eK-3zmjBImBHOZjRJYEZVBw4ZWs Shaky Mommy: January 2012

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Secret World of Arrietty (free printables)

My kids are really excited about The Secret World of Arrietty, which is being released to theaters on February 17, which happens to be Jaxon's first birthday! 

The movie is about a little person, Arrietty, who lives with her parents beneath the floorboards of a house in their own little world. When a human boy comes to stay in the house and discovers Arrietty, a secret friendship blossoms.

If you haven't seen the trailer, check it out now.

While we're all waiting for the movie to be released, here's some fun printables that Disney sent for me to share with you (right click to print). Enjoy!

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Monday, January 30, 2012

Citrus Lane Review

Every new mom wants only the best for her baby. We want organic baby food, natural baby skin care products, the softest clothing and the safest toys. But how do you decide what's best when there are so many choices out there? It quickly becomes overwhelming! And what happens if your baby is a little bit needy (like mine is!) and won't let you have hours on the computer to do research and find the best baby products?

Enter Citrus Lane. Citrus Lane is a monthly subscription service. They send you a box each month with 4-5 baby products (or toddler products-the boxes are tailored to the baby's age!). If you're like me, and you love getting fun mail, you're already intrigued. But it gets better! Citrus Lane only sends the best of the best! The products a Citrus Lane box contains have been reviewed, loved, and recommended by real parents. They don't accept paid product placements and there are no marketing gimmicks - just great products for your little one from trustworthy brands! It's $25 per month, and all boxes ship for free! In the past, they have worked with Aden + Anais, Skip Hop, Boon, Cloud B, and Zutano, so you can rest assured you're receiving quality products.

I received an all organic "Fresh Start" box for review. My box included:

Green Toys Tugboat (ARV $14.99)
Dolphin Organics baby wash/shampoo & conditioner (ARV $8)
2 - Happy Baby Food pouches (ARV $3)
Pangea Organics lip balm (ARV $12.00)
2 - Plum District $5 shopping cards 
Discount code for 20% off an order at Bloume Baby

That's $48 worth of quality products that we are thoroughly enjoying. Jaxon loves the tugboat (and so do I- it has a pour spout so I can rinse him easily). We had never tried the Dolphin Organics products so I was excited to try them, especially since they contain nothing artificial - only natural and organic ingredients. My husband liked that they are fragrance free (he is not a fan of smelly washes and lotions). The baby wash/shampoo was gentle on Jaxon's sensitive skin and the conditioner left his hair so soft! Jaxon is already a huge fan of Happy Baby, so he quickly sucked down one of the two pouches! I like that there was a little something for mom in there (the lip balm). Taking care of mommy is important, too! There was also an insert inside the box that gave information about each product, including the manufacturer's website, so if you receive a product that you like you can easily find out where to purchase more. 

The Fresh Start box was sent to Citrus Lane subscribers this month, but if you're not a subscriber and still want one, you can purchase this box for $30 (free shipping). It's a great way to sample Citrus Lane if you are not ready to commit to a subscription. 

I absolutely love the shower box you can purchase from Citrus Lane. Check the link to see all the great products in the box - over $90 in gifts perfect for a new mom for just $35, including a Swaddle designs blanket! You can also give a gift subscription, so a new mom can receive a box each month for 3, 6, or 12 months! How fun is that? And check out the November box - it included See Kai Run socks, a Plan Toys baby car, Ella's Kitchen baby food, CleanWell sanitizing wipes, and an Innobaby stainless steel bento box! All of that for only $25? Such a great deal! I would love to have one of each of their past boxes! 

Want to win a Fresh Start box of your own? Join Citrus Lane tomorrow, January 31, at the #FreshStart Twitter party from 5-7PM PST! They are hosting with Rachel Lincoln Sarnoff, the Executive Director of Healthy Child Healthy World. Topics are green changes & organic living and two lucky participants will receive a Fresh Start box! 

Follow Citrus Lane on their blog, or by clicking one of the buttons below!

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I received a Citrus Lane box in order to facilitate my review, but all opinions are my own. 
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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Jaxon's First Cold

Jaxon has his first cold. He's been a snotty mess! We took him to the doctor yesterday just to be sure he didn't have an ear infection, since he's been running a low grade fever off and on and has pulled on his ears several times.

Jaxon was not thrilled with it. He was looking at a little nervous while we waited in the waiting room. He's checking out all the other sick kids in this picture - talk about a germ infestation (there were 6 other kids in the waiting room). I saw one mom put her hand over her child's mouth when he coughed...but then she never washed or sanitized her hands before she touched the toys, chairs, pens, and doorknobs in the waiting room...but I digress. 
Once we made it back to a room, Jaxon was a little more comfortable. He might just like being half naked. 
He weighed in at 20 lbs even, confirming my suspicions that he's lost weight while he's had this cold (he was 19 lbs, 8 oz at his 9 month appointment, but hasn't been eating well this week).  

