Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Cleaning post: Take 2

I've been a huge blog slacker, I apologize.  Not like many follow me anyway,  but, you know...

This fall I got some new "toys" to clean with.  One that I got really excited about was my new mop.  I know, I'm a dork, but here it is.

It's a Rubbermaid Reveal.  The squirt bottle attaches onto the wand and it has a trigger at the top so you can squirt the cleaner out.  Kinda like a Swiffer Wet Jet only you use whatever cleaner you want.  The bottle is refillable and the pads are washable.   It only came with one pad, so I made 2 more using my microfiber towels I had purchased for cloth diapers.  I had 2 new ones I wasn't using and turns out they work better than the pad it comes with.  Anyway, great for wood floors bc it doesn't let them get as wet. 

Also still loving the new Method cleaner with Thymol in it.  Favorite is the bathroom one that is spearmint scented.

Onto another cleaning related topic... we had a lot of appliances/household items bite the dust this year.

  1. Attic fan #1 (squirrel nesting jammed the fan and burnt the motor)
  2. Dishwasher
  3. Mower
  4. Oven touch panel
  5. HVAC blower and circuit panel (actually got wet from a leak from the condensation drain pipes and caught on fire/shorted out)
  6. Attic fan #2 (squirrels again... I'm seeing a pattern here.  Maybe we *ahem Brian* should put sturdy wire mesh up instead of screen)
  7. Microwave (now borrowing one from Katy and Doug and it's about to die too)
  8. Washing machine
  9. Vacuum (which I suppose still "works" but has lost 50% suction and has lots of issues and duct tape on it)
No, I don't wanna know what's next because, let's face it, there's not much left.  While I was a bit bummed each time something broke, most of these things have been fixed by Brian with little cost or replaced with the best deal we could find at the time.  The mower isn't replaced yet, but we're waiting till spring to do that.

Without further ado, here's my other new toys ;)

This was a steal with the 30% off coupon they sent me in a paper and my $20 Sears GC from the Coke Rewards site that I won without even drinking one Coke.  This is a Kenmore canister.

This one from Home Depot was 20% off on sale and we got 10% cash back from Discover.  It's an LG front loader.

Overall, I like my new washer a lot.  I have only done one load of cloth diapers in it.  I was leery of using it at first for cloth diapers, but I think it's working fine.  I've found ways to trick it into adding more water so I don't have to keep rinsing.

So it's been a hard year for us and appliances.  Knock on wood, the Volvo is still running smoothly, but is due for new tires soon.  Van has also been reliable and I'm just hoping nothing else breaks!  I'm going to risk sounding old when I say "they just don't make 'em like they used to."  It's totally true.  I feel like nothing lasts anymore unless you spend $$$$$ on it.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Shutterfly Cards

 Update!  This is the front picture of my folding photo card :)  You like?  I don't wanna show the actual card (though I have to a couple people) cuz then it will ruin the surprise.  

These 2 pix are on the inside.

I just love making Christmas cards and usually I just do the photocards that are printed on photo paper, but Shutterfly was SO generous this year for us bloggers and they gave me a code for 50 free 5x7 folded or flat stationary cards printed on premium card stock!  These cards are over $2 each, but with the promo, I only had to pay shipping on them, which was $7.99.  Not bad for 50 cute cards huh?

I love doing photo cards every year.  I used Shutterfly last year for my photo cards once again because they do such a great job.  I was able to put 3 pictures on the card and everyone loved them.  I'm going to be ordering a few things from Shutterfly this Holiday season, but my primary focus is on making the perfect Christmas photo card.

In the past I've created some photo mugs too for my dad and myself to commemorate our 7 mile hike at Crowder's Mountain.  Every time I use it, I remember our trip and how crazy we were to drag 2 kids (4 month old and 20 month old) on a long hike like that!

This year, I also plan to do a cookie exchange in December and have been looking at all the great Christmas invitations that Shutterfly has too.

My favorite thing to make though, are the photo books.  I have created one for each of my children to remember their first year.  I've also been wanting to make a family tree photo book so they can look at pictures of all their relatives.  Whatever your family is into, Shutterfly always has a great way to remember certain events or moments in your life.  Photographs are priceless and I love to show off my 2 beautiful children :).

50 free photo cards for bloggers :)  http://bit.ly/sfly2010

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Natural Birth

In honor of Wesley's birthday, I'm posting his birth story along with some pictures.  I have a passion for natural birth and I love sharing my story with other people.  I had such great experiences both times with my births that it makes me long to have more children.  I know, lock me up in a padded cell, but I really DO love giving birth!  Weird huh?  Here is Wesley's story.

