Potty Training – Week 1

A couple weeks ago, we decided it was time to try to start potty training Miss K.  Yowza!  I know that a lot of people think it’s REALLY early – she’s now 21 months old – but here are the things that led me to believe that she was ready:

  • She consistently could tell me that she had gone to the bathroom.  Sometimes she’d get the words mixed up for what happened in her diaper but she was able to recognize and understand that she had gone to the bathroom.
  • She started waiting until she was alone to go #2, which said to me that she could recognize that she had to go and wanted some privacy
  • She started showing interest in taking her clothes on and off herself.
  • She was going to the bathroom less frequently than in her younger years, showing that she was able to hold it for longer periods of time.
  • She was able to sit and concentrate on an activity for more than 8-9 minutes at a time
  • She was curious about what I was doing in the bathroom

And ya, from my perspective, there’s a lot of benefit in getting her potty trained – she’s had a lot of diaper rashes and keeping her out of a wet diaper is important.  Also, we’re having a baby in February and it would be a heckuva lot easier to only have one in diapers.  She’s going to school and while they are great about changing her frequently (once she came back with three wet diapers in a three hour period!), there’s peace of mind knowing that she’d be free of diapers there.

Anyway, I found a book to serve as a guide – I used Jamie Glowacki’s Oh Crap! Potty Training.  It was a quick/easy read and so far it’s been going well for us.  According to the author, the sweet spot for potty training is between 20-30 months and Miss K. fits right in there.  I think it’s been a benefit to us that she has just the right amount of awareness – she’s not so developed that she is trying to outsmart me and isn’t afraid of things like the flushing of a toilet.

On day one, we had several pees on the floor, but that’s expected.  You’re supposed to start getting the little one comfortable with using the potty.  And you want to start making the association that pee and poop go in the potty, not in your pants.  By the end of the day, she was definitely comfortable with the potty and was proud when she made it there in time.  She didn’t go #2 (I guess this is something that happens frequently) but on day 2, she went twice in the potty!  As gross as it is to have to clean a dirty potty, I was super proud of her.  She had a couple accidents but was definitely showing that she was “getting it.”  On day three, she went through FIVE pairs of pants within like seven hours.  Seriously.  It was a trying day.  But we pushed through and the next day she only had one accident and that was mostly my fault for being on the phone and not watching her signs.  Day five, we sent her back to school.  She didn’t have any accidents there!  I was super excited.  But unfortunately she did have one at home.  But still, I found it to be encouraging.  Day six, she had two accidents at school and none at home.  Day seven – ZERO accidents!!!!!  I was super proud of her.  She was beginning to tell me when she needed to go and was very cooperative to go to the potty.  She WANTED to make it there in time.  She was clearly uncomfortable when an accident happened.

It’s not an easy thing to potty train a toddler but for us, it’s going well.  The first few days were EXHAUSTING but the progress is motivating.  I think a few things that helped were:

  • having a guide (the book) to come back to and refer to over and over again.  I’ve never done this before so I wasn’t sure what to expect.  The book helped to remind me of what’s normal and what to do.  I didn’t feel so lost.
  • we were able to keep her home from school for a few days to give her full attention while we walked down this path.  She missed two days from school but I felt like it was worth it.
  • she’s not in diapers while she’s awake.  We haven’t started night-time/nap training yet so the only time she sees a diaper is when I put it on her right before her nap.  And even then, I remind her it’s only for sleeping.  I think this does away with any confusion about what’s ok and not ok…if she was wearing a diaper when awake, I think she’d have that sense of security and would be confused on whether or not she NEEDED to go to the potty or if she could just pee right then and there.
  • having close family that encouraged rather than discouraged us.  Both my husband and I were apparently potty trained by two years old so both of our moms thought it was great that we were starting with Karina.  What’s interesting is that we visited a pediatrician (not our usual Ped because it was a weekend visit) and she was like “It’s REAAAALLLY early to be potty training,” almost as if she thought we were setting ourselves up for failure.  I don’t think we are.  If Miss K. really wasn’t getting it, I would put it aside.  I would.  But she’s getting it.  For sure. She’s telling me when she needs to go.
  • I started backing off on the prompting to use the potty and let her take the reigns a little once I saw she was able to give enough notice.  Once she was even standing in the bathroom hollering “Potty!!!” by the time I got to her.  I thought she was saying “Daddy!”  this is because potty is sometimes pronounced “Paw-ee” and daddy is sometimes pronounce “Da-ee” and when she’s screaming, things don’t always register right with me.
  • not being embarrassed to take the potty with us on outings.  We just set the potty on the floor of the car and before going into a store or whatever, asked if she wanted to go.  If she did, she’d go.  It put us all at ease.  We even pulled over to let her pee once because she told us.  You have to respect the fact that the kiddo is telling you.  I think it reinforces trust between kids and parents too.  Actually yesterday was a little embarrassing – she hadn’t gone #2 all day and we wanted to go to a pumpkin patch.  She said she needed to go before we got out of the car but she didn’t.  So I actually put it in the stroller and took it with us, just in case.  But she didn’t use it when we were at the pumpkin patch.

