Monday, March 18, 2013

cloth diapering: accessories

there are a few other cloth diapering goods that we use on a regular basis, that help make CD'ing much easier.

wipes - some people use disposable wipes while they cloth diaper.  to me, it just makes sense to use cloth wipes for the same reasons we use cloth diapers: to save money, make less trash, etc.  plus, its natural to just throw the wipe into the diaper after you are done and throw all of that into the diaper pail.

you can purchase cloth wipes, but i find them to be way over priced.  we have made all of our wipes.  most people have lots of extra receiving blankets laying around.  these cut up nicely for use as wipes (four to six inch squares work well).  you don't even need to hem the edges.  if you don't have extra receiving blankets, you can do the same thing with flannel bought from the fabric store.

to make a wipes solution, i take an old plastic wipes container, put about a tablespoon of dr bronner's in the bottom, add a few drops of tea tree essential oil, and fill about a third of the way with water.  then stuff as many cloth wipes in as you can fit.  this amount of wipes will last us about a week (for two in diapers).

its hard to say how many wipes we have.  really, we have too many.  i would guess somewhere in the range of 60-100, which is enough to fill two wipes containers completely full, although we usually only keep one full at a time.

snappies - we use snappies to fasten our prefold diapers.  snappies are similar to ace bandage clips: they have small "teeth" that dig into the fabric to hold it together.  you can kinda get away with not fastening prefolds (if you don't fasten them the diaper cover holds them in place a bit, but they might shift around on very mobile babies.) but snappies are inexpensive and worth the cost.  we have three snappies for two babies (although about half our diaper stash are fitted that don't require snappies) which seems to be enough.

covers - we have tried 5 different brands of covers, but the only one i will mention is thirsties, because it is by far our favorite and a pretty good price.  we own thristies snap and velcro covers, and the snap covers are much better (they hold more securely, plus you don't have to worry about the velcro wearing down.)  we have about 8 or 9 small covers and 5 or 6 small covers.  you will want more small covers than larger ones, as infants have messier (and more frequent) diapers than older babies.  in fact, for newborns, 8 or 9 almost isn't even enough (depending on how often you do the laundry).

diaper pail/liner -  our diaper pail is just a normal trash can that i bought from target (the kind that you opens when you step on the pedal).  i bought the cheapest one there and now i wish i had gotten a nicer one because the pedal no longer works (though this is probably a combination of kiddos playing with it when i'm not looking and shoddy manufacturing)

our diaper pail liners are "planet wise" brand.  for about a year we only had one liner but now we have two, which is helpful because there is always a clean one to put in right after you put a load in the wash.  the material is water resistant, which helps keep the moisture in the bag.

Friday, March 15, 2013

cloth diapering: our routine

we love cloth diapering.  but i remember before we started, it all sounded a bit confusing.  so, how exactly does it work?

here is a bit about our routine, to give you an idea of how cloth diapering can fit into your life.

our routine

we use a "dry pail" method, which means the diapers don't soak in water as they wait to be washed (although they are pretty wet with urine, so "dry pail" is a bit of a misnomer).

right now we have enough diapers that i only have to do a load about once a week.  with our first two foster little ones, i had to wash the diapers about every 4 days, because we didn't have as many diapers then, and both kiddos wore the same size.

when i wash the diapers, i start with a soak (usually for several hours or overnight).  then i run them on an extra heavy load, and follow with one extra rinse.  line drying is best for diapers as it helps the fibers to stay strong, and the sun acts as a natural bleach and disinfectant.  diapers usually come out of the wash with some stains, but after a short time in the sun the stains are almost always all gone.  i also find that line drying them helps them to smell cleaner when they are done.

line drying is not an absolute requirement, though.  when we had our first four foster siblings, life was waaaay to busy to line dry diapers twice a week, so i usually put them in the dryer.  however, i do think this has caused those diapers to start breaking down faster, unfortunately.

what does your cloth diaper routine look like?