Wesley Eric Voll was born on September 2, 2009 at 11:11am weighing 8lbs 8oz and 20" long.

I went to my Dr's appointment on the 1st at 5 days late, after 2 separate times of having long early labor.  One time lasting 5 hours, another time lasting 18 hours.  The nurse practitioner informed me that I was 3cm and 50% effaced.  She said I just needed something to kick start labor.

Went home slightly discouraged even though I knew I didn't want to be induced at all.  We discussed how long they would let me go over my due date and she just scheduled me for a NST and ultrasound the next Tuesday when I would be 41 weeks 5 days.

I ate dinner and all through dinner and after, I was having contractions fairly regularly.  Contractions were between 7 and 5 minutes apart, but seeing that I had 18 hours of early labor before, I didn't want to be an alarmist.  They really started to pick up around 10:30pm.  I called Rachel in Asheville to let her know that I thought it was finally the real thing.  She left right away and I was so excited that she would be there soon!

Rachel got here at 1:30am and we visited and made some comfrey tea for ice packs.  I finally decided we both needed a nap around 4:00, so we both went to sleep.  I took a shower and got a couple hours of sleep.  Around 8, we all got up and ate breakfast, then we got dressed and took Curtis for a walk on his tricycle.  I would stop and take breaks when I had a contraction and just breathe through it.  I was actually very comfortable just walking around outside.  I had no idea how far dilated I was, what station, etc.   I didn't care.  All I cared about is that it felt right and I knew I'd be holding my baby very soon!  I didn't want a nurse or a doctor telling me what my body was already telling me!  After about 45 mins of walking, I decided it was time that Brian take Curtis to Doug and Katy's house.

I got ready for the hospital while Brian was dropping him off.  When Brian got back around 9:45, I told him it was time I think about going in.  I had called the Dr's office, but no one had called back yet (figures), so we just went into the hospital.  I started my MP3 player with the hypnobirthing tracks I had put on there and got into the van.  When we left, I was still able to breathe through and walk through my contractions, but by the time we took the 2 minute drive to the hospital, I no longer felt that I could walk through them, but was able to still breathe through them just fine. 

They wheeled me upstairs to the L&D floor.  I had 4 nurses ask me if I was scheduled to come in for induction because I was so calm.  They were asking me "are you in labor?" "Are you sure, you seem so relaxed".  I told them that was the whole point!  I worked hard preparing and kept myself relaxed so I could have an easy peaceful birth.  They got me into a room and hooked me up to monitors (yuck).  While getting the gown on, the contractions were intensifying again and Rachel applied counter pressure to my lower back, which was very helpful. 

After being hooked up to the monitors for about 10 minutes, they started filling the tub, then after 5 more minutes the nurse checked me for dilation and said I was at 8cm! WOW!  I didn't think I'd be that far progressed when I came in.

They finally let me get into the tub.  I was able to try to relax for a few minutes, but then transition hit me hard.  My hands, arms, legs, and feet were so tingly, like someone had sent an electric pulse through them.  I have read that during transition in natural labor that you feel a sort of natural high.  I definitely did with this birth and it was so amazing!  I can honestly say that Rachel's aromatherapy lavender oil she added to the bath was so calming.  The peppermint she used to help with possible nausea was awesome too.  The contractions were getting very intense and the counter pressure was no longer helping much.  I felt the need to push after a few minutes on the first push my water broke.  I could feel the baby's head and knew it wouldn't be long.  I was still in the tub and as much as I would have loved to stay in there and birth in the tub, they don't allow it.  I figured I might as well get out so I don't break the rules.

Once out I began to push.  No one told me not to push and I just did whatever I felt comfortable doing.  The nurses paged Dr V. who came running in shortly after.  Dr Vuong just told me to push in whatever position I felt comfortable.  I really loved having Dr Vuong.  She was very reassuring and calming.  She used the olive oil we had for pereneal massage and the baby was coming very fast.  It was burning a lot like I was going to tear because of how fast the baby was crowning.  Finally his head came out and I could feel his little ears and hair.  One final push and his shoulders and body came out.  Brian announced "It's a boy" and I just kept saying "I feel so much better" and started talking to the baby.