So that was our first week.  I’m happy with the progression so far.  In week 2, the goal will be to reinforce what she’s learned and hopefully get her comfortable with using the big toilet.  She uses the toilet at school but I want to make sure she’s not overly attached to her little potty.  Let’s hope we continue to progress without too many set backs.

I think she’s amazing.

Let’s Do This!

In my last post, I mentioned how I had fallen far off the wagon and was feeling kind of out of sorts.  I’m nowhere near out of the woods with that but I’m thinking I’m going to find my way out soon.  Here’s the big reason (or maybe it’s an excuse) why I fell so hard off the wagon:  I’m preggers.  Yay!  We’re having another baby.

Miss K. has fulfilled every maternal need I’ve ever had.  I’m fully satisfied as a mother.  She’s wonderful…funny, fun, sweet, curious, smart, loving, adventurous, beautiful.  But for her sake, we wanted to have more kids.  Your siblings are the only ones who can truly appreciate how crazy your parents are.  They understand why you’re scared of snakes and in my and my husband’s cases, we know, in our hearts, that our siblings are the ones who will stand by our sides if ever we needed them.  Once parents go, your siblings are your people.  So we decided to try to have another baby.  We were lucky.  Like last time, it took us about three months to get pregnant.

Last time, my period was over a week and a half late before I took a pregnancy test (not really expecting it to come back positive).  This time, I found myself lying the hallway outside my daughter’s room with this nauseous feeling and having the thought “I think I’m pregnant.”  But it was still four days before my period was even to start (and I’m not the most regular person) so I didn’t know if I should even bother.  But I did.  I peed on the stick and waited.  When I found out I was pregnant with Karina, the positive line showed before the pee had even crossed the entire window.  This time, there was no line right away.  So I left the test there and kind of forgot about it until about 10-15 minutes later and I said “Oh ya!  I should go double check.”  I saw a faint line.  So I snapped a picture and texted it to my husband and anxiously awaited his call.  He didn’t call.  Because he didn’t get the text (stupid Google voice).  So I called him.  Excitement!  We made an appointment with my Primary Care Physician a couple days later and I peed in a cup.  And waited for her to come in.  She came in and said “My nurse showed me your test results and told me I would have to tell you you’re not pregnant” and of course I got a sad look on my face because then she shook her head and said “but I told her to wait because you know if you’re pregnant or not!  Congratulations!”  Apparently because it was still so early, the test needed a little more time to confirm the hormones (I guess they were still weak at that point).

Our first trimester was rough, which is why so much fell apart.  With Karina, I had some nausea and a daily vomit.  With this baby, I was nauseous all day long, vomiting about every other day, and exhausted!  I’ve felt pretty crummy for a while now.  I threw up three times while out and about and that’s really uncomfortable.  Once while I was driving.  I had to pull over and hurl.  Another time I was in the car with my poor husband.  Another time I was in the middle of eating a sandwich in an outdoor courtyard so on top of throwing up in the middle of a meal, I was self conscious because I couldn’t make it to a bathroom fast enough and barfed in a garbage can.  Luckily it was kind of out of the way so I think only maybe a couple people thought maybe I was throwing up.  Gross.

