Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Poo-gality (Poop+Frugality)

Yes, I'm going to talk about poop. If this topic makes you queasy, you may want to skip it.

We are heading into baby #3 and year #5 with cloth diapers. I am very thankful we chose to use cloth diapers because we have saved a ton of money! When I first said I was going to cloth diaper, I got a few weird looks like, "What are you going to do with the poop? Don't you know there are these new things called disposable diapers?" I'm all for saving the environment and caring for the world God has given us, but simply put, we chose to use cloth because it's cheaper. And especially now that the economy sucks and many people I know choose to live on one income (husband's), saving money is very popular. I have several pregnant friends who have expressed interest in our cloth diaper system, so here you go.

First I'll say that there are many, many ways people cloth diaper their babies. Back when I was a baby, cloth diapers were the norm. My mom used pins and plastic pants for both me and my brother. I still have some of the pins, the ones with the cute pastel ducks or birds on the ends. And I remember my mom using cloth diaper rags for cleaning. Nowadays, there are many more options than pins and plastic pants.

This website, The Diaper Pin, is a fantastic resource for all things cloth diaper. This page lists reviews of the many options out there. Honestly, I haven't tried too many of the ones listed. I have my way of doing things and it works, so I haven't been that interested. But I know severals moms who swear by all-in-ones such as BumGenius. Aside from the supplies, there are many options with washing as well. In Seattle many people use Baby Diaper Service for washing. This seems like a great service, especially for a new mom starting out. You order enough diapers to last a week and they pick up once a week, wash your diapers, and give you another week's worth of clean ones. However, if you are looking to save money, this might not be the best. The cost of diapers + delivery for an average newborn (70 diapers) works out to $0.28/diaper whereas a box of 258 size 2 Huggies at Costco is about $0.19/diaper.

So...here's the way we do things at the Gerlach house. It's worked pretty well for the last 5 years, and in the beginning we did a lot of tweaking to minimize leaks.

After researching and accounting for cost and what actually works, I decided to use the basic prefold + diaper cover + plastic underpants. We use Gerber prefolds which go for about $11/dozen. I was very blessed to have a few baby showers before Caley was born and got most of the prefolds for free because of Target gift cards and credits. I bought about 4 dozen prefolds. I then chose to buy the diaper covers mainly on Craigslist and at consignment stores. I just bought what I could find in the sizes I needed. We ended up with mainly Prorap Classics, Dappi Covers, and an off-brand made in Mexico, Suavity. When the girls started to wet more, we put Gerber plastic/vinyl pants to keep in leaks. We were also given 5 Kushies all-in-ones that work well for Amelia now. For each size I have about 10 covers, but the girls wore each size longer than the tag stated because they're small ones. For example Amelia wore the "preemie" Proraps until she was at least 3 months old even though she wasn't premature and exceeded the weight listed on the wrap. That way we've gotten more use out of the wraps and saved more money!

There are endless ways to fold the diapers in the wrap, but the way I've found that works best for newborns is in fourths such as illustrated here. For girls, once the diaper is in the wrap, the prefold can be bulked up at the back because the pee drips to their back. For boys, the prefold can be bulked up in the front. I've found it helpful, with my girls to bulk it at the front once they can sit up or are spending more time upright rather than on their back. Once they're older and are using bigger wraps, I fold the prefold in thirds and do the same bulking technique. I also frequently use fleece liners which my mom sewed (Thanks Mom!). The liner is about 4 layers of flannel with fleece on the outside which wicks away the wetness from their tender bottoms.

What about washing? This is the part that was the hardest to get used to. But even with disposables, there is still some contact with the poop, it's hard to avoid! Honestly, when Caley was a newborn, I had a really hard time dealing with the poop. It was difficult for me to learn how to be a housewife and new mom, let alone how to keep the poop inside the diaper! I got pooped on many a time (thanks Caley). I was also really concerned about stains on the diaper (prefolds) and spent much time rinsing it out in the bathtub. When Amelia came along I had wised up and just let the washing machine take care of it!

