February 28, 2011

Cloth Diapers 103 - Care and Cleaning

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Well if you've missed out on cloth diapers 101 and 102, you can read about what cloth diapers look like these days and why on earth I chose to use cloth, but I have found that one of the first questions I get about cloth diapers is, "How do you wash them?"  Translation:  "How gross is it actually, to wash them all the time?"

Well, here's your answer...  the short version is that all it takes is a pre-wash and an extra rinse and spin.

Here's the long detailed version:

Diapers should go no more than three days without being washed.  I wash every third day and I only buy enough cloth diapers to last three days.  There's not really any reason to have any more than that.  While they're waiting to be washed, they sit inside a high quality kitchen trash can lined by a diaper pail liner.  Choose a trash can that's going to keep odors in.  A diaper pail liner is a water proof polyurethane bag that lines the diaper pail.  I recommend getting two so you have something to line your diaper pail when the other one is in the wash.  There are also smaller polyurethane totes for when you're on the go.

To wash a load of cloth diapers, cloth wipes and diaper covers, start by tossing it all (diaper pail liner included) into the washer and run it on a cold pre-wash with the maximum amount of water.  (Cold, not hot.  Hot sets stains.)  This is to rinse out all the mess and send it down the sewer, where it goes.  (Also, make sure all Velcro is hooked to itself so it doesn't snag and ruin other items.  The easiest time to do this is right after taking it off of the baby before tossing it into the laundry.)  Next, run a regular wash cycle with the maximum amount of water on cold and add about half of the amount of laundry detergent you would usually use for a regular amount of laundry.  Cloth diapers are extremely absorbent, so we don't want to much detergent to get into all the micro fibers of the cloth and stay there.  Finish it off with an extra rinse and spin using cold water and maximum water.  The maximum water is to help thoroughly rinse out the very absorbent cloth.

Now for drying...  the polyurethane (water resistant) diapers, covers, liners and totes should be hung dry, never thrown in the dryer as the heat will ruin the polyurethane and they will no longer keep wet inside.  The good news is that they dry very quickly.  Here in extremely dry Colorado, they're dry in under 4 hours.  Anything that's NOT polyurethane can go right into the dryer on high heat.  I usually have to dry them for a cycle and a half because the thick absorbent cotton takes a little longer to dry.

That's it, folks!

As far as which laundry detergent to use - well every household is different.  I use our regular laundry detergent that we use for everything else.  If you're looking for an environmentally friendly, additive free detergent, I really like Allens Naturally.  (And just as a reminder, NO, I'm not being paid for a product review.  These are just the products that I really like, recommend, and put on my own baby's bottom.)  Never use fabric softeners on cloth diapers, as these can cause a build-up in the cloth and can decrease its absorbency.

I have heard of some moms wanting to "strip" their cloth diapers.  If you are washing properly with a good detergent, you shouldn't have to do this, but if you are experiencing a residual odor, I suggest giving Dani a call.  She's the owner of Baby Cotton Bottoms (my favorite cloth diaper store) and diaper guru.  She can help you figure out what the problem is and how to fix it.

I did find myself wanting to strip my diapers once...  they just built up a smelly odor and didn't seem to get rid of it in the wash.  This worked for me:  I loaded them into the washer and ran a pre-wash on hot water with a cup of bleach and the maximum amount of water.  Then I ran a regular wash with hot water with twice the amount of laundry detergent you usually use for your diaper loads (or the same amount of detergent you use for your regular laundry).  Then I ran an extra rinse/spin with cold water two or three times.  It took me all day, but it did the trick.

Chinese flat pre-fold diapers (my personal diaper of choice) need to be pre-washed and shrunk before they are ready for use.
To prepare them for use, put them through a wash cycle with very hot water and no detergent.  Then completely dry them on the highest heat.  Repeat this process 3 or 4 times until the diapers are nice and fluffy.  I've heard you can reduce the number of times you need to do this process by boiling the diapers in a very large pot of water over the stove first, but I think using the washer is much easier.  Other types of cloth diapers do not need to be pre-washed.

See?  Pretty simple once all is said and done.