My progesterone dipped like it did the first time so they put me on the dreaded supplements.  I hate those things but got through them.  They’re also treating me as a diabetic this time so I’m on a modified diet already.  I’m not sticking to it really but I’m being cognizant of what I eat and I’m monitoring my blood glucose levels.

So that’s all the rough stuff.  On to the good stuff!  I’m now 15 weeks (phew, we’ve made it past the most common timeframe for miscarriages!) and based on the NT scan and blood tests, the baby is showing all signs of normalcy.  According to babycenter.com, Babycakes is about the size of a lemon and can clench its fist and maybe pee.  The morning sickness is wearing off and I’m regaining some energy.  I’m only nauseous sometimes instead of all the time!  My baby bump popped way earlier than last time…I can’t wear my jeans anymore so I’m wearing stretchy pants already (Score!)  We’ve seen the baby in two ultrasounds so far…our baby has a nose and a little mouth and feet and we got to see it move around!  The neonatologist wasn’t able to discern if the baby is a girl or a boy yet so we’re going to have to wait a few more weeks to see if we can find out at the next ultrasound.  I’m guessing girl based on my symptoms.  Ideally I’d love to have one of each but I think it would be beyond precious to have two little girls.  The good news is that we’ll win either way.  We’re excited!

I can’t lie though…I’m a little scared too.  I’m scared of having a hard time being pregnant for the next six months (and all the things that come along with being preg-o).  I’m scared of having a newborn again and being exhausted.  I’m scared I won’t be able to handle a toddler and a newborn.  I’m scared I’m not doing everything right for this second baby.  And that Karina won’t get the attention she deserves when the second baby comes.  And that I’m 36 and something’s going to go wrong.  Scared.  But happy.  And oh so thankful to be pregnant, despite the discomfort and misery of the first couple months.  I know I’m going to love this baby.  Actually I already love this baby.

Sigh.  So that’s what’s been occupying my time lately.  I couldn’t really cook without feeling like I was going to hurl all over the food and frankly I was tired.  So we’ve been eating out a lot.  And I wanted a lot of Fritos.  So I ate them.  Fritos sound delicious right now.  Maybe I’ll buy a bag and eat them over the course of a few weeks.  I lost the dryer balls I made when they hauled away our old dryer.  I do drink soda sometimes (usually no more than 4 oz or so and it’s always Dr. Pepper that gets me!).  I’ve eaten a lot of fast food lately…I just wanted/needed chicken nuggets.  Yikes.  Karina’s had a rash and the doctor recommended that she wear disposables for a while.  So she hasn’t been wearing her gdiapers.  And she’s now grown into the large size of gdiapers (sniff sniff, my baby’s growing up).  All her best diapers are in the medium size though!  Oh well, I’m hoping to start potty training her soon.

On the flip side of things, my husband has gone vegan.  So he’s eating great and I’m so proud of him.  He’s been vegan for 7 weeks now and doesn’t miss meat or any animal products!  I should join him on that.  But it won’t happen for a while.  This week I’m trying to cook at home again.  Depending on how I feel next week, I’m going to try to start walking for exercise and my sister- and brother-in-law got me prenatal yoga classes for my birthday so I want to start that too.  We’re going to get back on track, I swear!

gDiaper Mania is a Lot Like Tulip Mania

I’m the first to claim my love for gDiapers.  I love ’em.  I do.  BUT lately things have been a little crazy with these diapers.  Mostly, it’s the consumers again and in particular it’s the resale of these diapers.  It’s kind of crazy.  Let me give you probably the most extreme case.  In 2009 (I think), gDiapers released a gStyle called the gCycle.  It was cute:

It has bikes all over it.  Well, from what I’ve read, gDiapers had a hard time selling this print back then and actually put this one on sale to move some inventory.  Fast forward three short years later and gmoms are getting crazy trying to get this diaper set.  If their prices are like they are now, the price would have been somewhere around $35; $15 for the shirt and $20 for the diaper.  Here’s a list of completed auctions on ebay in May for the same set or its pieces:

  • $169.29 + $5.53 shipping for an Excellent Used Condition (EUC) shirt only
  • $175.37 + $5.53 shipping for an EUC Large gCycle diaper only (btw, it looks a little faded to me)
  • $121 + $5.53 shipping for an EUC  Medium gCycle diaper only
  • $133.51 for a 12-18 month gCycle t-shirt
  • $92 + $4.80 shipping for a faded, pilly Medium gCycle diaper only
  • $132.50 + $5 for a brand new medium gcycle diaper
  • $316.57 + $8 shipping for a used (slightly faded and pilly) gCycle set
  • $150 + $4.80 for a Good Used Condition gCycle diaper
  • $142 + $3 for an EUC Medium gCycle diaper
  • $164.49 + $3 shipping for a 6-12 month gCycle shirt

Insane-o.  There was a shirt that was bid up to $132.50 but didn’t meet the reserve.  What on earth was this seller expecting to get???  Let me tell you why I think this is crazy…first, we’re talking about diapers here.  Diapers that babies POOP IN.  And buying these used means SOMEONE ELSE’S BABY POOPED IN THEM.  Why on earth would you pay that much for a diaper that someone else pooped in?

The other thing that I don’t get is that in the 15 days in May, there were ten listings that closed successfully.  So if that’s the case, are these really *that* rare?  Granted, a few months ago, it wasn’t like this.  I think the super duper high prices are encouraging people to sell these where they wouldn’t have otherwise.  If these are becoming more available, Econ 101 says that prices should come down.  But I don’t think they will.  Why won’t this bubble burst just like all the others (including tulips)?  Warning:  I’m going to be inflammatory with these remarks – it’s a rarity for me but I just can’t help myself.  Why?  Because bird brained moms who sadly feel their self worth heightened by stupid things like t-shirts and diapers will pay for them.  This will only go away when/if there’s a better product.

Now I can’t be a hypocrite.  I, too, get unreasonably excited by these diapers.  And I DID pine for a few when I first got started.  However, I would never EVER pay that much for a DIAPER.  I understand that there is a perceived value here.  I’m just struggling to understand what that value is.  Is it completing a collection of all g’s?  Maybe I can understand that.  Is it the thrill of the hunt?  These type of moms MUST feel buyers remorse.  OR is it more that the value is knowing that you have something that others desire?  Honestly, I think that’s what it is.  I know I shouldn’t care because, seriously, everyone has the right to spend their money how they see fit.  If someone really loves this print and wants it at all costs, I really shouldn’t judge.  And yet…

I guess based on what I see on the gdiapers boards, I get the feeling that some of these moms who hoard diapers and pay crazy amounts really can’t afford to be doing so.  I had one mom (who I know has a ridiculously large collection) contact me about a diaper I was selling and she said “but I won’t be able to pay you until Friday after I get paid.”  Now if you have to wait to get paid to pay for this, my guess is that you shouldn’t be making the diaper your priority.  It slays me when they so confidently say that they’ll be able to sell their $150 diapers for a profit.  It’s crazy that they *expect* to make money on gdiapers.  Let’s stop and think about that for a moment.  Have you EVER bought a piece of clothing with the hope that you’ll make money on it?  Have you ever even bought a piece of clothing with the thought that you might be able to recoup some of your costs?  Cloth diapers are weird that way.  Again, I shouldn’t judge but here I am.

So that’s the emotional WTF side of the argument.  On the other side, why not?  If there is so much demand for these diapers that people are willing to pay this much, then let consumerism and capitalism do their things.  What I find funny is that gMums accuse the company of withholding inventory on purpose.  That’s so ludicrous.  If they are confident that they can sell inventory, you bet they’re going to manufacture plenty to meet that demand.  I’m confident that it’s not them creating a mania.  It’s bird brains like me who can’t stop singing their praise.  And hell, they make a cute product.  Sigh.

Speaking of which, look at the new novelty prints they put out this week:

I actually didn’t care for the wave and thought the ruffle was a little busy when I saw them back in December but I’m picking up the ruffle for sure because I love seeing little ruffles on Miss K’s little bum.

gDiapers and The Peak

Since I’ve been home with my daughter (It’s been 14 months already!!!!!), I’ve found all kinds of stimulation – joy, learning with Miss K, seeing her develop, searching for the BEST everything for my babe, learning about natural alternatives, exploring with food and cooking…but I have to say that I haven’t been challenged much by the kind of stuff that I loved about my last job.  As one of the executive team members at a high growth company, we spent a lot of time in off-sites, reading philosophies and discussing how to apply them to our business to succeed.  Five years ago, I would have called it a bunch of mumbo-jumbo and asked why our executives were wasting 10-20 hours a quarter rather than dealing with all the daily pulls.  After seeing how well it worked for us as an integral part of our leadership, I would do the same if I had my own company.