When the doctor came in, the smiles left. Jaxon was very upset by her. He cried while she examined him and kept giving me this betrayed look. It was very sad. The doctor said his ears are absolutely perfect, his tonsils are small, and that everything looked great. She said the cold should clear up in a couple of days.  

This was his first cold. He had one other "mystery" illness a few months ago (fever, but no other symptoms at all). Other than that, he has been well for his first year. I'm very pleased with that! My first two had lots of minor illnesses their first year, so it's nice not to be at the doctor every month with an ear infection or stomach virus! I think being able to stay home with Jaxon has probably kept him well. My first two were in daycare and were exposed to more illnesses early on. Staying home has also allowed me to breastfeed him longer, which likely helped as well. 

How old was your baby when he/she had his/her first cold? 
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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Dangerous Obsession

Otherwise titled "Things You Shouldn't Say to Your Daughter" or "How to Make Your Child Feel Fat"

My daughter's father (we're divorced) sent me an email a few weeks ago stating that he was concerned about her weight. My ex (hereafter referred to as DBD) thinks that my daughter has been gaining too much weight. I had feared this day would come, not because there is anything wrong with my daughter, but because I'm familiar with DBD's penchant for extreme skinniness. I had already realized that my daughter didn't fit into that mold - she's not a waif. DBD is obsessed with being thin to such an extreme that when he feels he looks "fat", he will skip meals and just drink diet drinks until he loses the weight he wants to lose. DBD has actually never been even the slightest bit overweight. I don't want my kids growing up with a poor self-image and I've been concerned that his feelings about the importance of "skinny" would rub off on them. I had hoped that DBD would be unable to negatively influence the kids during the limited time he spends with them. 

But my fears were confirmed a couple of years ago when my then 5 year old son burst into tears as he put on the new winter jacket I had bought him. "It makes me look fat!" he cried. It took weeks before I was able to convince him that he did not look fat in the jacket.

So when DBD sent that email, I was a little upset and immediately defensive of Alex.

Alex is a strong, healthy 9 year old. She is 54 inches tall and weighs 73 lbs. Based on the child growth charts put out by the CDC, that puts her completely within a healthy range. Alex has been in the 60th-75th percentile since she was about 9 months old and her pediatrician has never been concerned with her weight. She is very average in her body size and shape. She wears a size 8 in her jeans and size 10 in shirts. She's not fat. She can't even be described as chubby. She's very active and rides her bike and scooter outside most days, weather permitting. The kids are only allowed one episode of TV per day per kid, so when all three kids are here, that's a maximum of 1 1/2 hours of television. We have similar limits set for video games, but to be honest, we rarely have to enforce them because the kids would rather be outside. We make regular trips to the park to play and the aquatic center to swim.  

Now, Alex does love to eat. She has a very good appetite and on most days, finishes her food faster than the other kids. We serve healthy foods like fruit, vegetables, and low fat yogurt every day, in addition to kid favorites like hot dogs (premium beef, no nitrates) and chicken nuggets (baked). We allow the kids to eat dessert once a day, usually after dinner. Alex's favorite dessert is Oreo cookies- we allow her to have three. That is one of the only forms of "chocolate" that she will eat. She had multiple food allergies for more than half her life. She's outgrown those allergies now, but never developed a taste for things like chocolate and candy bars (Oreos were on her "safe" list so she likes those). She also loves pickles (yes, for dessert-we don't consider those a healthy food, so they are reserved for treats), and pudding. For dessert last night, she ate 2 Tic Tacs. Yes, Tic Tacs - those little breath fresheners. Two little low calorie breath mints. The kids are also allowed a snack each day, but we have fairly strict parameters around it, so they can't just go into the pantry any time they want. On most days, they are busy playing outside with their friends and miss their window of opportunity for a snack (we don't let them eat too soon after lunch or too close to supper). 

I explained the above to DBD. I was trying to let him know that there was no reason for concern because she is active, healthy, and eating well. DBD didn't care. Whatever. I let it go. 

But then Alex came back from his house after a weekend visit and said "Did you know that I weigh more right now than Daddy did when he was 14?" 

I was livid. 

She weighs more than DBD did when he was 14 because when he was 14, he was a wrestler in junior high who was trying to wrestle under his weight class. DBD purposely kept his weight down by skipping meals, working out while wearing garbage bags, and when it came time for weigh-ins, he would suck on lemons and spit into cups to lose water weight. Clearly, that is not healthy and that's definitely not a lifestyle I want for my daughter. 

