Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Flats and Hand Wash Challenge- Final Thoughts and Impressions

It's over, the Flats and Hand Wash Challenge is over.  I think I should feel relieved or something, like "OH MY GOSH THANK GOODNESS I'M DONE!!" but I strangely don't.  Its odd, I actually enjoyed those little squares of cloth!  Not only that, but I got a strange since of satisfaction from hand washing them all too.

Going into this challenge I was convinced it was going to be hard.  I thought I would strongly dislike it (trying to get out of the habit of using the word hate!).  I was convinced I would fail, at least with Karma, a few days into it  and already had my excuses lined up as to why I couldn't continue.  "I have 3 girls in diapers!" "its just too much work, I have enough to do being a stay at home mom of 4 little ones" "Karma is a super soaker, there is no way those thin little flat can contain her".  The list went on and on.

I was willing to give it a try though because I wanted to see if it was in fact doable.  I have a little grass roots project with 2 other mamas called Spreading The Fluffy Love.  Our goal is to get diapers to mamas in need who cannot afford to start cloth diapering on their own.  I figured if I was able to do this challenge then I could in good conscience ask other mamas to use flats and even hand wash if they did not have access to a washer/dryer.

Once I started my motivation shifted a bit and I also wanted to prove to myself that I could do it so that I could then add some flats and covers to our 72 hr emergency kits and have a sustainable way to diaper the girls if we were ever with out electricity for an extended period of time.  We live in the sticks so its very feasible that if something happened, like a huge tornado that knocked the electricity out, we could go days before it was turned back on.

The thing is, I didn't strongly dislike it, I didn't even dislike it a little bit, I enjoyed it.  Aside from a few a hiccups along the way it was pretty uneventful.  By the third day into the challenge I felt like I had been doing it forever.  Perhaps this was because I pretty much cloth diapered like this, using prefolds and the washing machine that is, for months when we first started out.  We had a very small stash when we started cloth diapering last summer and I had to use random things from around the house to get through each day.  I already knew that hooded baby towels make the best back up diapers, but take forever to line dry.

I actually love flats!  In fact I discovered that I like them FAR MORE than I do prefolds!  Prefolds and covers were all I had for the first 7 months!  Then in March/April I started to get nicer pocket, fitted and  AIO diapers and I felt quite spoiled.  I began to shove the prefolds to the back and use only the "nice" diapers.  I technically now had a stash large enough to only have to wash every other day but I was so sick of the prefolds and covers that I still washed daily so  I could strictly use the "nice" diapers. 

That's not the case with the flats, I really enjoyed them.  If I had it all to do over again I would have bought flats to go with my covers instead of prefolds.  Not only do I plan on buying 1 package of flats for our emergency kits I plan on buying a second package just for me to use.  Not only are they great to use on their own but yesterday and today I have been using them as boosters folded inside of Blissful Booty AIO diapers and they work great! (yesterday I was using them just on Karma since I ended the challenge Sunday night with her due to an eczema flare up, today on everyone)

This challenge reaffirmed my belief that cloth diapering does not have to be expensive to start out.  I think I got sidetracked and forgot that once I finally had "nice" fluff and became spoiled.  You don't need hundreds of dollars or a full stash of pocket or AIO diapers to start cloth diapering.  You can buy a few basic things like 2-3 reasonable priced covers and a package of flats to start you on your way. 

If you have absolutely no money you can still use what you have around your house.  Use receiving blankets, hooded towels, old t-shirts for the diapers.  There is no need for covers around the house if you can't buy them right away.  When you need to go out put on a pair of fleece PJ pants over the diaper, or an old wool sweater if you have one, you could even pin a fleece blanket on top.  Fleece and wool are water proof and they will not leak.  Fleece is my night time secret weapon, its the only thing that keeps Karma dry over night.  Then, you can take the money you would normally use to buy disposables and buy 1 nicer diaper each month.  After a few months you will have a nice little stash built up for your baby.

Cloth diapering is available to all moms, no matter what their income is, we just need to think outside the box sometimes.  I think too many moms research the options, see the $20-30 diapers and think "I can never buy enough of those, heck I can't even afford ONE!" and write off the entire idea as out of reach.  Or they think to themselves, "sure I could afford to buy diapers but I have no place to wash and dry them" and again brush off the entire idea.  The idea of using flats and hand washing probably never even occurs to most.  Hand washing is not and idea that most think of, but it can be done and you know what, its not bad at all! Just watch out for poop and invest in some gloves!

If I were advising a mama in need who had little to no money and was going to start a flat stash and hand wash them I would suggest:
Blue Dawn- easily available and cheaper than any cloth diaper friendly laundry soap.  Its also great to scrub out the shower, tub, sink or wherever it is you are washing the diapers so there is nothing left behind.
Purex Crystals- to help keep stinkies away, make diapers softer and make hand washing fun.
Gerber Flats- cheaper than other flats and again easily available for purchase.  Double up though, 1 will not cut it very long.  Two will go 3-4 hrs on a baby no problem.
Econobum Covers- they are simple adn white yes, but they do their job and if you watch Cotton Babies they often put them up on their seconds sales for $4.95 each and they always have free shipping.   That's where I got mine from. For 1 baby 4-5 would be enough covers so you could get them for $20-25.

For all of the above you could start cloth diapering for under $40! ($12 for flats, $20 for covers, $2 for dawn and $4 for the Purex Crystals).

Think outside the FLUFF!  It can be done!

this flats lovin mama,

P.S. A HUGE THANK YOU to Carrie Prince Cox for loaning the flats to us so we could be a part of this challenge.  We appreciate it very much!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Use What You Have-Flats Challenge Day 7 Recap

Day 7 Recap
Yesterday turned out to be the final day for Karma in The Flats and Hand Wash Challenge after all.  She has eczema that often flares up really bad in her diaper area.  It flares up in cloth and disposable diapers.  Certain cloth diapers seem to make it worse.  The worst for her to wear are the PUL covers with prefolds (or in this case flats) as they seem to rub and agitate it more.  The inside of her legs and her belly area were just bright red and looked awful.  I let her run around without a diaper for a few hours and put her to bed in a Blissful Booty with a fleece cover.  She looks much better today.  So we failed the final day with her.  I still plan on continuing Kimmy and Sariah in flats today through bedtime and will hand wash their diapers.