Anyways, one of the things I find myself intrigued by (now that I don’t have a huge load of work responsibilities and problems to fix there) is how some of the small businesses I interact with work.  The company that has grabbed my attention (and won’t let go, sadly) is gDiapers.  I have no idea how large (or small) their market share is or what kind of growth they’re experiencing but I get the sense that they’re doing well and there are a lot of reasons for this.  They have a good product (not perfect but good), sure.  But from what I can tell, they’re nurturing all the right things.  Their corporate philosophy (which I’m hoping and assuming is genuine) appears to be about being genuine.  They clearly spend extra to do business with earth friendly vendors, they seem to do a great job with their employees and they VALUE their customers.  This all got me thinking about a book that we had read at one of our offsites:

I was a psych major in college and I’ve always liked concepts that help explain why people do what they do.  Maslow has a theory that says people have a hierarchy of needs.  Humans are motivated by fulfilling their unmet needs.  And lower needs must be fulfilled before the higher needs can be addressed.  At the base of the pyramid, people need their physiological needs met – they need shelter and food.  Next they have safety needs – protection from lions, fire and hurricanes.  Then they have social needs – interaction with others, followed by esteem needs – the need to feel good and confident about oneself.  At the top of the pyramid is self actualization – the understanding of one’s potential.

Chip Conley took this and applied it to business.  Basically a successful company will satisfy the needs of their customers, their employees, and their investors.  And each of these constituents have a hieirarchy of needs.  The pyramids look like this:

I don’t know about gDiapers’ employees or their Investors (the bottom two pyramids), but I’ve found that gDiapers has done an excellent job of meeting the needs of customers (top pyramid).  Here’s how:

Meets Expectations:  The way I see it, the basic things that a diaper company needs to do are:

  • Be easily accessible – I need to be able to get them when I need them.  gDiapers is available through more big box retailers than any other cloth brand that I’m aware of.  The fact that I can go into a Babies R Us and pick them up makes them convenient (oh and by the way, TOTALLY legitimizes them in comparison to some of the other smaller cloth brands).  Additionally, I can buy them online at Target.com, Walmart.com, Walgreens.com, gdiapers.com, diapers.com – the list goes on.  gdiapers.com and diapers.com can get them to me within two days.  I can get these when I need them.
  • Keep my baby free of leaks – So honestly, I’ve had more leaks with gDiapers than I care to admit.  But that’s because the diapers come with a learning curve.  And I had to adjust the way I use them to fit me and my baby.  BUT I have not had a single poop up the back instance with these, not even when Miss K. was on breast milk exclusively.  Poop rarely makes it outside the pouch.  And while I’ve had wet gPants, I seldom have wet clothes and admittedly, it’s usually because I’ve gone too long without changing her or didn’t put the diaper on right.
  • Manufactured in a way that does not harm my child.  With cloth, I feel secure that my child is free from chemicals.  Even gDiapers’ disposable option is fully discussed on their site.  I was a little apprehensive when I saw these weird gel beads come out of the flushable inserts but I read up on them and I am satisfied that they are safe for my child.
  • Must be affordable.  I’ll be saving hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars by using gDiapers instead of disposables.  I actually don’t see how disposables are affordable in comparison.

Meets Desires:  This category assumes that the diaper company is able to do the most basic things and focuses on the things that people would like a diaper company to do.  It’s the wish list.  Here are the things that I was hoping for that gDiapers actually is able to do:

  • Be good for the environment – one of the main reasons I cloth diaper.  When I read that a baby produces over a ton of trash in diapers alone and that a traditional plastic diaper takes over 500 years to biodegrade, I had a hard time accepting that I needed disposable diapers.  Both gCloth and gRefills are healthier for the environment.  I can flush away the refills and when I can’t, they’ll biodegrade!
  • Great Customer Service – these guys are awesome.  They write hand written notes.  They stand behind their products.  I had a velcro strip come off of one of my diapers and I contacted them.  All I had to do was mail in my diaper and they sent me a new one.  I’ve met a few of their employees and they’re genuinely nice people.  They smile.  And say please and thank you.  And they tell me my baby is cute.  That makes me feel good.