Thursday, March 14, 2013

february in our home (and The Thing that happened)

february was a month filled with family visits, more waiting (because of The Thing), and cheese making.

february was a great month of visits from family we love.  besides my mom, until this february we hadn't seen any of our family in over a year (since christmas 2011). at the beginning of the month my cousin came to visit.  can i just say it had to have been more of a vacation for us than for her?  jesus has given her such a servant heart.  she served every minute that she was here: changing diapers, cleaning dishes, rocking fussy babies (without me even having to ask her to do any of these things).  while she was here it rained and both babies were sick, so we didn't even do that many fun things, but she never complained.  her visit was a real refreshment.

a few weeks later alex's step-dad and little brother came to visit, as they were in town for some college visits.  we just got to see them for a day, but it was so much fun.  esther loved seeing her grandpa and uncle.  we all ate delicious indian food while Marvin Sr. (alex's step-dad) spoke to the waiter in Hindi (or some other indian language!).  it was great, another refreshing family visit.

esther smiles for grandpa!
february was a month of waiting for things to progress with baby girl's case.  the first week of the month was a court date where reunification was supposed to happen.  until early january our hearts were prepared for this to happen, and we were even looking forward to the placement of our next child.   but then The Thing happened (i will just call it The Thing because i can't publicly post details about baby girl's life situation), and that all changed.  anyways because of The Thing, the ruling didn't end in reunification, but that is still the goal, just not yet.  next court date will be in august, and we are hoping that maybe it will happen then.

its not just us who feel like this case is dragging.  our social worker is pretty upset about it too.  she has been doing all she can, but things are still going at a snails pace.  she has expressed frustration because she sees so many cases where things shouldn't progress, but are, and situations like ours where things should progress but aren't.

fortunately for us, we know that God is in control of this, which makes it less frustrating.  but its good to know that we aren't the only ones noticing how this case isn't being handled well (but then, what's new in the foster care system?).  the main thing that makes me sad is to know that the more time baby girl spend with us, the more that WE are her parents (in her mind).  and then in a few months she will be ripped away.  at least for us we can anticipate it, but for her it will be confusing.  *sigh*  ...the difficulties of the foster care system...

our roommate will be moving out this week, which will be another change in our home.  this has lead to some deep thought and prayer about our next step with fostering.  now that we have an open bedroom in our house, so we could get another foster child.  but is this the right time?  part of me says a big YES- our heart's desire is to adopt and we have been waiting so long.  we don't want to put it off, and if we have the opportunity to take another child, we should.  plus, in a couple months baby girl will start overnight visits with her mom, and probably weekend long visits thereafter, so she will be spending less time with us.  but part of me says no.  most days are pretty draining for me and too many nights are interrupted to calm down baby girl's crying.  even if we could possibly have another child right now, should we?  we are praying for answers to these questions.  with God's strength and grace we can do anything and we want to take big steps of faith, but we also want to act in wisdom.

'Let's Make Cheese' photo (c) 2008, RBerteig - license:
the pills contain the enzymes needed to turn the milk into curd for mozzarella

i was a bit slacker on ordering the cheese making kit for my february goal, and since i always opt for super-duper slow shipping, it didn't come til february 27th.  but i did manage to make my first batch of mozzarella by the first few days of march.  it came out to be very soft, much like the mozzarella that is usually served on a caprese salad.  we ate a few pinches while it was cooling down, and then ate the rest on pizza a few days later.  i plan to make another batch in the next couple days.  i am hoping to read a bit more about cheese making, but i was bummed to find that our local library doesn't have any books on the subject.  i'm sure if i poke around a little more on the internet i could find some more resources.  i was encouraged to read this a few days ago: 7 reasons to make your own cheese.

this goal is probably going to go a bit slowly, as cheese making isn't exactly cheap, but it is making me look forward to the future when we hope to own goats and can make all the cheese we want at a low cost.  yum!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

a home as a ministry

if you follow our facebook page you may have already seen the link to this article.  but it was just too good not to also share on the blog.  here is an excerpt:

Homemaking is a vocation often filled with mundane tasks and repetitive chores, most of which are performed in obscurity. It demands a colossal amount of serving and sacrifice. Sometimes between scrubbing toilets and laundering dirty clothes, we can lose sight of the significance of our calling. We look around and perceive everyone engaged in meaningful work. Everyone, that is, except us. And our vision for working at home begins to flag. 
What we need is a biblical perspective. For in God’s economy, homemaking is a high and noble calling. By “working at home” we can present the gospel as attractive to unbelievers (Titus 2:4). Our homes can actually be a showcase for the gospel...
As we realize the exceptional fruit that working at home can bear, we will be inspired to fashion an abode that rivals Peter Marshall’s description of a home he once visited: “There was…an atmosphere in which it was impossible to keep from thinking of God.”
Regardless of their size and style or our financial status, our homes can exude warmth and provide refreshment for all who walk through their doors. They should be pleasant havens for our husbands and children, sanctuaries where we offer care and hospitality to other Christians, and gateways from which we extend the gospel to family, friends, and neighbors.
 read more here...

