Monday, July 30, 2012

Fun With Food

From the time he was a baby on solids, J was destined to be a gourmet baby. J was blessed with me as a mama, a true foodie :) I was always big on giving him a good base of healthy solids and didn't introduce him to any kind of junk for a long time. Once he started on finger food, I steamed all his veggies in the Aroma food steamer that I own, or would microwave some stream fresh frozen veggies from the supermarket. And he got some other exciting foods like diced leg of lamb and cubes of fun cheeses such as Havarti and Wisconsin cheddar.

After J hit the 1 year mark, I got a little more brave with cooking. Rather than just steaming everything, I started to experiment: first with sauteing, then sauteing and adding simple spices, then roasting, then marinating and grilling veggies. Yes, both J and I are veggie lovers. J was never that big on fruit or sweets but give the boy some zucchini and he will love you forever. Of course he does love his meats too and I leave the cooking of meats to J's grandpa and daddy, although I do marinate and steam, bake or  broil fish for us.

I know I am lucky because J is not a very picky toddler. Right now he is anti-cheese, unless it is on melted in a sandwich like wholewheat grilled cheese, and anti-chocolate which I am totally fine with. I thought it'd be fun to share some of his favorite foods. If you have other foods that your little ones love, please share; I love finding new ideas for meals and/or sides!

  • whole wheat french toast 
  • whole wheat grilled cheese
  • sauteed spinach with fresh garlic
  • grilled eggplant
  • yogurt with fresh fruit
  • sweet potato fries
  • baked sweet potato
  • pan-fried zucchini breaded with whole wheat bread crumbs
  • cubed watermelon
  • cubed cantaloupe
  • cheerios
  • avocado
  • broiled salmon
  • lamb in any way, shape or form

Cloth Diapering At Night

One big challenge for many cloth diapering mamas is handling night time. Some mommies are lucky and they can continue to use their daytime cloth diaper system that they use during the day for night time maybe with an added hemp doubler. However, for any mama of an extreme heavy wetter and side sleeper (or tummy sleeper), that doesn't work. Saying that J is a heavy wetter is an understatement; my child pees like a racehorse to the point where I have tried many combos that did not work. It took a lot of trial and error to figure out what would work. There are cloth diapering mamas who use disposable at night, but even those don't work for J. I have tried going up a size in a disposable, using 2 disposables, using special night time disposables, and he has always woken up pretty damp on his left side because he sleeps on his side at night. It makes sense, if you think about it. Look inside of a disposable and you'll see that there is usually blue dye/crystals all along the front and back of the diaper because those are the soaking zones; there really aren't noticeable chemicals for absorbing along the sides.

When it came to cloth, I quickly learned that my daytime pocket diapers wouldn't cut it for night (and I did try to make it work). Why not? Pocket diapers are only absorbent where the insert is located, which does nothing for a side sleeper. After emailing a few cloth diaper retailers, I opted to try the Happy Hempy diaper because it is one of the more inexpensive fitted pocket diapers and comes with a stay-dry lining. Figuring out how to stuff it in order to keep J from waking up with a sopping diaper, soaked sleepsack, and sheets drenched in urine definitely took some time and playing around with different options. And my stuffing combo has changed over time because J pees much differently now at the age of 14 months than he did when he was only 8 months old. For all of them, I used a wool soaker over top: I have one made by a wahm on etsy, a largeAristocrats soaker, and an extra large Disana soaker.

First, I tried a loopy do insert made by Knickerknappies which is boasted to be great for heavy wetters. Nope, still had a wet baby and wet sheets in the am. Then I tried a toddler-sized OsoCozy prefold  trifolded inside, but still had the soaked sheets. After that, I tried 3 premium joey bunz insert thinking I needed to go more trim with the stuffing and J was wetter than ever in the morning.

Finally, I found the answer: a premium Joey Bunz insert trifolded into a toddler OsoCozy prefold stuffed into the hempy with the xl Disana soaker over top. Only the Disana soaker works well since J is such a big boy and the bigger soaker just seems to help. I need to get a second one! :)

  Above: XL Happy Hempy, Joey Bunz premium insert, toddler-sized OsoCozy prefold trifolded 
(I generally stick the joey bunz into the prefold before trifolding)

                                             Fully stuffed diaper - yes, it's pretty darn big :)

                                                     My wonderful Disana xl soaker

It was so amazing when J actually slept til 6:30 AM and woke up with completely dry sheets and a dry sleepsack! If you've ever had an extreme heavy wetter, you'll know the feeling when you find a great night time diaper combo for your little one! 

Yes, my son has an extremely fluffy butt to the point where he resembles some sort of Dr Seuss character, but this is the first time he has woken up in the am totally dry. I don't even get that from disposables. Nothing beats having a child with dry sheets and completely dry pajamas, with no odor of foul-toddler urine on his skin.