Meets Unrecognized Needs:  These are the needs that you don’t even know you have.  Basically it’s the stuff that you don’t expect from a diaper company (but are so glad they do).

  • Being part of a community – One of the things that keeps me fully engaged with this company is the community of moms that love this diaper.  I don’t know any of them in real life but I love how they rally behind this brand, are helpful to others, and are like-minded.  It’s flippin’ awesome.  I check their Facebook page more than once a day.  gDiapers fosters this community so well.  And I want to help others.  I write blog posts and share them with people who are looking for help.  It’s great to have this type of resource available.
  • Feeling like you’re on the inside – gDiapers also has a gMum program that is meant to help enthusiasts get the word out about gDiapers.  It can’t be cheap.  Their give-aways are generous and they have several thousand gMums.  But because they are arming us moms with marketing materials, I feel like I have a connection to the brand and I WANT to spread the word.  I WANT to help them succeed.
  • Pride in feeling like you’re doing the right thing.  It’s stupid but I am proud that we’ve cloth diapered our baby for a year now.  I am proud that she’s sitting on cloth and not chemicals.  I am proud that it’s a little more work but we’re doing less damage to the earth.  I didn’t know how good it would feel to use this product.  I did not expect that.  But I love it.

Again, this is only one component – the customer component – but my sense is that they’re doing well in the other two areas as well.  I just don’t know enough about them to say for sure.  So that’s why I think gDiapers has what it takes to be not just a successful company, but a GREAT company.

gDiapers 2012 Spring Lineup – Solids

gDiapers released their Spring Lineup last week.  Two new colors and the bringing back of some old faves.  The two new colors are (drum roll please) Goosey Gray and Groovy Grape:

Cute, right?  I wanted that purple after I saw it at the gPhotoshoot back in December but now that I see that gray again, I kinda loves it and will need that one too.  The other colors in the line up are Greatful Red, Great Orange, Good Morning Sunshine Yellow, Guppy Green, Glacier Blue, and Goddess Pink.  They look like this:

They still have the gStyles to release as well as some other special/print diapers to release.  I think the fans are going to like some of what they’re going to be releasing!

The other day I went to the gDiapers homepage and saw that they had added new images and was surprised (and thrilled!) to see that Miss K. are on the homepage!  How exciting!  We’re the second banner.  I’m super excited to represent a company we love and admire.  Here’s what the banner looks like:

Sqaweeeeeeelll!

How to Make Wool Dryer Balls

I have another item to add to the “moving in a natural direction by swapping out products” list.  I’m letting go of the habit of using dryer sheets in our laundry.  I’ve always used dryer sheets, probably because I grew up in New Mexico where the air is really dry, especially in the winter.  Without dryer sheets, our laundry would hurt because of all the static in the clothes.  They also smell nice and make our clothes feel soft.  But as I’m getting older, I’m realizing this is just another chemical-laden product that I probably don’t need.  Our cloth diapers can’t use them and I never used them on baby’s clothes so I found myself wondering if we even really need them.  I started looking into them and like usual, research helped me seal the deal.

Dryer sheets are typically a thin sheet of polyester intended to be used once and then thrown out (strike one).  Usually the polyester has some sort of surfactant which is made up of a fatty substance of some sort that heats up in the dryer and adheres to your clothes, leaving a layer of fat that feels soft to the touch (ew.  strike two).  The hard part is that different manufacturers use different chemicals and are not required by law to print what they’re using unless they’re hazardous or are active disinfectants.  Well, apparently some of those chemicals can be irritating to inhale or ingest (strike three).  While most people I know don’t eat or snort dryer sheets, they do breathe the air in the laundry room.  There are studies that show that scented laundry products can release carcinogens into the air.  And in general, if I don’t need it, I should do away with it, right?

