Friday, June 26, 2009

Mardy bums and cloth diapers

As I've mentioned before, we mainly use cloth diapers on North and only use disposables on him when we're away from home for more than a few hours.  A few people I know are interested, (and with upcoming babies on the way!) so I wanted to share a brief glimpse into our chosen system for absorbing our child's waste material.

While pregnant, I studied all the different types of cloth diapering and saturated myself in the cloth diapering world. Eww.  But I don't say 'world' lightly.  There is a lot of information out there and it can all be quite intimidating for sure.  Each time I learned about a different cloth diapering system, I would start spamming Dave with links announcing each to be the perfect solution for us!  

But the system that ended up working for us turned out to be the old standard prefold---well a diaper service quality, unbleached indian prefold, if you want to get specific. I bought these after I found out how small North was in utero and realized he wouldn't fit into the Fuzzi Bunz pocket diapers or the Bumgenius one-size diapers I found for him gently used on craigslist.  (To anyone that is grossed out by the thought of used diapers, I want you to know they were not crusted in other baby feces.  They were not rank with the hundreds of layers of previous poop that came before we enveloped them around our kid's bottom, thanks.) But seriously, nothing about cloth diapering is what you've heard it is.  Either that, or I'm chugging my own kool-aid over here.

It is not my intention to get into all of the different types of cloth diapers out there.  I've linked to this guide several times now and I'm becoming worried they think I want sponsorship or something at this point.  But it is a good site that can get you quickly well-versed.  I'm no encyclopedia, but I'd like to list a brief explanation of why I chose each style.  This may get pretty boring, but I'll try to use the word poop a lot to keep it fun.

Fuzzi Bunz Pocket Diaper---I snagged a good deal on craigslist for 12 small pocket diapers that fit 7-18 pounds early on in my search.  The train print on a few of them caught my eye.  They sell new for $15 - $20 per diaper, but I got mine for $10 each.  Pocket diapers require a bit more work in the laundry department because you have to stuff the absorbent insert into the pocket of the waterproof shell before putting it on your baby.  But once that's done, it's much like changing a disposable diaper.  They have adjustable snaps to help fit your baby as it grows. And they help wick the moisture away from your baby's skin and therefore help to prevent diaper rash too. But you have to buy a bigger size as your baby grows. (Edited to add, Fuzzi Bunz now makes one-size diapers like the Bumgenius ones discussed below.)

Bumgenius One-Size Pocket Diaper---As the one-size implies, this is a diaper that will supposedly fit your baby from 7 to 35 lbs.  In theory, it should be the only diaper you should ever need to buy and maybe that is true for some babies.  They sell new for $17 - $25ish per diaper depending on your organic needs. Again, I found mine on craigslist for $12 per diaper and they were still in the packaging.  Used diapers of the Bumgenius variety sell for roughly about 75% of their retail value depending on wear and tear.  But even that can add up to quite a chunk of change when you need about 20-30 diapers.  There is also the option of reselling them down the road too.  Although expensive, for a one-time purchase, this system can provide significant savings over time.

I also bought some all-in-one diapers that are the most like disposables of all the different cloth diapering methods.  The absorbent insert is sewn right into the diaper and no prep work stuffing is needed.  They take longer to dry because they are one big cushy piece.  Currently, they work great for an overnight diaper for Sir Peesalot.

And finally, our favorite current method: prefolds and waterproof covers.  They are only an average of $1.75 to $2.50 per diaper, whereas the covers are about $11-13 each.  We use a $2 - $3 snappi to hold the diaper in place and the covers have velcro closures.  This site has some packages that come with your choice of 6 or 12 prefolds, 2 covers and 1 snappi, plus free shipping (Click prefold diapers, then click diaper packages)  They work well for daytime use.  The prefold diapers get washed every time they are soiled obviously, but the covers can be swapped out at each diaper change until your next laundry day. 

We keep our cleaned-up but old stainless steel garbage can by the diaper changing station lined with a pail liner.  Each prefold is thrown poop and all (currently anyway) into the dry diaper pail.  Once his poops become more formidable opponents, we will have to address elimination methods for them before the diaper goes in the washer.  When it's time to wash, we just gather up the full waterproof pail liner and carry it to the washer.  Since we have to wash the diapers, I decided to use cloth wipes too.  I made mine out of flannel and terry cloth a few weeks before North arrived.  You can easily buy them online too.