Happy diapering!!! 

Sunday, July 29, 2012

I'm Not a Germaphobe!

The other day my MILfreaked out when she discovered that I borrow board books from the library for J. "When my kids were younger, I never let them take those germy nasty books out of the library. They're gross." I just looked at her and responded with, "Well, I'm not a germaphobe. That's why we wash hands." Really, if I raised J the way she raised her kids, he would pretty much be stuck living in a boring little bubble with no friends. MIL wants to have a play structure put in the backyard to avoid J playing at the playground where there are germs, and constantly makes comments about the germs from library books, borrowed toys from friends, etc.

I happen to believe that there is nothing wrong with some exposure to germs of other kids. After all, the time will come either when J attends preschool that he'll be thrown in a room with many germs since let's face it, kids are germ factories, and if he is kept living in an overly sterile environment he'll be getting sick all the time at that point. Not to mention, every time J goes to the pediatrician, dentist office, grocery store, etc., he is in an area where there are some germs. I just pick and choose how to be safe by using a shopping cart cover at stores, always travelling with hand wipes, and teaching J about hand washing.

Do I want J to get sick? No, of course not; however, sickness happens and I want to be realistic.

How about you readers? Do you do everything you can to avoid other kids and their germs or do you feel that some healthy controlled dose of germs are okay?

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Toddler Toy Favorites

I have to confess something. As new parents, my husband and I went overboard with the toys we bought for J as a baby, as well as with toys that we wish-listed for his Christmas. Our favorites then were anything that sang, touted that it was educational on the packaging, and usually cost a fortune. Then we figured something out; the best toys are the ones that you don't buy. No, I'm not joking and veteran parents know this already. J's favorite "toys" are our cats' toys, pots & pans, and dog bones. Seriously, this kid will toddle all over the house waving around a giant dog bone for an hour sometimes.

Of course, it is good to have some toys for entertainment but lets not go crazy here. I thought it's be good to list some toys that I found to be great both for entertainment purposes and for skill-building.

  • push toys - these can be as simple as a toy shopping cart filled up with some heavier items to weigh it down because they make for helping a little one start toddling without just always holding your hand and builds confidence in the little one's abilities
  • blocks - there comes a point when your toddler learns that it is fun to stack up some blocks, whether they are wooden, big cardboard bricks, or plush, and then to knock them down; or in my son's case it is more fun to watch Mommy or Daddy stack the blocks for him to knock over as I make fun crashing sound effects
  • shape sorters - they teach about categorizing and logic as your little guy or gal figures out that only certain shapes go in certain places
  • stuffed animals - fun to beat up on and cuddle, and they don't run away like the real animals
  • bead chasers - basically those things with the beads attached that can loop-de-loop in all sorts of ways; great for fine motor
Did you notice that none of the above listed toys come with batteries and giant instruction manuals? Really, believe it or not, they are great toys and can entertain for a long time...well as long as your little wonder's attention span lasts with anything else. And the best part is that they don't break the bank! I wish I knew then what I know now because I wouldn't have 2 toyboxes and many shelves full of unused toys. 

Happy shopping! :)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

"Judge Not Lest Ye Be Judged"

The "Batman shooting" is one of the worse massacres I've heard of in a long time, and partly because parents are now arguing over whether it is acceptable to take children to see a midnight movie, particularly one of that caliber. I don't get it at all! I believe that every parent knows his or her child best. Yes, some kids need an early bedtime; mine is one of them. If J is up past 7:30 PM, he becomes a hot mess. I know other kids who are very different, and will not settle down until past 10. Does that mean that the parent(s) of that child is/are lacking? Not at all. Personally, I won't take J to the movies, not because I'm anti-movies for children, but because he is 14 months old and will not sit still for more than 15 minutes at a time. To take him to any type of movie would be unenjoyable for both me and him because he'd be miserable if I tried to force him to sit for such a long period of time, and for me because I wouldn't be able to pay attention to the movie.

Here's an idea, parents. Instead of hurling insults and judging the parents who did take their kids to see The Dark Knight Rises at that midnight showing with tragic results, why don't you pray for the families who are now traumatized? I'm sure that they're already questioning their choices, and that is a terrible place to be mentally. If you want to judge anyone, why don't you question the sanity of the guy who saw nothing wrong with opening fire in a movie theater full of children and adults?

