Day 8: Final Thoughts

Wow, Kim over at Dirty Diaper Laundry wrote an amazing post about her end thoughts and how she intends to move forward after this challenge.  It's amazing.  I'm going to join her in it.  Read about it HERE.

If y'all have been following, you know what my opinion was of handwashing on Days 2 and 3 (in short, I hated every second of it-until it was time to hang the dipes and that made me feel better.)  By the end of the week my opinion was much different.  In fact, by days 6 and 7, I was in a groove and very grateful for my camp-style wash bucket.  I still have to use it until the gas guys get the work done (they were here this morning already and it's not looking so promising, but we know God has it all worked out already!) so in a way, the challenge continues for me. 

I'm going to write my thoughts as Kim did..."If I were doing this out of necessity" (and I am...HA!) here are some of the things I will be telling my "clients" as tips I learned over the course of the week.
  1. Minky covers take 3x longer to dry than the flats...get regular covers.
  2. Use a plastic handled plunger in the wash bucket and buy quality products-especially if you need to use it a lot.
  3. When draining the bucket between washes/rinses, click the lid on the sides, leaving it partially open.  Tip it on its side in the tub and walk away for about 10 minutes.  It will be well drained when you come back.
  4. Snappis don't like to grab recieving blanket materials, but those work great as diapers.  Ergo, it's good to have some pins for back-up.
  5. The flour sack towels at Target or WalMart are far more square than most flats, cheaper and work great.
  6. Most things we have to do are about perception.  Understand that you are doing your baby, your pocketbook and your earth a favor and take cloth diapering in stride.  There are lots of fun covers to make it enjoyable and you can take a lot of pride in the process.
  7. When you only have a $20 investment hanging on the clothesline and the dog takes it down, you are far less angry than when you have hundreds of dollars hanging there!  (Maybe no one else will need to know that, but it came in handy for me last night...)
Things I want to find out to help more people locally:
  1. Which daycares in the area are cloth friendly, if any.
  2. How to be a "distributor" of certain products we can't get locally (i.e. snappis, covers, CD friendly creams, cloth wipes)
  3. Who in our area helps with diapers so I can drop off a "business card"
  4. If the local laundromats will allow people to wash cloth diapes in their machines.
Moving forward I want to do some things with the end goal being to eventually teach the Childbirth & Beyond class I talked about here.  First I will print some business cards like Kim talked about in  her post.  After I read that I checked my email and had a LivingSocial deal in my box to buy $50 worth of VistaPrint stuff for $10.  (Click HERE to purchase one for yourself today only) How's that for God saying "Yes...this is what I want you to do."?  I'll drop the cards off at the local Women's Resource Center and hopefully at the WIC office and I'm not too proud to drop some on the diaper shelf at WalMart.

Then I have a pile of diapers to sell that I wasn't absolutely in love with but kept because I needed them to be able to only do a load of laundry every other day.  Now that I have flats and know how to use them, I can get rid of these.  I'll use that money to buy supplies to help out local mommies who need supplies but can't afford to go buy them.  (The stuff is now up for sale at Spots' Corner link HERE)

It would be great to be able to be a "distributor" of the things I listed above, so if some of my friends who own shops read this, please let me know who to contact and how to go about that.  I will also look for donations of the items needed. 

Well, there are the touch points.  I am so grateful for the challenge.  I truly am sad it's over.  I pray the commraderie I felt this week will continue!


Happy Memorial Day!-What's it all about?

Happy Memorial Day to you and yours!  I pray you had an amazing day with family and friends.  I wanted to pen a few words about this holiday and it will probably get buried quickly because our next blog topic for the Flats & Handwashing Challenge will be up soon, but hopefully someone will see it and appreciate it.

So why do we celebrate Memorial Day?  We all know what we get on Memorial Day: a day off, an excuse to grill out with as many family members and friends as we can muster, a chance to watch the kids run and play while we sip cola and visit.  Maybe it's a family tradition to go camping this weekend every year.  After all, the weather is usually perfect blending from spring into summer. 

But really-WHY do we celebrate Memorial Day?  We hear a lot of very special Memorial Day wishes due to my husband's service.  We are always very grateful, but he only left his leg in Iraq...his day is Veteran's Day.  What about all the men and women who gave up their lives in service for this country?  The families left behind to mourn?  THEY are the REAL reason we celebrate Memorial Day.  And it sounds so cutesy because we've heard it a million times.

The sobering fact is, this should be a day for mourning the lives lost to afford us the freedoms we have.  Do we think about those freedoms very often?  The freedom to worship as we choose without being hunted down and murdered-the freedom to write our opinions on our blogs for all to see and not be shot over them-the freedom to elect and subsequently kick out whomever we deem fit/unfit to represent this nation.  *Insert your favorite freedoms here*  Fact is, most countries in the world do not experience these freedoms.  We should be somber and prayerful as we consider those who've lost their lives so that we can have our own.

So why do we CELEBRATE??  The answer to that is one that continues to cut deep into my heart.  My wonderful friend Karie from EBV-F, who writes at Wife [widow] of a Wounded Warrior knows the cost of this day and she also knew her amazing husband, Cleve.  And I think she would agree that the reason we celebrate is because each and every one of the men and women who gave their lives for us wants us to move forward, continuing to be Americans and continuing to do what Americans do in their memory-because *that* is how we'll avenge their deaths.  The enemy sees us celebrating when they think we should be mourning and they shudder, wondering what secret we have.

But what are Americans?  We can say a lot of things but it could be argued that it comes down to 2 outlooks. 
  1. We are a Blessed nation, under God, who uses its collective knowledge, resources and overall unity to overcome all obstacles. 
  2. We are a rich, arrogant nation who only care for ourselves. 
Which are you celebrating today?  Today I went outside with my loving family and uncovered the grill and ate burgers, hot dogs and drank soda while the kids played in the sprinkler and drank juice from pouches.  Later we may roast marshmallows and make s'mores because we are just that kind of Blessed.  But the brave soldiers who have given their lives and can't be here to do these things are not far from my mind and I want to continue to honor them tomorrow and the next day by being sure I remember that we live in the most Blessed nation on earth, because of God and I will strive to use my knowledge, resources and brotherly love to create the unity necessary to keep overcoming obstacles. 
I was going for Normal Rockwell with my limited photo editing capabilities.