Karma's eczema flare up :(
I don't feel like we really failed with her
because if all we had were flats and this happened
I would just let her run around naked for a few days.

Yesterday and today I am also boiling the water I use to hand wash with.  I was talking with a friend about the challenge and she asked why I was even bothering to do it.  I explained to her that it was to prove it was possible for a family to diaper this way but it was also so  I could prove that I could do it this way as well.  I plan to add a package of flats and 5ish covers in our 72 hour emergency kits.  Then if there is ever some sort of disaster and we are out of power for a few days/weeks I can still sustainably cloth diaper the girls.  She pointed out if we had no power we would have no hot water to wash with.  So I was inspired to boil the water.  I am technically boiling it on my electric stove BUT I know I could easily boil it over the fire pit we have if needed.

Use What You Have
When we first started cloth diapering we had very little to work with.  The stash would have been small for 1 tush and we had 3 to cover.  I had to wash a minimum of once a day and more often twice a day to make the stash last the entire day.  So I had to be creative at times using random things we had around the house not only as diapers but also as accessories.

Receiving Blankets, Hooded Towels and T-Shirts
One of the very first things I started using as diapers were receiving blankets, hooded towels and old t-shirts.  In fact, I started using them within the first week.  They were great to supplement in with our stash to help stretch things until I was able to wash and dry the dirties.  Now, I have heard many actually take the time to sew these items into diapers.  I did not have a sewing machine at the time so I literally used the items as is.  I would trifold them and lay them inside of the cover and use just like a prefold.  It worked, they served their purpose well.  Milk Bubbles has a few great tutorials up about how to start cloth diapering for free doing exactly this.  My favorite of hers are the scarf diapers.  I was really wishing I had a cute scarf that I could do the same with but I alas I did not.

Burp Cloths
Everyone has these, in fact if you look closely some of the burp cloths you were given may actually BE flat diapers.  I was not given any of these but I was given many hand made burp cloths that I discovered rather quickly made excellent booster pads.

the burp clothes I used as doublers

I simply folded them down in a smaller trifold and laid them flat on top of whatever I was using as a diaper for that particular change.  They add a few extra layers of absorbency right in the "wet zone" without adding too much bulk over all to the diaper.

burp cloth laid on top of a hooded towel
all ready to use as a diaper. 

Receiving Blankets, Baby Wash Cloths or Old T-Shirts
Yes I already listed 2 of those above but this time I am listing them for the purpose of creating your own cloth wipes.  Baby Wash Cloths make excellent cloth wipes.  Old T-shirts and receiving blankets can be cut up and made into wipes as well.  Now, when I first started I did not have a sewing machine so I cut up these things and just left the edges rough.  It never bothered me.

cloth wipes- you can see the rough edges on the ones I
made myself from receiving blankets.  There are some
baby wash clothes, the pink stripe is an old t-shirt (very soft!)
and there are a few flannel ones made by Rockin Mama

Spray Bottle and Baby Wash
An old spray bottle and some baby wash can create a very simple wipe water for you to use at diaper changes.  Add a little warm water in the bottle, a squirt of the baby wash and viola, wipe water.  Don't try to make too much though as after a few days it starts to smell stale.  I would make up a little bit each morning to use for that day.

Gerber Prefolds
They are useless as actual prefolds on their own.  I received some when Kimmy was first born, I planned to try cloth diapering then but did not do any research on the Internet about them.  I just tried these prefolds and after a week of solid leaks and nothing being contained I stopped.

Gerber prefolds.  Great as doublers, horrible as prefolds!

Once I started up again with all 3 girls last summer I used these as doublers as well.  Again, just trifolded and laid in the center.  They are a great booster pad, horrible on their own!

Ironically, the Gerber flats I used for this challenge were amazing.  I was so impressed with their performance and would definitely recommend them to other moms.  I had to use 2 flats per diaper but still, they worked, they did their job and we did not have any leaks all week.  So Gerber prefolds no good, Gerber flats awesome!

Microfiber Towels
Most have at least 1 microfiber towel in their home already, if not they are fairly inexpensive at places like Walmart.  Karma is a super soaker and after only a few weeks of cloth diapering her I began asking how in the world could I keep her from leaking out all of the time.  Most of my cloth diapering mama friends suggested either hemp or microfiber inserts.  I could not afford to buy any at the time but I did have a few microfiber towels.  Microfiber is not supposed to touch skin so I would place it trifolded inside of a prefold.

microfiber towel on top of a flat

microfiber towel folded up inside of a flat.
Place in a cover and BAM-great diaper!

For the purpose of the Flats Challenge I folded it up inside of a flat.  This actually made a really nice diaper.  Great for overnights and for running errands.  Microfiber is not the best on the hand wash side though.  It can hold onto smells more than the other materials, it was the only item I ever had stink issues with the whole week. (thank goodness for the Purex Crystals!).  It also takes about 2 days to dry hanging up!  I know from past experience it can dry in half a day hanging outside in the sun but we had no sun the entire week.

Fleece PJ Pants, Fleece Zip Up PJS, Fleece Blankets and Wool Sweaters
I think some of you may be thinking to yourselves "Sure, all the above is great to use as diapers but what about covers?"  FLEECE!  Fleece is the answer to that!  Everyone has got to have at least 1 pair of fleece pajama bottoms or a pair of zip up footie PJS, even a fleece blanket somewhere in their home.  Fleece is waterproof and my secret weapon for no leaks at night.  I put the girls to bed in fleece PJs almost every night.  I have a few pairs of fleece PJ pants I plan to cut into shorts for the summer so they are not too hot. If you don't have any pajamas try a fleece blanket, you can tie it on or pin it on.

my go to fleece PJ pants for Karma

Wool is also water proof.  I have not tried wool but many mamas swear by it for night time.  If you have an old wool sweater in your home you can pin that on top of whatever you are using for a diaper, instant cover.

You really do not need covers around the house during the day, these would only be needed at night or when going out.  I even saw a blog post by someone also participating in the challenge (that of course I cannot locate now to link!) that mentioned using plastic shopping bags tied over the flats as covers when she had none that were dry.  It may not be pretty to look at but it would work.  You would only need to do it for a few weeks to a month and then could use the money you saved not buying disposables to buy 1-2 inexpensive covers.

