Monday, March 30, 2009

Katy No Pocket

We rowed Katy No Pocket last week and had a ball! I bought this title a month or two ago and we've been reading it non-stop, so it was about time we spent an entire week devoted to this classic. This was the first Before Five in a Row book we "rowed" officially and it was a great way to start!

A few weeks ago we made animal classification cards from the many animals that appear in the book and last week we worked on sorting them. M. picked up the idea pretty quickly, though, he got tired of the many "fur" animals and wanted to sort by color. We'll have to do that next!

We made an apron just like Katy's. The day I made it he wore it on our walk (and the penguin came too!) and it's been a frequent accessory since!

Some of the many books we borrowed from the library to accompany Katy. Our favorites are Wombat Goes Walkabout and Little New Kangaroo.

Our week finished with the arrival of Katy and Freddy! (Really father and young kangaroo from our Noah's Ark.)

This week we're rowing Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear? I'll be posting on our activities Friday or over the weekend!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Cost of Cloth Diapering

Anwen asked,

I am interested in old-fashioned diapers for the sake of the environment, it cheaper?

The answer is almost always, "Yes!" Cloth diapering can be as simple or as complex, as inexpensive or as expensive as you like!

Prefolds and simple PUL covers like Bummis or Thirsties are the most inexpensive option. Depending on size, a dozen prefolds costs between $21 for newborn to $36 for toddler (you'd need 2-4 dozen depending on how often you wash and baby's age). Simple PUL covers are $11-$13 each and you'd need 4-6.

That would probably break down something like this using Green Mountain prefold prices and estimating $12/cover:

3 dozen prefolds- $63
6 covers- $72

3 dozen prefolds- $81
4 covers- $48

Older Infant/Toddler
3 dozen prefolds- $96
4 covers- $48

Total $408.

Now let's say you buy some wipes rather than make some ($55.80), wipe solution ($14.95), a diaper pail liner for home ($18) and a small wet bag ($12.95) for your diaper bag.

That makes your total $509.70.

Another popular option are all-in-one, one-size diapers like BumGenius. These are another fairly inexpensive option over the course of a cloth diapering "life span," but are more expensive at the outset as they typically run $20+. A friend of mine has been using BumGenius one-size pockets on her daughter since about 6 weeks. She has 30 and spent approximately $538.50.

Add in the extras above and that makes $640.20.

I've never bought disposable diapers or wipes (well, I think one pack of sposies when M. was first born) so I can't say what the average cost is exactly, but today on Mothering someone said her friend spent $200/month on wipes and diapers. Now I have no idea how many children that mother has in diapers, how old they are or where she shops, but let's assume that's a fair estimate. Considering the average child wears diapers for 2-3 years that's somewhere in the neighborhood of $4800-7200. Yikes!

Of course, you may have to consider the extra money to wash and dry diapers. We have our own well and septic system now, but when our first baby was born we were on town water. We generally washed diapers three times a week and saw an increase of around $10 over a three-month period in our water bill, so that would have been $40/year or $120 over three years if we had a late potty learner. I do not remember if our electric changed at all. In those days I didn't line dry at all so the increase was probably minimal since we already had lots of dryer usage. Definitely not too significant when compared to the cost of disposables.

Now I have heard people who live in arid regions make the argument that increased water usage for cloth is not environmentally friendly but I'm still not sure how that would balance over plastic diapers in landfills. I'll confess that while we cloth diaper for cost reasons and because it's more earth-friendly, my primary motivation is because it's better for my babies!

For our first son, we spent roughly the amount in scenario two above. Two sets of Fuzzi Bunz at approximately $300 each, two dozen wipes, a diaper pail liner, a wet bag, and a diaper sprayer for the toilet (though ours was no where NEAR $45!). We had planned on that being IT, at least for baby number two but as I explained previously several things happened: 1) he didn't fit into the small FBs and 2) the mediums were utterly worn out from 18 months of nonstop use.

So...our second baby started out with three dozen prefolds and four covers as in scenario one. We also bought a pack of Snappis, a new bottle of wipe solution, and one more diaper pail liner. We are reusing our wipes, etc.

Once he grew out of those, however, the crazy diaper trials and the buying, selling, and swapping began! We've spent a LOT getting to where we are, but I've been able to sell most of what we didn't like (for almost full price) or gift it to friends/family...and then buy more to try!

I'd say our current stash (not including the accessories we already had on hand) cost about $650. Keep in my mind I use only natural fibers, some organic, and all our covers are wool. I'm expecting this to last us through potty training. So in new diapers for this baby we've spent around $800. This makes our total investment over three years around $1400. With slight increases in water and electrical usage let's say $1500. Not bad! It could be done for a LOT less, but also a lot more. Did you know there are custom-made fitted diapers out there that can run $50 EACH?? I want my babies' tushies to be comfy, clean, and away from nasty chemicals but that is stretching it a bit (in my opinion, of course)!

For anyone trying to sort through the world of cloth diapering, Diaper Pin is a great place to start. I always check out their product reviews before I buy anything!

Friday, March 27, 2009

How We Cloth Diaper Part Two- Caring for Wool

Caring for wool diaper wraps/covers is not nearly as difficult or scary as I once believed it to be!

Here's a quick rundown of my routine:

Spot wash any messes immediately with a wool wash bar. Don't use water that ice-cold or it will shock the wool. Not too hot either!

Wool only needs to be washed every 1-4 weeks (depending on who you asked) and lanolized even less. Here's my routine that includes lanolizing. If it wasn't needed, the process would be exactly the same, just without the lanolin (duh!).