Day 7: In awe

Find the rules to the Flats & Handwashing Challenge I'm participating in HERE.

Today...how can I even begin to describe today?  God's grace is so evident to me through this week.  I think that sounds crazy, but it's true.  This morning Hubbs and I were standing side by side in front of the sink, me washing the dishes (with water from the coffee pot, read why in yesterday's post) him rinsing them and putting them on the towel to dry.  We had been talking, but fell silent for a few minutes and I noticed a peace that I feel more and more frequently this week.  I paused with my hands in the soapy water and reflected and said to Hubbs, "No wonder families aren't close anymore..."  The statement hung in the air a moment and then he asked why.  I said, "I dunno...there's just *something* about this."  And he said he had been thinking the exact same thing. 
Not here for any reason except that it was a part of how God blessed us today and is precious and should be shared!
What does that MEAN?  I'm not sure.  I know I have to keep up the challenge until the pipes are fixed because there's no hot water to the washing machine.  That means at a minimum until Tuesday evening and I'm considering even continuing a load of handwashed diapers every few days after that.  I absolutely adore my flats and we will definitely be bringing those into our rotation.  In fact, I will even let go of some of the other dipes we have that I'm not *in love* with since I have so many other options now!

I also found the best drying spot for my wool.  It dried in 24 hours!  My son wore his blue soaker this afternoon!  For the record, it was in the hallway where our return vent is for the air conditioner.  I think it must have been the constant motion of the air being sucked into the attic and then being blown down.  If you want your stuff to dry faster, try putting it in the room with the return vent.  I was stoked! 
I <3 Texas!
Super boo, though, the nursery worker was sick today and there was a sub.  When Little Man was wet, she changed him into a sposie.  As soon as I saw it I ran to the bathroom and changed him back into a flat and cover.  I pray that doesn't disqualify me.  I did leave her the diapering materials!!

I don't have a whole lot else to say today.  Truthfully, I am speechless. (which if you have read this blog much you can see is not a typical condition I suffer from!)  I have found some amazing friends through this challenge and it has been fabulous to feel like a part of a bigger community.  God has blessed me and my family through this over and over and I'm so very grateful for it.  We've been eating a lot of humble pie lately and sometimes being alone can make it go sour in your stomach.  But then to have all of you fabulous people reading my blog and loving it just makes it very evident to me that the sour taste is just my pride and when I set it aside the purpose of the pain becomes clear. 

I'm sad that the challenge is over tomorrow.  I'm so glad for the things it has taught me-much more than just another diapering option-that people have enormous good in them, that I have a place in writing and in a ministry for young mothers, that I *can* be sure that my family is cared for, even in less than stellar circumstances.  So much of the feeling of helplessness has dissipated because of a simple, flat piece of fabric. 



Day 6-12 cups of hot water

Check out the rules to the Flats & Handwashing challenge I'm participating in HERE.

Today's post is a little late because we have dog training and then usually run like crazy people on Saturdays.  We did well out and about and-SCORE!-I forgot to pack dipes when we went up to the church to fix some stuff so I searched around the nursery and found an old recieving blanket.  I love that instead of panic and a return home or a prayer that we make it through the hour, I can now improvise.  It's a very proud feeling.

So...if you read yesterday's later post, you saw that we had the gas turned off. (due to a leak.  It's off until we get the pipes repaired-after the holiday weekend) I did one last emergency load of dipes last night before our hot water heater went cold and this morning had a few dipes to do.  I can only do about 6 at a time in the sink, so I made sure I rinsed them in the wash bucket really well until the water was clear.  Then I wrung them all out and came downstairs to wash them.  My husband, in his brilliance (must be all that Army secret squirrel training!) suggested we brew 12 cups of hot water in our coffee pot and use that to wash.  It worked out perfectly.  So how do you wash diapers in a situation where you have no hot water but you have electricity?  This is how:
First rinse your diapers in cold water until the water runs clear.  It makes less work for you later.  While you're rinsing, have 12 cups of water running through the coffee pot.  Be sure your sink is very clean and plugged.  Put a little tepid water in there-the water that comes out of the coffee pot is too hot to stick your hands in.
Put in about a teaspoon of your laundry detergent.  I put some of mine in a small container to keep at the tub/sink while I'm handwashing.  I use Seventh Generation Free & Clear.  It works great for us.
Pour in your hot water and test the water.  If it's still too hot, add a little more tepid water.  You want it to be hot enough to wash, but not so hot you can't touch it.
Then agitate with whatever you have.  I used my hands so I could scrub them really well and I don't have dishwashing gloves.  Now you see why I rinsed until the water ran clear.  Then you drain the hot and wring the diapers out and rinse them in cool water again.  A lot of the other ladies blogging about this challenge have been repurposing their babies' bath water into rinse water for the dipes, and they inspired me.  Since the munchkins were so filthy last night, I couldn't re-use that water, but today I salvaged our diaper rinse water (the later stuff...not the first) and took it to someone who would appreciate it:
Yepp...my corn stalks were quite happy with the 2.5 gallons of repurposed water.  I'll have to start thinking to do that more often. 

I've done 2 wash cycles like that today and I anticpate one more tonight after the kids go to bed.  I really don't mind half as much as I thought I might.  It's almost calming.  Little man wore his Pitterpat custom shorties today.  Check out the link for some really, truly amazing hand made items.  Use the code MDAY for 15% off anything you order from her.  She is an amazing retailer and has become an amazing friend, too.  This picture does not do them justice, but here it is:

How does one eat with no stove/oven? Well, this morning, Hubbs made pancakes on our electric griddle for the kidlets.  We all loved it!
This afternoon we were out of town for dog training, so we drove thru Chick-fil-A and got lunch as cheap as possible.  We haven't gone out in a long time, so it was enjoyed.