Drying Racks
After only a week of cloth diapering I had stains on the prefolds.  My cloth diapering mama friends told me to sun them.  I had no place to do this though, or so I thought.  I did not own a drying rack or a clothes line.  It didn't take long for me to figure out some alternatives. 

At first I used some decorative lattice things on the front of our home (no idea what they are called).  they work great but because of the direction our house faces they only get sun either early in the am (on the East side of our home) or late in the afternoon/evening (on the West side of our home).  So if I needed to sun in the middle of the day I still had no place to do it. 

decorative lattice things

That's when I thought of using the side of the old crib we had in the attic.  The crib had never had a baby in it (in our home that is, it was given to us when we adopted Karma) and we even lost the hard ware to it when we moved.  I called the company and even though it had not been recalled it was a drop side crib and therefore they were no longer making that particular model and would not sell any replacement parts for it.  I stuck it in the attic because I had no clue what else to do with it.  Now we have 1 side screwed into the wall near the stairs as a "baby gate" and the other we use as a drying rack for diapers.  Recycling is good!

crib rail drying rack.  It was rainy this day
so I had it up on the porch hoping the wind
would help dry the flats faster.  Didn't work!
This was the day I had to get creative with the drying.

My point here is, cloth diapering does not have to be expensive.  You can start it with little to no money.  I see people all over the place who say they just can't afford to start.  There is no rule that says you must start out with a full stash of expensive pocket or AIO diapers.  Yes, these diapers are nice.  Yes, they make diapering easier but there are cheaper alternatives that you can start with.  Then, you can take some of the money you are saving from not buying disposables and slowly build a stash 1 diaper at a time.  This allows you to try a wider variety of diapers and get a better feel for what you like.

Take a look around your house, I bet you have a lot of items you could easily use as a diaper in a pinch.  It does not have to be a matter of "do I buy dinner today or diapers for my baby?".  I know how that feels, we were there.  I was the one who thought cloth diapering was all or nothing.  That I had to jump in with hundreds of dollars to spend.  I didn't realize I could start slow and add a little at a time. 

I know for most the challenge is over now, they are writing their final thoughts and impressions blogs today.  We will continue (with 2 girls that is) through today and will post our final thoughts tomorrow.  I really hope you all come back to check it out.  This experience has been really wonderful for us and we have so much we want to share with you.  I will give you a little sneak peak on it, if I had it all to do over again I would have started cloth diapering with flats and covers instead of prefolds!  I think the flats do a much better job.  That will be my new recommendation for mamas looking to start on a very limited budget.

Until then........

this flats converted mama,

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Flats and Hand Wash Challenge Day 6 recap

I am not really sure what to write about, yesterday was pretty uneventful for us in The Flats and Hand Wash ChallengeNo poopy surprises (unless you count the fact that I discovered little bodies do NOT digest grape skins!  It took me a minute to figure out what was floating in the water!), no tornados, no creative drying.  It was a pretty normal day.

At this point, the flats have just become second nature to me.  As if we have been doing it forever.  I don't even think about it anymore, I just do it.  I have the wash cycles down.  We wake in the morning, I change all 3 girls using the flats that are dry and hanging up from the night before.  Once changed, I take the nighttime diapers and the rest of the diapers that did not get washed from the day before and wash them.  Once they are washing I hang them up on our handy dandy drying "rack" (aka crib side rail).  Then around 5-6 in the evening I wash again.  By that time the am diapers are dry and ready to use.  I hang the second load of diapers and leave them to dry overnight.  We repeat again the next day.

I have even found my groove when it comes to keeping up with the rest of our laundry.  Now, when I do the first hand wash load in the morning I throw some clothes in the washing machine.  Sometimes I even do a second load of clothes in the evening when I hand wash the second load of diapers. 

Now that I have the schedule down I have not had to worry about oven or iron drying any flats.  We have had pretty much no sun all week.  If we could have had at least a few hours of sun each day then the entire challenge would have been much easier.  At the same time I am glad it was rainy and cool outside all week, that way I was able to see what it would be like to have to live this challenge in tough times as well.

The blue Dawn and Purex Crystals combo is working great for cleaning our diapers.  They smell so nice while washing and drying and feel soft to the touch.  They are both easily available and reasonably priced making them great options for moms in need.

Today is technically the last day but I am going to continue through tomorrow.  All day today I am going to attempt to document the regular everyday items in my house that I use to make this challenge easier and tomorrows post is going to be titled "Use What You Have".  Many moms, if they were creative enough, could start cloth diapering for little to no money if they just used the things they already had around them.

So, until tomorrow's post......

this in the groove mama,

P.S. Today we are supposed to have some SUN!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Gloves, Crystals and Blue Dawn, Accessories Make it Fun!-Day 5 Recap, Flats Challenge

Accessories make it fun, well funNER anyways.

Yesterday we had to run some errands and I picked up a few inexpensive things at Walmart that would make the Flats and Hand Wash Challenge a little easier on me.  These are simple things that are widely available, so they would not be out of reach for a mama in need.

I purchased:

1 Pair of Gloves-
After the "pooptastic incident" on Day 4 I decided a pair of gloves were a must.  Now I can really get in there with my hands (bye bye stick!) and wash the diapers and I don't have to worry about any poopy surprises.

Cute gloves keep the poops at bay- $2.88 at Walmart

Purex Crystals-
Purex Crystals are a new product from Purex, we actually reviewed them on Instinctual Mamas.  They are a fabric softener but unlike traditional softeners they are not oil based and do not stick to or create build up on clothing.  This actually makes them safe to use on cloth diapers.
I have not had any issues with my flats or covers stinking but some of the other blogs I have read from this challenge have mentioned having stink issues.  The Purex Crystals would be a great way for mamas to keep the stinkies away.
I have used Crystals on my reg and diaper laundry for awhile now.  I use WAY less than they suggest on my though, its strong and a little goes a long way.  I use 1 tblsp on clothing loads and 1/2 tblsp on diaper loads.  Since hand wash loads are even smaller than normal diaper loads I only used 1 teasp.  MMMMmmmm, it was so nice to smell the Crystals as I sloshed and spun the diapers in the pail. 

