We are a cloth diapering household.

I was a bit taken aback when the pediatrician asked how his diaper rash when she saw out kid sporting a cloth diaper. He doesn’t have diaper rash was my response. She said that was surprising.

It really isn’t. Cloth diapers are better at eliminating diaper rash. Granted, this same doctor told me to buy jarred baby food when I said I made my own. She then said if I was going to make it, I’d need a book. What? How freaking hard is it to steam and smash veggies?

I wonder if she was like “omg, another hippie mom” but cloth diapers are trendy. And there are no safety pins to contend with like in the old days.

When I first started to look into cloth diapering, I was overwhelmed. Pockets. Bambo. Hemp. Prefolds. Hook and Loop. WTF and WTS (where to start). Luckily, I worked with a cloth diapering mama who said one word that changed my life. Grovia. They aren’t paying me to peddle their diapers so opinions are all my own. I love my Grovia diapers. Granted, I never tried any other diaper but why, when I found something that worked and didn’t confuse the hell out of me. Again, a charcoal insert layered with a hemp insert, something about flours sacks, blah blah blah. I don’t want to think too hard about layers in a diaper.

I went with an entire Grovia stash of diapers bought either on sale or used. I have mostly shells with either snaps or the hook and loop (aka Velcro). Inside, I either use the snap-in insert or a prefold. Often, you can reuse the shell and simply insert a new liner. I typically do a snap-in insert then on next diaper change put in a prefold then new diaper for the 3rd change.

I used some newborn All-In-Ones (AIOs -shell and insert are sewn together) and a few one-size AIOs. The whole diaper comes off and in the wash. The ONEs diapers are heavy adsorbing AIOs that I use for long hikes, naps, and bedtime.

I wasn’t always a pro. We got home from the hospital with our wee one after a long NICU stay. It was late and we were ready for bed. I put on our first cloth diaper – a newborn AIO, baby pjs, and laid him down in his co-sleeper. I got ready for bed and came back to see baby pee everywhere. Sheets, diaper, baby clothes all had to be changed. Needless to say, I learned my lesson to try cloth when I wasn’t so exhausted. Two days later we tried again. And again. And again. Now I’m a master. Simply need to make sure that the leg holes are snug around the leg, all insert is tucked in, and the diaper is snug but not too snug. Practice and you’ll find what works. Also, tuck in the crotch area for them – pull their leg roles out of the diaper.

As for what to do with soiled diapers, I have a wet bag next to both changing tables and stuff one in my diaper bag. Clothes and everything baby goes in. Turn it inside out in the wash and run it all. Poopy diapers get rinsed before going in the bag. I had a friend that made me a DIY diaper shield and then bought a bidet toilet attachment. Works great. Helps that my kid only poops every 3-8 days.

Now some may think that it is so much work and disposables are so much easier. Maybe but maybe not.

Blowouts do not happen in cloth. I know because I’ve had blowouts in disposables where I’m in a fucking small bathroom or back of the car trying to clean up a horrific poop mess while cursing the disposable diapers. It has never happened once with a cloth diaper. With my kid not pooping daily, we get epic poops.

I never have to worry about making it to the store to get diapers. The worst I have to do is laundry but actually, I have a laundry service – okay, my mother does all the kid’s laundry. It was her gift to us. If your mom doesn’t give you this awesome gift, there are diaper laundry services if the laundry is too much for you. Yet with a baby, you’ll be doing lots of laundry anyway. And don’t get hung up on all the complicated wash routines. That almost put me off. We wash them in regular detergent with a prewash then about once a month, I use the Grovia Mighty Bubbles to help remove any ammonia build up. Easy peasy!

In the long haul, it is cheaper and better for the planet. Some argue it isn’t greener due to washing but considering how long diapers take to decompose, meh. Some of my used diapers I’m using went four other kids before I bought them for a screaming deal. They are little rugged but they do their job! Plus, the prefolds will make great rags when I’m done with diapers. And rumor has it that the shells make excellent swim diapers.

Plus they are so dang cute! Nothing like a big ole cloth booty!

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The Year of Reductions.