I don't want her to feel guilty about what she eats. I want her to make wise eating choices and be able to have a treat when she wants one. I don't want her to feel like she needs to skip meals so she can be thinner. I want her to be glad she has a strong, healthy body. I don't want her to count calories when she's 13. Eating disorders are increasing among teenagers. Girls as young as 9 are dietingThere's enough stress on young girls to conform to the societal image of what's "beautiful." There's enough pressure to be skinny from television. There's absolutely no reason for that stress and pressure to come from a child's very own father. 

If it sounds like I'm furious with DBD over this issue, I guess I am. But please don't misinterpret that for any personal animosity towards him. I wish him the best in all his personal endeavors and he's free to live (and diet) all he wants. I just don't want him taking my kids with him down the dangerous road of an obsession with skinny. 

Finding Nemo in 3D

Disney has so many great movies releasing this year! One that I am especially excited about is Finding Nemo, which is being released for the first time in 3D. Some movies just seem like they would be better in 3D and Finding Nemo is one of those movies. I also happen to think that Disney does 3D better than most other filmmakers. I think the kids will love seeing Nemo in 3D, and I'm hoping Jaxon will be old enough to keep a pair of 3D glasses on by the time it releases on September 14.

Watch the trailer below! Will you take your family to see Finding Nemo in 3D?

Monday, January 23, 2012

$100 and a Visalus Balance Kit Giveaway

This event is sponsored by Drink Yourself Skinny, an Independent Distributor of the Body By Vi 90 Day Challenge. The 90 Day Challenge is not just a weight loss program it is a health and wellness program that can help you lose weight, tone up, or build muscle. Visalus offers those looking to become healthier the ability to refer 3 of their friends or family to the program and get their monthly kit for free. Plus, everyone who joins the 90 Day Challenge is eligible for the prizes, trips, and rewards offered by the company. Every 90 days, new winners are chosen in several categories for the biggest overall transformation to win prizes like Hollywood Make-Overs and Tropical Cruises.     a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Bloggers: Sign Up For This Free Event!

Bloggers, would you like to participate in a giveaway for $100 and a Visalus Balance Kit at no cost to you? To participate, you need to post about the giveaway on your blog before the event and on the day the giveaway begins. In exchange, you'll receive an entry on the giveaway form for fans to like your Facebook page. All bloggers are welcome!

For more information and to sign up, please click here.

Reverse Cycling: Why Jaxon Loves It and I Hate It!

This post is part of the Breastfeeding Blog Hop hosted by The Slacker Mom and co-hosted by Happiness Redefined and me, The Gnome's Mom. This week's topic is "Reverse Cycling" Scroll down to see more posts or even better, link up and join the fun!

When I was reading some of the posts on the Breastfeeding Blog Hop today, I learned all about reverse cycling. While I had not heard the term before, once I read the definition, I found that I am actually very familiar with the practice of reverse cycling. Reverse cycling occurs when a baby nurses more at night than he or she does during the day.  Jaxon is a pro at reverse cycling. It often feels like he nurses all night long and it's been that way for several months.
Occasionally, he'll have a night where he only nurses 5-6 times, but for the most part, he's nursing at least one, if not several times per hour, all night long.

Jaxon loves it. He prefers to sleep in the crook of my arm anyway. He likes to have a little milk to lull him back to sleep whenever he wakes during the night. I don't love it. I don't like to sleep with him in my arm now that he's so big. It makes it so that I have to sleep in a certain position that sometimes I just don't want to sleep in! I'm also not a fan of him sucking on me all night long. 

I have tried to break this pattern by feeding more during the day. I breastfeed on demand during the day, and even offer nursing to him as a distraction when he's trying to get into things or when I know it's been more than 2 hours since he last nursed. He generally has 5 long nursing sessions (when he wakes up, late morning, early afternoon, late afternoon, evening before bed), plus several mini-sessions each day (5 minutes or less, usually when he gets upset, falls, or is bored). So he's definitely nursing during the day, but he's nursing more at night. 

I also tried feeding more solids so that he's not as hungry at night. However, Jaxon mostly eats solids for amusement/fun, not for nourishment. So it's hard to get him to eat enough to make a difference in his hunger levels. Nothing I do seems to change the fact that he wants to nurse more at night than he does during the day.

So there you have it - Jaxon is a pro at reverse cycling. Does your baby reverse cycle?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Jaxon at 11 Months!

He already looks older than 10 months
I can't believe that Jaxon is already 11 months old. My baby boy is growing so fast. Every day he seems a little bigger. Every day he develops more skills.

While he's not officially walking, he can take steps. He will let go the table and take a step to the couch. We can also stand him up and he will walk to us, but no more than 3 steps. What is truly amazing is his balance. He can stand for several minutes at a time and even squat down and then straighten back up without falling. He has also learned to dance without holding onto anything. It's ridiculously cute. He has a fondness for our Leap Frog learning table that sings this jazzy 1-2-3 song, and for Sonny & Cher's "I Got You Babe." 