Purex Crystals, cloth diaper safe- $3.97 at Walmart

Blue Dawn Dish Soap-

Blue Dawn Dish Soap is cloth diaper safe.  Its a product many moms swear by when it comes to stripping their stash when stinkies become a problem.  I decided to give it a try not because my diapers were stinky but because I had a realization on Day 3 that many mamas who are in need and would be the likeliest to use flats and hand wash may not know about or have access to cloth diaper safe detergents (since most are sold online).  The brand I get, Country Save, is sold in a local store but the store is 45 minutes 1 way and I had to search for it.  So I decided to give the Blue Dawn a try and will be finishing out the challenge using it in place of my traditional soap.
Once again, it was so nice to have something that smelled so tummy while I washed diapers.  Country Save does the job but it has no real scent.  Something about scent tricks my brain into thinking things are even cleaner.
I mentioned in the Day 4 Recap that I planned on trying Blue Dawn and Sarah from Schulz Family Adventures mentioned that she had also thought about the fact that mamas in need may not have access to/knowledge of cloth diaper safe detergents so she posted a great home made option, check it out on her Day 5 post here.

Blue Dawn Dish Soap, small bottle- $1.67 at Walmart

Between the Blue Dawn and the Purex Crystals I swear the diapers I washed yesterday are softer and cleaner than they have been all week.  Now if I could just get some sun already!  In my area this has been the worst week possible to try and do this challenge.  When it comes to hand washing (and really to cloth diapers in general) the sun is your best friend.  The sun can bleach those poop stains out better than any product available!  We have only had 2 days all week were the sun made an appearance and both days it was only a few mere hours.  I am hoping for some sun today but they are calling for ore rain all weekend so we shall see.

The Flats Challenge was originally supposed to run May 23-30.  I knew that was 8 days and assumed Kim from Dirty Diaper Laundry did as well.  We got an email yesterday for all of those who are participating that said the challenge was only meant to run 7 days and she didn't realize by having it go to the 30th it was 8 days.  So officially the challenge now ends tomorrow, May 29, at midnight.  They are asking us all to put our babies to bed in flats and hand wash them in the morning on the 30th but after that we can go back to our regular diapers if we want.  I have decided I am going to finish it out though, so I will continue to use the flats throughout the day on Monday.

I have been posting my posts as recaps as well, so I am 1 day behind, therefore my final post where I will reflect back on the entire journey will not be posted until Tuesday.  If everyone else, including Dirty Diaper Laundry, ends tomorrow then that means I will have no place to linky the recap blog I post Monday or my entire impressions I will post Tuesday.  I hope all of you who have been following me thus far will remember to come back on those 2 days, or at least on Tuesday.  I have a lot swirling around in my head about this and I also have some special requests that I will be posting in my final post Tuesday.  I hope you will return to see it.

Until then.....

this Flats conquering mama,

Friday, May 27, 2011

No clean clothes and other Pooptastic Fun-Flats Challenge Day 4 Recap

No Clean Clothes
We ran into an unforeseen snag in the Flats and Hand Wash Challenge yesterday.  I realized we had no clean clothes and The Hubs had no clean shorts or work shirts.

I have never been very good at keeping up with the laundry.  One of the perks that came along with cloth diapering was it forced me to think about laundry on a daily basis.  I have to wash our stash daily so I always make sure to do at least 1 load of clothes as well.  This helps me to keep the dirty clothes pile from engulfing the entire laundry room.

I realized yesterday I had not done any laundry, other than hand washing diapers, since Sunday.  Whoopsie!  Therefore I spent a good portion of the day trying to catch up with that.  Laundry piles up like crazy in a household of 6!

Other Pooptastic Fun
Yesterday morning when I went to wash diapers I had 5 poo ones in the bucket.  Three from the night before and 2 from that morning.  As if that was not bad enough the bucket was really full of diapers and the stick just was not moving them around well.  So I decided to suck it up and use my hands. 

I stuck my hands in the bucket and started trying to move and slosh the diapers around like  a washing machine would and then SMOOSH!!  Apparently 1 of the diapers from the night before I had forgotten to rinse off in the toilet.  I stuck my entire hand directly into a nice pile of poo.  My yuck reflex kicked into high gear and I was gagging and crying while trying to quickly wash it off.  Ah, the things we moms have to touch with our hands!

Getting It
Other than those 2 little bumps in the road things have been going great in our house.  The flats are doing their job, we haven't had any leaks all week.  We have had 2 "poop days" (where each girl poos 2-3 times, multiplied by 3!) that we made it through.  We have had tornado warnings, rainy days where we couldn't sun diapers dry quickly, creative drying experiences, and no clean clothes to wear.  We have had a lot thrown at us and we are doing it with 3 tushies. 

The hand washing has become second nature to me, just another thing on my daily check list of things to do.  It does not bother me.  Its not something I dread or I wish could be over already.  It actually takes very minimal effort from me and other than the occasional poo on the hands I don't even give it a second thought.

Today we have lots of errands to run, it will be our first outing in flats.  We shall see how that goes.  I plan to buy some blue Dawn dish soap.  I have heard many use that to strip their diapers and I plan to finish our the challenge using that to wash my diapers in instead of the Country Save.  I figure moms in need more than likely will not have access to a cloth diaper safe detergent but everyone can run to Walmart and grab some blue dawn dish soap.

So until tomorrow....

Mandy, over at Practically 100% Natural took my unused crib
rail drying rack a step further and dried them like this.  I had
always placed mine standing up with the diapers hanging down
so they could sun.  Her way allows for a lot more diapers to dry at once. 

this pooptastically fun mama,

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Flats, Poop and Tornados OH MY!- Flats Challenge Day 3 Recap

Yesterday was an "interesting" day for us.  It started out perfectly normal.  There was even sunshine out.  I tried to get the diapers washed quickly so I could hang them out in the sun as I knew we had a slight change for severe weather later. 

I put them in to wash and got sidetracked with other things and completely spaced them off.  I only remembered them when I looked outside and saw the dark clouds rolling in.  Just as I got done rinsing them out and hanging them up around the house I got a phone call from the Hubs making sure we were ok.  I had been stuck watching Disney Jr. all morning and apparently the "slight chance" for severe weather had turned into Tornado Warnings with 16 different spots around us (and too close for comfort to where friends and family were at, including Ted!) of reported rotation, funnel clouds and a few touch downs.

storm rolling in!

