Sunday, August 28, 2011

Cloth Diaper Reviews: The Basics

I’ve decided to try an experiment. I’ve been diapering children for the last SIX years, with perhaps a 6 month break (although I did have 2 kids in Pull-ups during that break, so I’m not sure that counts). I HATE buying diapers. I have spent thousands over the years on diapers, dealt with poo explosions, treated diaper rashes, and thrown away thousands of diapers. So I’ve decided to try cloth diapering. It’s become quite the in-vogue thing to do, and I can definitely see why. The cloth diapers that they have now are CUTE. As in, “Why would I put my child in clothes that will just cover up her diaper?” cute. They are easy. No pins and complicated folding. You’re not throwing away diaper after diaper. You don’t have to make midnight runs to the grocery store because you don’t have enough to last through Sunday. Apparently children in cloth diapers are 80% less likely to get diaper rash. And from what I’ve been told, poo explosions are practically non-existent with cloth.

After tons and tons and tons of research (when I get into something, I REALLY get into something), I decided to try several different varieties of cloth diaper and just see how it went. I figured I really couldn’t lose: if it went well, then fabulous! If not, cloth diapers have excellent resale value. I could just sell them for nearly what I paid for them, continue buying disposables, and feel good that I gave it a shot.

After talking with my mom about what I did and didn’t like after 5 days of use, she suggested that I write reviews so that people who are interested in cloth diapering can have an inside look at the different diapering systems. It also might help convince others to give it a shot. It’s not only crazy tree-huggers that cloth diaper (although I have to admit, I am a bit of a closet environmentalist—don’t tell!). It really is a viable option for normal moms who want to save money.

From my (not vast) experience, here’s what you’ll want to get started:

1. Wet Bags: These bags are made of polyurethane laminated fabric (PUL), which is what most diaper covers are made from. The laminated backing keeps liquids from escaping, and the seams should be waterproof. Wet bags can zip, have a drawstring, or remain open.

How many: I would suggest 1 small size wet bag with a zipper for out and about (more if you have multiple diaper bags or if you want one in your car). Wet/dry bags are also nice because they have a separate pocket to store clean diapers on the same bag. You will also want 2 large wet bags for home. You can use them in a pail or a garbage can with a lid, or you can buy hanging wet bags. I suggest two so that you’ll have one to use while the other is in the wash.

Brands: I’ve got 2 large Planet Wise pail-liner wet bags, and they seem very nice. I haven’t had any leaking at all, and you can order them through Amazon Prime. Always a bonus. I’ve also heard really good things about the bags from Leslie’s Boutique. If you’d like to make your own, I found an adorable tutorial:

2. Storage System: This is easy. If you’ve got a dresser near your changing table, use it. I have ours in our closet, so there’s no room for a dresser. Instead, I use a three-drawer cart with relatively deep drawers from Target. They were super on sale right before school started, so I just grabbed 2 of them. They work perfectly.

3. Cloth Wipes: This is not a necessity, but it makes it easier, since you just toss the wipe in the wet bag with the dirty diapers and you don’t have to worry about using a separate trash can. One of the goals of cloth diapering is to generate less waste, and this is one way to do it. There are several different materials they can be made from: flannel (most common), velour, sherpa, or a combination of the three seem to be the most popular. I purchased wipes made from flannel on one side and velour on the other.

How to use them: Right now we just wet ours in the sink. Easy, since it’s about 5 steps from the changing table. Save the peri bottle you come home from the hospital with. You can make up a solution using water, baby wash, oil, and essential oils, fill the peri bottle, and squirt it on the wipes. There are a million different recipes for this on the internet. There are also tons of people who sell different wipes solutions. Seems like overkill to me, but I bet they smell really good.

How many: Probably 2-3 dozen, depending on how messy your baby’s changes are and how frequently you want to wash.