Dr. Vuong left Wesley on my chest while she waited for the cord to finish pulsating so she could cut it.  She said I didn't need any stitching!  I couldn't believe it!  NO tearing!  I didn't have any with Curtis either, just a bit of a paper cut, but nothing with Wesley!  The cord finished pulsating, so she clamped it and Brian cut it.  The placenta delivered a few minutes later and was so neat to see. Yes, I'm one of "those" people who like to see it :)

I let them take Wesley after a few minutes to get weighed and he was 8lbs 8oz 20" long.  I expected him to be bigger since he was 6 days late.  He got a diaper on and then I cuddled with him in bed and nursed him for the first time.  He latched on so well and loved to nurse.  I felt so blessed to have such a healthy baby boy!  He even lifted his head off my chest.  He was very strong for a newborn.

I came into the hospital around 10:15 and he was born at 11:11am only 10 minutes after my water broke and 5 minutes of pushing.  I was so amazed by how quickly things went and attribute it all to being so relaxed and using good breathing techniques.  I never had the chance to really use my hypnobirthing besides the breathing techniques because I was so calm and comfortable just walking around outside before we went in and talking with Rachel kept me distracted and eased any anxiety I had.

It was the best birth experience I could ask for and all my birth plans were followed to a T.  The nurses and Dr Vuong were very accommodating.  I feel so blessed to have experienced such a great birth in a hospital.  I really longed for a home birth, but this was fantastic.  The recovery was quick and I felt great!  Rachel was a huge part of why I was so relaxed and she was so great with the aromatherapy oils.  I loved having her there and so did Brian.  We were very lucky to have her as a birth assistant!

Keep in mind, I was 8-9cm here and this was 15 minutes before he was born!  I guess I look pretty good considering.

Right after he started crying.  He was starting to pink up.

I love you little Wesley

After his first bath, he folded his hands like this by himself.  What an angel.

A year later and I can still picture what it was like to meet my second little boy for the first time.  Some things are a blur, but I love having pictures to look back and see what a neat experience it was.  I feel so incredibly blessed that I have gone through 2 extraordinary births.   I hope that if we do decide to have more children that I can have a home birth, but for now, we are done having kids.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Baby/Toddler Wearing

When Curtis was born, I didn't know a whole lot about babywearing.  In fact, I don't think I had ever heard that term before.  I just knew I wanted a Baby Bjorn to carry him in while I was shopping, so that is what I got.  Yes, it worked and he liked it, but it was such a pain bc if I would bend over to do any cleaning, he would dangle and it was just not as sturdy as I would have liked.  I still kept it and I didn't buy anything else.

When he was 16 months old, I experimented and made a Mei Tai carrier.  It was terrible... yes, functional, but it was way too big in the body, but if I'm in a pinch, I'll put it on with Wesley.

Before I had Wesley, I was looking into more "true" baby wearing items.  I sought a local company called Two Momma's Designs and decided to purchase what they call a buckle tai.  Very similar to an Ergo and since I knew a lot of people like that style, I decided to try it and purchase one of the buckle tai carriers for myself.  I LOVED it.  Yes, I tried it on with Curtis on my back at 26 weeks pregnant.  Anyone who knows me knows that my belly was NOT small, so it was a bit awkward to put on while pregnant.  However it was very comfy and I knew I'd love it.

Fast forward to when Wesley was born.  I put him in it as soon as we were home from the hospital.  I remember wearing him down to the pool for the Labor Day picnic.  I put him in all cozy with his legs tucked in and he really loved it.   A couple weeks went by though and he decided that he wanted to try to "launch" out of the top.  I guess he was just too active to be carried with his feet tucked in.  He was by no means a lazy newborn.

Long story short, I love it, he loves it and we still use it at least 3-4x a week.  Here's a picture or 2 of him in the carrier.

I recently went to a cloth diapering/baby wearing party near my house.  They had cloth diapers for sale and some carriers.  They had a Moby 1/2 off and I decided to try it out.  I also love this.  I just wish I had it earlier because it's really good for tiny babies.  Wesley loves it though bc I can let him face out or wear him on my back a little easier than with my buckle tai.

I love baby wearing.  With that being said, I plan to wear Wesley till he refuses to be worn anymore LOL!  I will probably keep the carriers so I can use them for my daycare needs.

What carriers do you have that you just love?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Frugal Vacations

This is going to be a short post since I'm getting ready to go on vacation.  Hence the reason for this topic for my blog ;)  Every 2 years (sometimes every year) we go to Surfside Beach, South Carolina.  It's such a fun place and we've been going since I was 3.  We started going with my grandparents when we were younger, but soon moved on to goind with our friends, the Snyders.  A few years passed and we added the Fitzgeralds to the beach crew.  This year, even the Hutson's are coming (at least some of them are).  I'm so excited and I love going every year.