Enter the wool dryer ball!  Wool dryer balls are exactly what you’d think they are:  balls made of wool.  According to several sites I’ve read, wool dryer balls are supposedly good for the following reasons:

  1. They’re natural.  I made our wool dryer balls with 100% wool.  Ours were dyed so there’s that, but otherwise, no crazy lipids added.
  2. They speed up drying time.  I believe this is because they bounce around in the dryer, helping the clothes move around, which helps them dry faster.  I’ve heard of people using tennis balls or the PVC balls that you can buy but I believe both of those will put off chemicals from the plastic.  Also, the wool supposedly helps pull the moisture from the clothes.  So far, I’ve used them twice on diaper laundry loads. I think they’re cutting down some time.  Once I have all five of mine in the dryer, I’m hoping to cut back the dry time even further.
  3. They produce less waste.  One dryer ball should last between 5-10 years, where as a dryer sheet is only used once.  No box, either.
  4. They’re cost effective.  Goes hand in hand with #3.  Wool yarn isn’t cheap but like cloth diapers, there is an upfront cost that benefits you in the long run.  You have to pay more for the wool at the beginning but then you don’t have to keep paying for them.
  5. They reduce static in clothes.  I’m not sure how they do this but apparently they do, but probably not as well as a dryer sheet.

So I decided to give them a try.  Depending on the size of the dryer ball (and the size of your load of laundry), you need several.  I bought two to begin with because they’re not cheap.  The ones I bought were from ecomom.com and cost $7 each.  At least I had free shipping :).  They look like this:

Hers are nice and are about the size of a tennis ball, maybe a little bigger.  I got one in blue and one in gray, although color really doesn’t matter.  I have no idea where the gray one has wandered off to.  It’s nowhere to be found.  According to what I’ve read, you really need 4-8 to see a difference in drying time.  I really want to reduce the amount of drying time for the cloth diapers we wash.  We do 2-3 diaper loads per week and each load is taking about 80 minutes to dry.  That’s not so green when you think of the energy used and emissions released!  Add in the 3-4 loads of our clothes plus rags and dishtowels and you’r looking at sometimes 30 loads of laundry a month!  So off to Michael’s I went to buy wool yarn.  It turns out that wool yarn isn’t cheap, and when you factor in shipping costs when you buy dryer balls online, it’s no surprise that the dryer balls aren’t cheap.

What’s important is that you buy 100% wool.  No wool blends.  Some people use tennis balls as the core but I didn’t want to risk plastic leaching out in the dryer so I decided to stick with 100% wool.  Some people upcycle old wool sweaters with great success.  I don’t have any though so I bought wool yarn.  Maybe I’ll make a trip to goodwill and see what I can find.  I also wonder if you could do the inner core with another, cheaper material and get the same results.  I’m not sure so if you’ve done that, please share your experience in the comments section below.  Anyway, let’s get to the super simple tutorial.

First start a ball by wrapping some yarn around two fingers in one direction and then slipping the yarn off your fingers and going in the other direction.  It should look something like this:

Side note – you can also tie in a sprig of dried lavender inside the ball to scent it but it will eventually wear off.  I didn’t have any so I kept it simple.  I’ve also read that you can add a few drops of essential oils to the balls and that works as a temporary scent too.  I didn’t do either of those things though.  Back to the tutorial…

Start winding in different directions to make a ball, continuing until the ball is about the size of a racketball.  The cut the string and tuck it securely into the ball.  Some people use a crochet needle for this but I just did it with my fingers.  Once it’s about the size of a racketball, you need to felt it.  Felting will help condense the ball and will make is soft and fuzzier, like felt, and prevents the ball from unraveling.  All you have to do is put the wool ball into a leg of pantyhose or a knee high stocking or a sock, tie it with some string (or just tie a knot with the stocking itself if that’s what you’re using), and wash it on hot and dry it a few times.  If you’re making more than one ball, you can use the same sock/stocking, just make sure you tie a knot in between each ball to keep them in their own snug little compartment.  The first time I did this, I used a sock.  It didn’t seem to work *that* great, I think because the sock was rather thick.