Do I need a Cloth Diapers 104?  Does this leave you with more questions?  If so, ask away... otherwise this might be the conclusion of the cloth diaper series...  I'm not too sure what else is needed.

Happy Cloth Diapering!



**Picture of Chinese prefolds graciously provided by babycottonbottoms.com (my favorite cloth diaper store). 

How I'm Really Doing

Alternately titled, "I'm ok.  I'm not ok."

I swear I've written this before.  And yet, no matter how I've tried, I don't seem to be able to get it quite right.

The other day a good friend asked me how I was really doing and I admitted to her that I haven't felt like I can really write how I'm actually doing.  Partly that's because if I get too gloomy, my friends and family freak out.  (That's probably good, it keeps me positive.)  And partly that's because it's just plain hard to articulate.  And also, because I know there are women out there who read this blog (some who I know and others I don't) who can't actually look forward to their husbands coming home anytime soon.

A million times a day, every day, I'm thriving.  And also a million times a day, every day I'm completely and totally at the end of myself.  And sometimes those two things happen in the same minute, one right after the other.

On Friday when I caught myself cutting small chunks of butter, rolling them in sugar and popping them into my mouth, I thought, "I think this may mean I've hit a wall."

Today I called Alejandro and (through tears) said, "I just need to talk to someone over the age of two for a few minutes."  He said, "Um... ok."  And then didn't know what else to say.  I was completely unable to articulate the fact that I needed him to carry the conversation for me, so I just let him go.  Then I called my mom and said the same thing.  She laughed hysterically, which got me crying and laughing at the same time.  It was good.  ;-)

I've been hesitant to say it, but we think Alejandro will be coming home next weekend.  I haven't wanted to say, because every time we have thought we had a date since he left the first week of January, he'd get another job, which we were both simultaneously glad and sad about at the same time.  The next-weekend date could still change.  But for now we're both really excited about it, to say the least.

Danny is done being sick, except for some left-over sinus congestions.  (Read endlessly flowing snot.) He's been teething for longer than I can remember and eight teeth (read an unholy amount of teeth to come in at once) are making their way into his mouth.  I think the worst is behind us, but it's hard to say.  Three eye teeth have yet to cut through and I think there's still a molar under gums as well.

Part of what has not been fun is that Danny's stools have been excessively loose for longer than I can remember as well.  I always thought it was part of teething (and who knows, maybe it is) but it went on so long that I began to suspect an allergy.  I took all lactose out of his diet a week ago.  The bad news is his stools didn't improve.  The good news is he's not lactose intolerant.  I have a love affair with cheese and all things dairy, so that's good.  I even took a hiatus from cloth diapers swishing my hands in the toilet after every loose stool for a week.  And I love my cloth diapers, so that says a lot.  Next step?  Adding lactose back in and observing changes, keeping up the food and diaper log I started a week ago, and then deciding.  Eliminating wheat or gluten from his diet seems the next obvious step.  That or waiting until all the teeth are in and then seeing what happens.

So how am I really doing?  Thriving.  And drowning.  At the same time.  I'm worn down, but we're gonna make it through this.  Not only are we gonna make it through this, we're gonna be stronger for it.  (I am so very thankful for how God has blessed and improved our communication through this.)

Thank you all for praying and calling and inviting and encouraging and letting me vent even when there are others in such a situation which leaves me no room to complain.  It means more to me than I can explain.

How am I really doing?  I'm doing just fine.  Thanks.

Love,

February 27, 2011

Chat with Mckmama & Garmaam

Well last night's call and potluck ended up being a very small gathering, as the short notice and snow deterred many from coming.  But since I know many of you wanted to be here, I thought I'd share!  We video recorded the live video call for you all to see

First, there was food.  Yummy food!  Cake and fettuccine Alfredo and tortilla chips and guacamole and salsa.  (Ya'll know food is definitely my soft spot.)

Then we talked about (what else?) blogging and shared tips and tricks as we set up the computer and video camera and figured out the right angle and all.

