Returning to the Garden

Gosh, it’s been such a long time!  About a year ago, I decided to vacate this space for a new home that just never found its legs, and thinking I’d settle in there (without finding an authentic voice), I kept putting off a return to this blog… until I feel like I just can’t anymore.  I miss writing and having an avenue for our chicken and gardening and family expansion that is coming so very soon.  Two weeks ago, we put in an order for another thirty chickens, hoping to find something we prefer to the Buff Orpingtons for meat.  We’ve ordered a mixture of Bard and Partridge Rocks from Murray McMurray and are eagerly awaiting expanding our flock.  We’ve also put in a seed order for this year’s garden, limiting it to our primary stock vegetables (those we can freeze or can and grow organically): peas, beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, squash, carrots and garlic (already in the ground and hopefully poking through the snow soon!).

But there’s bigger news.  Baby M will be arriving any day now, joining his older sister who has eagerly awaited his arrival for the past few months.  And in anticipation of Baby M and my almost five months at home with the kiddos, we’ve reinvested in a lot of the sustainable baby practices we did for A: preparing to breastfeed, restocking some of the cloth diaper supplies we needed, ensuring we’re ready for all that laundry, and purchasing a new baby carrier.  With A, I used a Moby (sparingly) and Jason got a lot of use out of our Ergo when she was bigger, but I really struggled with the Moby and I’m super-excited to get started with our new Sakura Bloom ring sling in Peacock, which came in the mail two weeks ago.

We’re counting down the days to spring and all of the new arrivals on our increasingly growing homestead, and I hope you’ll join us again for the adventure.

So happy to be back!

J

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Five for Friday

It’s been one of those weeks… I stripped our cloth diapers not once but twice; had to spend a whole day at work (blah – it’s summer!); because I went to work and A went to daycare, she was up five times on Wednesday night because she didn’t want the bottle and reverse cycled.  But A is down for a late afternoon nap and the weekend is almost here.  Here are five things I loved about today!

  1. The Weather: It’s a beautiful seventy-six degrees with a sharp breeze.  A & I spent the morning running errands and going on a coffee date with friends and then came home for a long nap.  After the nap, we went for a beautiful outdoor walk.  Hooray for a lovely, humidity free day and a super-happy, well rested baby!

    The well-rested baby in full-on crawler mode!

    The well-rested baby in full-on crawler mode!  She also stood up in her crib yesterday.  Slow down, A!

  2. My friend Lacey just had a little girl two weeks ago, so A manned her highchair, while I baked a batch of Joy the Baker’s Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies.  You’ve got to love a good excuse to bake!

    Best. Cookies. Ever.

  3. I mentioned this above in my mini rant, but after boiling and stripping with RLR the cloth diapers once again smell good as new.  As easy as the disposables were over vacation, I’m glad to have A back in her earth friendly option!  They also give her a little more padding now that she’s starting to pull up on things.
  4. The chicks are almost ready to head outside!  I know the blog has been really chicken light these days, but our little ones are just about ready to head to the hoop house – and isn’t this Mystery Chick cute?

    These are our little ones from Murray McMurray this year... including the "mystery" rooster who has a nice pair of bell bottoms!

    These are our little ones from Murray McMurray this year… including the “mystery” rooster who has a nice pair of bell bottoms!  Can you spot him?

  5. Pizza on the grill!  I just made the crust (bread flour, beer, yeast and salt) and I’m looking forward to a nice evening meal with Jason when he gets home.

    Gratuitous Rooster in Repose Shot... What chickens do on a warm, breezy day...

    Gratuitous Rooster in Repose Shot… What chickens do on a warm, breezy day…

And a final, just to be thankful thought, I made it all the way through the first week of T25 and feel great!  Looking forward to writing Monday’s post already.

We also have a garden... which Jason pretty much takes care of.  Even I'm shocked by how much we planted and how well it is doing given the fact that I spend my days chasing A instead of weeding.

We also have a garden… which Jason pretty much takes care of. Even I’m shocked by how much we planted and how well it is doing given the fact that I spend my days chasing A instead of weeding.

Have a great weekend!

The Honest Co. Diaper Review

All along, or at least since day four, we’ve been a cloth diaper family: Thirsties covers with Cloth-eze prefolds and, for nights, GMD workhorses.  We have a solid wash routine, and they work great!  However, when we were recently traveling to Vermont, my mom asked that we bring disposables.  She has a front load washer that doesn’t work great, and, honestly, I didn’t want to deal with the hassle of traveling with cloth.  It works great for home, daycare and errands, but sometimes you just want a vacation from all the laundry.

I ordered a bundle from Honest Co. using a great coupon, and scoring a month’s worth of diapers at 40% off (about $60 total).  I found that canceling the bundle (since we really don’t need a monthly diaper delivery) was easy as can be after the twenty-six minute wait on hold.  So what did we order?  A month’s supply of size three, which A had just started wearing in six different patterns; this came with four packets of wipes, and I also ordered the Honest Co. bug spray to try.