He is still into everything. After our little scare last week, I've tried to not leave him alone unless he's contained in a crib, which he hates. He can now climb on our fireplace, too. He still has an odd fondness for our vacuum cleaner. It's the one household chore I can do without worrying about what Jaxon is getting into. He follows the vacuum all over the house and stays right with me. He loves to just sit with it and touch it when it's off. It's so funny. He says a word that sounds like "vac" for it. He loves to pretend to "vac" with his toy vacuum. 
He also loves to "help" with laundry
It's reaching the point where we have to tell him no a lot. We try to divert, but he's constantly into things like plugs and wires that are just dangerous. He has mixed reactions to being told no. Sometimes he ignores us. Sometimes he laughs at us. Sometimes his lower lip trembles or he bursts into tears. It's really pitiful and makes me feel bad I told him no! But there's no reason to why he'll cry one time and just grin the next. 

He loves to take baths and I blow bubbles for him in the tub. He could already say "bubble" but since I always say "pop pop pop" when he pops a bubble, he's started saying "pop pop pop" whenever I say "bubble." So cute. 

Jason actually had a little "conversation" with him this week. Jaxon doesn't like apples but says apple whenever we look at a book that has an apple in it. I had been looking through an "A" book with Jaxon that had a picture of an apple and so he was babbling "apple, apple" as Jason carried him to the car. Jason said "Do you like apples?" to which Jaxon replied "Uh-uh." Jason said "What do you like?" And Jaxon said "Bob." To him, "Bob" means "boob" so we thought that was an appropriate answer! For the record, I always ask if Jaxon is hungry, wants milk, or wants to eat. I've never said "Do you want a boob?" so I think the similarity between "Bob" and "boob" is a coincidence. "Bob" is just a word he has associated with drinking milk. B words seem to be especially easy for him to say. And since he will call out for "Bob" in various places, like Wal-Mart, I'm glad that he's saying "Bob" and not "boob"!

Speaking of nursing, he's still going strong. He also bit me for the first time the other day...not hard, he was almost testing out his new teeth. When he did it, I yelped, and he laughed. He now has 4 teeth, two on top, two on bottom and they are extremely sharp!  
Gnawing on a fruit rope & loving it
I introduced him to Cheerios this week and he loved them. Jason gave him a Clif Kids Z fruit rope today and he LOVED it. He was happily gnawing all over that thing.

Look at that sweet smile! I love that boy and I cannot believe that my sweet baby will be a year old next month!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Rainbow Pancakes

I've mentioned before that I'm not a cook. However, one thing I can make, and make well, is pancakes. The kids all like pancakes. It's also really easy to make them fun! Sometimes I make shapes, sometimes I make letters, sometimes I add things in (fruit, candy, chocolate chips), sometimes I'll make cheesecake pancakes. I have found that it's hard to mess up a pancake. 

Last week I made pancakes for lunch and decided to make it fun. I didn't have any fruit that would be good in pancakes (oranges and kiwi just don't work!). So I decided to make rainbow pancakes. It's so easy - just separate the batter into different bowls and add a few drops of food coloring until it's the color you want. I did red (they were more pink), orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple. Adding a spoonful of sugar to your batter will make your pancakes nice and fluffy.  

I made mini pancakes because I wanted each child to have one of each color pancake, and I knew that they would never eat 6 pancakes each. When the pancakes were all done, I stacked them up and topped them with whipped cream and sprinkled them with various colors of sugar sprinkles. My kids gobbled them up before I even finished cooking their bacon! 

Do you like to make pancakes in fun shapes or with special add-ins? 

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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Beyond Childproofing

When my oldest, Alex, was a toddler, I remember being worn out when I'd go to bed. She was curious, strong-willed, and very busy. She hated being told no. In the picture above, she is pitching a fit because I won't let her go down the stairs. She had just turned 1, and I knew I was in trouble. As she learned to walk, she also learned to climb. If she wanted a drink, she pushed a chair to the kitchen counter, climbed up, got a cup, climbed down, went to the fridge, opened it, and took out whatever she wanted. Sometimes what she wanted to drink was chocolate syrup and she didn't bother with a cup.
Sometimes what she wanted resulted in a big mess, which she would try to clean up herself, because she was that independent. 
She kept me VERY busy.  

And then I had my son. While he was a fussy newborn, he quickly mellowed out and became a calm baby and easygoing toddler who willingly took a backseat to his headstrong, attention demanding sister. And I thought "Gah, boys are soooo easy compared to girls." 