Recently, the beach has been a place for big Zuk announcements. Note: Zuk is the term for the Thiergartners, Snyders, Fitzgeralds and Hutsons combined.  In 2004, Katy and Doug got engaged.  In 2006, we announced our first pregnancy when we were expecting Curtis.  In 2008, Katy had just had Jillian... so, that's not an announcement, but something momentous, right?

Anyway, back to my original topic for this blog, frugal vacations.  Here's in list form what I do to keep the cost of vacation down while still having a ton of fun.

1) Fill up at the cheapest gas station before you go to the beach.  Gas at the beach is so pricey!
2) Take as many groceries with you as you can fit into your cooler.  Groceries tend to be pricey there too, plus you know what foods are your favorites and what things you just can't live without that you might not be able to find there.
3) Cook as many meals as possible in the condo/house instead of going out.  We go out to eat for dinners maybe 3x at the beach.  One nicer place and 2 places that are more like "Applebees" prices.
4) Stay in a house that can accommodate huge numbers of crazy people.  This year, we chose the Watson, again.  It's so fun and we love the location.  I believe this house is suited for 12, and we'll have roughly 12-14 people staying in the house.  There are 19 going, but this year we got an extra condo to house a few extras so we're not so cramped.
5) Carpool to the beach from Charlotte.  We plan to ride together in less cars so a) All the cars at the beach have a spot to park in the shade and b) Cheaper transportation

I love going to the beach with the Zuks.  I would eventually like to try to vacation in other spots, but this is, right now, the most economical for us and we always have so much fun.  I always get bored on vacations without all my Zuks there... it's just not the same.  I love them so much!   I know, I've blogged about them before, but I really love them all :)

I don't know about any of the other Zuks, but I am READY for some rafting!!!

Here are some pictures.

Please add comments about what you do to have a frugal vacation.

My dad's favorite activity, lounging in the ocean.

Lynn was crying when we told her that we were expecting :)  June 2006.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Coconut Oil

This week we're going to talk about something I've recently started to use, coconut oil.  You can use this stuff for everything!  I'm just going to do a simple list style of some things I use it for as well as what some of my friends use it for.

Quoted from Mercola's Blog 

"Virgin coconut oil's many health benefits come from the medium-chain length of its fatty acids, or triglycerides (MCTs). Most of the other edible oils on the market today are comprised of long-chain fatty acids. MCTs have many health benefits, including raising the body's metabolism, and fighting off pathogens such as viruses, bacteria, fungi and others.
Coconut oil is nature's richest source of MCTs outside of human breast milk. Virgin coconut oil is very stable oil that does not oxidize and break down quickly like other oils. It also has a shelf life of more than two years."

"Hypothyroidism is truly one of the biggest epidemics of our time, and we have met so many people who have been told that their blood tests are normal, and yet find themselves with symptoms of hypothyroidism. There are very few options today offering any kind of hope of dealing with the underlying cause of this condition.
Probably the most dramatic results we have had reported to us are from those who have thyroid problems and have eliminated polyunsaturated oils from their diet, and started incorporating virgin coconut oil in its place. People's body temperatures increase, they have more energy and some, for the first time, are actually able to start losing weight."

Coconut oil is not only beneficial to eat, but can be used topically.  One of my recent finds is a homemade deodorant made by a good friend.  One primary ingredient is coconut oil.  It helps fight the bacteria that can cause smell.  Below is my list of uses for coconut oil.  Feel free to comment and add what you use it for!

Deodorant recipe
Anti fungal topical application (thrush, ring worm etc...)
Moisturizing a pregnant mother's belly
Moisturizing rough skin
Lip balm
Cooking (pan frying, saute, stir fry...)
Diaper rash ointment
Sunburn treatment
Eat/cook with it for insulin resistance (LOOK HERE FOR MORE INFO) 

If you can share another way this can be beneficial, please comment below.  I buy my coconut oil in huge amounts from vitacost.com  I like the NSI brand or Nature's Way because it tastes like coconut.  If you want a taste free oil, try Jarrow Formulas, it has no taste, but still has the benefits of the type that does have taste.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Family Portraits Made Simple

Brian and I had been looking into purchasing a good DSLR camera for a long time.  We kept holding out for a good deal and kept our eyes peeled for reviews etc.  Brian finally decided on the Pentax K-x DSLR camera and we used some of our tax return to buy it.  It's been so fun getting to know how to use the camera and playing around in Photoshop.  The best part about owning a good camera is that you won't ever have to pay for getting family and child portraits again!  That was our main reason we wanted to get the camera in the first place.   Of course you need to read on how to properly use a DSLR camera and how to use the one you have especially.  I'm still learning and it's really fun.  Also with digital cameras, you can take a gazillion pictures and delete the ones you don't like later.