Brands: I ordered mine from a work-at-home-mom (WAHM) that I found on They’re sewn very well and I love the x in the middle to keep the layers from shifting. I know a lot of people love the Thirsties wipes. Or you could simply make your own. I just knew I would never get around to it, although it’s extremely simple and only involves sewing straight lines. Here’s a great little tutorial I found if you’re interested:

4. Laundry Soap: This is probably the most controversial aspect of cloth diapering—bet you never knew that diapers could be controversial! The diaper companies all claim that you need special detergent to wash diapers to help them stay absorbant and prevent build-up. Others claims that you should just use whatever gets them clean and doesn’t irritate your baby. I think I would have gone with the second group, except I started getting rashes from our laundry detergent. We switched all our laundry to Charlie’s Soap and Charlie's Laundry Booster and Hard Water Treatment. It seems pricey, but you only use a tablespoon per load. You can buy an 80-load tub for $12, which is 15 cents a load, very comparable to what Tide costs (if not less). If you buy the 1000-load bucket for $97.50, you’re looking at less than 10 cents a load. Charlie’s Soap is approved by all companies for diapers, and the hard water treatment really helps to get out extra stains. Our laundry is cleaner now that is has been in a long time. It’s also nice that we don’t have to wash the baby’s clothes in a separate load with a special detergent. Bonus: Free shipping on Amazon!

How to wash: This will depend on your washing machine and the type of water you have. Here’s what’s been working for us:

a) No need to rinse out poo if baby is exclusively breast-fed. If on solids, poo should be disposed of in toilet before putting in wet bag. Apparently a sprayer really helps with this, but we’re not at that stage yet.

b) Make sure all velcro (technically Aplix, since most diapers are made of this softer hook-and-loop tape) tabs are secured to the laundry tab on the diaper. I do this before I put it in the wet bag so that I can just dump everything in when it’s wash time.

c) Short wash or rinse in cold water with no detergent. This will prevent any stains from setting in.

d) Two full hot washes, each with detergent. This will kill any germs and get the diapers very clean. It may be overkill, but right now I’m okay with that. I also make sure to run the hot water from a near-by faucet so that the water going into the washing machine is very hot.

e) Check all diapers as you put them in the dryer. Anything with staining should not go into the dryer. Instead, put it into the sun to dry. Sunning removes stains miraculously. I usually only have an item or two that I need to do this with per load.

f) Dry as usual. Some people use wool dryer balls to cut down on drying time. I toss in a tennis ball, which also reduces drying time.

It sounds a lot more complicated than it is. It’s not a lot of work; just plan on some time to go through all the loads. And remember, these are going on a baby’s bottom to be pooed on. If it’s not pristine, it’s probably okay.

5. Diapers of your choice: This is the fun part. There are a dozen different styles to choose from: flats, prefolds, fitteds, covers, soakers, pockets, all-in-ones, all-in-twos…so much fun! Really. It is!

My opinion of cloth diapering so far: I’m really enjoying it. I love choosing the different styles and patterns. I adore how fluffy her bum is when she’s in cloth. I really like the fact that I’m not throwing diaper after diaper into a landfill. Mostly I love thinking about how much money I’ll save by the time she’s potty-trained. And if we have another (very unlikely, but not impossible), the savings will be compounded. Aaron and I ran some numbers last night, and even if you buy the most expensive diapers out there, you’re definitely at least breaking even, and that’s if you don’t factor in the resale value. If you go a cheaper route, like prefolds with covers, you make your money back in only a few months. Can’t shake your head at that!

I’ll review all of the diaper styles that I try out. If you’re not interested, sorry. But I’m really excited about this right now, so I’m going to share. If it does more than cement my status as the weirdo of the family, great! If not, I’m okay with that too.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Baby Bridget is here!

On Friday, August 19 our sweet little Bridget Elayne Jorgensen was born. She came into the world at 1:37 pm, just in time for us to get some lunch! She weighed 7 pounds 14.5 ounces, making her our biggest baby. She was 20.5 inches long and has very dark, almost black, hair. She’s gorgeous and mellow and we love her to death.


Birth story:

I asked my doctor if I could be induced with Bridget, since I have a history of very quick labors. And let’s face it, I’m not very big into surprises. I’d much rather have a calm, planned delivery than a middle-of-the-night, what-on-earth-am-I-supposed-to-do-with-my-other-three-children delivery. It also made it very easy for Connie to book tickets to come and help us out. I had had three other uneventful inductions and I was already dilated at my 37 week appointment, so my doctor didn’t have any problem with inducing me at 39ish weeks.