But then I had Jaxon. He is so much like Alex - curious, strong-willed and very busy. The difference? He is busier at a younger age than Alex was. He's already climbing on things, like the hearth of the fireplace and his brother's bed, and he can't even walk yet! He pitches fits when I don't let him go down the stairs. He empties drawers and cabinets daily hourly. He pulled his chest of drawers over and destroyed it. He can lift the lid on the toilet, and he loves to unroll the toilet paper. He has hawk like eyes - these allow him to find the tiny Legos and other toys that his siblings have dropped so he can eat them. Childproof caps on medicine bottles? They are no problem for Jaxon. Outlet covers? He removes them and laughs. Like he thinks it is funny that we even bothered putting them there in the first place. He is fascinated with electrical cords, which is terrifying since he will also try to plug them back in...after chewing on them, of course. You cannot let this kid out of your sight for one single second. 

I'm getting more and more scared of what he's going to be into as he starts walking and growing taller and getting smarter. For now, I've learned that he must be secure in his crib or Pack' n Play if I need to do anything without him. I had been preaching to my husband about how we need to childproof better, but I think we're beyond that at this point. Right now, I'm just grateful he can't climb out of his crib. 

Is your house childproof? What is your best childproofing tip?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

What Can Your 10 Month Old Do in 2.5 Minutes?

This is what mine can do:

That used to be a perfectly good chest. It was from Ikea, but it worked and it looked nice in his room. That top drawer had a front. All of the drawers slid in and out properly (the bottom one won't even close now). It wasn't cracked at the top like it is now. 

Here's what happened and why you should never leave your my 10 month old alone unless he's in a crib he can't climb out of. I had just changed Jaxon's diaper and left him playing in his room while I went to the bathroom. Two of the older kids were still eating lunch (the other was in the schoolroom). They had been being very silly at the table. I had just sat down on the toilet when I heard a crash. I yelled out "What was that?" No answer. I come out of the bathroom and checked on the two at the table while simultaneously looking down the hallway into Jaxon's room. Everything seemed okay in both rooms, except two of Jaxon's toy bins were pulled out. The toy bins are full of rattles and I figured the crash I heard was Jaxon pulling them out. I told the still silly kids to finish up their lunch and went to make sure Jaxon wasn't pulling all the cloth diapers off the changing table. 

When I walked into his room, I could not believe what I saw. The chest was on the floor. Jaxon was sitting there, perfectly okay, and happily munching on the cords of his lamp and his baby monitor, which are normally on top of that chest. The kid loves electrical cords. He had somehow managed, with all his 21 pounds, to pull the chest over, without it winding up on top of him. He had everything from the top of the chest around him, and socks were everywhere (that's what the top drawer normally holds). 

The picture above was also on top of the chest. The frame apparently hit the floor so hard that it shattered into 4 different pieces when it fell. Somehow the glass didn't break. You can see his monitor and lamp in the background. The front of the top drawer is there underneath all those socks. I guess I should have taken a pic of the entire demolished room but my first instinct when I saw it laying on the floor was to set it upright. I think I grabbed it to lift it before I even fully comprehended that Jaxon wasn't under it. As I was lifting it, I realized that no part of Jaxon was under it. 

After looking him over and making sure that he was okay, I started trying to figure out what happened. The highest drawer Jaxon can reach is the middle one and I had to put a fair amount of pressure on that drawer to get the chest to tip forward. With enough pressure on that drawer (and with the two under it open), the chest will fall forward. What I can't figure out is how he tipped the chest over, but didn't wind up underneath it. I'm glad he was okay, and so thankful that what could have been awful turned out okay. Even though the chest is not real wood and doesn't weigh too much, it definitely weighs more than Jaxon, and could have really hurt him. 

Needless to say, whenever we get around to buying a replacement chest, it will be secured to the wall.  

So, that is what my little 10 month old can do, when left by himself for 2.5 minutes. What can your baby or toddler do when left alone? Is your furniture secured to the walls?

Rafflecopter Launch Party Giveaway - Apple iPad 2 & Amazon Kindle Fire

I love Rafflecopter! They make hosting and entering giveaways so easy! To celebrate the launch of the new & improved Rafflecopter, they are giving away an Apple iPad 2 & a Kindle Fire!

In the entry form, you can also choose a name for the little smiley face Rafflecopter mascot - if your name is chosen, you will also win a Kindle Fire! 

When you enter, please say I referred you! 

Monday, January 9, 2012

Cloth Diapers - Easy & Inexpensive!

Most people I meet who see my cloth diapers are intrigued by them and find them adorable. However, there seem to be a few things that hold people back from cloth diapering. The things I hear most are:

"It's too much work."
"I don't want to touch poop."
"They're $25 each? I don't have the money to get started."
"I don't think there's enough cost savings to justify all the work."

I love cloth diapering. I think more people would do it if they knew more about it and realized just how easy it is to get started. 