Christy brought the cake and her two kids and took all the great pictures.  Sarah came over right from work and joined in.  Then we got silly and nervous and giggly as we readied ourselves to get online.  I'm super glad I recorded it because I was so excited and nervous that I didn't remember a lot of it until I replayed it and watched it a couple of times.

As you play the video below, there are several times we ended up talking over each other because of the delay, so pardon the interruptions.  Also, the connection ended up being too slow to do a conference call with  Mckmama, the three other chosen sponsors, and us.  So she, the GHNI team and the Garmaam villagers did four calls.  One for each of us!






And after the call, our kids played with play-dough together.


I think they might be in love.


At least, I know Danny is.

Anyway, without further ado...  Here's the call!  


February 26, 2011

Last night's conference call with Mckmama and the Garmaam village was absolutely amazing!  Boy oh boy those kiddos are CUTE!  I'm working on a post with all the pictures and video.  It will be up sometime today, I hope.

In the meantime, Danny and I are enjoying a fabulous day of rest at home in our jammies.  We were both up really late last night so we both slept until around 10am.  Wooh!  I love that this boy sleeps like he does!  Since we slept late, a really good breakfast was in order, so we cooked up some baked oatmeal.


Except I didn't bake it.  I simmered it.  Mmmm-mmmm, was it good!  Here's how you do it.

I'll be online pretty much all day, so if you feel like chatting in the comments section or on Twitter, I'd enjoy it. Ya'll have a happy Saturday.

February 25, 2011

February 24, 2011

Skype with Me, Mckmama & the Garmaam Village

YOU are invited to my house tomorrow night!!

Yep, I might be totally out of my mind but the entire internet world is invited over for a potluck dinner tomorrow night!  As I wrote the other day, Alejandro and I have joined Garmaam's extended village through GHNI.  My friend Jennifer, (a.k.a. Mckmama) has made this all possible through her blog and her trip to Ethiopia with GHNI.

Not only is this the first time an online community as adopted a village through GHNI but it's also the first time they've attempted to do a live video conference call with an adopted village.  Friday night, (well for Mckmama and the team it will be very early Saturday morning) the team will drive to the remote village of Garmaam.  At 8:30 p.m. our time, which is sunrise in Garmaam, using satellite technology, the call will begin (barring any complications like a flat tire or who knows what else!).

I would absolutely love for you to join us!  Whether you comment often or you've been lurking and I don't even know you, if you are here in Colorado Springs or the surrounding areas, please come join us tomorrow night!  We'll enjoy the internationally-themed potluck dinner at 6:30pm - although if international intimidates you and down the street is about as international as you get, well, just cook up your favorite main or side dish and bring it on over.  Oh, and please do RSVP to me so I know how many are coming.  Let me know if you need my address and/or directions too.

I hope to see you soon!!

February 22, 2011

We're Joining an African Village

Ever since my friend Morgan started spending her summers in Uganda, I started falling in love with the babies of Africa.  Soon after, I discovered Katie's blog.  Then Jennifer went to Kenya last March.

It seems that for the past several years, God has been slowly etching out a special place in my heart for precious little ones (and not so little ones) of Africa.

Last year sometime we got a letter in the mail from Compassion.  In it there were pictures of six children that needed sponsoring.


At the time, we weren't in a place where we could sponsor them... and they've remained on my office wall as a reminder that the ability to give is one of the reasons why we work so hard.

Well, Jennifer (a.k.a. Mckmama) is back in Africa.  This time in Ethiopia.  She's working with an organization called GHNI (Global Hope Network International) and for the first time, an online community is "adopting" an African village to sponsor GHNI's work in this village.  What is unique about this organization is that they don't just go into the village, build something and then leave.  In fact, they don't even go in and build and stay.  They don't even go in and build.  They go in and teach the people of the village how to build.  And then they build together.

This week, Mckmama and a team from GHNI is in Garmaam, Ethiopia.  Here are a few photos I hijacked from her blog.


Today (or rather last night) because the current time in Ethiopia...

Anyhow, today they dug a latrine pit and tomorrow they'll build the "loo".  They didn't have one of those before today.  