I was told to be at the hospital at 6am on Friday morning. Of course I didn’t really get any sleep the night before, so having to get up at 4:45 was pretty painful. Not surprisingly, getting things set up at the hospital took forever. For some reason they didn’t have any of my records (no explanation was given for why this was the case), so they had to draw my blood and do my blood work before they could get the pitocin started. It was well after 8 before they got everything sorted (why was I there at 6??) and past 9 before labor began. As soon as contractions were regular, but not very painful, I asked for my epidural. When the nurse asked me what my pain level was, I was sure to tell her that I wasn’t interested in being in severe pain before I had anesthesia. Why would I go through more pain than necessary? I have nothing to prove to myself. I did it naturally (not intentionally, of course) with Paul, and I can say very confidently that I MUCH prefer the epidural. No pain = good.

The epidural was administered without any issues. Apparently I have the perfect spine for administering epidurals. I’ve been told this now by 2 anesthesiologists. After everything was good and numb, it was getting close to lunch time and I was dilated to 5 cm. We were just waiting for the doctor to come in and break my water. I told Aaron that since nothing was happening at the moment, he ought to go and get some lunch. Bad idea. My family knows that sending Dad out to lunch because “nothing is happening” means that SOMETHING is going to happen. With my mom, it meant that Kiera was born without anyone in the family there, including my dad. For me, it was slightly less dramatic, but dramatic nonetheless.

After Aaron left, the nurse left as well, leaving me all along in the room. I was happily watching HGTV (yay for cable!) when I had an itch on my shoulder. I reached over to scratch it, and when I pulled my hand away, one of the many lines coming off me caught and I disconnected my epidural line from the IV. This is a bad thing. I knew that the nurses needed to see to it right away, so I reached for the call button. But there was no call button. I searched everywhere for the remote, but I couldn’t find it. And of course I couldn’t get off the bed to look for it, because the bottom half of my body was completely useless. At this point, I must have been panicking, because the alarm for my heart rate started going off. The nurses have no way of hearing the mother’s monitors, just the baby’s, so not only was I freaking out with an open epidural line, but the alarm was going incessantly and driving me crazy. I tried to call Aaron several times, but there was no answer. He eventually saw that I had called multiple times, so he came back as quickly as he could. Apparently at some time during the administration of the epidural someone had place the remote with the call button on a shelf behind me and above my head, several feet out of my reach. Aaron paged the nurses, and one came in to inform me that yes, that was my epidural line and the whole thing had to come out. Um, no. That’s not what I wanted to hear. However, after I was told that the open line could introduce an infection into my spine if it was reconnected, I thought that perhaps they were right and that shouldn’t be risked.

The nurse anesthetist came in right away, and they sat me up to remove the old epidural and put in a new one. Bad idea. From the way they explained it to me, when you have an epidural, most of your blood flow is in your feet and legs, which is why you have to lay down the whole time you have an epidural. When they sat me up, my heart rate and blood pressure plummeted. It was strange how immediately I felt “wrong.” I had had blood pressure issues after an eipdural before, but this was completely different. The nurses had to stop putting in the epidural because they were holding me upright since I was on the verge of passing out. They administered extra oxygen for the baby and had to give me three shots of epinephrine to speed up my heart rate and prevent cardiac arrest. Fortunately, I have that perfect spine, so they were able to get the epidural in very quickly and get me lying back down. Within 15 minutes I felt completely fine and they were able to turn the pitocin back on.

After they were sure everything was stable and that there were going to be no issues, the doctor came in to break my water. She told me that she expected to be seeing me in two to three hours. Aaron and I just looked at each other and smirked. I had heard that one before. No one seemed to really believe me when I told them that my labor went QUICKLY after my water was broken. Sure enough, I progressed from a 5 to a 9 in about 15 minutes. After they got everything set up, I gave a few good pushes and out she came. She was big, beautiful, and purple (which was such a shock when I had my first baby). Every time I have a baby I’m amazed that a child that large fit inside of me. She must have been so uncomfortable! Her head was a bit bruised from her fast entry into the world, but other than that, she was completely perfect. Every time we have a baby I’m so amazed at how beautiful and perfect they are. Every detail is there, from the wrinkles on her fingers to nearly invisible lashes.