Dinner I've been worried about because I hadn't put anything out to thaw and I can't boil rice or pasta due to the no gas thing, (in fairness, I could do it on the camp stove, but I was short on time after we got home.  Tomorrow will be better thought out) so I had Hubbs run me to the store real fast (remember that one car thing?  The one car is his stick shift and I don't know how to drive it yet.) and I grabbed some Top Ramen noodles.  Oh yes, I introduced the kids to the taste of college.  It's much nastier to me now that I've grown up and learned what real food is, but they sure liked it.
The package says 3 minutes, but it takes more like 5 when you add frozen peas to it.  I *had* to redeem it somehow!
Yumm-O!  Mom must be Rachael Ray. 
He's so stinking cute...I love how much he loves *anything* I make.  He turns his nose at fast food (I think he ate 2 nuggets today) but he eats anything that comes out of my kitchen.  I hope my future daughter-in-law can cook or else I'll just have to teach him to keep his mouth shut about mommy's cooking being best :P ;)

You know, through all of this, I am reminded today that so much of life is how you look at it.  I could be angry, freaked out, ticked off, etc. right now.  But I'm trying to take the added challenge with a grain of salt.  After all, how many people don't have electricity OR gas?  How many people don't have homes?  How many people don't have amazing families like I do?
If you click on the picture and view it larger you can see my amazing men in the truck.  They were both so happy and Hubbs was smiling a reminiscent smile.  I almost cried tears of joy watching them.

How many people have such a calming yard and a beautiful garden?
And...err...such a stupid lovely dog

Today's harvest.  I've slacked on pictures, but we've been picking anywhere from 5-7 fresh strawberries every morning.

Plus, we have a BIG God who sees what is going on now and hears our every prayer and answers them.  He knows our needs and He is providing in a very real way.  I am beyond speechless and in awe.  I pray you're having just as wonderful a day!  Gas or no ;P 


Day 5-Disaster Strikes!!!

We have a gas stove.  And gas hot water.  And gas heat.  This evening Hubbs came in from working in the garage smelling like a rotten egg.  I teased him about it and he stripped down in the laundry room, (where I promptly stuck the clothes in the washer) and ran upstairs to take a shower.  But the smell refused to leave.  So we cleaned up what little mess there was in the kitchen and that wasn't it, either.  We realized Hubbs had brought in a box from the garage.  So he emptied it and sniffed it all and no--we found no source, but it was getting stronger. 

At this point I kinda started to freak and called the gas company.  They explained that they put a smell in the gas to alert people to a leak and informed me they would put in an urgent work order.  We snatched up the kids and took off for a few minutes, sticking close so we would be here when the gas man came.  We noticed on the way back to the house that the whole neighborhood smelled like rotten eggs and figured there must be a burst line or something.  The gas man came and I hung out with the kids in the back yard while Hubbs found out what was wrong.  The kids were alright, they were busy getting as FILTHY as they possibly could, throwing dirt and whatnot.  Finally Hubbs comes to me and says, "Well, there's no gas reading in the house." 
My kids make filthy look good!

I decide to call the city to see if they know what is going on.  Yes!  They do!  The water department had to put a grease eater in the pipes of this neighborhood and they have no idea when the smell will dissipate.  That's fine, though, a relief from the thought that our house was about to blow up.  Stomach curdling, but a relief, none-the-less.

Except when I went to tell Hubbs and the gas man, they weren't so excited.  Instead, gas man told me that our meter failed the pressure test and he would be forced to shut the gas off until we could get the lines fixed.  He gives us a coupon for $100 off the repair (just exactly what we need right now is a repair bill so huge it's going to require a $100 coupon!!) and wishes us a good weekend.  I tell Hubbs I'll go call someone and he stops me to say that gas man told him to wait until Tuesday or we'd get charged a "holiday fee." 

Did I mention we have gas hot water?  Gas stove/oven?  Thank God we don't need the heat right now or we'd be forced out of our house! 

I don't want to get into our personal financials too much here, but suffice it to say that Hubbs is a disabled veteran and we get paid an itty bitty pension once monthly at the beginning of the month.  Month's end is always tight, but due to other circumstances, our once lovely emergency fund is having coughing fits and we're looking for more and more ways to cut back.  Trust me when I say that having to repair gas lines is *not* in either of our definitions of cutting back!

And then I look down at my filthy, filthy little munchkins and I point my finger at the house and yell, "BATH, NOW!"  Because I knew there would be a little hot water left in the heater and I wanted them to use it before it cooled off. 

While I was scrubbing them clean, I looked down at my camp style wash bucket full of dirty diapers that I intended to wash in the morning and I scrub the kids a little faster and kick them out to get jammies while I hurry and wash this load of diapers. (they are now hanging in the dark and my dog is not happy to have been in his kennel for the better part of today)  I wondered to myself what I'll do for the rest of the challenge and, for a brief moment, consider throwing in the towel on the handwash part until I realize that there's no hot water going to the washing machine either, DUH!  In the words of Scarlett O'Hara, "I'll think about *that* tomorrow."

When we're downstairs again-washed, changed and awaiting entertainment-Hubbs pulls little man away from his side and says, "He smells like CRAP!"  He looks down at his shirt and says, "He just PEED on me!"  He hands me little man and I pull down his (note this is the LAST of these) wool cover to see that he has, indeed, had a serious blow out.  I change him into his 3rd cover (Dudes, we are STILL rockin' it!  I'm so proud :P) while Hubbs rinses the soaker.  But rinsing didn't cut it...I had to do a full-blown wash cycle.  So count both soakers out until after the challenge is over. 

Hubbs and I then got the kidlets set up watching a movie and started to brainstorming HOW on EARTH we're going to live for 4 days with no hot water and no place to cook.  But this is a very valid line of thinking for this challenge, because what on earth would any of us do without hot water or a place to cook food if there was a natural disaster?  Here are the options we brainstormed:

  • We would like to build a real fire pit so we could boil water over it if needed
  • We cooked dinner tonight on our electric griddle (moot point in emergencies, but it was sure a load off my mind tonight!)
  • We have the grill-runs on propane
  • We can run water through the coffee maker to make wash water (again moot in emergency, but it will get me through to Monday night!)
  • We're washing our dishes in cold water, by hand with anti-bacterial Dawn
Any other thoughts?  This is a big time lesson in emergency preparedness for me.  If a tornado wiped our town out tomorrow, we would STILL have to diaper little man and we'd STILL have to eat.  It's something to think about, for sure.