So Alejandro and I decided to join the Garmaam village.  We're not moving...  We joined their extended village.  And you can too!  As of 3:30 p.m. MST, there are 44 spots left before this village is fully supported.  At $12 per month, you can join us on a 2-3 year journey to get this little village self-sufficient, healthy and out of the throes of poverty.  And if things go as I suspect, your heart and the hearts of the Garmaam village will be knit together.  Read all the details here.  

Oh, and if you live in Colorado Springs, make sure you clear your calendar for Friday night.  You're going to want to come over to my house.  I promise.  

February 21, 2011

Love

Is sittin' on Papa's shoulders, pullin' on his ears.
Amor... es estar en los hombros de Papa, jalandole las orejas





I love you, Papa!
¡Te amo, Papa!

February 20, 2011

Barbeque... San Diego style

This Sunday I'm at home reading, writing, hangin' out with Danny and my Mom, enjoying a sunny and windy day from indoors.  

Last Sunday, we were enjoying a barbecue at my Dad's house in San Diego!  Well first thing's first... the boys had to take a ride in my dad's new sports car.  I hear Danny smiled and squealed his way around the block.  


The rest of the afternoon, we spent on the back porch eating hamburgers, shrimp and potato chips and drinking beer. I don't drink it often, but I do enjoy a cold Sam Adams...  Although this day we were enjoying something else I don't remember.


Let me introduce you to everyone.  This is my dad's sweet wife (Jeanne), my dad (Warren), my uncle (Ken) and my grandmother (Kate).


I'm pretty sure you know the two boys on the left.  ;) This is my soon-to-be Brother-in-law Love (Ray) and my sister (Lisa).


Don't you like Alejandro's and Ray's stylin' hair accessories?  I totally planned the cat-tails behind their heads.  Not.  And yes, that is my one-and-a-half-year-old drinking from a beer bottle.  As you can see, we were all sitting around drinking beer, and Danny wanted to be a part of the action.

Before I could protest, Alejandro decided to offer Danny the last bitter sip of his beer just to quell his curiosity and turn him off to the taste.  So here you have his first sip of alcohol...


We waited with baited breath for the scrunched face of disgust and what did we get?


A huge grin.  And he reached for more.  Super.


Since there was NO WAY he was going to put up with sitting around the table with everyone sipping from beer bottles without being a part of the action, Alejandro emptied his bottle and filled it with water.  


So there he sat, with a serious grown-up face and his little pig toes makin' me giggle...


...drinking water from a beer bottle.  It was awfully funny!


Then in order to walk-off his beer buzz water buzz, he and his Grandpa played on the grass with his long lost best friend (Toby, our black lab who's been with Alejandro).


Enjoying the sun


and sights


and faces in San Diego.


See this look?  The one on the big guy, not the little one.  I know that look.  And Baby, that means your Grandpa loves you.  He loves you very much.  


So I guess we'd better not stay away too long.


____________________Español____________________ 


 Barbacoa... Estilo San Diego

February 19, 2011

Dancin' in the Minefields

After a long frustrating afternoon and evening, involving way too much whining, warning, and WAY too much poop...  After a day when I didn't feel as powerful or as productive or as positive as I'd like...  After a day when I felt like quitting...

This reminded me why I'm doing it.



"Courage doesn't always roar.  Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says, "I'll try again tomorrow."  - Mary Anne Radmacher

Baby, this song is for you.  Here's to growin' really wrinkly together.  I love you.  I promise.

Dear Friends,

I'm going to attempt not to be whiny tonight.  It's just that time of night and I tend to sound whiny unless I have a particular point to get to.  Which I don't tonight.

I really have had a great day!  I picked my mom up from the airport last night and she's been spoiling me all day.  Well, okay, actually I dragged her around on a million errands and in the middle of it we went to Kohl's, her requested destination of choice, where she bought me twice as many articles of clothing as she bought herself.  (A little early birthday.)  And yeah.  New clothes pretty much shoot the moon for me.

I just finished immersing myself in the blogs of my very best friends.  Do you know how amazing it is that my very best friends all are bloggers too!?

Sarah got me started blogging.  

Then I got Melissa hooked.  

Next Charmian joined in.  

And now they all follow each other!  