Monday, March 11, 2013

cloth diapering: brands we have tried

to continue on our theme of cloth diapers, i want to share a review of the brands we have tried.

esther hope, modeling a gerber prefold
our fitted diapers

we own 3 brands of fitted diapers: kissaluvs, little beetle and thirsties.

we only own one of the thirsties diapers.  it fits really well, which i like and it is the right thickness/absorbancy.  the downside is that it has aplix closure, which i usually try to avoid.  the aplix is starting to wear down after about a year's worth of use.  i'm not sure if they offer a version of this diaper with snaps.

the majority of our diapers are little beetle size two fitted diapers (this is what we exclusively used with our first two foster kiddos).  i already reviewed these diapers here, but i'll add a few things.  a few months ago, these diapers started breaking down and now a few have so many holes that they are unusable.  i don't think this is something wrong with the brand, it just happened because we have been using them for about 2 years, and 2-3 years is the normal life span for cloth diapers (it doesn't help that i used to machine dry them for the first year of their use).  so, this has been a bummer to lose some diapers, but again, its not because of poor quality on the part of the diaper.  we no longer use the wool covers they came with, and have had much more success with normal plastic covers.  though we have been overall pleased with these diapers, i probably wouldn't buy them again, merely because of the price.  however, the style is exactly what we like, so i would probably go for a cheaper diaper with a similar style.

we also own five kissaluvs size 0 diapers.  i like, but don't love these diapers.  they are thin, so you will need to use an extra layer of material in them (i use the extra liners from our little beetle diapers).  they fit a bit oddly, but this has never been a huge problem because the cover always keeps it snug.  they are pretty versatile: even though they are size 0, we have found them to work from the smallest newborns all the way up to 16 or so pounds.

our pre-fold diapers

we also own 3 brands of prefolds: gerber, econobum and sweet bottom baby boutique indian prefolds.

these are all pretty similar, except for different size/thickness.  econobums are supposed to work for all ages and sizes.  in reality, you probably can't use them until baby is at least 9lb, otherwise they are pretty bulky.  they are nice and thick, and we often use them overnight.

the geber diapers are super thin.  i think in reality people buy these more for use as burp cloths, but we have been given two or three packages of them and i mostly use them for diapers.  they work well as a liner for extra absorbancy in an overnight diaper.  if i use them by themselves, i usually double up since they are so thin.  the upside is that they dry super quickly, which means they are the first ones that get used after i do a load of diapers. i wouldn't ever buy these, but i have made use out of them since we have received them as gifts.

the indian prefolds are great.  they are the right thickness: right in between the thicknesses of econobum and gerber.  i would definitely buy these diapers again.

what brands of cloth diapers have you tried?

Friday, March 8, 2013

cloth diapering: types of cloth diapers

as a follow up to my post "cloth diapering: the good, the bad, and the ugly" i wanted to share a bit more about the specifics of cloth diapering.

esther hope, at 28 days in a pre-fold diaper (without a cover)

types of cloth diapers

the four main types of cloth diapers are all-in-ones, pocket diapers, fitted diapers and prefolds.  we use fitted diapers and prefolds.

let me define these terms for you, as they probably sound confusing.

all-in-one diapers are the most similar to disposable diapers.  everything is together in one piece: the cover and the absorbent layer, along with snaps or velcro/aplix.  the upside to this is that it makes it easier and quicker when changing a diaper, and babysitters and other caretakers are usually less intimidated by these kinds of diapers, since they are so familiar with what they are used to.  the downside is that they are more expensive, take longer to dry (because they are so thick) and the cover breaks down faster since it has to be washed every time (other covers can be used for a full day or so before being washed.

pocket diapers are similar to all-in-ones, but come in two parts: a liner with a pocket, and absorbent material that goes in the pocket.  more recently there is also a type of diaper called an "all in two"(AI2) which is similar to a pocket diaper, but instead of the absorbent layer going inside in a pocket, it snaps into the liner.  the upside of pocket diapers/AI2's is that they are (like all in ones) easier for babysitters and such to figure out, and make diaper changes go quicker.  also, since the absorbant layer is separate from the cover, they dry quicker.  the downside is that you have to wash the cover every time (although with AI2's you could use the same cover a couple times, if you snap a new liner in) and you have to stuff/snap the diapers together when you get them out of the wash (or right before the diaper change) which adds another step in the process.

