chide me for teaching ;) But it's too late, I signed on to teach, so here I go!

We are knitting for Haiti (Create for a Cause is based on meeting needs) and we will be making personal care kits as specified by Global Knits. So the 12X18" hand towel is what we'll be making tomorrow and I thought that would be simple enough to do with out a pattern for a beginning project. We'll just CO 12" then do the Stockinette stitch for 3" add an eyelet row, knit for a total of 15" add an eyelet row, then knit the last 3" and call it done. This teaches the CO, Knit and Purl stitches, the eyelet stitch and BO. That should be easy enough right? I hope so. It'll be an easy enough place for starters ;) Then the following month we'll move on to the face cloth, which will be slightly more complicated. It's a garter stitched cloth, made in the diagonal, with an eyelet border as well as some short rows for pointy corners. I'll be using Knittycat's dishcloth pattern. This will teach knitting on the diagonal (think increase and decrease), reinforce the eyelet concept and add in short rows. Now the student can knit anything flat, and it would only take a few more steps to learning in the round!! Wish me luck, and if you are in the area, ask for directions to the church! Starts at 10am. Before I forget, to meet global knits requirements we have to adjust KnittyCat's cloth to make it 10X10. I am kinda worried about that, but I guess as long as it's the right size and shape we're good!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Sheep That Knits

So I've been quite busy knitting my life away the last day or two. I finished up a much needed pair of longies for little Gee (and they are just so cute!) and a hat for his bald little head. Now to keep his hands warm. . . . mmmmm. . . . BABY MITTS! Yay! But how can I make the average baby mitt more functional?! I love multi-function items, and mitts are pretty single-function. How about armwarmers to stretch out the usage of short sleeves going into fall and winter? Sweet, so we'll start just above the elbow and rib our way down to the hands, knitting to the end. But what about my mouthy little boy? He loves to chew and suck on his fingers (which bothers some mommies, but not this one). What do I do when he's in chew mode? To still keep his arms nice and warm but give him usage of his fingers, I'll make them flip open. . . or maybe even fingerless mitts with an added. . . . um. . . . not gonna work! Fingerless mitts on a 5 month old? Dumb idea there. Ok, so they'll flip open! Free pattern to come soon ;)

Monday, October 4, 2010

Checking in and Catching Up

I guess I should probably post a new blog updating the world on what I've been up to these days! I had planned on introducing the Sleepy Sheep Soap Sack on October 2nd at Circle Me in Lincoln NE. Well, I had a hard time getting the bugs worked out, mainly getting hand made soap to not melt. I'm just guessing here, but here's my theory. Hand made soap is usually so much more moisturizing and less processed that it is in a less dry state than your average over the counter soap. A wonderful soap making friend of mine informed me that normally commercially made soaps have undergone another process to remove moisture from the glycerin so they can make more money selling it (the moisture) to the lotion/facial cleanser companies. So long story short, I think that's why hand made soaps melt more easily into a cotton sack than dried up (and skin drying) soaps from the stores. Currently I plan to battle that by making soap sweaters, totally encasing the soap with a fine weight wool that will shrink and felt around the soap. I've tried it with a half used bar of soap and a bit bulkier wool (that's what I had on hand ;), and while it does melt the soap, it generally keeps the soap from melting all over the place. So I think this will help a lot and even 'save' your soap. Of course people want to know what they can do with the leftover sweater, once the soap is gone. . . anything you want is what I say. a fully cleaned one can be made into a cat toy by snipping it open, adding some catnip and stitching it closed. A clever girl (or boy) can even add some eyes and a tail using thread (your kitty could choke on a loose button). They can be used as an air freshener/ fragrance infuser/ whatever-you-want-to-call-it by adding some essential oils to it. Put it in your dryer to make clothes smell great without using the dryer sheets that coat your clothing (and ruin your diapers!). Use it as a scrubbie. . . or just toss it. Really, that's ok too ;)

So instead of my soap sacks I brought a ton of wash cloths and a pair of longies that I made up, as well as offered custom fit soakers/longies etc. While my crochet wash cloths didn't drum up a ton of business, my soakers brought on a lot of possible future business. So I'm pretty excited to get started on that, as soon as I can. That probably wont happen until close to the first of the year though.

So what's my plan from here on? Knit up some soap sweaters to sell, see how well they are recieved. maybe I"ll make a few up for gifts and get reviews before offering them up for sell. I've got to knit up at least two soakers/ longies for G, and maybe one for Dizzy, as well as a promised scarf for a beloved sister. Then? start advertising custom knits for kiddo's whether it be soakers (of any style) or whatever on Etsy and maybe even Craigslist since I"d like to get a local following.

BTW, sorry for the scattered writing. I"ve got a cold and I"m just a little underslept. . . I am a VERY SLEEPY SHEEP these days!