Photo Credit: Honest Company

So how did the diapers work out?  We were so impressed!  Most importantly, they caused no rash, and A seemed very comfortable in them.  The biggest problem we had is that she’s a heavy wetter overnight (she usually nurses once or twice but doesn’t want a change) and she woke up a little damp 2/14 times, but that’s looking at nearly 12 hours in a diaper.  We’ve never had leak problems with our workhorses, but they are always VERY wet first thing in the morning.

In terms of blowouts… well, there were blowouts.  A usually only poops once or twice a week (which falls into the realm of normal for breastfed babies), and every time it escaped to some degree, but I attribute most of that to quantity, and though her Thirsties have almost always contained her poop, they are a huge, contained mess.  I must admit, tossing rather than using the diaper sprayer was a nice little treat, though our Potty Pail is officially back in action.

We found the wipes to  be thick enough to handle her messes and very sensitive on our skin.

So in short: we liked the Honest Co. diapers.  They didn’t smell like plastic, didn’t cause any rash problems, and neither A nor I had any kind of allergic reaction to them.  The velcro-like tabs worked great and were easy to reapply during the first days when Jason and I were still getting used to velcro instead of snaps.  The prints are cute, and the service (though we spent a long time on the phone on hold) was great.

After a fourteen day vacation and a few days in them at home during a cloth diaper strip, we still have 2.5 bags of diapers left.  Given that she’s on the small end of size three, we are hoping they’ll get us through the remainder of our summer, and we’ll likely purchase size four for our trip home at Christmas.

Note: We purchased our diapers.  This was not a solicited review.  We are in no way affiliated with Honest Co., but we really liked their product and think it provides a great alternative for cloth diapering, earth conscious parents when cloth isn’t as convenient.

Cloth Diapering Essentials

We have been cloth diapering since three days after we brought A home from the hospital, and so far it has been everything we hoped it would be.  She has had few, if any, rashes; we’re not contributing excess trash to the landfill; and – above all – we’re saving money.  Here’s a quick list of our essential products to precede a post on how we’ve set up her cloth diapering station in her bedroom and another post on cloth diapering and daycare (yes, our provider uses prefolds and seems to like them!).
Cloth Diapering Essentials

Cloth-eez Prefold Diapers from Green Mountain Diaper

These are the cadillac of prefold diapers, made from 100% cotton twill.  Although I always thought we’d move to BumGenius or another one size pocket option as A got older, we are so happy with prefolds, that we just ordered a bale of medium for the next several months of diapering.

Cloth-eez Workhorse Diapers from Green Mountain Diaper

These are similar to the prefolds, above, but instead of folding them, you just fasten them around baby and secure with a snappi (they are fitted and you order them by size).  They are our go-to diaper for car rides, naps, and bedtime because they do such a good job of containing moisture and keeping it further away from our precious girl.  We also ordered eight more of these for the next few months.

Peri Bottles

I got this idea from another cloth diapering mom.  We really didn’t want to use chemical-laden wipes on A, particularly given their propensity for containing aloe (which I’m allergic to).  Instead, we fill a peri bottle up with water and use it to wet the homemade cotton flannel wipes that I made myself.  So far this system has worked great!  And the bottle makes bringing water with us on the go even easier!

Kanga Care Wet Bag

We ordered a few different kinds of wet bags, but by far, this type is our favorite.  They are small enough for her daycare bag, but large enough to contain a day’s worth of diapers.  We usually air dry them, but they can also go in our dryer on low heat if we’re running late and need one (they dry in about ten minutes).  Hands down, this is our favorite wet bag!

31 Gifts Utility Tote – Our Daycare Diaper Bag

I received this gem for Christmas from Jason’s cousin, and it has been a great daycare cloth diapering bag.  Every morning, I am able to stack eight lined prefolds into the bottom with a pile of cloth wipes, a wet bag, and a few extra Thirsties covers, and A is good for the day.  The outer pockets easily hold her peri bottle of water, change of clothes, mason jar full of (so far unused) pacifiers, and the variety of other things she needs.  I snap a small cooler of frozen milk right onto the handles and we’re good to go!

Thirsties Duo Wrap Snap

These are the only brand of wraps we’ve used since retiring some (great) bummis that we were loaned by friends during A’s newborn days.  They fit her as soon as she was about ten days old and size one is still going strong at almost four months.  We might need to size up to size two sooner than later, but the quality is excellent!

BabyLegs Newborn Leg Warmers Organic Over the Rainbow

A has a huge wardrobe thanks to generous family members and a mom who loves a good sale, but these are her dad’s go to choice for bottom wear.  While I love a good pair of jeggings on her (I NEVER thought I would have said that pre-baby), he loves the ease of BabyLegs.  She grew out of the newborn size within a few weeks, but the one-size-fits-all model look like they’ll last us a good long time.  Super cute and so easy!

Amazon.com: JJ Cole Caprice Diaper Bag, Silver Drop: Baby
Jason bought this bag for me as a pre-baby gift, and it has been a great cloth diapering diaper bag.  Although it is a bit ungainly (doesn’t stay on my arm with the smaller straps), I love the look, and it came with a great pair of hooks that attach to our stroller.  All and all, the size is excellent given the added bulk of the diapers, and I can’t complain too much given all of the organizational possibilities it provides.
Snappies are used to secure prefolds in either a specific fold or to hold the workhorse diapers together.  They work great and protect baby from the pokes and prods of a safety pin.