I turned the news on and once again forgot all about the diapers.  The next hour or so was a blurr of watching the news as the rotation and circular patterns were 30 minutes out, 20, 15, 10 and then we took cover.  We have no basement but our home is an earth contact home so half of it is like a basement.  I took all 4 kids into our bedroom, propped the mattress up against the corner 2 walls that are made of concrete and waited.  There we prayed and prayed and PRAYED!

We lost TV signal (we live in the sticks with satellite TV, it goes out every time it sprinkles!).  No weather radio, thank goodness for my phone and Facebook!  We were only in there 10-15 minutes but it felt like forever. We are only a few hours from Joplin, MO so the fear I had in those moments is indescribable.  The winds got so strong at one point that I was convinced there was a tornado right outside.  Thankfully I was wrong.  The people in nearby Sedalia, MO were not so lucky, our thoughts and prayers go out to them today.

As soon as it hit, the storm was gone and there was sunshine once again.  I was so freaked out still that I didn't even think to move the diapers outside.  I spent about 45 minutes iron and oven drying my diapers again later in the afternoon.

storm rolling out-it appears to be going in the same direction because
the storm literally made a big circle over us!

Yesterday was also a "poop day" in our home.  I had done 1 poopy diaper each day since we started the Flats and Hand Wash Challenge but yesterday was one of those days were all 3 girls went at least once.  I ended up changing 5 poopy diapers.  I guess the storm and the adventure of hiding from tornado's "scared the poop" out of them?

When I first started cloth diapering back in August I was very intimidated by the poop factor.  I did not want to touch it and I most certainly did not want to dunk and swish it in my toilet.  I came up with, what I thought, was a pretty ingenious strategy.  I took the diaper to the side of our house and used the hose.  I did this through November and then it was just too cold and I had to get over the ick factor of it all (thank goodness a few months later I discovered the Blissful Booty Boosters that made poop a breeze for me!)  Yesterday I once again employed this method for poop duty.

I actually had someone from Instinctual Mamas suggest another rather genius way of getting rid of poops without having to dunk and swish:
"For non-ploppable #2 dipes, I will soak in the toilet. You make sure the dirty part is in the water, then keep a "clean" corner sticking out and anchor it from falling in by putting the seat down on top of it. By the time you remember you left it there, you will be able to grab the "clean" corner, flush a time or two, then throw it in the pail with practically nothing left on it. More effective than a sprayer!"
-Laura Ostrowski
A few more ladies in the group suggested the hose method.  I KNEW I couldn't be the only one who did that!

So yesterday was an exciting day for us full of lots of flats, poops and possible tornados OH MY!  I ended up wearing my shirt inside out all day.  I realized it was this way right before the storm but in light of all that happened after that its no wonder I forgot to correct it and only realized it was still that way at bedtime.  Oh well, as Mama Jorje said that just means I can wear it again today the right way!


this grateful mama,

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Flats Challenge Day 2 Recap-Creative Drying

Yesterday went pretty smooth with only a few minor hiccups along the way.  On day 1 it was cloudy in the morning but the bulk of the day was sunny so I was able to dry all of the diapers outside.  The flats dry in about an hour when left in the sun outside (I have the Gerber flats which are thinner than most) 

Yesterday it was rainy most of the day with 2 severe storms rolling through so I was unable to hang anything up outside.  I also got a late start, not washing the first load until after 10 am. 

After the load was washed I had to come up with some creative ways to hang them up throughout the house to dry as there were a lot of diapers.  I used my handy dandy "drying rack" (which is really just the side of a crib) but that can only hold 6.  I then used my railing on the steps for the majority of the rest.  There were still a few stragglers so I spread them out on hangers and hung them in a door way.

Flats Drying

By 4 pm NOTHING was dry though and we were running out of options.  All of the flats were either dirty or wet and  I was down to only 1 receiving blanket and 1 hooded towel with 3 tushies that needed to be changed.

I began to rack my brain for a way to speed up the drying of at least some flats.  I must admit, the idea of cheating and throwing 2 or 3 in the dryer did cross my mind.  Then I remembered a tip that a friend shared with me.  She said, when in a pinch she would use her iron and iron the flats dry.

I never iron my clothes, I am just too lazy for that so I had to dust off the teeny tiny iron and ironing board that I haven't used in who knows how long.  I put the iron on the lowest setting and while I was waiting for it to heat up I tried to think of other alternatives to suggest in case a mama does not have an iron.

ironing flats dry

The microwave popped into my head first but it was quickly followed by visions of tiny little fire balls and I did not want to find out how well our little fire extinguisher in the kitchen works.  Next I thought about the oven.

Our oven has a "keep warm" setting on it so I turned the knob to that and opened the door.  I didn't want to place them in the actual oven so I draped one on the door and on on the top hanging down in the door.  While those 2 hung to dry I began to iron a 3rd.  Both techniques worked pretty well.  After 5 minutes or so I flipped the 2 hanging in the oven door so both sides dried.  After another 5 minutes (about the amount of time it took to iron a flat dry) I put 2 more hanging on the door.  I kept alternating this way until I had all 12 flats dry.  It was tedious yes, but it worked in a pinch.

Flats drying on warm oven.  The very first time I tried this
I did put 1 flat folded up on a cookie sheet IN the oven.
This made me paranoid though as I could not see it while
ironing so I started just hanging a second one from the
stove top.  I used  a large pot to hold them in place so they
did not drop down into the oven.

NOW!  For safety reasons I must say I would only suggest the oven in a pinch and to never EVER walk away from it.  I was right there in the kitchen the entire time and could see everything.  If the oven does not have a "keep warm" setting use the lowest setting possible, I would say not to go above 200 degrees (which is our first setting after keep warm).  Even with all of that be extremely careful.  When I went to flip the very last flat hanging on the door I dropped it and it only brushed the heating coil in the bottom of the oven for a split second and it still singed the flat (since these are loaner flats now I have to replace that one!).
Also, we have an electric oven, I am not familiar with how gas ovens work but would not suggest this if you have a gas oven just in case it may fill your home with gas.