My supervisor called me into his office before the Christmas break. He wanted to prepare for when him, myself, or my colleague left in the next 5 years. I thought to myself, but I’m not going to leave. After I left his office, all I could think about was leaving. Could I really see myself doing this job in 5 years? 10 years? Could I quit right this minute? Of course, this line of thinking has my husband in a panic. We both can’t quit our day jobs in the same year. Or could we??

I’m not quitting my job today. Or probably within the next year. But I’m going to. My mom wanted to quit her job from day one but stuck with it for 30 years. Screw that. My mission now (and this past week) was to figure out how I’d support us (and provide health insurance) for us if I were to quit my job. More vacation rentals. Ran the math, that is more a long-term retirement gig. Writing children’s books? Selling produce, eggs, and honey? Figuring out some craft? Fuck. None of this would support us. And as a fellow blogger told me, making a hobby a job makes it, well, a job.  Worse is I make decent money with good benefits and is pretty intellectually stimulating. I, however, want an even more flexible schedule than I have now. I want to spend more time with my friends, family, and animals. I really need to think outside of the box. Until I can figure out my next gig, I’ve decided we are going to spend less and save more while I figure out how to exit the traditional workforce.

This may be hard since I feel we live pretty lean. A google search of “how to cut spending” and I’m like – done, done, done, and done. We have no cable, no Internet, the lowest cell phone plan, bring a brown bag lunch, and have no car payments (haven’t in 15 years – yes I’ve had my car for almost 20 years). I made up our budget this year and cut even more.

Therefore, my theme for 2019 is REDUCE. I want to reduce spending. I want to reduce my trash output. Reduce my footprint on this planet. Reduce plastic in my life. Reduce the clutter in my life. Reduce the amount of time I spend cleaning. Reduce time at work. It is big. It is lofty. And if I’m ever going to achieve them, it is going to be by baby steps and concrete steps in my effort to reduce. It isn’t going to happen overnight, and I doubt I will be where I want to be in a year. But if every day and every year I work on reducing, I may eventually get where I want to be.

  • Reduce eating out even more. Huge money pit.
  • Groceries. Food makes up one of the biggest junk of our budget. I don’t want to go eating cheap crap, but there are still ways to save on wholesome and organic fare.
    • Stock up when on sale and buy in bulk.
    • Make from scratch. I spend way too much money on broth which I can make and canned beans which I could rehydrate from dried beans. Bread is super simple to make. I’d really like to try my hand at cheese, mustard, and vinegar this year.
    • GARDEN. I want a huge garden next year to make up for last summer of no garden. If I get a huge bounty, I can freeze veggies for the winter instead of buying plastic bags of frozen vegetables. I will build back up our canned stash that reuses mason jars. The summer before where I grew everything from seeds and did a whole month of not buying groceries = #winning. I’d like to recreate that but expand on it. Think of the money I’d save. Think of all that time outside gardening.All groceries are to be bought with cash, not plastic (so easy to overindulge with plastic).
    • Barter more! I exchanged honey and chicken eggs a few years back. Need to do more of this!
  • Reduce our utilities.Harvest rainwater and use for poultry/garden. We do this somewhat but could really step up our game. Water is not cheap here since we have it delivered – we are not on city water and don’t have a well. We have a 1,500 buried water tank.
    • In summer, put back up the clothing line and line dry clothing.
    • Spend more time outside = less time lights are on inside.
    • This is the first full winter with our more efficient woodstove: cost upfront but saving reduces the need for heating oil, uses less wood to heat our home, and burns longer. Fingers crossed but I’m pretty sure we will have a much lower heating fuel bill this year.
  • Carpool and drive less. Aim for at least a minimum of one day a week I don’t go to town. See about carpooling with husband more.
  • This shall be the year of loose leaf tea. It may seem small, but it means no more plastic lids or coffee cups from to-go coffee. No more plastic in tea bags. Yes, there is plastic in tea bags!?!?! I’ll save money since I can re-steep loose tea several times. I’ll reduce my caffeine intake. I can use the reusable tins from Sipping Streams to buy their tea in bulk at the bulk rates. Yes, we drink enough tea/coffee to make a big difference in my budget.
  • Purging my home. I have such a hard time letting go because I may need it one day. One day that never comes because I can’t find it because we have too much stuff and I’m spending all my time trying to keep up on all the clutter. This is a hard one. If I get rid of my clutter, it has to go somewhere. I’m going to try my hardest to rehome or recycle my stuff instead of sending it to the landfill. Part of the purge is not bringing home more stuff to take its place. Reduce spending to keep a purged home.
    • Post a minimum of two things weekly to sell. Do it for a year that is over 100 items hopefully gone and $ in my pocket.
    • Remove a minimum of a box a week. And not just write garage sale on it and stick it in the garage to hang out for a few years. Donate. Sell. Toss.clutter
  • Bring and use a cloth grocery bag every time. Right now, I’m about at 70%. My husband close to 10%. I need to bump that up for both us. I need to make sure we both have a supply of cloth bags in our cars and that they make it back into our cars after we empty out the groceries. Along those lines, cloth or plastic bulk bin and produce bags need to happen. I have them amongst my clutter. Now I need to use them. The Co-Op will even weigh jars I bring in before I fill up in the bulk section.