Katie, Paul, and Averi have reacted so well to having Bridget around. Katie is our little mother, and loves to be useful. She always wants to help pick out her clothes and is the first to inform me if she’s crying. Paul adores babies. He is always running in to have a peek at her and is constantly asking to hold her. He has such a tender spot when it comes to littler ones. Averi isn’t quite sure what to think of her, but she’s warming up. It’s always been her personality to stand back and observe until she’s completely comfortable. When they came to the hospital to visit, she asked to hold Bridget. I sat her down in the chair and put the baby in her arms, then I turned to go get my camera. Immediately she started panicking. “Mom, I’m done. I’m done, Mom. Mom! Mom, I’m done!” I told her, “Averi, I haven’t even turned the camera on. Please just wait until I can get a picture.” She sat still long enough for me to get one good picture, and then she was out of there as fast as I could take the baby. Now, however, she frequently asks if she can hold her, even if it is just for a minute. She’s always sighing about how adorable she is, and she loves to kiss her little wrinkled feet.









Bridget really has been a dreamy baby so far. She’s been a champion nurser, which is such a welcome change after Averi and Paul. She got the hang of things right away, and we haven’t had any issues with eating. She finally coming out of that newborn stupor, but she’s still extremely calm and not fussy at all. Aaron’s mom was here for a week to watch the kids and help us out, and I’ve loved being able to just sit and cuddle with Bridget. I really love this newborn phase. Even though the sleepless nights get hard, infants are just such a joy to have around. When I look at her, I think, “I could have a dozen babies!” I have to remind myself that they do grow up, and that’s the hard part. I’m telling myself that I’m just going to enjoy this stage and savor it, since it passes by so quickly. That’s something that does not come naturally to me. I always find myself looking for the next milestone, the next big thing. Having a new baby is such a good reminder to take things slowly and really live in the moment.












Sunday, August 14, 2011

The mermaid bash (and a minor tragedy)

I am insane.  Really.  Not only did I agree to throw a mermaid birthday party for Katie one week before I’m about to give birth, but I decided that I would sew tails for all the girls.  And I decided not to go the “no-sew tail” route (which would have been perfectly fine).  Nope.  I had to make them ultra cute.  And they were.  But I was a mad woman sewing all week.  My house looks like a glitter bomb has gone off.  I’ve had to shower every night before bed so that we weren’t sleeping in a bed of glitter (which sounds romantic, but isn’t really).  However, I completed the tails in time to watch Project Runway with my friends on Thursday night, which was the goal.  I didn’t get a tail sewn for Averi, but I convinced her that she would be just fine wearing the mermaid costume that we already own. 

And so, without further ado, here are the mermaid tails:



Awww!!  Such cute girls!  When Averi saw that I had taken the tail picture without her in it, she was devastated.  She had to run in and get her skirt on so that she could take a picture just like the girls.


It’s supposed to be a skirt, but she wears it hiked up to her chest so that she doesn’t trip over it, since it’s way too big.


And she needed someone to put an arm around her, so big brother (and tail-less) Paul was happy to oblige. 

We started the party off by making mermaids out of round clothespins.  I think the girls had a great time with this fun little craft, and it was quite simple to do.





Here’s Paul’s very un-girly merman.  He decided against the red hair and went to town with the manly blue marker.


Here’s the food table mostly complete; we were just missing the octodogs and the blue jello, since we didn’t want them to get ruined in the sun.




Cupcakes.  I cheated and ordered the cupcakes from Wal-Mart and just decorated them at home.  For six bucks, there was no way I was going to make them myself. 




We hung net under the pergola and filled them with balloons.  It looked quite cute until the wind picked up and popped about 30 of them on the grass.  But fortunately the wind stayed pretty calm for most of the party.