Day 5 and a tutorial

Check out the rules to the Flats & Handwashing Challenge I'm participating in HERE.

Yesterday ended well.  We had our home group meeting last night, so the kids were running around like crazy people.  I put little man in a pink/brown striped Amy Coe recieving blanket that I had gotten when his older sister was a baby.  It was my favorite blanket then, (she was a summer baby, so I actually used my recieving blankets!  I know most people think they're worthless, but we've always used them) and it's now my very favorite diaper!  It is perfectly square, OH SO SOFT and absorbs like crazy!
I'll show a few of the "diapers" we used yesterday when we used ONLY local items.  (See my addition to the challenge HERE)  And I'll tell what I thought about them. 
This was a Gerber recieving blanket that I got at my son's baby shower.  We never used it, since he was a winter baby and we needed more warmth.  It folded and pinned REALLY well since it is so thin, but it's probably as worthless as everyone says the Gerber flats are.  That said...it held one pee with no leaks, so...it works. 
These 2 are Carter's recieving blankets and they must be flannel or something.  They are SO SOFT and they're fairly large.  The only thing I don't like is that they're not square, so I have to fold down an edge before I actually fold if I do the origami fold.  BUT!!  Doing the kite fold proved awesome because it gave me more layers in the front where we need them for little man, so I am using these more often.  I said yesterday I'd use the bamboo towel again, but little man was screaming his head off last night and I didn't get down to get it off the fence, so I just used one of these origami style with a flour sack towel pad folded in the middle and when he woke up the outside was not wet, the part touching his skin was not wet, but the interior was SOAKING.  Color me impressed!
This is the flat my husband and I fashioned out of the old crib sheet.  I'm not sure if you can tell, but the thing is HUGE.  I haven't measured it yet, but it has to be about 40x40.  While it folds well and is absorbant, it's not very soft and it doesn't pin well.  I think if I snappi'd it it would work out well, but I wasn't impressed.  This is the dipe that leaked onto our wool cover.  Different sheets, of course, would produce different results.
And here it is...the cre'me de la cre'me...the Amy Coe recieving blanket.  I have another one with pink and brown dots and I wish I had more.  I know it came from Target, but they don't carry them anymore when I checked last week.  I'm not sure if the brand that took over AC spot is still this square, this soft, etc. but it would be totally worth finding them on ebay or whereever a person would have to go to find them. 

I think I worked out my very favorite method of handwashing now.  I needed to work out some frustrations after the kids went to bed last night, so I rinsed, washed washed washed (they were not coming clean enough for my liking) and then filled the bucket with cold water to wait overnight.  This morning all I had to do was rinse, ring them out and hang them.  I can handle that even before coffee!  And boy-oh-boy was it a good thing I did, because as I was vigorously washing the diapers, I suddenly felt no resistance at the end of my plunger.  I wondered what the heck and pulled the lid off to find this:
Aaaaand what is this?  Time # FOUR I've learned this lesson this week?  YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR!!  So I came downstairs and got the heavy-duty plunger we swiped the plastic handle from and used it.  We refused to drill holes in it because it's our only other plunger and the rubber is thick.  Overall, though, I think it worked better without the holes.  There is more resistance, but it moves the cloth around the bucket more.  Again, I'm really glad I discovered this last night instead of this morning.  It would have flustered me beyond belief first thing.

Today I've been doing everything in my power to only use 3 covers.  And that means 2 covers because the one wool soaker is out of commission until it dries.  Which meant 1 cover this morning because the GenY was hanging on the line.  Which meant no covers because the other wool soaker was airing out after being an overnight cover.  Hmmmm...I swore I wouldn't let him go without a cover because he is too heavy a wetter.  But I did.  No one ever said I wasn't stubborn! 
HA!  note we are OUTSIDE and take a look at the next picture.  Typically my little man must be on someone's lap, but I wouldn't let him.  I was afraid he'd pee on me.  I don't fancy getting dressed twice in one day.  Seems like a waste of resources to me.  haha
Thankfully the lone wool soaker was ready in time for nap.  We'll make it until at least 3pm on day 5 with only 3 covers used.  Maybe even later because the Gen Y will be dry, too!  Tomorrow I think I need to bust out the Pitterpat shorties, though.  They're too adorable and he hasn't gotten to sport them since I last week.  Bar-none the CUTEST shorties EVER! 

Since we're discussing wool, I thought I'd put a little picture tutorial here about washing and lanolizing wool.  I stayed away from wool for so long, but a local CD mommy showed me how easy it is and I have been hooked since.  In fact, I hope to get another Woollybottoms soaker from Itsy Bitsy Bums when they stock tonight.  (P.S.  Abby at IBB is having a Memorial Day sale with free gifts with purchase of Made in America items and free shipping for military.  Check her out!)

I <3 wool partially because I hate laundry.  It only needs to be washed and lanolized about once a month (depending on how rough your child is on his/her clothes...my son is pretty wild, but his soakers still last a good long time)  YES.  I thought it was gross too, until I started using it and could still smell the lanolin (Lovespell by Woollybottoms is to live for!!) use after use after use.  This is because wool is naturally anti-microbial and anti-bacterial.  Of course, if it gets soiled with poo, it will need to be washed right away.

First fill your sink about 1/3 full with warm water and a drop or two of baby soap. I've used the amber-colored Johnson & Johnson or Mrs. Meyers. It hasn't made a lick of difference and the J&J is super cheap.
Put your wool in the sink and gently swish it around.  Let it sit about 15 minutes, coming back to swish it every few minutes.  Do not get rough with the wool, gently agitating it around will get it to come clean.  You can see here the water is dingy.  This is the first wash.  After that, drain your sink and gently squish the water out of the wool.  Do not twist or squeeze or get rough. 