Yesterday I had a blast out on the Greenway shooting Wesley.  I played around with the settings and tried to learn all about my lens.  It's a manual focus (meaning the camera doesn't do it for you) so it's a bit hard when you're trying to shoot kids who move quickly (IE Wesley).   It is a 50mm f/1.8 Pentax lens.  We also have the kit lens and a zoom.  I did end up with some really good shots though.  I will post some of them below.  I also like to print a bunch of these for albums and to put on the walls.  I like Snapfish or Shutterfly and you can often find deals on the cost of prints or get free photobooks too.  Enjoy the pictures :)


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Beginners Guide to Cloth Diapers

If that's not a cute diaper, I don't know what is ^^

I spent quite a bit of time thinking about how I'd blog about cloth diapers.  I want to keep it short and sweet and informative too.  I first want to make a blog about how to begin using cloth.  How to take the "plunge" that so many people fear will be a nightmare of gross dunking and spraying and pinning and leaks!  Let me just start off by saying that NONE of that is true.  Yes, while some people still dunk and spray, it's really not needed.  Pins, a thing of the past (at least for most).  Listed below will be the different types of cloth diapers, washing tips, size tips and overall use guidelines that are EASY for beginners to follow.  I'm going to blog only about the types of diapers I think are easy for beginners to use.  Later I'll add other types of diapers and covers that you can get into after you get used to cloth diapering.

  • Types of Cloth Diapers for Beginners
  • Pocket Diapers
    • Outer layer of waterproof fabric (PUL=Polyurethane laminate)
    • Inner layer of fleece, suedecloth or another material
    • A soaking insert made from microfiber, hemp, bamboo or another material that holds liquids
  • Pros
      • Easy to wash
      • Solids roll off the surface of the inner material
      • Baby feels dry like a disposable
      • Easy to put on with snaps or hook and loop (velcro or aplix)
      • Customize absorbency to fit your child (using more inserts or less)
  • Cons
      • Stuff after wash (not a big deal to me, but some hate it)
      • Sometimes can leak if your baby is a super heavy wetter or you haven't changed often enough
      • PUL is not breathable, which some people don't like (I happen to love PUL)
  • My take
    • I love pocket diapers.  They have always been my favorite style of diaper.  They are easy to use when you go out and about too.  All you do is pre-stuff them and put them in your changing table baskets, diaper bag or wherever you diaper your baby.  Snap on or velcro on and go!  Taking them off is a breeze and you just toss them into the wet bag or diaper pail after dumping off any solids into the potty.  Easy to wash too and always come clean.  This one below has a cool pocket opening.  You can fold down the top of the diaper and just throw it in the wash, no insert to handle because it will come out in the wash!  Cool huh?  Best part is, she's a WAHM and my friend.  If I could buy only one diaper for my baby and re-do my entire stash, I'd buy all of her diapers.  She makes pockets, covers (wool and PUL),  AI2 and fitteds.  We won't touch on AI2 or wool in the beginners post, but I will talk about fitteds a bit.
Heartland Dreams pocket diaper outside.  This particular one is a cotton print over hidden PUL.  Her cotton print outer diapers are awesome because if you notice on the sides where the legs are, there is some PUL showing.  This means that the cotton isn't near the leg area where often times cotton outer pocket diapers will leak from the seams in the leg area.  Her pocket diapers are my new favorite!

Heartland Dreams pocket diaper inside.  The pocket opening is at the belly area and is fully covered so that microfiber or the other insert material won't touch the baby's skin.  The inside of these diapers is suedecloth, a thin polyester material that wicks moisture away from the skin and into the insert.
  • Prefold diapers
    • Cotton, bamboo or hemp "rectangles"
    • Layered material that you fold to fit the baby
    • Pin or Snappi on
    • Covers needed
  • Pros
    • SUPER soakers
    • Natural material
    • Breathable fabric
  • Cons
    • Not as easy to get on
    • Solids don't roll off the diaper as easily (but still are removable with very minimal effort or can use a fleece liner)
    • Need a cover
    • Doesn't wick moisture away from baby's skin
      • Note: There is a "trick" to this con though.  If you cut up poly fleece strips to lay in the diaper, they will allow the moisture to wick the moisture away from the baby's skin, keeping it dry.  
  • My take
    • I love prefolds.  They aren't my #1 "go to" diaper, but I do love them.  They soak up like mad!  You can layer them for night time too.  You can leave them coverless around the house and they are breathable.  This can help air out baby's bum if they have a rash or are prone to getting a rash.  They are also C-H-E-A-P!  For real, you can buy a dozen for about $15-$30, depending on the size and material.  
This is a prefold on a baby.  The top is using a Snappi and the bottom is pins.  You do NOT even have to use pins at all, or really even a snappi if you don't want.  I highly recommend looking at this site if you think you like prefolds because they have great tips on how to fold and use them with covers.  You can lay prefolds into covers and use them like that w/o actually pinning or "Snappi-ing" them to the baby.  Note though that if they are just layed into a cover, they have a tendency to leak poo out the sides if it's a newborn, so a good cover with gussets is needed.  We'll talk about that below.

