Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Adventures in Cloth

This whole post is about cloth diapers - just fair warning.

Last Friday our cloth diaper trial from Jillian's Drawers arrived.
Wait, what?  You didn't know I was a hippie tree-hugging crazy?  Actually, I'm not.  Turns out cloth diapers have come a long way since the last time you probably heard anything about them.  Now they are super cute and very easy to use.  I honestly never would have even thought about cloth diapers until I read about them (on a blog by people I otherwise consider normal) while pregnant that made me curious.  Then of course I started researching things and discovered that it might be a viable option for our family.  Pro-cloth diapering websites make all kinds of claims about how wonderful they are.  Some of these things are true, some are a little exaggerated.  But for me, the real pros outweighed the cons enough to at least give them a try.

Here are some things I read about cloth diapers before using them, along with how I really feel:

1. Cloth diapers are just as easy as disposables
Let's be honest.  What could be easier than just throwing away a dirty diaper?  However, I do think that cloth diapers are probably easier than you think.  Cloth diapers are now designed just like disposables (stretch tabs, elastic around the legs and back, velcro or snap closures, etc) so they are just as easy to change.  But there is a *little* extra work involved because you do have to wash them.  But so far that hasn't been discouraging - just another load of laundry every few days.

2. Cloth diapers can save you thousands of dollars
Thousands, really?  It sounded like a lot to me too.  I didn't expect to ever spend thousands on diapers, so I didn't know I could save thousands.  If you buy diapers at a regular price at the grocery store, then you are crazy.  They are so expensive.  But I think that most moms are smart and use coupons, shop at Costco or use Amazon Mom.  You can find significant savings there. But you'll still save a lot of money using cloth diapers instead.  Using disposables (from amazon or Costco), I figure the average baby's diapers would cost about $40 a month.  That's $480 a year and $1,200 for 2.5 years (hopeful potty-training age!).  If it takes your kid a little longer to catch on to using the bathroom you could be talking about more than $1400.  And that's just for one baby.  You want 3-4 kids, you're talking about $5,000+ just for diapers.  And that doesn't include wipes, rash cream or any special bags for whatever fancy diaper pail you are using.  Cloth diapers run the gamut - there are super economical choices and super high-end choices.  But honestly, you can cloth diaper a baby from 10 lbs to potty training for anywhere between $150 (for the more economical options) and $450 (for the nicer high end fancy diapers).  And lots of diapers will last for more than one child.  Of course, you will use a little more water and electricity washing and drying them 2-3 times a week, but I still don't think your costs in those areas will add up enough to NOT save you money.  When I realized all of this, it became my main motivation for exploring cloth diapers.  Not that we can't afford to use disposables, but why throw our money away?  If we ended up liking cloth diapers, it could be a great way to save a little more money for our kids to go to college or have a fun family trip or buy something cool for the house.

3. Cloth diapers are better for the environment
Blah, blah, blah.  It depends on what you read and who you talk to.  Disposables fill the landfills, cloth uses more water.  In the end, this has very little to do with my reasons and I am not an environmental expert so I can't really tell you which has a more adverse effect.

4. Cloth diapers are more gentle on your baby's skin
Oh my goodness!  These diapers are seriously so soft and cushy.  Love.  One of the funny things I read while researching things was, "think about it - would you rather have cloth underwear or paper underwear?"  It made me laugh.  But seriously, these diapers are so soft.  Also, while I was pregnant a huge news story came out about Pampers Dry Max diapers giving babies chemical burns.  Yikes!  That said, Clara has used a lot of Pampers for the first 12 weeks and never had more than a tiny bit of redness. I do like the idea of putting soft cloth against my baby rather than strange gel-beading chemicals.

There are lots of other claims that I don't have enough experience with to form an opinion, but if we stick with cloth for good I hope they are true!  Here are a few: Cloth diapers leak less than disposables, cloth diapers minimize diaper rash, cloth diapered babies potty train sooner.

Ok, so lots of good things about cloth diapers, right?  I was pretty excited when we got our trial pack (they send you one each of the most popular brands - brand new - you use them for 21 days like they are your own (including washing and drying them) and then send them back.  It costs $10).  There are so many fun colors and patterns and the interior fabrics are so super soft.  The verdict?  I really like them so far.  Cleaning them is not much of a sacrifice - I already do laundry all the time - and I think they are super cute.
The only thing I don't love about them right now is the extra bulk.  I'm told this gets better as babies get bigger.  I'm sure when it's summer time and Clara's running around in nothing but a diaper, she'll have the cutest little fluffy bum on the block.  But with onesies, pants, or rompers on right now, she's definitely got some less than flattering extra bulk going on.  But really, she's a baby.  Who cares, right?