Fill the other basin (or the same one if you only have a single basin sink) with warm water and no soap.  Do the same, letting the wool sit for 15 minutes and gently swishing it now and again.  If you have an infant, you will probably not need another wash cycle, but since my son is 17mo old and a wild child, I do 2 of these cycles until the water is completely clear.  (so 2 washes and 2 rinses)
Note that I have now turned them inside out.  I do one wash/rinse right side out and one inside out.  I then leave them inside out so that the lanolin will be primarily on the inside-where it is needed.

Next you will need to prepare your lanolin.  I have used Lansinoh (which you can get at WalMart or Target with the bottles, nipples and breast pumps.  It is in a lavender box) and Woollybottoms Lovespell.  The Lovespell is absolutely heavenly, but if you have a sensitive little one or you're nursing, the Lansinoh is unscented and will do you double duty. 

Heat some water (you can do this in the microwave, but we don't use microwaves, so I heat mine in an 8" saute pan on the stove) and add a drop of baby shampoo and about a teaspoon of your lanolin.  Stir it around in the hot water until it is completely dissolved and I usually leave it on the heat for a couple more minutes, just to be sure it's good and incorporated.  If it's not, you will get "lanolin spots" on your wool, which can be sticky or even discolor the wool.  Despite that, don't be scurred!  It's not nearly as difficult as it sounds!

Again, fill your sink about 1/3 of the way with warm water.  BEFORE ADDING YOUR WOOL, add your lanolin solution and stir it around.  Now add your wool and do the same as you would for a wash cycle, leaving it sit for about 15 minutes and agitating it gently every few minutes.  I use my spoon to agitate this cycle, as the lanolin can coat your hands and make them feel sticky.

To explain WHY we lanolize, you must know what lanolin does.  It is a natural sheep by-product that the sheep produces and it is found in the wool upon shearing.  It feels "greasy" because it makes the sheep waterproof and helps with that anti-bacterial/anti-microbial property that the wool has.  When you add lanolin back into your wool, it will wick moisture away from your baby and keep them warm and dry just like it kept the sheep warm and dry.  This is why when you first put the wool in the wash water, it floats, or repels the water.

Drain the sink and gently squish out the excess water. Let the wool drain while you get a towel and fold it in half lengthwise. 
Turn your wool right side out and lay it on the towel, smoothing it back to it's normal shape.  I started mine off this way, but ended up putting the blue soaker at the other end of the towel.
Roll the towel up and put it somewhere room temperature out of direct sunlight.  The towel will wick away most of the moisture from the wool and after about a day, you can unroll them and let them sit somewhere (again, out of direct sunlight) until they are completely dry.  Drying takes about 2-3 days depending on the thickness of your wool and the "weather" inside of your house.  Considering that you haven't washed them in a month, though, it's not so much to ask to give up 2-3 days for drying.

So there you have it!  Please let me know what you think of these tutorials.  Are they helpful?  Are they detailed enough?  Are they boring?  I have a couple more lined up, but I'd like to hear your opinion first.  Thanks!


Day 4-Local CD'ing

Check out the rules to the Flats & Handwashing Challenge I'm participating in HERE.

I mentioned in yesterday's post that today I was planning to use only items I could find at WalMart to diaper the little man.  I changed that to what I can find locally, because we have a Lowe's (for wash bucket making items) and a Target (for flour sack towels) the next town over, which is only 15 minutes away.  I'm pretty sure a lot of my recieving blankets also came from Target.  I think a mom here in town could feasibly get to that town if she needed to, and if she were to have  baby shower, most everything would come from that town (not many options in our town) so...it seems realistic to me.

So what am I using?

  • Pins...because I found them at WalMart and we can't get Snappis locally.  I've never used a diaper pin before today!
    • $1/4 pack for the locking heads
  • Flour sack towels
    • $3.99/4 pack at Target OR 4.89/5 pack at WalMart
  • Recieving blankets I've found around the house
    • Free from baby shower, from WalMart, Target and even Family Dollar
  • Refurbished crib sheet cut into a flat
    • Free.  We've had that sheet for 7 years now
  • T-shirts
    • Free.  I used an old one
  • Wash bucket
    • $5.00 total from Lowes
  • A bamboo towel I found in the kitchen
    • It's from The Pampered Chef, but I'm sure one could be found at WalMart?  I'll have to look it up
The only thing I'm subbing is covers because locally all we can get are plastic pants.  My son does not do well with the heavy duty plastic/PUL, so it wasn't something I was willing to entertain for a full 24 hours. 

So far so good.  I noticed that the thin recieving blankets fold *really* well, but don't absorb much.  I'm having much more luck with the kite fold on the recieving blankets and since they are trimmer, they are easier for me to pin. 

Which leads me to the fact that I've also noticed that I don't have much confidence with pins and can't seem to get a good, tight fit.  The covers save my behind, but when little man pooped this morning, it got out of the legs of the handmade flat and soiled one of our wool covers.  I tried to spot clean it, but a couple hours later it is evident that I'll need to do a full washing, which means that cover will be out of the mix for a couple more days.  I never used pins before today.  EVER.  So this has been interesting.  I had tried to use them a few days ago and couldn't get them through the materials.  I was so scared to poke little man, that I just walked away.  Luckily a mom posted a tip to store the pins in a piece of soap or candle, so I found an old candle in my closet that I've been keeping them in.  It's worked fantastically!

For naptime we used a thicker recieving blanket and a bamboo terry towel I found in my kitchen for extra absorbancy.  It did so well that I washed it right away and hung it to dry so we can use it at bedtime. 