Here is to reducing (and saving) enough to feel comfortable me quitting my job in the next couple of years!!! I also need to figure out what I want to do in my next career.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2019: The Great Purge

We’ve always had too much stuff and it has hindered all efforts to have a clutter free and tidy home. I’m all about purging my stuff but I can’t just get rid of my husband’s stuff. Since the kid, our house has been worse than ever. We’ve finally have a moment to clean and I asked Shane what he thinks we need to do to keep the home cleaner. He said get rid of all this stuff. He has signed onto The Great Purge and so here it goes! This year we are downsizing our crap!! My goal is to sell what I can on Facebook market place and the rest donate to charities. While I like the idea of a garage sale, it isn’t happening due to time constraints. Hence why we have boxes labeled “Garage Sale” from 2 years ago.

On top of purging, I really want us to trim our spending. We already live pretty lean hence why we could go a year living on my part time salary though I’m ready to be a DIK. In 2019, I go back to full time and my husband will be brining in some money. Instead of blowing it, I want to build up a travel and a car fund plus start the kid’s college fund. I began to budget this morning.

Lofty 2019 goals but I know both will make our life easier. And we aren’t waiting the few days to 2019, we are starting today. Shane already got rid of the futon couch we had in our living room that had simply become a dumping ground of stuff when we walked in the door. Granted, he put it on top of the crap in the garage.

First Christmas as a Mom

My first Christmas as a mom wasn’t at all what I envisioned during those long years of infertility. Heck, none of this has been what I envisioned. Perhaps I envisioned more magic which I think will come with age. At 6 months, Christmas was simply overwhelming. The lights, the people, and the staying up way past bedtime. Hardest was I didn’t get to enjoy the festivities. I ate a baked potato with quinoa both nights and had hash browns and grain free biscuits that I made for brunch due to Nolan’s FPIES while others had prime rib, buffalo dip, jalapeño poppers, mashed potatoes with milk & butter, gravy, waffles, etc. While others played a game, I laid in the other room attempting to coax this baby into sleep. We started to walk over to the neighbors for a bonfire and he lost his mind. So back home we went for a movie and snuggles.

It may not be at all how I pictured Christmas as a new mom but I wouldn’t give it up for the world. Now today is full of doctor and allergist appointments. Though I get a few more snuggles before then.

Life Cycle Assessment on Christmas

A friend posted this article the other day on Facebook. It focuses on doing more reusing and reducing then recycling. The concept that really hit home was Life Cycle Assesment (LCA). This blew my mind and was something I hadn’t really considered:

“A 2011 life cycle assessment report from the UK Environment Agency found that you would have to use a cotton bag 131 times to make its “global warming potential” less than that of using disposable carrier bags – and that’s presuming you never reused the carrier bags. For comparison, you’d have to use a bag for life-style plastic bag just four times.”