Currently, we do diapers and light clothes laundry about 2-3 times a week.  The washing is not nearly as involved as I was afraid it would be.  In fact, I actually enjoy the process of cleaning North's diapers.  First, I throw the wet bag filled with diapers into my front loader washing machine and sprinkle with 1/4-1/2 cup of Borax.  I run them through a quick rinse cycle.  Once the poop and pee has gone through the initial rinse, I add other laundry to the load.  Then I add cloth diaper friendly soap (All Small and Mighty) and 1/4 cup of vinegar (no fabric softener!) to the load.  I add an extra rinse cycle at the end too.

Since it is summertime, I gather up all the freshly washed  cloth diapers and sun them outside for a few hours.  Once they are sunned and dry, I add them to the other laundry patiently waiting in the dryer.  This softens up the cloth diapers and helps to quickly dry the other wet laundry in a more green manner.

No system is a perfect system though and we've had leaks and poop explosions (hi this morning!) with cloth diapers.  That has more to do with us not putting them on properly and the awesome power of my child's butt than any failure of the diaper though.  As long as I don't have to fork over countless bucks every month to support my kid's pooping habit, I'll gladly do a little laundry.  Plus, I like that we're keeping some crap out of the landfills too.  

To all the naysayers I spoke to about cloth diapers while still pregnant that uhh...naysaid, "yeah, you say you'll use cloth diapers now...just wait until that kid gets here."  

Hi.  I'm still cloth diapering my kiddo.  Dave and I actually enjoy it.  But I appreciate your support about what we let North defecate upon nonetheless.  

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Green thumbed baby

This is how I find him every morning, diligently watering away.  He must army crawl his way up the steps from his crib, open the sliding door that leads to the container garden on the deck, and wrestle the hose off its perch.  I haven't figured out how he turns the spigot on the rain barrel yet.  He's not nearly tall enough.  Maybe our dog Jake is involved somehow?  Wouldn't surprise me considering the stray Jake hairs I'll occasionally find clenched in North's fist.  Evidence from his morning rendezvous!

I don't blame him for his love of the garden.  There is nothing more satisfying than feeling the early morning sunlight as you sip a cup of coffee (or suck your binkie) and water the garden in your pajamas.  It is especially beautiful now, while the plants are producing fruit.

We're a member of a CSA and pick up weekly produce from a local farm, so this year, we kept the container garden simple:

3 tomatoes of varying sizes, grape to medium-large
1 fajita bell pepper
1 yellow bell pepper
1 red bell pepper
2 jalapeno peppers
1 zucchini
3 basil
There is also an accidental garden growing out of last years compost bin.  So far, it seems to be growing acorn squash and cucumbers maybe?

Going back to work will mean that North and I cannot water the garden together in the morning anymore.  But I have a feeling that will become special Daddy and Northie time soon enough.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

I like turtles

This is Gollum, he's our turtle.  This is how we found him four years ago.  Dave had lost his wedding band and after months of searching, he had given up hope on finding it and ordered a new one.  Then one day as he was vacuuming up leaves, he saw a tiny turtle and beside it was his long lost wedding ring.  Because the poor little guy only had one good eye and would likely end up a statistic of natural selection, we felt it our duty to raise him.  We named him Gollum, former keeper of the ring.

Cute story right?  

Well today, as I was walking by the turtle tank while burping North, I saw him assuming a pretty dirty position in his glass swimming dish.  That's where he poops.  I saw a strange thing emerge from the area I assumed was his butt, thinking maybe that was turtle poop coming out.  But the thing kept coming and I realized it was purple.  Turtle poop is green, not purple.  

"Geeez uhz!" I thought while turning North's innocent eyes away.  It was Gollum's winky woo!

Here is what it looks like, if you dare!  Yes, this means I googled "turtle penis". 

I became worried that Gollum was lonely.  Perhaps even made more lonely by the fact that we bought him a half-size stone turtle that sits in the corner of his tank.  He mounts it occasionally.  But no, the display I witnessed is just normal turtle behavior.  Sounds hygienic according to this excerpt from Darren Naish's article "Terrifying sex organs of male turtles".

"Sometimes males will distend their organ neither while mating, nor while in the presence of females. Usually while bathing or drinking, the turtle will submerge the front half of his body, rise up on his back legs, and drop his organ through the cloaca. It is a sight to behold, and one that can startle both novice and experienced herpetoculturalists alike. The organ itself is large in proportion to the turtle, and dark purple in color. After several seconds, the turtle will retract the organ back through the cloaca. It may repeat this process once or twice."