I worked out a couple of my issues with this morning's wash.  First of all, I still didn't get up early because our eldest had a friend overnight (she was absolutely adorable and came to me at church last night and asked "do you homeschool?"  I said yes and she said, "since GraceAnne and I are in the same grade, can I spend the night and you school me tomorrow, too?"  Of course I had to oblige!) and we visited with her parents who are good friends we don't get to see frequently until midnight.  Needless to say I was dragging butt this morning. 
So after I changed little man, I took him downstairs, made my coffee, made some pancakes and left little man and the awakened children with Hubbs, I fumbled back up the stairs and got to washing some dipes.  In the middle of the wash cycle, I was brought a poopy boy.  Enter the soiled cover mentioned above.  Despite the bustle of the day, the wash went much better because I had a quality lid and a plastic handle on my plunger.  Oh.  And a cup of coffee!  That helped tremendously.  Then, of course, there was the calming effect of hanging the dipes.  Oh how I love watching them sway in the breeze!

And then we got to our homeschool thang.  The kids were great and had a blast and I liked it so much I almost want to find another kid my daughter's age to do school with next year so she can have a classmate.  Having other people's kids makes me much more lenient, too.  It's easy to be hard on a kid when you know what they are capable of, but it seems to be difficult to remember sometimes that your children are, well, children.  Having a friend here reminded me of that a bit.

 So at the end of today what are some tips I have?  (See HERE for tips from others doing the challenge)
  1. Don't be afraid to try things you wouldn't have thought of.  It really decreases your diapering expenditures when you look around the house and find things like recieving blankets, old t-shirts, old sheets, etc.
  2. Store your diaper pins in soap or wax to help them glide through fabrics
  3. Better yet, find and use Snappis.  I will be having these in stock when I start my classes
  4. You really do need to use quality items when making your wash bucket.  Get the bucket and lid at Lowe's and make sure that your plunger has a plastic handle!
That's it for me at the moment.  I have some pictoral tutorials I would like to post here.  Perhaps tomorrow/Saturday since we seem to be on the maintenance end of the learning curve.  Until next time, God Bless!

OH OH OH!!  ETA:  Check out this cute t-shirt dipe!  It was totally impractical since I'm not good with the pins, but WOAH!  What an adorable idea! :P
ROCK STAR!!  That's a Black Label skate shirt I've had for...geeze...12 years now.  I was really relieved when he peed on it and didn't take a dump cuz I might not have wanted to wear it again if it had been pooped on.  HA!


Day 3, Part 2

Please scroll down or click HERE to read what I wrote this morning about last night and this morning.

Well, we didn't end up going to that friend's house today.  My daughter went, but me and the little ones stayed here.  We are down to one vehicle at the moment, so when Hubbs is gone, we stick pretty close to the house.  Little man wore an origami fold with a pad fold in the middle down to nap and did great.  I've tried other folds, but I just don't like them as much on him.  This fold gives us enough "wing" to actually wrap around his pot belly. 

Once he woke up, I had to bust out my 3rd cover because both of the wool soakers needed a rest.  Hopefully one of them is ready for bed-time or else we'll have to start on cover #4.  I was thinking earlier, too, a person would have to have several regular covers in rotation, because eventually you have to wash the wool and it takes a couple days to dry.  Unless you are like some CD mommas I know and have several wool pieces in a rotation.  For me, I prefer to wash all my wool on the same day and for a mom who would NEED to use flats, she probably wouldn't be able to afford to have more than 1 or 2 pieces of wool.  Long story short, I will suggest 3-5 covers besides any wool, but I will still promote wool being as it's completely amazing.

I guess you can't see it very well, but here is little man in his GenY minky cover.  So cute!

Church went fine, I ended up changing him before we went in and again afterward, but I changed him in front of the nursery worker who is a senior in highschool.  Her best friend just had a baby and it opened a conversation about the benefits of cloth vs disposable.  She didn't realize that sposies have chemicals in them and my bet is that most people don't.  I'm not entirely sure I *knew* that before I started my cloth diaper journey, though I'm sure I would not have been surprised to hear it.  She was very interested in the Snappi and was surprised by how easy it was.  SCORE ONE FOR THE FLATS TEAM!!  We will show this whole town of new moms how to cloth diaper and love it yet!

Kim @ Dirty Diaper Laundry addressed in her blog today WHY she is doing this.  I wanted to touch on why I'M doing this again for anyone who didn't see my reasoning HERE.  

The short of it is, I saw my favorite retailer, Itsy Bitsy Bums, advertising flats at a discount in recognition of this challenge.  She linked the challenge and I clicked through to read.  What I read broke my heart.  There have been news reports of moms leaving their babies in soiled diapers for upwards of 12 hours or even blow-drying used diapers to re-use because they couldn't afford to diaper their babies.  Because of this, the challenge arose.  Sure, we could SAY these people should use cloth all we want, but are we willing to figure out the best ways to use the most affordable cloth solutions ourselves?  So I decided I would give it a go-one week of nothing but flats, only 5 covers in rotation and handwashing to simulate what it would take to diaper a child from birth to potty learning for $60.  I ordered those discounted flats and bought some used ones from a good friend of mine and fellow local CD momma and made a camp-style wash bucket. 

I aim to prove to myself that I can set out to do something that other people (myself included 10 months ago!) consider gross or ridiculous.  More than that, though, I pray to someday be able to teach a class to new moms that I call "Childbirth and Beyond."  I want to empower young moms (primarily teens...our town has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in Texas) to be intentional mothers who trust their instincts and can rise to become great moms, despite what society tells them.  I don't expect they'll all run head first into natural childbirth or using flats, but I want to open their eyes to the possibility and let them know they DO have choices.  I would also like to have CD items available for cheap or free for those interested in them. 

Please join me in praying this comes to fruition.  I talked to a friend today who was a teen mom and she said she would have done many things differently if anyone had SHOWN her that it COULD be different.  And ultimately, that is what this is about for me...fine-tuning things (like...now knowing to NEVER use a wooden plunger handle in a camp wash bucket!) so that I can make the information as fun and easy as possible to someone who feels completely out of control and insecure.

And with that, I will update that one of my little man's soakers WAS ready for the night, so we are still-going into Day 4-on only 3 covers.  WOOT!!  Check back with me tomorrow.  I'll be homeschooling my daughter AND her friend who is staying the night and using only products I would be able to find at WalMart to diaper the little man.  Good night and God Bless!

Single Mom Day-Day 3 of F&HC

Click HERE to read the rules to this challenge.