Now that that challenge has been accepted, it got me looking around, and you know what I saw – Christmas. Lots of Christmas.

I’m a fake Christmas tree kind of gal. I’ve had my artificial tree since 2001. My mother bought it for me when I moved out of the house and has been used pretty much annually. Though many scoff at my fake tree and say, their real tree is more eco-friendly. So I wondered if anyone had done an LCA of real or fake Christmas tree. Turns out, 3.6 years is the break-even point for a fake tree compared to a natural tree. So while my fake tree is now more eco-friendly than a natural tree, turns out that “the impact of a holiday tree is <0.1% of the average American’s annual carbon footprint.”

In the end, just be responsible with your tree. You have a fake one, re-use it for the next 100 years. It’ll last. Real tree – compost it or get a potted one that can last years or be planted.

At the same time, I’m big on the reuse and reduce since recycling is poor in Alaska. In fact, recycling is not the cure. You can’t merely consume and consume and think that all is okay because you will recycle it.

 

I’m no saint – I use wrapping paper, send Christmas cards via snail mail, and Christmas lights. But I’m trying. For example, a few years ago, I wanted more Christmas decorations. I LOVE CHRISTMAS and by association – Christmas decorations! I went to box stores to look and just couldn’t bring myself into buying more crap. I had an aha moment. I found some twine, used dyed clothes line clips, and have started to string up Christmas cards I get. I save the ones I get every year and hang them year after year. Festive, personal, and reusing something I get annually.

In that line, we no longer give gifts. This saves money and us from more stuff. I’ve even got my mother-in-law onboard. Granted, she still gives gifts, but it is significantly reduced and in gift bags that she reuses annually.

I wish you a green Christmas full of the two Rs: reduce and reuse. And when you can do those, recycle.

 

 

 

The Other Blog

There have been many reasons why there is less chatter on this blog. One factor is that I’m seeing someone else. Yes, I have another blog in my life. Granted, that one is also pretty neglected but less so than this one.

As part of our toy biz, I’ve started a new blog to chronicle life a small business owner. If you are interested in that, you can check out my rambles over at thetoyquest.com/blog/.

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No pie in FPIES

I can’t quite remember exactly what convinced our doctor to recommend removing dairy and soy from my diet. The first few months of parenthood were a blur. I do remember Nolan taking 3 weeks to get up to his birth weight, him constantly hungry and his fist clinched hungrily. I’d lay in bed with him and nurse him. All. Day. Long. Night too. I know he ate because he vomited a good part of it up. And to make sure he was getting enough, he was even on formula. I thought that this wasn’t normal but what do I know, I’ve never done this before. It was of great relief when the lactation consultant said it wasn’t normal.

And so we left dairy and soy behind. In 5 days, he gained 8 oz.!! I love cheese, but I love him more. Problem solved!

A month later at his 2-month apt., weight gain was still poor. The doctor said we’d wait and see. The next day, he started to poop blood. At first, more poo than blood but soon it was just blood, on the hour every hour. And yes, by this time we were camped out in the hospital’s pediatric ward.

After all the tests were done, and everything was ruled out, it left my breastmilk. A heart-wrenching gut punch. We had worked so hard and had finally perfected this dance called breastfeeding, to find out I was the problem. Given 0 guidance and the Internet, I found an elimination diet. I ate quinoa, rice, sweet potatoes, apple, zucchini, beans, and spinach and nursed on for a month before we were able to see the allergist.

He diagnosed my son with Food Protein-Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome (FPIES) and gave me an action plan. Pretty much what I’d be eating was big triggers for FPIES. The short of my new diet is select veggies (no squash, sweet potatoes, corn, string beans), tree nuts, and legumes (was red meat [think it is the corn they are finished on] but we had reactions, but legumes seem safe).

And while the diet is limited, he is thriving! He is gaining weight, he has stopped vomiting, and diapers are normal. I have a follow up with a nutritionist to talk about trialing (adding) food back in. Though there will be no pie this Thanksgiving for me, I can live without. I finally got my baby, he is thriving, and I’m almost back to my pre-baby weight. Silver-linings.