  • Fitteds
    • Made from cotton, hemp or bamboo
    • Outer diaper "shell" and inner diaper snap in or lay in (or stuff in) flaps to soak
    • Soft and durable
    • Need a cover
  • Pros
    • Easy to put on
    • Breathable
    • Super cute without a cover
    • Soak a TON (depending on the brand)
  • Cons
    • Bulkier than pockets
    • Not as easy for out and about
  • My take
    • Fitteds are my second favorite, next to pocket diapers.  I love how they look without a cover.  The best thing about fitteds is that they NEVER leak.  WHAT?  That's right, NEVER!  I mean, I can put one of these on for probably 3 hours and there are still areas that are dry.  Even on heavy wetters.  Newborn poo stays the best in these and covers over, but even w/o covers I've rarely had any solids leak out.  Breastfeeding mothers know what I'm talking about when I say "blowouts!"  These diapers hold it all in!  Especially fitteds with serged legs.  These really seem bullet proof.  My only issue is that not all fitteds are made the same, so you really need to look into what works best for your baby.  Some are more absorbent, some less, some are more trim, some bulkier; some are made with serged legs, some with turned and topstiched.  These things are a matter of preference and for my kids, serged fitteds with bamboo inner fabrics have worked the best and are the most absorbent.
 This is an EllaBella Bottoms from a Hyena Cart Congo here
The outer is cotton print and the inner is cotton velour.  She doesn't have a picture of the inside, so I'll use a different diaper for this example.

This diaper is another Heartland Dreams and the inner of this is velour (purple cotton) and bamboo fleece.  The natural colored fabric is the fleece and it's inside out so the smooth side is showing.  I love her diapers... have I said that before?  Um... this one I'm pining after so maybe I'll save my pennies for it :)  It's purple paisley, but I keep telling myself that Wes would look so cute in it and it doesn't matter that it's purple :)

This is Wesley in a Weezypie made by my friend Rachel.  She doesn't make them anymore (yet) but they are super cute.  This is a one-size diaper for 8-35lbs or so!  They fit awesome.
  • PUL covers
    • Used to cover up prefolds or fitted diapers
    • Keep clothes dry and solids from leaking
  • Styles
    • Velcro on
    • Pull on
    • Snap on
  • My take
    • My favorite covers so far have been Thirsties brand covers.  I attempted to make some covers, but... failed LOL.  They work but they aren't pretty.  Anyway, the Thirsties have gussets at the inside of the legs to hold in solids.  They clean easily and look cute.  Now they come with snaps and aplix and they have some prints now too.  Some don't like PUL, but I really love it.  Below is going to be a picture of Thirsties so you can see how they work.
Ok, so I couldn't find the best picture of these covers on the inside, but I wanted to share what they look like on.  Here is one on a 3 week old baby with a fitted under.

See the cool little leg gusset?  Just like a disposable right?  This one is a Duo Wrap which is a type of one size.  It's a medium/large cover.  They also sell a x-small-small cover that is the size before this one.  They are nice because you can adjust the rise (up and down on baby's waste) so that it fits the baby better.

"Elaine, wait a minute!  What about washing?"  Great question...  Here is what I do.  You'll find a TON of advice on washing out there, and to each their own, but this is what works for ME and a lot of others I know.

  • Washing Routine
  • Wash every 2 days
  • First rinse with 1/4c vinegar and cold water
  • Run a hot wash with detergent (listed recommendations/recipe below)
  • Run an extra rinse
  • Tumble dry hot or hang to dry outside
  • Detergent
  • Use ONE of the following and stick with what works for you
    • Homemade detergent (22oz Washing Soda, 8oz Oxy Clean *or generic oxygen cleaner* and 8oz baking soda)  Use 2 tablespoons per regular sized load
    • Dreft powder or liquid, use 1/4 of the amount you would use on clothes
    • Method detergent (pump bottle) Use 2 pumps per full load
    • ***PLEASE NOTE***
      • Not all regular detergents are recommended for diaper washing due to residue buildup that will effect the performance of your diapers.  Please use either these guidelines or consult the diaper manufacturer for more recommendations.