Parenting should be a no-judgement zone. All of us parents are free to make choices based on what is best for our children, and I know that many of us will always wonder whether doing one thing or another is a mistake. So let's support one another. We all love our children indefinitely and unconditionally, and that is the important thing to remember.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Miracle of Life...and CHOICES

I remember my final trimester of pregnancy like it was yesterday. My biggest fear was how much childbirth would hurt. I'm a wimp with a very low tolerance for pain, and I also have a fear of needles, and fear of the unknown. Every time that I asked a mother what contractions feel like, I couldn't get a straight answer. The consensus seemed to be to "take the epidural." What people didn't know, because I did not tell them, was that I didn't know if I wanted an epidural. My mom had given birth to both my sister and me with natural childbirth and now that she's been gone for so many years and I felt like she has been watching over me, I wanted to make her proud. Plus a bigger fear of mine than pain is my terror of needles.

My way of making up my mind was to ask around on the birth stories board of as well as various people on twitter such as @HeidiMurkoff, people who were doulas, and some OB nurses. Many people suggested Ina May Gaskin's book Guide to Childbirth, which was an amazing read. That book aided me in the decision that it would be best for me to avoid the epidural and reaffirmed my belief that women's bodies are made for childbirth. Basically, I understood that women have been giving birth for thousands of years and are fully capable of giving birth in whatever manner we choose to do so. I am in no way an extremist and I do not like when women are judged for opting for an epidural or elective c-section. Every mother-to-be has the right to choose her birth plan, and regardless of how it happens, we all get the same amazing "push present," a beautiful baby who we have the pleasure of raising. ***Just have to disclose now that I think the idea of a "push present" where a significant other is expended to buy diamonds for the mother to be a little unusual. For me, the push present was baby J.***

I'm not going to lie and say that contractions are painless; heck, we wouldn't refer to "labor" as such if it were all fun and games, but contractions do not last forever and they come with purpose because each contraction gets a woman closer and closer to meeting that baby who has taken over her womb for what feels like an eternity. What I will say for any woman that is considering either going natural or holding off on getting pain relief for as long as possible that it helps to think of contractions as ocean waves. Each one starts small and slow, builds up to a peak, then crash back down with a rest period before the next one. Actually when I had my contractions, I imagined that I was riding ocean waves while I did my lamaze breathing, and that helped since watching the ocean relaxes me. The contractions eventually will come closer together and build in intensity, which I believe is intentional, since each contraction prepares you for the next one. If they started out with high intensity from the get-go, we would all be crying out for pain relief right at the beginning. I do want to be honest and inform my readers that I did beg for an epidural when I was 9.5 cm dilated, and then of course realized how silly it would be to get an epidural at that point when I was so close to being done with the whole experience.

My least favorite part of birth happens as the baby crowns and has an appropriate name: "The ring of fire." Feeling the head coming out does burn, but once the shoulders are born the baby just slithers out, and hearing the little (or in J's case, intense scream) cry is the best pain relief. After giving birth to J, I was exhausted initially, but after eating dinner, I had this incredible surge of energy.

All in all, giving birth is an incredible experience and there isn't a thing about it that I would change. To all my pregnant readers, don't freak yourself out thinking too much about birth because fear of the unknown is much scarier than what actually happens. Birth itself is not scary; it is amazing! When you see and hold your precious bundle, you will see how worthwhile it was, and if you're like me plan to do it again in the future.

Any other readers want to share their experiences? :)

Friday, July 6, 2012

Cloth Diapers + Clothing...HOW????

One of the challenges that we cloth diaper mamas experience, especially when we first start cloth diapering is trying to figure out what to put our little ones in clothing-wise. Cloth diapers tend to be much more fluffy, even the trim diaper options are usually still a tad bigger than disposables. The reason behind this is that with cloth diapers, a bigger diaper = more absorbency. This is all fine and dandy until it comes time to buy clothing for the baby or young toddler. While the novice cloth diaper mamas think that the diapers are too big, the truth is that clothing is just created much smaller than it was in the past. Why? A lot of babies are in disposables, so the companies are able to use less material to make smaller outfits.

But do not fret! It is pretty easy to find ways to keep your angel appropriately dressed with a cloth booty :) My absolute favorite outfits are coveralls/rompers and overalls. With those, you can easily size up or even stick with the size your child would wear without the fluff depending on where you shop. I usually get the ones from Carters because their sizing is usually more generous. For summer time, J lives in the shorts coveralls for going out and about. But of course, on really hot summer days, nothing beats just wandering around in a diaper or even a diaper + a shirt. Seriously, fluffy butts are fun to show off! I reserve the coveralls more for when we go to places where it may not be considered appropriate for J to wander around in a diaper. In winter time, I like the long coveralls for inside or even size up with fleece pants, sweat pants, yoga pants, etc., with a nice shirt. I have no issue rolling up pants legs, and J doesn't mind. This year for fall and spring, I want to get some leg warmers. That way we can have his legs covered but still show off the fluff and then do a nice shirt.