Today hubbs is doing his volunteer gig.  I've been a spoiled brat because my hubby is a retired, disabled veteran.  He's been home with me for the last 6 months and *everything* goes more smoothly with him here.  He watches the little ones while I homeschool the eldest and he helps around the house.  Not to mention I'm just in a better mood to have him here.  On the days he's gone I...well, I survive.  I need to get used to him being gone, though.  Soon he will be a certified prosthetist and will have a job.  You'd think I'd be used to it, since before November he was gone full time + for the previous 7 years, but it's amazing how quickly you get used to having help.

I'm going to get some things off my chest right now because I'm sitting here and I don't know how much time I'll have later.  I am absolutely LOVING using flats.  They are so trim under my little man's woolies and we haven't had one leak.  We have been successful in using only 2 covers so far--even with one being taken out of commission yesterday by the spot clean.  I just changed him more frequently so I didn't have to swap out my wool.  This morning the other cover was dry, so I was able to let the green one rest.

I'm absolutely HATING the handwashing part of this challenge.  I frustrated myself more than necessary this morning because I had wanted to do the wash in the mornings to allow the flats to air dry.  Little man (17mo) was awake and screaming his ever-loving head off because I wouldn't let him play in the wash bucket.  Since he pooped twice yesterday, I had 12 flats and 6 wipes to wash and wanted to do it in 2 separate loads to be sure they got clean.  Let me tell you, a screaming child fighting you to get into the tub is NOT the way to start your day.  Most especially before coffee, food or quiet time! (I typically get up early to read my bible alone before the kids get up) 

But I got a small reprieve when I left the noisiness to go hang the dipes on the line.  I was madder than a wet hen when I went out there, but something about hanging stuff on the line in the sunshine and no noise but the melody of the birds is so calming!  Then again, I've always loved hanging my dipes.  It's one of my fave parts of cloth diapering.

They started in on me as soon as I walked back into the house, though, so that training I thought hanging the dipes in the morning would afford my dog?  Not so much.

Also, my hands are THROBBING from using the plunger on the wash bucket.  Hubbs is bringing home a new lid and we'll try out the new set-up tomorrow.  I have calouses coming and places where the skin has rubbed off my fingers.  OUCH!  My hands are so dry (a common complaint I'm seeing on others' blogs, too.) so I tried a sample of soothing cream I had from Episencial.  I really like it!

Because I don't want to give up, I'm going to brainstorm ways to improve this situation:
  • wake up earlier to wash...before the kids get up (not likely because the day goes SO MUCH better when I start with my bible reading/prayer time...I'm pretty sure my kids don't want me to give this up in the morning!)
  • feed the kids before I wash
  • wash at naptime (this will not likely happen as I take some time to myself, blog, read emails, etc)
  • wash at night-time after the kids go to bed  (con to this is no sun to hang the dipes in)
Let me know if you've got another solution, too. 

I need to close this for now, but I will update more later.  We are supposed to go to a friend's house today and to church tonight, so we'll put traveling with flats to the test.  I am not a bit concerned about it, except I know that I'll have to change him at church because our nursery worker already is nervous about the cloth (she usually puts them on him backwards, HA!) and I don't expect her to fold anything or use a snappi.  We'll see you soon!


Second Verse...

Please check out the rules of this challenge here

Second verse has NOT been the same as the first!  Yesterday was almost exciting with all the build-up and anticipation of the challenge.  Last night, as I put a flat on him, (two, actually, the same as I detailed in yesterday's post for maximum nighttime absorbancy) I realized I still had a lot to do before I earned my rest.  I "made" my wipes and hand washed the flats we used in the camp-style wash bucket. 

Today has not been so exciting.  I was pleased my little man slept in, but for some reason I'm dog-tired today, so I've been fighting a case of the grumpies. 

Yesterday, we had no poopies.  YAY! 

Today we've had 2 poopies so far.  I had to laugh because Kim over at Dirty Diaper Laundry said the same thing...that there was no poop yesterday so today she'd be "in for it."  Yes...Yes I have been.  He even soiled one of his wool soakers.  Only a very little bit, so I was able to spot clean instead of wash the whole thing again, but it was enough to take our soaker out of the mix for a few hours.  This stinks for me because I was trying to see how long I could go with just the 2 covers since wool can be expensive ($20+ for an upcycled soaker) and I wouldn't expect a struggling mom to be able to have more than 2.  I guess I will have to be sure I suggest to anyone who may need to do something like this that they have a few other covers in their rotation.  Cheap PUL covers could be had for around $8. 

Without further ado, let's discuss the handwashing portion of this challenge.  Last night as I set to my handwashing, I came to 3 conclusions:

1.  Handwashing is for the freakin' birds.  I would totally haul a load of dirty dipes to the laundromat if I had to and welcome the quiet time to read.  A single mom would not have this luxury, though, in which case I would either haul a load to a friend's or my parents. 

2.  You get what you pay for.  In the interest of going as cheap as possible I used a 5 gallon bucket I already had and went to WalMart to buy a lid for it and a plunger.  The cheapest plunger available was a wooden handled one for 2.48.  The lid was 1.48.  I didn't go to Lowe's to get the lid to match the bucket because it is 15 miles away and we didn't have the extra gas money to make a trip for a LID...so as hubbs was drilling a hole in the top, the WM lid cracked 6 ways to Sunday.  He taped the top so that it wouldn't crack further.  It also does not fit the Lowe's bucket quite right, so it wiggles around while I "agitate" the wash.  While I used the wooden-handled plunger, the plastic lid scraped away at the handle and now it's splintered to crap.  Hubbs says we have a plastic-handled plunger downstairs and I will attempt that instead.

3.  I will do the washes in the morning from now on, as I had to dry on my drying rack in the bathroom and not all of the flats were dry by morning because they are big and overlap each other.  If I do them in the morning, I can hang them on the line and since my dog is a DOG and I have to bring him in when I line-dry, it will force me to also make sure I'm doing his training sessions with him.  Sounds like a double win.