Now I ask you.  Aren't you glad you visited my blog today?

Monday, June 15, 2009

The letter people

With my maternity leave drawing quickly to a close, I'm trying to cram in as many projects from my to-do list as possible.  I don't see it in my future to have this kind of free time on my hands again any time soon.  In many ways, I look forward to going back to work. But it will be bittersweet for sure, losing my full time days with North. While I have profound respect for moms that stay home tending to their children and home; it is simply not for me.  I've come to learn what a lonely job it can be.

Today, I took on some of the filing cabinets and boxes hidden in closets to free up some space in our lives.  I found myself hunched over cards and letters I've saved over the years for most of the afternoon.  Who knew I had been carrying around so much paper all these years? Revisiting the past always makes for a strange but soothing day.

Although I got rid of a lot of sentimental stuff, I saved the "best of" from all the letters and cards I've ever received.  I tried to limit the keepers to those that really summed up that person or my relationship to them.  I kept the ones that would have me smiling and laughing in years to come.

At first, I felt it was my duty to do so.  I mean, by the time North is my age, people may not even send physical letters anymore.  Perhaps mom's old letters from the last century will be foreign and quaint to him then?

Maybe one day North will read some of them and wonder who some of these people are?  I hope he finds their stories and sense of humor about this silly game we call life as compelling as I have. He can skim through their words and build an image of what his lame old mum used to be like in her glory days and what life was like in the late 1900s.    Wow, that really sounds weird.

I almost wanted to contact some of the folks that wrote to me back then to see if they wanted me to return their letters for curiosity's sake.  But I worried that would offend or seem just plain odd to anyone else.  Ever wonder what you wrote in some of those letters you penned so long ago?  I know I do.  In many ways, I think letters still belong to the people that wrote them I guess.  

Some of them were saved from recycling so that I can re-read them through North's life for a little perspective on what he might go through as a young adult based on what I went through.  Those letters should be a hilarious reminder to me that I have been a pretty unruly kid for my parents.  Hopefully, they will give me the strength to allow him to make his own mistakes and find his own path like I did.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Off to the hardware store

Weekend life is much different than it was before baby.  I can hear the "A-ha!" from countless mouths that shared their insight with us before North was born.  They are the same people that stressed to us how our life would never be the same (yes, this still cracks me up).  You see, previously, Dave and I thought that we could just put the baby back in his box when we were done playing with him. How foolish we were though!

Anyway, where before Dave and I would fill our weekends with various projects around the house, now we share baby duty and we are not quite as productive as we used to be.  So often when one of us is going out, we coordinate errands and trips to save time and gas.  A few weeks ago, I was headed out to a consignment sale and Dave asked me stop at the hardware store and pick him up some clear silicone caulk.  An easy task that was on my way so I, of course, agreed.

Entering Lowe's, I forgot how huge the capacity of the store was and how tiny the item I needed in comparison.  Having a lifetime of experience with caulk from being the daughter of an HVAC man (and now daughter-in-law too), I thought about the various departments in the store it might be found.  After speed walking through the store to two of these locations, I decided to ask a sales associate to save time.

"OK, how should I phrase this question so I don't say something comically offensive?" I thought to myself.  An older gentleman wearing a Lowe's vest came into my line of vision and I flagged him down quickly and asked.

"Excuse me sir, can you tell me where I can find the cauuuulk?"  Never has someone enunciated those syllables in quite the same heavy on the "u" manner. 

Perplexed at what in the hell I was talking about he asked, "do you mean the caulking?" 

Damn! Caulking!  I hadn't even thought to add an "ing" to the end of the word to avoid any perverse confusion. He said the word so quickly and effortlessly!  Like the word was not a big deal if your mind was not that of a 13 year old boy.  Oh well, I'd rather be thought of as that poor girl with an unfortunate speech impediment than a pervert.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Computer tools for the high tech momma

(Apple's Photo Booth takes a mirror image picture apparently. There you have it, my child is not a vampire.)
Have I mentioned lately how thankful I am to have had a baby with the aid of the internet? Granted, while I sometimes feel that there is too much information (and misinformation) provided by a quick Google search which can sometimes over complicate every simple decision; there is also a definite advantage to raising a baby in a more technologically savvy era. I can't tell you how many times my mother and mother-in-law have commented on how limited the available information was in the 70s and I'm very thankful how much that has changed in the last 30 years.