It's a beautiful thing.  

Ladies, can I just tell you that reading all your bloggy thoughts is almost as good as sitting in your living rooms with a cup of hot cocoa?  I said almost.  

Anywhooooo...  Alejandro is still in California.  If things keep up, he's going to be there for a while longer forever.  The man is just good and every time he turns around he has someone asking for an estimate.  He's working on three tonight.  I really couldn't possibly be prouder or I think I'd burst.  

But yes, being apart is no fun...  Please pray for us as we look toward the future.  We're starting to realize we may be headed toward a new reality (at least for a time) of working in different parts of the country and traveling regularly.  I don't know that, so please don't quote me.  Things are still WAY up in the air.  But as a sort of survival mode, I'm trying to figure out how to make this work long term while still having a family together since at this point we have surpassed twice the amount of time we expected him to be gone.  The wonderful thing is that I do have a lot of flexibility and I can work anywhere in the country too.  It's just a matter of figuring out how to do that and where to draw the line and how not to fall over from exhaustion.

I hear a lot that, "this must be so hard."  What's NOT hard is doing every diaper, never ever sleeping in, never ever having a night off, finding a sitter any time I want to work when Danny's not sleeping, cooking every meal or washing every dish.  It just doesn't phase me anymore.  What IS hard is not snuggling at night, not kissing him good morning, trying to remember all of the new things Danny does and recounting them so Alejandro can be a part of his growth, not holding hands and not having him by my side through all the things of life, mundane and exciting. 

But I'll tell you what:  I'm thankful.  I know better than to think I have any room to complain.  There are plenty of women out there (and reading this blog) who deal with the alone-ness but who deal with loneliness too, because their husbands have removed their love.  I praise the Lord that mine has never done that.  I will never begrudge my husband for gathering all the courage he has to step out and do something he'd never done before because we had to eat and the heat had to stay on.  I know that this is a huge sacrifice for him too.  

I'll end by just sharing two things we started this week that have worked for us and I'd encourage any couple who experiences distance  for any amount of time to put these two things into place.  Also I want to share because there may come a time when we realize we got out of these two habits and they have made the last four days SO MUCH better, despite being apart, and I don't want to forget them.

First, we pray together each morning.  It took compromise and flexibility and a little brain-work to accomodate the time difference, but we figured out a way to connect by phone every single morning to pray over each other.  It's like a warm wake-up hug.  Wow, do I love it!

Second, we have phone-dates.  Yep.  Phone dates.  There's a date and a time and when that rolls around we each curl up with the phone (or the computer and Skype), put everything else away and just hang out together.  We talk about all things not too important (business stuff is off-limits during this hang-out time) and just enjoy the sound of each other's voice.  The rule is, the phone date can't end until we've set a date for the next one.  It just fills my love-bucket.  

Alright, that's enough rambling tonight.  I hope that you are all content, cozy and full of warm-fuzzies tonight.  


With much love,


February 17, 2011

Conversations

Danny holding up his bowl of yogurt and rice cereal to me with both hands: "Ma?!"

Me with a giggle: "More? Yes!"

***

Pediatric urgent care doctor: "So he doesn't have any infections or the flu. I'd suggest removing lactose from his diet for a bit to help regulate his bowel movements."

Me: "Okay. Well that's about half his diet. Sigh. No milk. No cheese."

Doctor: "No milk but cheese is ok."

Me: "Why is cheese ok?"

Doctor: "Remember curds and whey? The curds are fine. It's the whey that has the lactose in it. Cheese will help firm things up."

Me in my head: "No I don't remember curds and whey. YOU were born in 1900, not me. I have never in my life churned milk."

Me to him in real life: Blank stare. "Um, ok, sure. Cheese, no milk."

***

Danny: Hands his bowl to me.

Me: Taking his bowl, "All done?"

Danny: Hands me his spoon.

Me: "Honey, are you all done?"

Danny: "Ta-do-do"

Me: "Danny are you ALL DONE?? Say 'todo todo'."

Danny: Signing, "TO-DO-DO-DO-DO-DO!!"

Me: "Oh!"