Cloth diapers are simple. 

Although I'd be lying if I said they were as easy as disposables. What's easier than just throwing something away? Let's face it, eating on paper plates is easier than washing dishes or loading & unloading the dishwasher. Yet, most of us do not use paper plates for every meal. I look at cloth the same way. I do three extra loads of laundry each week. That's all. I do not put my diapers in the dryer (though you certainly can), because I like to hang them out. I enjoy the way they look hanging on the drying rack and I like seeing them drying in the sunshine on sunny days. I have a total of 15-20 minutes invested in loading the washer each week, 15-20 minutes hanging the diapers out, and 10-15 minutes stuffing pockets or putting the diapers back together. That's less than an hour each week devoted to cloth diapering. I never run out of diapers. I never have to go to the store late at night or early in the morning to get diapers. I never have to call my husband and say "Please pick up diapers on the way home - we're about to run out!" For me, that extra hour each week is well spent. There's just something very rewarding about putting a poop stained diaper in the wash and bringing it out all nice and clean and fluffy and white, ready to be worn again!

As for changing them, most cloth diapers these days are as easy to put on and take off as a disposable. No pins, no pull on rubber pants. Even using the cloth diapering staple, prefolds, is easier with fitted waterproof covers. Just fold the prefold, lay it in the cover, and velcro the cover around the baby's waist. Easy!

Are you a parent? Then you will touch poop. 

This will happen - I promise you. You don't have to use cloth diapers to be a poop toucher. You may be changing a disposable and you put your hand in it accidentally, not realizing the diaper leaked onto the baby's outfit. It might happen when you're wiping him, and the baby wipe isn't quite strong enough to contain that poop and it comes through the wipe onto your hands. You may touch it when your baby poops in the tub, and you scoop it up with your hands to keep the baby from scooping it up with his. You may touch it when your toddler removes a diaper and paints the wall, crib, and herself with the contents of that diaper. All of these things have happened to me or my friends (and all happened while we were using disposables). Unless you wear gloves to deal with your child, you'll get poop on your hands (and maybe your clothes, too!) Kids find a way to get poop and other gross substances all over the place.   

I don't touch poop any more now that I'm cloth diapering than I did when my first baby was in disposables. For the first 6 months when Jaxon was exclusively breastfed, I threw the poop straight into the washer and never thought about it again. Now, for most changes, I shake his poop into the toilet and I'm done. Occasionally that poop needs a little help getting off the diaper and I just use a piece of toilet paper to help it off and let the washer deal with the rest. 

Now you might be saying "eww, you put poop in your washer?" Yep, I do. And the diapers come clean. Our clothes still get clean. No one has ever thought our clothes smelled like poop. What do you do when your child vomits in the middle of the night? I throw my kid's sheets into the washer, vomit and all, and let the washer deal with it. I've never once thought about bleaching my washer after something like that. To me, vomit is as nasty or nastier than poop. My washer handles vomit just fine. It handles poop just fine too.

If you want to get rid of the poop before diapers enter your washer, get a diaper sprayer from Cotton Babies or use disposable liners so you can just remove the liner and flush the poop. 

You're going to wash your hands after every diaper change anyway. You'll be fine. I promise. 

There are cloth diapering options for every budget.

One of my favorite diapers to recommend is the BumGenius Elemental

BumGenius Elemental Artist Series
You can purchase it from Cotton Babies, which is one of my favorite places to purchase diapers from because they always offer free shipping and low prices! The Elemental is organic cotton and is the easiest type of diaper to use because it's an all in one diaper. It goes on just like a disposable, comes off and goes into the wash. They are easy to wash because they have natural fibers. When it comes out of the dryer, it's ready to go back on the baby again. No snapping inserts in, no stuffing pockets. These diapers do cost $25 each. A full supply of cloth diapers is considered to be 24: that's 12 diapers per day, washing every other day. So for all 24 diapers, you'll pay $600. Considering that these are one-size diapers that will last you from birth through potty training, they are all you will need. You don't have to be a mathematician to know that it will cost you more than $600 to diaper a baby in disposables for 2+ years! Purchase one cloth diaper every two weeks from the time you find out you're pregnant and you'll have about 17 diapers by the time your baby is born! 
BumGenius 4.0 Artist Series prints
In addition, there are plenty of less expensive options for cloth diapering. You can choose the BumGenius 4.0 for only $20 a diaper. The Econobum diapering system offers a cloth diapering kit for just $48.95, which includes 3 covers, 12 prefolds, and a wet bag to store dirty diapers in. Two of those kits will have you cloth diapering full time for less than $100! Want to just try out cloth diapering before you invest a substantial amount of money in it? Purchase an Econobum cover and prefold for just $9.95
Econobum cover over a flat cloth diaper

For just $13.95, you can get a Flip cover that is a one size cover that will fit baby from birth to potty training. You can place almost anything absorbent inside this cover to use for a diaper. Target sells flour sack towels for about $1.25 each. Fold them to fit inside the diaper cover, lay in place, and replace when wet. Both the Flip & Econobum covers are wipe clean, so you can reuse them all day long. With a couple of covers, and $10 worth of flour sack towels from Target, you've got a day's worth of cloth diapers that can be used over and over again. 