But let me cut to the chase. My purpose is to compile some helpful websites and applications that I have found useful. Most of them are free and available to anyone unless indicted otherwise. I may have mentioned several of these in previous posts, but I'd like to get them all in one location to make it easier for anyone looking for them:

Trying to Conceive Sites

Fertilityfriend is a great tool to educate yourself on charting your menstrual cycles so that you can figure out your most likely time to conceive. Sign up for the free charting class which will be emailed to you in 20 daily lessons (so much easier than reading a book). Once you start taking your temps each morning, enter the information into your Fertilityfriend chart and start obsessing!

A cost calculator can help you get a better idea of how much you'll need to budget for the baby's first year. (I also wrote about how to save money here and here too in case the cost calculator figure scares the ever-loving hell out of you.)

Pregnancy Sites and makes it easy to sign up for a weekly email that will provide information on how your baby is developing week to week. Both also have a wealth of information on trying to conceive, pregnancy and raising your child. These two sites along with also have forums where moms and moms-to-be can chat and get advice. is a fun site to visit if you're too impatient to wait for the doctors to determine the gender of your child around 18 weeks. For the record, the Chinese Gender Chart told me I was having a girl, so take it with a grain of salt as they will only be right about 50% of the time. can help you find a name for your little bean. The Namefinder can help you locate a name based on gender, starting letter, number of syllables, etc. and the Namipediatool can help you locate name origins and popularity of the name. has a free prenatal yoga pose and audio guide available.

Baby Coupons can save you big bucks whether they are manufacturer coupons or % off coupons for use in a retail store. Some of my favorite resources for coupons and sale information are (sign up for coupons on this list), and is a similar idea to Each day, they offer a different product at a reduced rate to anyone that wants to purchase it. The product is only available for a 24 hour period though. Shipping is not free, but it is fast in my experience.

Labor Sites is a easy-to-use free online contraction timing assistant. One tip I would recommend is putting a temporary sticker on the "S" key so it's easy to find if you have to time your contractions through the night like I did. (Also available through the iTunes Application Store for $0.99)

Birth Plan Generator is a free application that will help you quickly create a birth plan to take with you to the hospital. Looks like this is sponsored by Huggies, so that will probably sign you up for some coupons as well.

For any masochists out there, can help you prepare yourself for giving birth without the aid of pain medication (I joke, I joke). And can help you find a class on the Bradley Method of childbirth

Postpartum Sites is a valuable resource for breastfeeding from basic information to latching videos to a lactation consultant directory. also is a good source for videos on countless breastfeeding topics. Of course Le Leche League is always going to be a great resource as well and can help you locate your local chapter for support from other mothers. has a wealth of free information on making your own homemade baby foods, recipes and frequently asked questions about introducing solids to your child. There's even a section on food allergies.

Here is the most comprehensive guide on cloth diapering I've found online for all the basics. is a good place to find other mothers selling used diapers at a nice price (much less gross than it sounds, trust me). I've also had luck finding secondhand diapers using Craigslist. And I've heard good things about buying from stay-at-home moms on Etsy as well. I also found some simple videos showing different methods for folding prefold cloth diapers on Youtube. is a website that allows you to download free white noise loop-able tracks, which you can then save to your iTunes. Free is good.

White Noise by TMSOFT is another white noise application available for $1.99 purchase through iTunes App Store. You can add this application to your iPhone or iTouch for use on the go. (Or you can just old-school it and tune into a static radio station in your car) can help you locate a baby sitter in your area. They offer a free 7 day trial, but an ongoing membership is a paid service. and can help you decide on the best day care center for you and your baby. They can show you where to start, the questions to ask and how to locate the perfect center in your area.

Fisher-Price has some great ideas on easy activities for you and your baby. These are organized by age of your child and there are some cute and free games you can play with your baby.

Rookie Moms has activities for baby and mom listed by each age. I find myself going back to this site for great ideas time and again.

Want to welcome your baby into the world with a letter from the President? Of course you do! Go here to see instructions on what to do.

Todays Parent offers lots of information on feeding and sleep methods. They also have a weekly development guide.

My Baby Can Talk has free videos available for some simple sign language you can start teaching your baby around 5 months old. I may even start on this sooner because what can it hurt?

Here are some easy recipes for making some all natural baby products.