Two other methods I thought of but was not able to try because I do not own either were a hair dryer and a fan.  I imagine a hair dryer or fan, aimed at the hanging diapers, would speed up the process nicely.  Also, as I was preparing for this challenge a mama over at Instinctual Mamas said she used to hang all of her diapers up in the bathroom, place a space heater in there and close the door.  This inspired me to consider placing mine in the laundry room as the dryer was running drying other clothes but then I though "DUH! If a mama HAS  dryer obviously she is going to use IT" and decided to pass on that idea.

Today, thankfully, the sun is out.  I need to get the dirty diapers washed quickly though as they are calling for more rain later.

If you have any creative drying methods I have not thought of please share in the comments for all of us.

this creative drying mama,

P.S. If you have not been following and are unsure exactly what the Flats challenge is check out Dirty Diaper Laundry for details.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Flats and HAND WASH Challenge-Day 1 recap.

If you missed yesterdays blog, we are taking part in Dirty Diaper Laundry's Flats and Hand Wash Challenge. (click the link to read more about what it is)

Day 1 recap-

Kimmy finally got over her aversion to the flat diapers.  As long as I gave her a fun brightly colored cover she was ok with it.

The day went smoothly, there really was no difference in our routine it was just a different type of diaper going on their tushies at each change. I am really impressed with the absorbency abilities of these flats.  Remember, I am using the cheap Gerber flats that can be found in stores such as Walmart and Target.  I am doubling them up so there is 2 on each girl but I did not need to change anyone any sooner than I would normally have done with our pocket and AIO diapers.  Even with Miss Karma AKA supersoaker.  We had no leaks all day.  Kimmy even went over 4 hours in 1 diaper (on accident, I got a phone call after changing the first 2 and forgot I never changed her until the next diaper change).

There were 2 areas of this challenge that really intimidated me.
1- The hand washing part
2- Overnights

Hand Washing-   Surprisingly, this was not bad at all.  I envisioned back breaking labor and my yuck reflux shuddered at the "touching" part.  It was nothing like that though.  It was really very simple and did not take much time at all.

I used the same pail we normally store dirty diapers in to wash.  I filled it with hot water and 1 tblsp of our Country Save laundry soap.  I used a random stick thingie that I found in our attic when we first moved into this home to "stir" the "loads".  Its a long sturdy plastic tube but I have no idea what it goes to.  I stirred and sloshed the diapers around with this stick for a good 10 minutes.  Then I left everything to soak for 30 minutes.  I dumped it out in our shower and used the pull down shower head to rinse everything off (I did clean the shower floor afterwards!).

First load washing

It was really no more work than a regular load of diapers and the diapers washed clean much faster.  Once they were rinsed clean I wrung them out and placed the back in the pail (that was also rinsed clean) and took them outside to hang dry.  I imagine it saved us on our water and electric consumption for that day too.  Compared to the washing machine the amount of water I used was minimal and there was even less electricity involved (only heating the water).

I ended up doing 2 "loads" yesterday.  The first only had 3 covers and 6 flats-I was anxious to try it for the first time, what can I say.  The second had 6 covers, 10 flats, 2 hooded towels and 4 baby wash cloths (that I am using as cloth wipes).  It was cloudy and drizzly when I placed the first load out to dry.  I left it on our porch and it took about 3 hours to dry.  It was nice and sunny for the second load so I placed them out in the sun.  The flats were dry within an hour, the hooded towels and baby wash cloths took overnight to dry (I moved them into the laundry room once the sun went down).

2nd load hanging to dry in the sun

Overnight-  This was the true test for us, if we could make it overnight with no one leaking then I knew we could do this challenge all week.  The day went smoothly, overnights would be our deciding factor.

As impressed as I was with the performance of the flats during the day I had little faith they would hold up overnight, especially for Karma.  Its funny to watch me get her ready for bed each night, its like I am preparing for war, war with the leaks.  She can leak through just about every diaper imaginable. 

My go to bedtime routine for her is a Blissful Booty Diaper with a minimum of 2 Blissful Booty booster pads and a fleece cover over everything.

For the purpose of the flats challenge I chose 2 flats AND a hooded baby towel with a fleece cover on top for Karma.  She had quite the little diaper butt.  For the other 2 girls I just did 2 flats each with fleece covers on top.  I actually somehow misplaced 1 of the fleece covers last night, I only have 3 total.  So I ended up putting a regular PUL cover on Sariah with fleece PJ pants on over that.

The verdict is........

Everyone, even Karma.  WOW!

With day 1 under our belt I am feeling much more confident.  I am sure glad The Hubs did not take me up on my 2 bets.  I bet him that 1- Karma would leak out of her first flat diaper within an hour and 2- I would fail with Karma by day 2 and finish out the challenge with only Kimmy and Sariah.  I actually would have lost those bets!

These flats deserve some credit, they get the job done! 

I must go and wash the overnight diapers now so they will be ready for tonight.

this impressed mama,

Monday, May 23, 2011

What Am I Doing?? The Flats Challenge

"NOOOOOOO!!!!!" THIS IS NOT MY DIAPER!!!" Kimmy screeched as she arched her back and threw her tush up, down and around trying to keep it off the flat diaper I had laid out underneath her.

I desperately tried to console her "its ok, its just a new diaper, you love new diapers"

"NO! NOT A NEW DIAPER, I DON'T LIKE IT!!" and with that statement she promptly grabbed the flat diaper and threw it as far away from her as possible.


Sariah in her first flat diaper- I only have 1 snappi so
for the other 2 I just laid the diapers flat (trifolded like a prefold)
inside of the cover.

Unless you have been living under a rock the past few weeks in the cloth diaper/crunchy mama cyber world you have heard of The Flats Challenge.  In case you have not heard of it you can get the details on Dirty Diaper Laundry here.

The basics of the Flats Challenge is to show that anyone, regardless of economic status, can cloth diaper.  For the challenge you can only use flat diapers, up to 5 covers per baby and you must hand wash and line dry them.

When I first heard of this challenge I thought it was genius and wanted to participate.  The only snag was I didn't have any flats or any money to purchase enough flats for all 3 girls.  Thankfully a good friend, Carrie, was willing to loan me some.  She sent me 18 flat diapers.  They are just the cheap Gerber brand you can get at places such as Walmart BUT Carrie and I both agreed that the majority of people who are in need of cloth, those who must choose between food or diapers, are more than likely going to end up buying the Gerber flats.  I figure if I can make it with 3 girls using these anyone can do it with 1.