Flip organic cotton insert, secured with Snappi

Remember, you don't have to start with a full supply of diapers. Pick up what you can afford right now. Use 1 cloth diaper each day instead of disposables. Use cloth diapers only on weekends. Try it out. You'll love it and you'll begin looking for ways to replace more of your baby's diaper changes with cloth.

What would you do with an extra $20 each week?

As I mentioned before in a previous post, saving money was not my primary reason for using cloth diapers. It really wasn't a reason at all at first. But I've learned that most people who show interest in my cloth diapers mention cost savings as a reason for their interest. I always say to them that we will save money by cloth diapering, but I was ashamed to realize I didn't know how much we had saved, or really if we had even saved money at this point.

So I sat down and did the math. We have saved more than $150 at this point by using cloth diapers, and even more if you calculate what we have saved by using cloth wipes! Considering that Jaxon is just 10 months old and probably has at least 14 months before I even begin to attempt to potty train him, we stand to save more than $1200 on diapers before this is all over with. Side note: I've got big plans for those savings (beach trips)!

Disposable diapers costs about .25 each. Each day, I change Jaxon 8-10 times. He has this habit of pooping as soon as he gets a fresh diaper, so sometimes it's even more than that. I save $2-$3 each day just by using cloth diapers. That's $14-$21 a week! 

Know what else? When Jaxon potty trains, I'll be able to sell his diapers. Yes, really. We had a few newborn diapers. I sold them for 2/3 what we paid for them. Cloth diapers retain their value very well.  

Interested in switching?  
Need help navigating the seemingly endless world of cloth? It's more popular than ever and it can be overwhelming to someone just checking it out.
Here are some great resources: 

Cotton Babies- there are great articles on the site about clothdiapering and you can buy everything you need to get started there.

Dirty Diaper Laundry - trying to find the perfect cloth diaper for you? Kim's cloth diaper finder on dirtydiaperlaundry.com will help you find whatever you are looking for. Need a diaper with Velcro closure for less than $13? You've come to the right place. 

All About Cloth Diapers - great articles on everything cloth related, including some to help you get started.

Still overwhelmed and just want to ask questions of a real, live person? Email me at shakymommy at gmail dot com. I'm not an expert, but I've been doing this for 10 months now and I'd be happy to help!

Now it's your turn to talk -tell me what you think about cloth diapering. If you currently cloth diaper, tell me why you love it. If you're not cloth diapering, tell me what keeps you from trying it! As always, I love your comments, but this time, there's a little something extra in it for you - be sure and read the fine print below!

I received no form of compensation for this post, but I am entering this post into a contest. The winner of the contest receives 12 BumGenius diapers! If I win, I'll get to choose one random person who comments on the winning blog post to receive 12 BumGenius diapers, too! So if you comment here and I win, you could win free diapers! How cool would that be?

Friday, January 6, 2012

Applecheeks Cloth Diaper Review

8 1/2 months old in his Applecheeks size 2 St. Lucia
I love Applecheeks cloth diapers. There are so many great things about them that I hope I can cover it all in one blog post!

Applecheeks have a unique design and several features not found on other cloth diapers. It is a pocket diaper that can also be used as an AI2. The pocket for the insert is in the middle of the diaper. When you think about removing the insert, this sounds a little gross. However, the design is such that the insert agitates out in the wash. No need to touch a dirty insert to remove it!

To use Applecheeks as an AI2, you can lay the insert in the envelope cover instead of stuffing the insert in the pocket. To use it as a pocket, just fold the insert in thirds and stuff it into the wide pocket opening. Using the diaper as a pocket diaper will also allow your baby to have stay dry microfleece against his skin.