Here I prepare for the first rinse. 
Filling the bucket half way with cold water for the first rinse.  I filled it about half-way and then agitated it for about 3 minutes.
After draining the cold rinse, the water was murky. I then filled the bucket half way with HOT water and poured in about a 1/2 Tbsp cloth diaper friendly detergent. I use Seventh Generation Free & Clear. I've tried other detergents and nothing seems to work for me like this does. This will absolutely be different for each individual, depending on the type of water in your area, your machine, etc. I agitated this for about 5 minutes and then drained, squeezing out excess water from the diapers.
I told you that lid didn't fit right, so I had to get all hillbilly about it.  And agitating sure kills this arthritic wrist!  My arms feel like I've been pumping iron, but that's not such a bad thing.  I'll be buff by the end of the week!
Finally was one more cold rinse.  I got tired of the lid and just started agitating it without it.  The water was perfectly clear the whole time, so I know I wasn't sloshing any yuck onto myself.  Amazingly enough, this whole process only took about 15 minutes total. 
Next I wringed everything out as well as I could and hung it to dry on the rack. 
The rack comes in handy when it's yucky out. If I lived in a northern-most state I would probably say I couldn't live without it, but being in Texas we can hang outside almost all year.  So while I am glad I have the racks, I wouldn't say a mom doing this out of necessity in my area would have to have one. 
A good example of getting what you pay for.  Those splinters had better not make their way into my hands tonight.  Tomorrow hubbs has to go to the next town for his volunteer position, so he'll pick me up a proper lid and we'll attempt the whole thing again with the plastic handle.

I also wanted to add that I was changing him more frequently than I needed to before I laid him down for his nap, so I decided to see how long an origami fold with a pad fold in the middle would last after he got up from his nap.  He lasted from 3pm-7:30pm.  He was wearing wool, so his clothes were not wet and the wool was only damp, but the 2 diapers were soaked.  I would *NOT* suggest anyone do this, 5 hours is too long for a baby to be in any kind of diaper, cloth or not, but we had to see.  Little man was never uncomfortable or I would have changed him earlier.  

So there is that.  Despite my irritability, day 2 is going well.  We're not tempted to use our fancy diapers and still fully intent on seeing this through to Sunday.  I am even giving myself an additional challenge to use only items we would find at WalMart for a day to simulate a mom in our area who would do this out of necessity.  The only concession I'll have to make is a diaper cover, as they only sell plastic pants there and I'd rather use a natural fiber.  My eventual goal is to be able to carry a stock of new and used items for the moms who take my class (praying it comes together!!) to get free or greatly reduced.  I would be sure to have more covers than anything else.  I already have my WM "flats" (and have been using them) and pins.  I will attempt a t-shirt as a diaper that day and use the recieving blankets I found laying around the house. 

Finally, I will leave you with a pictoral record of how I "make" my wipes.  Enjoy! :)

There are many different types of cloth wipes and many different ways to use them.  Here is just a small sampling based on what I have in my stock. 
Kissaluvs organic flannel wipes.  Or at least that's what I'm pretty sure they were.  I have about 24, they were 6.00/dozen at my local CD shop.  Sadly, they are no longer in business :(
Kissaluvs also has the most amazing wipe spray called "Diaper Lotion Potion"  The stuff smells fantastic, cleans well and is all natural.  It's a great option for traveling, just pack dry wipes, spray the potion on baby's bum (my son thinks it's super-happy fun time when we spray his butt) and wipe off whatever mess there is.  Then throw the dirty wipes in your wetbag.
A regular el-cheapo baby washcloth from WalMart.  This was in a 4 pack for a dollar. 
These are a little fancier, (read, a little pricier) but ADORABLE!  They are cotton on the front and a sherpa fabric on the back.  They were 5.00 for a set of 6.  Obviously not the most economical, but very cute and the sherpa cleans solid messes pretty well.  These are cut to the shape and size of a wipes box, so they fit right in.  The others have to be folded in half to fit in the box.
And then, of course, you remember the wipes Allan and I made out of the old, nasty fitted sheet.  I had to put some stitching in the edges to keep it from fraying too badly.  You could also make wipes out of an old t-shirt and the edges would not fray.  If you were cool, you could do these edges right, but I am not *that* cool.
I am currently in love with these little wipe solution stars I got over on Etsy.  They were only 7.95 for 40 of them and I got to choose 2 different scents.  The momma is on maternity leave right now, but you can find similar products or you can make your own solution.  With these, I have to dissolve a star in 8oz (1 cup) of water.  For this box of wipes, I used 1.5 stars because it was full to the top.  Typically I only have to use one.  If I have it filled with the sherpa wipes, they suck up 2 stars worth of solution.
I heat my water on the stove because we don't have a microwave.  This could easily and quickly be done in the microwave, though, if you have one.  In this 8" saucepan, it still only takes about 3 minutes for that water to heat to boiling.  Then pour the water over your star and stir until it's dissolved.
Finally, pour the solution over the wipes in the bucket and allow it to cool before using them.  A container of these wipes usually lasts me four days to a week, but last week little man was sick, so we were going through a box in a day.  For this reason, I would strongly suggest a person have on hand enough wipes to make 2-3 containers full.  They don't all have to be soaked, (though I do keep one prepared container upstairs and one down) just available to use in case you need them. 

I mentioned in a previous post that even if I went back to using sposies, I would NEVER stop using my wipes.  These are so simple to prepare (it only took me 5 minutes to make these, even with boiling the water and taking pix for the tutorial) and easy to use.  They are better for your baby's bum and if you get a scented kind, they smell fantastic.  If you get an unscented kind, they are really unscented.  (I say this because I noticed my Seventh Generation F&C disposable wipes STUNK)  My son doesn't scream like I'm ripping his skin off when I wipe him with these while he has a rash and they're easy to clean, too.  I just throw them in with my diaper laundry.  If I used disposables, I would just throw them in with my regular laundry (being sure to rinse poo off first, but pee will wash out easily)  I hope you will give it a try and see how awesome they really are!

Join me again tomorrow, as I muddle through Day 3 (leaving the house!)  :)