After the diaper has been changed, if it's wet it goes into the diaper pail. My diaper pail is simply a flip-top garbage can from Target with a plastic garbage bag in it. The top says "Cloth Diapers." There are many ways one can do their diaper pail, this is the one I've found to be easiest. If the diaper is poopy, I dump as much poop as possible in the toilet, flush it down, and throw the diaper in the pail. The pail is kept in the bathroom closet, and yes when the door is opened it stinks. I think after 5 years it may be the garbage can having absorbed the smell...it may be time to spring for another flip top garbage can. Next to the diaper pail I also have a small flip top garbage can just for disposables, which actually smells just as bad as the cloth diapers, it's such a chemical smell!

There are also many routines for washing. On diaper day (I'm not organized enough to have a set day this is done, it's just whenever the pail is rather full) I throw the soiled diapers (and wraps that may be poopy) in the washing machine and rinse them on hot with the water level high even if the load is medium or small. I add about 1/2 cup vinegar, which gets rid of the odor. After the rinse cycle, I wash a full cycle on hot with about half as much detergent as regularly needed. If too much detergent is used it can make the diapers too sudsy and irritate baby's skin. Also I never, ever use bleach. The stains come out fine and bleach will very quickly break down the diapers. After the wash I pop them in the dryer and voila! They're done!!

Although we have used cloth since we became parents, I still always have disposable diapers and use them at night. I buy in bulk from Costco, which may not be the cheapest place to find diapers, but for how little we use them, it's okay. We also use disposables if we are going to be in the car a long time, on vacation, or if we're feeling sick or something. I also buy regular wipes although I've heard they can be made (that might be something worth looking into with this new baby). So our cost for diapering the kids isn't $0, but it's way less than always using disposables.

We also used cloth training pants for potty training with Caley and intend to do this with Amelia soon too. I bought some on Ebay. Caley trained by her 3rd birthday, which is pretty average, although in general cloth diapered kids potty train earlier than disposable diapered kids.

So there's more than you ever wanted to know about the Gerlach diaper routine! If you're considering cloth diapers, there are many more resources online than the ones I listed, so do your research and find what works for you and your kiddos. Happy Diapering!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Home Improvement 2009

It feels like since we moved here 3 years ago, we've constantly been doing projects. This year we are working on the side yard and backyard. Most recently we dug out a bunch of bushes and vines on our side yard by the driveway. We had to dig a few inches deep which was very rocky. Then we planted about 20 hydrangeas (which we found on Craigslist, what a deal!) and covered it with topsoil. They won't bloom this year, but hopefully next summer we'll have pretty purple and blue or pink hydrangeas.

It was a big project, but not half as much work as our next project...the deck. Stay tuned.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day

I am so thankful to have married Bill and have children with him. He is a wonderful father. My prayer is that by having Bill as their father, our girls will be able to understand how much our heavenly Father loves them too. I am so thankful to have married a man who understands this. And he's SILLY!!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Grandpa Floyd

**I wrote this yesterday, June 18th. Grandpa Floyd left this world to be with Jesus this morning. He was 89. He had just been moved into the hospice care of a Woodland assisted living center to be observed to determine his needed level of care. He will be greatly missed and I pray that through his passing, many would come to know Jesus.**

My Grandpa Floyd is turning 90 in a few weeks. 90!! I have been thinking about him a lot and wanted to write about him.

Floyd Wilbur Bales was born July 7th, 1919, I believe in Wyoming. He is my dad's father. In 1919 cars were rare and seatbelts were even more so. When he was less than a year old, he was riding in a car on his mom's lap when they got in an accident and was thrown from the car. He survived (obviously, otherwise I wouldn't be here), sustaining a head injury that left him with cerebral palsy. Because of his disability, he did not fight during World War II as other young men in his generation did. He married Lucy, my dad's mother, in Wyoming and was a mail carrier as a career. He had three children with Lucy: Danny, Suzanne, and my dad Philip. My dad is 10 and 8 years younger than his older siblings and "the baby." When my dad was maybe 10, his parents divorced and Floyd moved with my dad to Washington. In Washington Floyd married a widow with at least 7 children (I can't remember how many exactly), Harriet. My dad was still the youngest, but now to a much larger family. Floyd and Harriet had a son together, Chris.