***

Danny: "Mama!"

Me: "That's me!"

Danny towards the window: "Mamamamamamamamama..."

Me: "I'M Mama, honey."

Danny: "MAMA!!"

Me: Sigh.

***

Me in a restaurant to Danny: "Here, would you like this?"

Danny: "No!"

Alejandro to Danny: "Here, have some crayons."

Danny: Throws a crayon.

Me: "It's not ok to throw," taking away the other crayons.

Danny: At the top of his lungs, reminiscent of a dramatic movie scene, "NNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!"

Alejandro and me: Burying our faces in our hands to snuffle laughter.

***

Man in the grocery store to his toddler: "That is ENOUGH!"

Me to the man: "We were just having that same conversation."

February 16, 2011

I Live in a Hole

It's a self-induced hole.

We don't pay for TV. I don't listen to secular radio. I don't listen to the news... seriously. If something major like a tsunami happens, I hear about it through the grapevine. (And I always hear about it.) I usually change the radio station if advertisements come on that sound particularly full of the world.

That's usually all of them.

The other day my sister referred to a Justin Bieber movie and I didn't even know who that was.

I won't even read the particularly negative people on Facebook. That "hide" feature is handy.

Why the living-in-a-hole routine? Well, because just as what does up must come down, what goes in is bound to come out. If I'm reading, watching, listening to, and taking in the world, that's what's going to come out of my mouth. I have no desire to become so accustomed to the commercialized sex, the pervading materialism, and all else found in today's media, that it doesn't affect me.

I WANT it to affect me. I want it to seem crass if it is. I want a red flag to go off in my mind when the TV car salesman tells me I can't live without the next new Jeep model. I want to feel awkward when a barely dressed lingerie model flashes across the screen on a commercial break. If it doesn't feel out of place, I've become too comfortable. I'm called to be IN this world, not OF it.

That includes negativity. I just don't need the doom-and-gloom. It does not serve me nor my God-given purpose.

I don't think that this concept of guarding against media mental infiltration is new to most of you.  Actually, I share these thoughts because two days ago this thought process was challenged.

I have a family member who is a high ranking officer in the military and who is privy to a lot of information that the American public is kept from knowing. Not that he was sharing any information he shouldn't, but he DID call our attention to the direction that our current Presidential Administration is taking our nation and the danger that presents. I'll save my political opinions for another post. That's not my purpose right now.

This conversation challenged me because, while I still hold to the opinion that we ought to carefully filter what goes in, this presents a serious problem: I am completely unaware of what is happening politically in our world, and therefore, incapable of being an active participant and voice on any political scene, and THAT IS NOT OKAY WITH ME.

When I wrote this post earlier this month, in which I referenced people who don't even know the names of our House of Representatives, well, I was preaching to myself.

How does one filter what goes in, with regards to negativity, worldliness, and liberal politically skewed news reports, but at the same time remain informed and involved?  I'm aware that there are certain websites and newscasters that present a more balanced view of the political facts.  I'm also aware of the fact that it will take sacrifice and time to become informed and involved.  I'm certain I don't have all the answers yet, but I do know that it's important, and it's an issue I'm exploring and if you have any insight, I'm all ears.

Living Big - a life theme of mine - is not just about living big in the areas I like or am comfortable in. It means reaching into ALL areas of life and doing what is not always easy, comfortable or convenient.

Thanks for reading and commenting tonight.  More on this to come...

February 15, 2011

Out.

I think being set in one's own carseat after a long airplane trip must be a lot like being tucked into your own bed after many days in a hotel. This kid's just all tuckered out.

Renee

February 12, 2011

Family Time

We've been soaking up family time.


We've been soaking up the sun.


We've been burying our toes in the sand.


We've had time to relax.


We've been exploring new sights.


Sounds.


Creatures.


We've been watching and listening.


And burying our toes in the sand.


Together.


Danny's been going going going.


And therefore, so have we.


Yet even in the going there is rest.


We are being together.


These two are cuddling a lot.


We are thoroughly enjoying these 5 days together...


...before we have to be apart just a little longer.


We've been kissing.


And loving.


And living.


Together.