Assemble your supplies. I use Eucalan wool wash, Lansinoh Lanolin (yes, the same thing nursing mamas use!), and liquid lanolin for in-between quick lanolizing.

Here's our brand-new Stacinator ready to go!

First, run the hot water in your sink to melt the lanolin. If you look closely, you can see about half an inch in there.

Once the lanolin has melted (no clumps!) add your wool wash and turn down the water! Water that is too hot will shrink your wool. It should be lukewarm.

Add the cover, face down in the sink and let it sit for 15-30 minutes.

Once the time is up, drain the water from the sink.

Gently squeeze out the water, but don't wring or twist the cover. Then roll it in a towel to press out as much water as possible.

Lay the cover flat to dry in a warm place, but not in the direct sun. It usually takes about 24 hours. Voila! Enjoy your wool!

In a pinch, I also soften the Lansinoh on my hands and gently work it into dry wool and do the same with the liquid. Read more about wool care here and here.

How We Cloth Diaper

Emma asked for a little "tour" of our cloth diapering "lifestyle." So here we go!

We started cloth diapering our first son when he was born with Fuzzi Bunz. They were very simple and they worked pretty well for us and he wore them until potty training last April.

For our second baby, I used prefolds and Bummis covers for the first few weeks then planned to switch to Fuzzi Bunz. Several things happened, however. 1) They didn't fit him quite right. 2) The polyester fleece didn't agree with his skin. 3) Our size mediums, which were worn day and night by M. for 18 months were DEAD. All of these things, but mostly number two, prompted me to decide when the baby was about a month old to switch things up. We tried lots of diapers! Prefolds (love!), BumGenius bamboo fitteds (like), Swaddlebees organic velour pockets and terry fitteds, Bamboozles, Sugar Peas two-size and snap in, and all sorts of covers: Bummis Super Whisper Wraps, Super Snaps, and Super Brites, Thirsties, Sugar Peas wool and fleece, Stacinator, Imse Vimse! A lot of trial and error and here's where we've landed!

One each of the current assortment, from left to right:

Not pictured are Little Beetle Hemp (trim) and Little Beetle One (trim). They were still on the way!

All of our diapers require covers. We use all-natural fibers for both diapers and covers, so we have all wool. The picture below shows wool drying after washing and lanolizing.

Not pictured are the Stacinator and Little Beetle Wrap.

We use Snappis on prefolds and Little Beetles, flannel wipes with Kissaluvs Diaper Lotion Potion and Wedela Diaper Care. We wash with Allens Naturally detergent and do a combo line/machine dry.

Oh, and our older son wears Little Beetle Little Learners and Wool Soaker Shorts at night.

Well, there you go! Stay tuned for part two on caring for wool!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Glimpses of Home

Our door harp chimes lightly every time we open this door and marks our comings and goings...

One of our rotating pictures. One day this peaceful scene will adorn the wall in the boys' room...

Friday, March 6, 2009

Lenten Learning: The Lord's Prayer

Now that our older son is quite the talker, I decided it was time he start committing prayers to memory. I suspect that he knows quite a bit already as he hears this prayer all the time, but has yet to show us! First up is the Lord's Prayer. I picked up a set of Lord's Prayer prints (along with others such as the Hail Mary and Ten Commandments) about a year ago against the day I'd need them. I laminated them then stuck them in the chair rail for easy access. We've been looking at them quite a bit and talking about each image. Even after he's committed it to memory, I think we'll be enjoying these prints for a long time!

Wood Easter Eggs

I came across an idea for an alternative to the "traditional" plastic Easter egg hunt this that I thought was so simple, yet brilliant!

Wood eggs that the children can paint after the hunt! This will avoid both the plastic and the candy of the holiday-- not to mention creating a lovely keepsake!

We are definitely going to be doing this in our house, and I'm going to try to pitch the idea to my MOMS Club as well. At least we can mix the wood with the plastic, candy-filled eggs so each child can paint one or two. Since I'm hosting the Easter party/hunt/craft this year, I think it'll work!

Wood eggs of all different sizes, can be found here.

Opposite Matching

We had a fun time matching these opposite cards yesterday! M. grasped the concept pretty quickly and was easily able to match some of the more familiar concepts (day/night, big/small, boy/girl, etc.) and after a few times through with me returned to match several times during the course of the day.

The opposite cards are from Montessori for Everyone. They have quite a collection of printable Montessori materials across the curriculum. If you have a little extra in the budget, I recommend them. It certainly saves time trying to track down images all over the web (which may be copyrighted!) and they will send printed files or PDF via email. A great resource!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Early Morning Art

After reading SouleMama's post about art in the morning, I decided to give it a try! I think it will help create a more peaceful, serene setting during the morning rush. Too often, Big Brother is running around underfoot begging for books, getting in Dad's work bag, spilling syrup, etc. while my husband is trying to get his things together and I'm making breakfast.

I can't believe creating a focused early morning activity (whether it be a puzzle, art, or a practical life exercise) didn't occur to me before!

Today he worked on watercolors (easily our favorite media!) and after the kitchen was cleaned up, I joined in. I love playing with colors and today I also felt a little Beatrix Potter-esque. Wishful thinking for spring with my trees and bushes in bloom!

Monday, March 2, 2009

A New Hang Out

I brought the stroller inside this morning to clean it up before selling, and M. discovered he is just the right size to hang out in the basket underneath! Do you think that adds to its saleability? Can I now advertise it as a "double stroller?"

Lenten Calendar

Based on an idea from Guiding Your Catholic Preschooler.

Lenten Festivity Stand

Our festivity stand/nature table stripped down, as befitting the season.