One thing I remember about Grandpa Floyd is his faith. Grandpa always went to church and always prayed before dinner. It's running joke in our family that Grandpa prays for a very long time, which he does, but as I've grown older I've really come to appreciate his prayers because they are extremely honoring to Jesus. Grandpa also raised geese for eggs. I remember visiting him in his house in Woodland, WA and they had a big backyard with a big tire to climb on, a fort, and some geese running around. He also had "Pong" on the TV and my brother and I loved to play it. Grandma Harriet always made the best oatmeal for breakfast. She'd add a little butter to it in the bowl and it was the best. I like butter in my oatmeal now, mostly because it reminds me of Grandma and Grandpa's house.

When he turned 75 my parents threw him a surprise birthday party at Old Country Buffet in Longview. I remember making signs for him that said, "Man alive, he's 75!" and my aunt and uncle, Suzanne and Danny, came out from Wyoming. Grandpa also loved to take driving vacations, often cross-country back to Wyoming or Illinois to visit his sister.

Grandma and Grandpa were active in their church and even did a long-term mission to the southwest to work at a Christian American Indian school. He often had American Indian artwork and trinkets in their home. I think he really loved working at that school. Even after Grandpa retired, he continued to work a few hours a week. Sometimes he would volunteer at a hospital or at the library. I remember he took an intro computer class even.

Grandpa was very involved in our lives when David and I were growing up. He would come to soccer games and football games. I specifically remember when he and my Grandpa Bob came down for one of David's football games. He wore one of David's jersies and did a cheer with the other fathers and grandfathers after the game. When I graduated from high school he gave me a copy of "The Pilgrim's Progress." I had never read it, until recently I started it. I'm sad I didn't pick it up sooner. It's a classic and chock full of theology. I wish I could discuss it with him.

Two years ago, Grandpa was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma and chose not to receive treatment. The last several years have been very difficult for him as he has tried to control the growths the cancer has caused. My parents have spent a lot of time helping him. Grandpa has also gradually lost his hearing.

I am very thankful that he has joined us for family dinners over the past few years. He came to visit for Thanksgiving about 2 years ago, then again for the following Easter. He also came for Caley's 3rd birthday party. Last Thanksgiving was celebrated at my parent's house in Astoria and Grandma and Grandpa came too. I won't very soon forget that meal.

Grandpa Floyd is nearing the end of his life, a hard life, a full life, and I don't doubt that when he sees Jesus he will certainly hear, "Well done, good and faithful servant" (Matthew 25:21).

Monday, June 15, 2009

Clams and Kites

Caley and Amelia are in Astoria for a few days. My mom sent us some pictures and it looks like they're having a great time! They've gone clamming, kite flying, carousel, swimming, and just hanging out with Grama and Papa. But also giving my parents a run for their money, especially around bedtime. Two girls in the same room for night-night = lots of giggles! Here are some pictures of their time away. Thanks Mom and Dad!!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Running and Gardening

Today was a wonderful day. My mom was here and instead of taking just Caley back to Astoria for a few days, she took Amelia too at Caley's request. I know by Monday I'll probably cry because I miss them, but I very much enjoyed the afternoon off today. It was so peaceful. I think it's healthy to have time away from the kids, but I'm glad I get to spend almost every day with them.

This afternoon I went running at Edmonds beach. It was beautiful weather and the salty smell of the water perfectly complimented the scenery of the beach and ferry. I love running. It's so uplifting. When I'm running I feel free, strong, healthy, and I can get lost in my thoughts behind the cool music. Today I listened to "Lifter" from Podrunner. It's my favorite track. About 45 minutes in there is the best music and I always get a big smile on my face while running to that part. I can't even describe it.

After running I got some new plants for the garden, zucchini, yellow squash, tomatoes, lettuce, and kale (seeds). I made a few more stops before home, and even then it was only 2:30. Usually if I need to stop somewhere it takes like 4 hours with getting the kids in and out of the car over and over.

I got home and planted the new plants. Here's what my garden looks like now. We have had a steady stream of spinach, red and green lettuce, and radishes the last few weeks. I'm very much looking forward to the sugar peas and tomatoes now. When the radishes are done, I hope to plant some more late summer crops.

Thank you Jesus for helpful parents who give us a break now and then. Thank you for your provision. Thank you for blessing us with the gift of children.

I'll leave you with a little surprise...a new widget to your right! :)