Our Flats Challenge Stash:
18 Gerber Flats, 4 receiving blankets, 4 hooded towels
7 Bummis covers, 4  Econobum Covers and 1 Best Bottom Cover.
Not pictured: 3 fleece covers for overnight and 1 snappi

The hubby thinks I am nuts.  When I told him I was participating he said I was a dork.  Then, to redeem himself a bit, he said he felt like I had enough on my plate as it is and taking on a challenge like this was only creating more work for myself.  I fully understand the extra work involved but again, if I can do it with 3 anyone can do it with 1.

What I did not take into consideration when deciding to do this challenge was how my oldest daughter would react.  She is quite the little Fluffy Fashionista these days and has very strong opinions on what diapers she wears.  She is not impressed with the flats at all.  I finally got the diaper on her but she sat there for a few minutes crying and trying to pull it off until I finally talked her into liking the pretty pink cover I used for the diaper.

I must admit I feel her pain, I am going to miss our pretty diapers too.  When we started out cloth diapering last August we had a pitifully small stash.  A few covers and about 12 perfolds that were given to us by a friend plus a few more prefolds and covers I purchased gave us 11 covers and about 20 prefolds total.  That is what we used, for all 3 girls, for 7 months.  I usually had to wash our little stash 2 times a day and even then I had to "supplement" with hooded baby towels, receiving blankets and even old t-shirts.  It wasn't the prettiest cloth diaper stash around but it served its purpose.

1/2 of our CD stash- from the stack of Bummis and Econobum covers
over to the left represents our original stash.  Those covers and prefolds
were all we had in the beginning.
From the pink fleece cover and goodmama's over to the right
are about half of the diapers we use on a regular basis now.

Eventually, through kindness of friends, some cloth diaper reviews/giveaways  and work picking up for Ted we slowly built a much nicer stash full of pocket, fitted and AIO diapers. I am now quite spoiled with my diaper stash and never touch my prefolds/covers unless its to use a prefold to stuff in a pocket or a cover over a fitted diaper.  So going backwards will take some getting used to.

Even with our little starter stash and washing twice a day I never hand washed anything.  I line dried/sunned through November but stopped that once winter hit.  So the hand washing side of this challenge should be "interesting".  My plan is to wash as I go, we shall see how long I stick to that.

The other half of our stash-by far the most loved and used half.
there are still 3 diapers missing that were dirty for both pics.
2 Blissful Booty and A Very Hungry Caterpillar from Two Hip Peas in a Pod
round out our current stash.

All 3 girls are in their first flat of the day.  I doubled up each one so they are all wearing 2.  At that rate I will go through the 18 flats rather quickly.  DDL has said we are allowed to use old receiving blankets and hooded towels as well.  I have 4 of each in reserve to use if needed.  If I wash as I go in theory I should not need them, but if that does not work out well I may have to throw a few into rotation.  Even if I do use them it shows that there is always something that you can use in place of a diaper.  It does not have to be a matter of "do we eat today or diaper our baby?".  There are alternative out there. 

Too often people who are looking to start cloth diapering see the higher end diapers that can cost $20-30 (or MORE!) for 1 and say to themselves "I can never afford that!".  I know, I WAS one of those people!  The purpose of this challenge is to show that it does not have to cost that much to start.  Start out with economical choices such as the flats and then, after awhile, you can start to slowly buy the pricier alternatives if you want.

So, wish us luck, I will keep you all updated as we go through this challenge.  The hand wash blog will be interesting I am sure!

this flat diaperin mama,

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Blissful Booty Experiment

**I feel I must add a disclaimer to the beginning of this haha.  I do not typically let my kids sit in 1 diaper all day or until they leak out.  I normally change them every 2-3 hrs but for the purpose of this "experiment" I did let them stay in the same diaper for up to 8 hrs just to prove a point.

The Blissful Booty Absorbency Experiment

The purpose of this experiment is to show how long you can keep a blissful booty diaper on your baby with out any leaks.  I decided to do this, on my own without the knowledge of Cathy from Blissful Booty, after she received a few reviews that said they could only keep the diaper on for 1-2 hours before leaks occurred.  I knew that her diapers were capable of going so much longer than that.  All of my girls sleep overnight in blissful booty diapers just fine. 

For this experiment I did use Blissful Booty Booster pads, I didn't even think about it the first 2 days as I always use those because it just makes poop clean up easier.  So I am adding an unplanned 4th day today with no boosters and will update it goes.

For 3 days I wrote down what time I placed a Blissful Booty Diaper on each girl and let them wear it until I noticed leaking and wrote down what time I had to change them.  There were a few poopy monkey wrenches thrown in and I never let anyone go more than 8 hrs without changing them.

This is a very UNscientific experiment that I did on my own.  Many factors can change things such as proper fit of the diapers and proper care when washing.  If any cloth diapers, not just Blissful Booty, are not cared for and washed properly they will not preform well.  If you notice your diapers are not absorbing like they should make sure you are using a cloth diaper safe detergent (we use Country Save in our home) and that you are rinsing the diapers clean.  Soap build up from improper detergents and incomplete rinses cause diapers to loose absorbency.

I did not change anything else from our routine.  All 3 girls still ate and drank as normal.


Kimmy loving some Blissful Fluff!
Kimmy is my oldest, she is almost 3.  She weighs 23ish pounds and wears a L BB diaper.  She is a light wetter and can go all night in a blissful booty diaper +1 booster from 7:30ish pm (bedtime is 8 pm and I do bedtime diapers 15-20 minutes prior to that) until anywhere from 7:30-9am depending on when she wakes up.