For awhile, I didn't want to size up and it took trial and error to figure out what I could to do avoid compression leaking as well as prevent J from tripping over pants that were too big. However, we did figure out these neat little tricks with clothing and I have fun with my fluff! On diaper + shirt days, I match the diaper and shirt just because I can. Some people don't even realize it is a diaper my little man is wearing.

Happy dressing! :) Any other suggestions, please feel free to comment.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Cloth Diaper Woes...

When you first hear of cloth diapering, you may be in one of two camps, either it sounds icky and like a lot of work or it sounds incredibly easy. Initially, I was in the first camp when I was pregnant and my cousin decided to cloth diaper her son; I wanted absolutely no part of it. I thought, "Eww. I don't wanna touch poop!" However, when J was about 7 months old I was bemoaning the cost of the Pampers which ironically are the only disposables that J doesn't leak out of and of course it took a different type of Pamper diaper to hold him over at night. With the 2 boxes of Pampers plus the wipes, it was costing us about $100/month to diaper J and I calculated that if he remained in diapers til the age of 3 like my nephew that we would be out $3600 in the long-run. Like a broken record, I would tell my lovely hubby, "It would've been so much cheaper if we used cloth diapers on J, but it's too late now, right?"

Finally a friend told me that it is never too late, and that got me thinking. So I then spent 2 months researching cloth diapers by reading blogs, watching vlogs, reading books, tweeting moms who cloth diaper their little ones, etc. After much obsession on which are the best and how to use cloth "the right way," I decided to do a cloth diaper trial through one of many online cloth diaper retailers who offers one. When the diapers came, I kept the prefolds and flip diapers in the package, convinced that I would never use them. I really thought that I would wind up going with AIO's (all-in-ones) because those are the most like a disposable. Much to my surprise, I wound up preferring the pockets for their faster drying time and customizable absorbency. Washing was simple enough: cold prewash, hot wash with some cloth diaper friendly detergent, 2 cold rinses, then line drying the diapers and using the dryer for the inserts. So of course, I invested in diapers and as I always do, I did it with all-or-nothing mentality. Instead of gradually investing in diapers, I put out money instantly: the majority of it on "China cheapies": Sunbaby diapers & Kawaiis, and bought some other "better quality diapers" that were on sale: BumGenius 4.0.

Everything was smooth sailing for the first two months, then I was hit with problem #1: stinky diapers. I started googling how to battle stinkies and first tried revamping my wash routine then switching detergents. Of course, I didn't strip the diapers before switching so that led to problem #2: repelling. For those who don't know cloth diaper lingo, repelling means that instead of absorbing urine, the diapers repel the moisture so that most of the insert stays dry and the pee soaks right through instantly. That meant I needed to strip the diapers and I tried every method under the sun within a 1 month span to strip those suckers: hot water washes all day long, hot wash with blue Dawn, then finally RLR to soak then strip. The last one did the trick. Problem #3 came along when I decided I was tired of sizing up with clothing: compression leaking. Think of a cloth diaper insert like a sponge. It can hold a lot of liquid, but if you squeeze it, liquid comes out. With a cloth diaper that has compression, the liquid comes out the top at either the front or back of the diaper.

At this point, I had been cloth diapering for three months and was fed-up, so I decided to go back to disposables for a little while. After one week in disposables, poor J got a rash and so I put him back into cloth, and of course it turned out to be a yeast rash which I figured out too late. That meant I needed to kill the fungus from the diapers and treat J for yeast. Again, the cloth was put aside and left to sit in the pail for WAY too long. His room reeked of ammonia and no amount of washing could get rid of the odor even though I did kill the yeast with tea tree oil, lots of hot water, and sunning.

Once again, I switched detergents, this time to Rockin Green and rocked a soak. Initially, odor was gone and I was washing diapers every 2 days once again. However, soon the diapers picked up a musty barnyard odor. I knew that I was not about to give up on the cloth diapers, because I really didn't want to hear "I told you so" from everyone who swore up and down that I'd wind up hating the cloth. In desperation, I contacted Stephanie of AbbysLane. Basically, Stephanie told me that the diapers were stinky because there was bacteria that wasn't being killed and that biological matter was being left behind. Worried, I decided to follow the advice on how to get the diapers back to a clean slate: I stripped the diapers with bleach then switched to Powder Tide Free (she originally wanted me to use the original powder Tide but after I said that J is sensitive to fragrance, she said to use the free version). Finally, the diapers always just smell clean out of the wash, J doesn't get any rashes whatsoever, and there is no leaking. I also now wash a little bit differently: I do a warm prewash, hot wash with detergent all the way up to the 2nd line, and 2 cold rinses. As it was explained to me, if you skimp on the detergent, there is not enough to actually work to clean the diapers and bacteria will always be present.

Now that the issues have been worked out, J has a comfy behind and I love the cloth once again!