The Applecheeks insert is made of rayon from bamboo. Bamboo contains natural antimicrobial properties, making it the perfect choice for cloth diapers! It's also soft, washes well, and does not retain any stink like microfiber can. The insert is two layers, and is approximately 12 inches x 15 inches. Folded into thirds and placed inside the diaper, it's like having six layers to absorb wetness. This insert is extremely absorbent...I cannot stress this enough. I have never had a leak with this diaper. Even when I remove the insert after several hours of wear, it always feels like it can absorb more. My only issue with the insert is a cosmetic one. Like many natural fibers, stains seem to set in more quickly with this insert. Sunning will get the stains out, but it's sometimes hard for me to catch sun during the winter.
My absolute favorite feature of the Applecheeks diaper is the elastic in the front. I love love love this feature! I have a tummy sleeper and this can often lead to leaks in the front when the diaper does not fit snugly against his stomach. I've also found that Applecheeks elastic helps guard against all types of leaks all the way around the diaper. Jaxon had his largest, messiest diaper to date while wearing an Applecheeks and there were no leaks at all. I won't post the picture here (yes, I took one to send to my husband, whose response was "Wow, he lost weight with that one"), but trust me when I say that the mess would have been everywhere had Jaxon been wearing a disposable diaper. Though the elastic works wonders, it never leaks marks on Jaxon's thighs, tummy, or back.
10 months
2 1/2 months
Another great thing about the elastic is that it's great for squirmy baby changes. When Jaxon just won't stay still, I reach for an Applecheeks, snap it to the setting he's on, and pull it on him like underwear. Most cloth diapers are not made in a way that would allow this as an option. I also love that I can snap the diaper loser at his legs (which are a little chubby) and tighter at his waist (which is small) without the diaper fitting in a weird way. Some of our diapers do not fit right or look strange unless you match the snaps up. That may not bother some people, but I'm a perfectionist and want things to look right. 
Applecheeks is a sized system, with size 1 fitting from approximately 7-20 lbs, and size 2 fitting from 18-40 lbs. If you want to use this system from birth to potty training, you'll need to purchase two sets of diapers. For comparison, here's an Applecheeks size 2, with an Applecheeks size 1, both snapped to the smallest settings. 
Here they are both unsnapped to the largest settings:
And a view from the top at the largest settings.
As for fit, Jaxon was able to wear Applecheeks from birth (8lbs13oz) and outgrew his size 1 at about 8 months (around 18 lbs). His size 2 fits him wonderfully right now at 10 1/2 months & 20 lbs and we have lots of room for growth. Even when Jaxon had skinny little newborn thighs, Applecheeks fit perfectly and did not leak. While not officially a "newborn" diaper, I highly recommend these for larger newborns. Unlike standard newborn diapers that only go to 11-12 lbs, your baby will not outgrow these at 3 weeks of age. 
10 days old in his Applecheeks Size 1 in Dark Chocolate
Applecheeks come in beautiful colors and two adorable, exclusive prints. They are made in Canada and are available for purchase at Kelly's Closet for $27.80 per Little Bundle, which includes an envelope cover and insert. While that is on the high end for a cloth diaper, your money will be well spent. One thing I have learned about cloth diapers is that you get what you pay for! These diapers will not let you down!

I was not compensated in any way for this review. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Thinking Outside the (Bento) Box

I often get stuck in a lunch rut of serving the same foods the same way each day, so I went looking for some different lunch ideas a couple of weeks ago. I found some very cute Bento box lunch ideas. Some moms out there are super creative with lunch and serve sandwiches shaped like trees alongside ladybug tomatoes and flower shaped slices of cheese. I was wishing I was that kind of mom- the kind that could put together fun lunches.

We don't own any Bento boxes so I kept looking for other ideas. I found cute lunches served in muffin tins. Again, the themes were present: the lunches were all cut into shapes, or were the meal a character ate in a book or were "rainbow" lunches: red peppers in one tin (with hummus dip, of course, because not only are they creative, these moms also serve extremely healthy lunches), yellow pineapple in another, orange cheese in another, green kiwi, blueberries, and purple grapes. 

But I only have one muffin pan and three kids to serve, so that wouldn't work. So last night, Jason was gone and I was on supper duty (usually I do lunch and he does supper - yes, I'm lucky). I looked around the kitchen for some way to serve supper in unique containers. The most unique item in the kitchen are the boot shaped mugs that the kids brought home as souvenirs from the Dixie Stampede. I grabbed those for their drinks and decided to serve the rest of the meal in coffee mugs.

The kids thought it was awesome when I invited them to the "Coffee Cup Cafe" (Coffee Mug Cafe just didn't sound as good). I didn't change the planned menu - I just served everything in coffee cups. We had hot dogs (nitrate free, all beef), along with macaroni and cheese, steamed carrots (which the kids normally hate) and peaches. Before I could take pictures, one of the kids had already eaten all of the carrots. Ahh, the power of serving food in a coffee cup! As a special twist, I added a drop of food coloring to their water.
The empty cup is where the carrots were!
In case you were wondering how to serve a hot dog in a coffee cup...

Goal achieved: happy kids!

Proof that even us non-creative mommies can still come up with ideas for a fun meal! Are you a creative mom or do you get stuck in a lunch/supper rut like I do? If you're the creative type, I'd love for you to share some of your meal ideas in a comment!