most of our diapers are fitted.  with fitted diapers, the absorbent layer is snapped/velcroed directly onto the baby.  it doesn't have a waterproof cover attached, so you have to put on the cover separately.  the up side to these diapers is that you can usually re-use a cover for a day or two before it needs to be washed.  also, fitted diaper systems tend to be a bit less expensive, especially since you can get away with owning just 3-5 or so covers.  these kinds of diapers dry quicker than all-in-ones.  the downside is that it takes a bit longer to change the baby, since you have to put on two layers, and this can be confusing to other caretakers (i have had so many people change our kiddo's diapers who don't realize that the diaper needs a cover, and then a few hours later i discover this when their clothes are soaked).  also, you have to be careful that the diaper is fully tucked under the cover, otherwise the part sticking out will leak and get baby's clothes wet.

the last type of cloth diaper are prefolds.  these are the traditional type of diaper that people think of when they think of cloth diapers.  the absorbent layer is a flat cloth that is folded and then pinned or clipped together around the baby (in the above picture, esther is wearing a pre-fold diaper without a cover.  like fitted diapers, these go directly onto the baby and then must be covered with a waterproof cover.  most of the upsides and down sides are similar to those of fitteds but i will add a few more: prefold diapers are by far the quickest to dry, since they are flat.  also, they last longer because there is no fancy stitching to break them down.  a BIG upside is that they are by far the cheapest of all cloth diapering options.  a big downside, however, is that these are probably the most confusing type of diaper for caretakers to figure out, since you have to fold and clip/pin them.  they also take the most time for diaper changes because of this same reason (you get the hang of it pretty quickly, but it still takes a few seconds longer than a fitted diaper).

what type of cloth diapers do you use?

[view the next post in this series here]

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

real life stories: fostering and adoption {the medinas}

today we are pleased to bring you an adoption story all the way from tanzania, africa!  

Tell us about your family (how long you have been married, where you live, ages of your children, etc)

Gil and I have been married for 12 years.  We are from California, but for 10 of those years, we have served in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania as missionary teachers.  We have adopted three Tanzanian children:  Grace, who is 7, Josiah, who is 5, and Lily who is 4.  Grace and Josiah were babies when we brought them home, and Lily was 2 ½.

What got you interested in adoption? Why did you decide to do it?

We were interested in adoption since before we were married.  Both of us have always loved the idea of giving a child a home who needs one.  We love how adoption is a picture of God’s love for us.  We did plan on having biological children as well, but that has never happened, and we are both totally okay with that. 

Has anything surprised you about the process?

I read all the books and had braced myself for the worst, but really, it has just been wonderful.  The process to bring our children home was always long and hard and heart-wrenching, but after that, it’s been great.  We haven’t seen many “adoption issues” in our kids.  We’ve heard very, very few stupid remarks from others.  Everyone has embraced our family and our children (perhaps sometimes they get a little TOO much attention for who they are!).  I know our kids are still young and there is a lot in front of us, but so far, it’s been wonderful.  The hardest part is dealing with my girls’ hair!

How have you/your family/your spouse grown in this process?

It’s hard to answer this question because it’s all we’ve ever known.  We haven’t had biological children so I don’t have anything to compare it too.  Raising kids is hard—no matter where they come from—and that is always growing and stretching.  But I don’t think it’s really that much different than what a biological family goes through. 

What difficulties or frustrations have you faced in the process? What motivates you to keep going on in spite of this?

Bringing our kids home was definitely hard and frustrating and long.  I shed many tears.  It required a great deal of perseverance and a great number of hours.  But it’s always, always worth it in the end.  And seeing our children thrive, and thinking about what their lives could have been like—that’s the greatest blessing of all. 

Do you have a relationship with the birth parents? What does that look like?

No.  All of our children have no known relatives. 

What advice would you give to other couples considering adoption? (What questions should they ask? How should they seek out support? etc)

Don’t be afraid.  You will bond with those kids.  Transracial issues aren’t nearly as huge as they need to be.  Adoption is straight from God’s heart, and so if He is calling you to do it, then He will give you what you need to make it happen.