Tuesday May 17-  awoke alittle before 8am.  Changed diaper at 8am.  She wore the diaper 8 hrs and I changed her at 4pm-no leaks occurred.
Wednesday May 18- awoke at 7:23 am, diaper changed at 7:30 am.  Wore until 2:39 pm with no leaks, had to change at 2:39 due to poo-poo.
Thursday May 19- awoke 9:11 am, changed diaper at 9:20am.  Wore until 2:45ish with no leaks and once again had to change due to poo.
Friday, May 20- awoke at 7:49 am, changed diaper at 8am. At this point there are no leaks- no booster pads today

Karma in a celery Blissful Booty
Karma just turned 2, she weighs about 24ish pounds (yes, more than Kimmy!) and also wears a large BB diaper.
Karma is my super soaker.  She is actually the only one who managed to leak in this "experiment".  I put her to bed in a BB diaper with 2 boosters and a fleece cover on top.  Its the only thing that keeps her from leaking out overnight.  She is also a little drink thief and drinks her entire cup every time plus she gets ahold of at least 1 of the others kids drinks and also drinks it.  She easily gets twice the amount of liquids as the others.  She has no "off" switch when it comes to thirst, if there is a drink she will drink it.

Tuesday May 17-  awoke a little before 8am.  Changed diaper at 8am. Leaked out around lunch time, I was making lunch and noticed it as we sat down to eat about 12:30 pm so 4-4.5 hours.
Wednesday May 18, awoke at 6:30am, didn't change diaper until almost 7:30 am.  Leaked out again at lunchtime.  This day it was closer to 5 hrs.
Thursday May 19- awoke at 7:20ish am, changed diaper at 7:30.  Pooped at 11:34 am, did not leak.
Friday May 20- awoke a little after 7am, changed diaper at 7:20.  Had to change a little after 11:30 am due to leaking.  So, for Karma at least, the booster pad appears to give about an hour more use.

Sariah in a celery Blissful Booty
Sariah is 1, she weighs 21lbs 9oz and also wears a large BB diaper.
She is an average wetter and still nurses, waking 2-3 times at night to nurse.  She can stay dry overnight in 1 BB diaper with 2 boosters.

Tuesday May 17- awoke 7ish am, changed diaper at 7:15 am.  Went until 3:30 pm with no leaks, changed diaper because it had been 8 hrs.
Wednesday May 18- awoke at 6:45ish am, didn't actually get out of bed until after 7, changed diaper about 7:30 (after Karma).  Went until 3:30 pm with no leaks.
Thursday May 19- awoke at 6:45ish, changed diaper at 7am.  Had to change a little after 2pm because of poop.
Friday May 20- awoke a little after 7am, changed diaper at 7:30 am.  currently no leaks- no booster pad today.

As I stated above, I know this is not exactly scientific but, to me at least, it proves that Blissful Booty diapers can go a minimum of 4-4.5 hrs with out needing to be changed, and that is on a super soaker.  For the average baby you can go all day. 

Of course I am not encouraging anyone to go all day without changing their little ones!!  I only did this for a short period of time.  Letting a baby sit in a diaper all day long like that is not good.  With that said we have all had one of those days where things are stressful, we are out running a million errands and unless our baby makes a #2 or leaks out we may not think about a diaper change.  I know I have done this and that is what inspired me to try this "experiment" in the first place.

Not only is this proof of the BB diapers performance but it is a testament to all cloth diapers.  Many do not want to make the switch because they think cloth does not hold as much as disposable and they will have to change their baby twice as often.  Cloth diapers preform just as well as disposables.  My super soaker who is leaking out of a cloth in 4-5 hrs would also easily leak out of a disposable in the same amount of time.  She leaked out every night when we used disposable diapers as well.

this Blissful Booty fan for life,

P.S. I do not work for Blissful Booty Cloth Diapers!  I have received free diapers from them in the past but this does not sway my opinion 1 way or the other.  I have a very eclectic cloth diaper stash with over 10 different brands and just about every style option available.
I AM a huge Blissful Booty cheerleader and believe in all of their products strongly!

Dear Karma, today you are 2!

Dear Karma,

Today you turn 2!  It seems like just yesterday I was writing a similar letter to your sister.  Oh yeah, that was 2 days ago and not one.

You came to us quite differently than your siblings but we love you just as much!  I feel as if I carried you myself.  The very first time I heard of your birth I knew you were going to be ours.  I loved you before I ever held you, before I ever laid eyes on you or kissed your downy baby head.

You are my crazy little monkey!  So curious and always getting into mischief.  I can't turn my back on you for a second.  You are my little teacher, always showing me things that I missed with the older 2.  You keep mommy on her toes that's for sure.  Everyday is an adventure with you, I never know what you are going to get into or climb on.  I have so many funny stories to tell you when you are older.  I imagine you growing up to be a stunt woman, or perhaps a gymnast as your balance is impeccable.

You are also sweet and loving though.  Always first in line for hugs and kisses, my little snuggle bug.  Always willing to share just about anything, except maybe your drink.  Anyone who knows you knows how seriously you take your drinks, and everyone else's as well for that matter.  You are quite the little drink thief

You were a month old when you came to live with us so you have not quite been with us for 2 years.  In the time that you have been here you have accomplished so much.  I love to watch you grow and discover new things everyday.  I am blessed to be a part of your journey through life. Your language has really exploded in the last few months and I love the "conversations" that we now have.  You are my little helper, always the first to start picking up toys and looking for other ways to help.  Often you attempts create more work for mommy, such as folding laundry, but you are always so proud of your work and I have to remind myself that at least you try.

We are so grateful everyday that we have you in our lives and while this day is your special day there are 2 other days that have great meaning to mommy.  June 19th was the day that you came to us and Feb 19th was the day your adoption was finalized.  So, in a way, its like you have 3 birthdays.  Also that does bot mean you get 3 parties and rounds of gifts though.

Mommy loves you baby girl!

your mommy!

And now the picture fest:

2 Years of Karma
June 19, 2009-1 month old- the day you came to live with us
you were adored from teh very first day!
1 month old- June 2009
3 months old with daddy- Aug 2009

3 months old- Aug 2009
5 months- Oct 2009

6 months old- Nov 2009

7 months old-1st Christmas-Dec 2009
8 months old- Jan 2010
Adoption Day!  Feb 19, 2010- 9 months old
1st Easter-April 2010
11 months old-May 2010
Birthday girl!  May 20, 2010
13 months- June 2010
15 months- Aug 2010  your "reign of terror" began haha
16 months- Sept 2010
17 months- Oct 2010
17 months- Oct 2010
19 months- Dec 2010
21 months- Feb 2011
22 months- March 2011
about a week shy of 2-May 2011

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...