The last thing I want to touch on is a term called "one-size".  You might think, wait a second, this is bogus, no one diaper size can fit my baby from birth to potty.  Well, let me tell you, it can!  I make a lot of my own diapers, which I love by the way (I just like to feature WAHM's that sell their diapers instead of pix of mine and I don't really like to "toot my own horn" too much hehe!) and I make mine one-sized.  Granted, some babies are too small at first to use one-size diapers, but most babies (like my big fatties) can fit into them right away.  The inserts in one-size pockets are just smaller for newborns and bigger for toddlers.  Fitted diapers sometimes have a removable soaker flap so you can fold down the remaining one so it's not so bulky for little ones and add more soaker flaps when they are bigger.   If you want to cloth diaper economically and simply, I suggest buying one size pocket diapers and maybe a few prefolds with covers.

If you take one thing away from this post, read this.  If you are new to cloth diapering and want to give it a shot, I suggest starting with a one-size or a sized (meaning small, medium or large) pocket diaper.  Once you get the hang of using those, then branch out to use other styles.  Pocket diapers, IMO, are the easiest form out there for newbies and will introduce you to the fact that cloth diapers aren't hard and they do not suck!  LOL  They are also not as gross as you think and washing them is not as big of a hassle as you may think either.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Family and Friends

God has blessed me with a beautiful family.  My husband and my son's are my world! I'm also incredibly blessed with wonderful parents, my sister, my nieces and nephews and all my in-laws!  I love them so much!  I am so overjoyed with love for my entire family and I'd do ANYTHING for them.

My heart is so happy also for all my friends I have!  There is one group of friends that really sticks out to me because of how much we are like a true Christian family.  We rarely fight or have disagreements.  We are always willing to help each other out and support each other when we need it.  The Zuks!  How would I live without them all?  The Fitzgeralds, Snyders, Hutsons and Thiergartners.  I met the Fitzgeralds when I was born, the Hutsons when I was a toddler and the Snyders when I was a toddler too.  There are so far 6 Snyders, 4 Fitzgeralds, 7 Hutsons and 9 (and a half) Thiergartners.  Katy will add one to our family in the fall.   We go on vacations together, have picnics several times a year, and always know how to have a great time.  If I could picture a "perfect" family, this would be it.  The older I get the more I grow to appreciate them.  I love each and every one of them!  So far there are 5 Zuks in the 3rd generation, Curtis being the oldest.  We've all been busy these past 3 years eh?

This is what we'll be doing in a few weeks!  I can't wait!  BEACH TIME
A few of the Zuk Men, Brian, Doug, Sean Fitzgerald, Mike (my dad), Mike (Megan's boyfriend), Mark, Duane, and Sean Grisez

Beach trip 2008!  This is one of our favorite places to go eat, Dockside!

If there's one thing you can't have too many of in life, it's friends.  True friends that will be there through it all and still love you even if you aren't perfect.  After all, isn't that how Jesus wanted us to treat others?  I hate it that greed and selfishness has bred bitter hearts in my family.  I can only pray that they will be healed.

Natural cleaning, how do I do it?

In the past few years since having children, I've looked into natural cleaning products.  When I started cleaning houses for money in college, I explored some natural cleaning products called Mrs Meyer's Clean Day.  I love them.  They are aromatherapy cleaners that are all natural.  They are just very pricey, but very nice.  I have their stainless steel polish and it smells so great!

One of my recent loves has been Seventh Generation.  Yes, they have been around a bit, but they recently developed a disinfectant cleaner using Thymol (a derivitave of Thyme oil).  I love it for kids toys, the bathroom, you name it! It smells pretty good too.  I really like their multipupose concentrate too, even though it's not "disinfectant".  You can find it super cheap at Super Target and using coupons that you can print monthly for $1 off from their site, you can find great deals for sure!  Target also had a coupon from their site a while back that was for another $1 off and you can stack them, so I got some cleaners for 49 cents!  Nice :)

Vinegar- let's talk... I use this for everything.  Straight for really smelly things or 1/4c in my first rinse for my cloth diapers in the wash.  Terrific cleaning power and disinfects too.  I use 1/2c vinegar and 1/2c baking soda in the potty to clean it.  Curtis loves to watch it fizz.  Hehe!  Vinegar also gets out pet stain smells.  It's a great neutralizer.  50/50 mix of water and vinegar in a spray bottle makes a good spritz for your toys in the playroom that can't be submerged to clean.  IE Leap Frog table, wooden tool bench, toys with batteries and plush. 