Amazon.com: Earth Mama Angel Baby Angel Baby Bottom Balm, 2-Ounce Jar:…
This product is excellent for diaper rash without containing the aloe that I am so allergic to.  We’ve had no rash that this ointment doesn’t immediately eradicate.  It’s also been great for mom’s minor cuts and scrapes and it smells fantastic!
Our Collection of Homemmade Cotton Flannel Wipes

Our Collection of Homemade Cotton Flannel Wipes

As I said before, we just ordered a bale of medium Green Mountain Prefolds (24 flats and 8 fitteds) and are slowly building a stash of Thirsties Duo snap covers.  But if you have any questions about cloth diapering, I’d be happy to answer them!  Do you cloth?  Are you thinking about trying it?  I’d love to hear from you!

Preparing for Baby

I always have the best intentions over April Break, when spring is warming the air and it seems like maybe, just maybe, I’ll have time to update the blog as regularly as I want to.  But then we start amping up for AP exams and finals week, and before I know it, it’s mid-June.  Add a pregnancy (albeit a pretty comfortable one at this point), and things go a little haywire.

One of the first real decisions we made (and perhaps one of the most controversial among family members) has been to cloth diaper.  We are going in this direction for a variety of reasons, not the least of which being our desire to keep thousands of diapers out of the local landfill, while also saving money and trying to avoid skin irritation, given my history with eczema.

Our tentative plan right now is to start with prefolds (large squares of absorbent cotton that you fold around baby and attach with a Snappi)

Photo Credit: Green Mountain Diapers has great images and explanations of the various options. We purchased both our Snappis and Cloth-eeze Prefolds from them and were amazed by the quick shipping and great customer service!  In addition to that, they also sent along an awesome guide to cloth diapering and diaper preparation.

and covers for the first few months, while I’m on maternity leave, before transitioning to daycare, where we’re hoping to encourage our provider to use all-in-one pocket diapers.  For those unfamiliar with cloth diapering The Cloth Diaper Whisperer is a another great resource for more information.

But one of the easiest hurdles that I was able to explain to family, was my desire to make our own cloth wipes.  Because in my opinion, if you’re already doing a pile of baby laundry, why not just be able to toss your wipes into the washer with everything else and limit the garbage that the dog could potentially get into?

I was fortunate that given the baby boom at my school in the last year (we’ve had more 5+ baby showers) and my tendency to make quilts as gifts, I had more than enough cotton flannel (which I use to back baby quilts) left over to work with.  Most sites recommend 100% cotton flannel because it’s easy to work with, soft, and grows more absorbent with regular use.

One of many baby blankets made for the "baby boom" at work.

One of many baby blankets made for the “baby boom” at work.

Flannel Backing

Flannel Backing

I began making cloth wipes by cutting out squares of flannel that were 8” x 8”.  Since Green Mountain Diaper suggested that a baby typically needs about 50 cloth wipes, I cut 100 squares from four different fabrics that I had in my scrap bin (roughly three or four yards of fabric).

I decided to double stitch mine for a stronger, more long-lasting wipe.  As such, I laid the fabric right sides together.Right Sides Together

Using a basic straight stitch, I seamed along each edge at 1/4”Stitching

Being careful to leave a two inch opening, so I could turn the fabric right-sides out before sewing the final seam.

Note

Turning each wipe right-sides out made them look a bit puffy, which worried me, at first.Fold OVer

However, after zig-zagging at 1/4” around the entire outside edge of the wipe (carefully tucking under the edges where the wipe had been flipped right-sides out, so they would be seamed in with the rest of the edges, I was quite pleased with the result.Zig Zag

I ended up with fifty wipes of various design.Finished Product

I should note that this project took about eight hours, spread over two days.  On day one, I focused on cutting and sewing the initial seams, and on day two, I turned the wipes right-sides out and sewed the final seams.  While I probably could have started with only twenty-five, my sewing machine is the one my mom got for her bridal shower in the early eighties (a Singer Dial-and-Sew), and it’s a little loud, so I’m not sure how little one will sleep, if I’m also trying to sew during nap time.  Overall, the results were more than I  was initially hoping for, and I can’t wait to have our little one here to try them out!

Returning to Blogging after a Long Hiatus

After a long hiatus, I’m happy to say that I think I’m finally back…

School has been incredibly busy this year, and given our other news…

DSC_0251

Abby will be a big sister in October!

…things have been much busier around here than they usually are in spring, and if you’ve read about past springs, things are typically pretty busy, anyway.

In the next few weeks, I look forward to catching you up on where we are in the garden (tomato and pepper seedlings were planted indoors two weeks ago), in the coop (currently selecting eggs for the 2013 hatch), and in the nursery (cloth diapering, anyone?).  So thank you for sticking around, if you have been periodically checking back in; and if you’re new, welcome!  We look forward to sharing our summer (and baby!) adventures with you over the next few months.