I will be adding more sites to this list as time permits (and as I discover new resources!) As always, if anyone would like to share any helpful sites they know of, I'm always happy to hear them in the comments!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Two months

Dear North,

I've decided to (hopefully) write you a monthly letter to tell you about our impressions of you and your tastes as they develop.  I'm afraid if I don't write them down, I will forget by the time you ask me about these details. As for last month, well that's already a blur.  The first month of your life, you were more of a feeding, sleeping, crying, mound of poop to be cleaned up.  A mound that we loved beyond words, but you didn't have much of a consistent personality beyond adorable.  So really, if I wrote you a letter based on your first month of life, it would be redundant and pointless, like this:

"Dear North,

You are totally cute and made of giggling buttons.  You pooped on yourself and me a second ago and it was so CUTE.  So I changed you into a new onesie that you look so PRECIOUS in.  I love you muffin.  Who's momma's muffinpants.  That's right!  You are my cupcake-head filled with ice cream yummies!..."


What I'm saying is now we see more of a pattern of behavior that we assume is the you coming out of you.  Make sense?  So here is what you are like at the close of your second month of life:

Lately, you seem to really get into "Cecilia" by Simon & Garfunkel.  I realize that we are somewhat the product of our parents musical tastes, but this is a good duo to pass along to any generation.  Both your father and I grew up on them and our appreciation for them has never faded.  You definitely like certain music and seem to find others upsetting.  Surprisingly, this morning I sang "War" to you and you were smiling at me when I asked you what it was good for.  That's right North, absolutely nothin'.

You are going to be a force to be reckoned with.  Sometimes the look on your face scares me because your earnest anger just seems so focused and mature.  Seeing this in you since your first day, I know that we are born with this fire within us, it's not learned.  And boy, you were certainly born with some fire in your eyes!

You smile now!  Although I was tempted to proclaim you a genius child that smiled immediately after birth, I knew it was gas.  Now, there is no mistaking that sweet toothless grin.  

This morning while I was giving you your morning kisses, you started opening your mouth each time I gave you one.  I never thought kissing someone without teeth would make me so happy.  I'm sorry if that grosses you out.

Your favorite place to be is perched on someone's shoulder.  But even then (like now) you may start spontaneously crying in a  fit like I'm biting your fingers off.  You can imagine the toning this is doing to mine and your father's arm and leg muscles flexing out countless quick squats to reach for your binkie for the 53rd time it has popped out of your mouth while keeping you perfectly bobbing at your favorite shoulder post.  I like to think you are monitoring the perimeter and will alert me if ninjas start attacking from behind.

You love to bounce.  One would  think you were a ball in a past life such is the huge smile of contentment on your face while you are bouncing.  Is this the price I now pay for remaining too active while you were germinating in my belly?  Maybe the curse my mother put on me years ago to have "one just like you" has come to fruition?  Naa, I think that was a curse meant for your teenage years...

Speaking of teenage years, you are quite a chatterbox already.  And having a mouth full of binkie doesn't stop you from jabbering away.  "Aye aye ayeayeyiyi," you always say. Exactly North.  I couldn't have said it better myself.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

North takes on the Atlantic

We packed up the car and headed east to Atlantic Beach last weekend for a quick overnight trip.  I'm still laughing that North's suitcase was a tiny toiletry bag stuffed in with my clothes.  We kept baby gear to a very minimal level (car seat, stroller and boppy were all we brought).  At his age, he doesn't require a whole lot of stuff, which is why we are trying to take advantage of the simplicity we still have while we can.

Once we arrived to the modest oceanfront motor lodge, we threw our stuff into the room and headed out to the beach before the storm headed our way ate up the sunshine.  The storm passed over us, so we walked down the beach a little way to the fishing pier and snapped some shots.

Being late May, the water was cold and only lunatics, northerners and drunks chose to submerge themselves in that chilly bath.  So we dunked our son's tiny toes into it.  He cried only minimally and pulled up his monkey legs.  But he seemed to tolerate the rhythmic ebb and flow of the ocean standing atop his daddy's feet much better.
That night we cooked shrimp and scallops on the grill at the hotel and listened to the sound of the waves.  Although we listen to North's white noise machine on wave setting every night, there is no substitute for the real deal.

The next morning brought hot coffee, sunshine and another walk on the beach.  Oh and an adorable baby.  

Mommy and North relaxed on the hammocks at the motel before heading out to lunch at the Sanitary Restaurant.  With a name like Sanitary Restaurant, it has to of bacteria?  We have driven by it for years, but finally stopped on our way to Beaufort, NC.  The best hush puppies I have ever had for sure.  The shrimp burger was also quite delicious paired with an oven roasted sweet potato doused in cinnamon and butter.  Pictures of Daddy and North in matching Sanitary Restaurant t-shirts to follow.