Ok, seriously.  That was much longer than I thought it would be.  If you want to know more, I've researched this topic to death.  I'm sure I could answer your questions.

Clara's Blessing

March 20th was the first day of spring.  Our daffodils finally peeked out from their eager buds, a fresh blanket of snow coated the earth, and our sweet baby girl received her first special blessing from her father.
Before Clara was born, I worked on several fun sewing projects for her, but I knew that one of the most special would be made after her arrival.  Even though there are lots of beautiful christening gowns out there, I really wanted to make Clara's dress.  I searched for the most basic dress pattern I could find and then altered it to get exactly what I wanted.  Super long and lacy is traditional, but not really my style.  I didn't want a lot of embellishment or extra length; I didn't want her to get lost in a cloud of a dress. :) My wish list included three things: beautiful fabric, slightly puffed sleeves, and pin tucks.  With my mom's help, we achieved all three.
Of course, the event itself was certainly more special than the dress she wore.  Spencer gave Clara a sweet and perfect blessing.
After the blessing, we gathered in our home for brunch with all of our great family that came for the special day.  Clara was pretty tuckered out and needed a nap right away.  I was a little sad that she couldn't spend more time with her adoring fans (or get photos with them!).  We had lots of delicious and beautiful food and it was so nice to have our house full of people we love.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

When the Bough Breaks

Front porch light, check.  Breezeway lights, check.  Back door light, check.  Locks -- check, check, check.  I looked out the window as heavy snow fell Monday night and huge flakes swirled fast and furious, piling on the ground.  Then, after checking on Clara, I headed to bed.

Spencer was out of town for the week, making it a little more unsettling than usual when I heard strange noises outside during Clara's 3 am feeding.  I wondered if there was someone in the backyard, but the last thing I wanted to do was look and find out.  Not wanting to scare myself, I chalked it up to icicles falling off the gutters and headed back to bed when Clara was done.
Morning came with blue skies and sunshine and 15 plus inches of snow on the ground.  I headed out to shovel and immediately noticed that something wasn't right.  Sure enough, our two large backyard trees had each broken under the weight of the snow. 
It was just too much for them to bear. 
I was nervous for the large branch resting on the house right over the dining room, and heartbroken at the thought of losing these trees - even if it were just a branch at a time.  It might sound strange, but these trees were part of what I loved about this house.  They each had a branch for a swing and one seemed like it would be a perfect treehouse tree someday.
Thankfully my dad came over after work with his chain saw and relieved the trees of their sagging limbs, and our home of any potential danger.  So far we haven't realized any significant damage from the incident, other than to the trees themselves.  Needless to say, I am ready for spring.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Two Months.

Last Thursday Clara turned two months old!  We celebrated by going to the doctor on Friday for a check up and some shots.  I really want to get a photo of her on the baby scale at the doctor's office, because she just chills out there when I lay her down and it's so cute, but I don't want the doctors or nurses to think I'm crazy/irresponsible.

We have a great pediatrician and nurse whom I love, and Clara warms right up to them as well.  Plus, they know just what to say to a mom, "Oh, she is so beautiful!" or "What a good baby!" -- you know, things like that (that are all true).  I love going to the doctor to see how much she has grown, but it was very hard to watch her get those shots.  She drank the rotavirus vaccine like it was koolaid - the nurse commented that she'd never seen a 2 month old take it without a fuss.  Then came the shots - three of them!  Thankfully the nurse was FAST, but of course Clara started crying as soon as the first needle went in.  She cried for a few minutes, then calmed down after we snuggled for a while, and fell asleep in her car seat on our way out.  She slept for almost four hours!!
Her personality is really starting to emerge and she has so many funny and cute expressions.  She's cooing and smiling so much and is just such a happy baby.  I've noticed in the past few days that she can get a little impatient at times - like when she's hungry - but it could just be some residual fussiness from her shots.  Plus, who can complain when she's slept for 7.5-8 hours straight the past two nights?
We got all of her measurements and stats from the doctor and I was a little surprised.  I knew she wasn't getting super chunky, but I thought for sure she was getting taller/longer.  She weighed in at 10 lbs 10.5 oz (45th percentile) and measured 21.6 inches (20th percentile).  Looks like we have a petite little girl -- but I know things can change fast too!  Thankfully her head circumference is average, which makes me wonder about some of the headbands we have that are so tiny...maybe we'll keep them for dolls?

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