Even though I planned most things quite well, I forgot birthday candles for the birthday girl.  I was sure we would have a 6 on hand, but no.  We had 1-5 and 7, but no six.  So we made do with a 5 and a 1, since they equal 6 (even though it looks like she’s turning 51).


Loving the Kool-Aid Coolers.  It’s a throwback to my childhood.  I’ve never bought them for my kids before, so they were ecstatic.  I love how Paul’s managed to spill all over his chest.  Do you know how small the holes in those bottles are?  He had to have worked at making such a mess.


My beautiful (almost) six-year-old!


A very hot Averi.  It was probably close to 100 that day.  Perfect for running through the sprinklers, but very, very warm.

And thus our tragic tale begins.  Let me introduce you to Max:


Katie has been asking for a fish for a while.  After asking around, I found that bettas had a pretty good reputation for being indestructible.  And we needed indestructible.  We have a long history of dead fish in my family.  So since the party theme was mermaids, I thought that the fish would make a great present and would also look adorable on the food table as a decoration.  Two birds (err…fish) with one stone!

I ran out that morning (Friday) at about 10 and bought the fish.  Katie loved her fish.  She named it Max and all the girls were constantly running over to check on the fish.  At the end of the party, one of the moms came over to check everything out, and we stopped to look at the fish.  That’s when we noticed that the fish was floating.  Upside down.  Poor Max was a goner.  He was in a glass bowl, outside, for 2 1/2 hours, on a 100 degree day.  He cooked to death.  The water inside the bowl was so hot that there was no way he could have possibly survived.  I had Aaron whisk the bowl into the garage to keep it hidden so that we didn’t have any tears during the party.  As soon as the guests left, Katie ran inside asking where her fish was.  “Oh, we had to take him inside because he was getting too hot.” (Was he ever!)  “Yes, but WHERE is he?”  “Ummm…don’t you think you should take your presents upstairs?”  So after coming up with one lame diversion after another, I finally managed to slip out of the house and run to Wal-Mart.  Fortunately they had several blue bettas on hand, so I grabbed one and ran home.  We pulled off the switcheroo while the kids were all upstairs resting, and no one is any wiser.

I feel terrible, but it’s completely hilarious at the same time.  What kind of person am I?  I manage to kill an indestructible fish in less than three hours.  At my daughter’s party.  I boiled her fish.  I’m sure if there are any animal rights activists reading my blog, they’re howling and demanding that I see justice.  But it was perfectly innocent!  I really did not think at all about the implications of having a live fish in a glass bowl outside in 100 degree heat.  He’s in water, right?  Water makes you cool, doesn’t it?  Poor Maxy.  When Katie woke up from her nap, she informed me that she had thought of an even better name for her fish.  He’s now Mikey.  Appropriate that he has a new name, since it’s a completely different fish.  I’ll tell her when she’s old enough to see the humor in it.  Like when she’s 15.


Averi’s post-cupcake face

After lunch we had a relay race.  The girls had to fill up their bucket with as much water as they could before time ran out.  The trick was that they had to use a sand shovel.




It was so funny to see their different personalities shine during this game.  Some of the girls were SO competitive!  And others could have cared less who won. 

After the game we opened presents.  Katie loved every single one of the gifts she got.


Katie’s reading so well now.  She loves reading, and she’s at the point where she can read most things to herself.  Such a big girl!


After presents we got out the sprinkler for them to play in.  Would you believe that in August I could only find ONE fun sprinkler after going to several stores?  Come on, people.  It’s still summer!  It’s HOT!!  Do we really need coats and Christmas trees out? 


We then introduced the kids to Red Rover.  I have to say, I now understand why this game was banned at our elementary school.  Paul got clothes-lined, and there were several near incidents.  I’m just glad that we sent everyone home without them needing trips to urgent care.


We wrapped up the party with a dance competition.  This was ADORABLE!!  You should have seen them all singing and belting out “Dynamite.”  I loved it.  We’ve got it recorded, and it’s quite hilarious. 

Overall, it went really, really well.  I felt especially good when I heard one guest say, “I think this might be even better than my party, and I had a pinata!”  Seal of approval from a six-year-old.  I’ll take it.