Bathrooms seem to be the area in most people's homes that they "freak out" about not using some sort of bleach on.  Let's be real here, before bleach was created people were still able to clean their bathrooms and keep them as germ free as possible.  Now, I'm not a germaphobe, but I do like a clean bathroom.  One of my pet peeves is having a dirty bathroom and when the kids are constantly using it and Wesley is crawling on the floor... let's just say I clean it OFTEN.  I usually use the 7th Gen cleaner listed above.  The bs/vinegar fizz for the potty etc... Bleach is NOT NEEDED!  I know... "Hi, my name is Elaine and I used to be a bleach addict" There I said it, but really, you DO NOT NEED IT!  Vinegar does just the same as bleach and NO CHEMICALS!  I no longer have to worry about cleaning in yucky clothes because of fear I might bleach my good jeans or whatever.

I'm going to put this in list form, for those of you who don't want to read my "book" above

  • Kitchen:
    • 7th Generation Disinfectant spray for counters or just soapy water.  I use the spray when we make meat dishes especially
    • Baking soda paste (mix BS with castile soap until it resembles icing) I use this to scrub my stove or pots and pans
    • 50/50 vinegar/water for spraying the doors and other hard surfaces for killing germs.
  • Bathrooms:
    • 50/50 baking soda/vinegar for potty "fizz" cleaner
    • 7th Gen spray with Thymol for the counters and potty seat, handle and floors.
    • Mrs Meyer's Clean Day Stainless Spray for the fixtures on the sink
    • Bottle of warm water, dash of dish soap and 1/4c vinegar for the mirrors.  I use flour sack towels to clean the mirrors with
    • BS paste with castile for the tub to scrub off the soap scum and stains
  • Bedrooms
    • Use my vac to dust with or a damp cleaning rag with castile soap
    • Lambs wool duster for the fans
  • Playroom
    • 50/50 vinegar/water spray for toys
    • Mop with 7th Gen multipurpose cleaner with 1c vinegar in the water
    • Soak other toys in the sink with vinegar water
    • Wipe down the changing table with the 7th Gen Thymol cleaner (they make wipes too if you like using wipes instead of spray)
Post your other great ideas below and share with us!

Blog re-do

I feel like I give enough updates on my kids/life on Facebook and my Cafemom account.  Blogging about just my family life seemed redundant!  Right?  I mean, who needs to see what I'm up to on FB and a blog?  No one is that obsessed with me... er I hope not at least.

Trying to create a new blog.  My focus is going to be on how to live a simple life.  Natural living tips, shopping tips on how to save money, how to raise your family God centered and how to live a joyful life.  I love blogs on saving money, like couponing, but I've found out that a lot of times the products that you can get for a good deal just aren't things I normally buy or really need 100 of etc... Know what I mean?  IE Slickdeals, yeah, it's good for finding a good deal once in a while, but really I find that I spend MORE money when I use blogs or forums like that because they are always talking about this deal and that deal and it makes me want it bc it's such a "good deal" right?  Ugh... bad for my budget for sure.

Any tips on saving money are just going to be on things I buy everyday.  Groceries, cloth diaper related things, detergent, natural foods etc...  Anyone who has tips can let me know and I'll add them.  My husband has made an awesome spreadsheet we use for budgeting.  He's better at doing the budget than I am, I'm just responsible for sticking to it and trying to find the best bargains.  Sure, I'd love to go out and buy all new clothes for myself and the kids and him, but really there's no need!  Hand me downs are great!  Consignment sales are the bomb and my life is simpler with LESS "stuff" involved.  The more "stuff" I have the more cluttered my life is and it's really no good for anyone.

I'm also a firm believer in the WAHM!  I love to support my fellow mommies in their businesses and will often post about them and reviews for their products.  Made in the USA is not as common as it once was, so this is important to me :).

I am striving to bring my children up with a good relationship with God.  I never really had a "relationship" with Him growing up and I really want that for my kids and my marriage.  We started going to a church that's on the edge of our neighborhood and we really like it.  We're going to get involved in a community group and I look forward to possibly going on missions trips.  It's a dream of mine to go, so I would really love to soon!

Ok, now that I've written a book I'll try to start a real blog entry later today about some things on my mind for the week.  Thanks for reading!

This is a recent pic of Wesley!  He's getting so big and walking now (not all the time)  I know I said this blog isn't about my kids (only) but I have to add some cute pix right?
This is a cool picture of my mom and her horse Monty.  Isn't he awesome?  My mom is what inspires me to live naturally and look out for me and my family's health and well being.