So I tried again on a subsequent set with an old, run-laden knee hi.  Admittedly, they look a little creepy in that pantyhose.  And I will also admit that I got a little carried away with tying them; it took a little longer to untie the string I used than I would have liked.  I just really didn’t want the string to come undone because then the ball would likely unravel! Once the ball is felted, use the rest of your yarn to continue making the ball and repeat the felting process.  I washed this one three times by just throwing it into the regular wash (again on hot). That’s it!  Here are a few balls I’ve made.  I think they’re cute.  Like a happy little band of friends  The blue one has actually been used in a normal wash, which is why it’s fuzzier.  If you find that yours are super linty, I believe you can use a sweater shaver or a lint brush to get some of that lint off.Voila!  Or as my not so bright friends say, Wahla!  You have a wool dryer ball.  Throw it into your dryer the next time you run a load but be prepared – you will be able to hear them bouncing around.  Depending on your dryer, the size of your load of laundry, and the balls, it could get loud.  Ours aren’t so loud that they wake up baby, but it’s something to be aware of.  AND the other annoying part is that they tend to make a break for it when you empty the dryer so make sure you take ’em back to the laundry room!  If they stick around in your bedroom, at least you know they’re safe for your kids and pets to play with.  I actually kinda liked making these…winding the balls was a little therapeutic.  So if you would like to give some of these a try but don’t feel like making them yourself, I can help you.  Just leave me a comment below and we can talk about making that happen.  They’re a great alternative to dryer sheets!

#14 on the LIST – Cloth Wipes

Time to tackle something else on the LIST.  I’m going to start using cloth wipes.  Right now, I use disposable wipes that we had purchased before our baby was born.  We bought so many that they lasted us over a year.  Crazy, right?  Well we bought a whole case, which meant four boxes, each with nine packages that each had 88 wipes in them.  That’s a lotta wipes, folks.  I still have 3-4 packages but I wanted to start transitioning to using cloth wipes.  There are a few reasons for this:

  1. The wipes seem wasteful.  We produce a lot of extra trash because of these wipes.  I could probably buy the flushable kind and that would help but ideally, we would be greener than that even.
  2. I cloth diaper my baby so it’s easy to throw these wipes in the wash with the diapers.  Actually, using the disposable wipes is one extra step; I have to throw the wipe away.
  3. I don’t like the idea of poopy wipes hanging out all week until it’s trash day.  Especially now that baby has started taking interest in exploring the garbage.  Luckily she hasn’t figured out the step top garbage in her room but I was mortified to see her holding a used disposable that she had found in the trash.  The bathroom trashcan now sits on the counter out of her reach.
  4. Cloth wipes are cheaper than the disposable kind

I think I’ll need to ease into this.  My plan is to first start using the cloth wipes on wet diapers at home.  If that goes well, I’ll start using them on the dirty diapers too.  And if THAT goes well, I’ll consider using them while on the go.  At this point I’m thinking I’ll still need to keep disposable wipes in my diaper bag though.

So where to start?  I know you can buy cloth wipes.  I’ve also read that you can make cloth wipes out of old receiving blankets.  I’m going to use thin washcloths similar to these:

These are super simple – no border, cotton, small.  And they’re cheap.  I just picked up a four pack for a buck. I usually wash diapers once every other day or so, so I’ll probably need about a dozen cloths.

Next, I need to figure out what solution to use.  There are a ton of options when it comes to the solution so I think there’s going to be some trial and error.  I did a little research and found this site as well as this one.  Since I cloth diaper and my baby has sensitive skin, I want to start out simple and then I can get fancier as time goes on.  I am going to start with:

  • 2 Tbsp Baby Wash
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 2 Cups water

I like it because it’s simple, natural, and I have all the ingredients on hand.  The baby was will cleanse her skin and the olive oil will help moisturize.  Easy peasy.

The next consideration is how will I store and apply the solution?  Some people use a spray bottle and spray baby’s bottom or the wipe, others store wet wipes in an airtight container, others put wipes in a wipe warmer with solution, and still others use a pop top bottle (like a sports water bottle) and drip wipe solution on to the cloth.  I think I’m going to use a spray bottle and spray the cloth.  It seems mean to spray Miss K’s bum with a cold solution.  I don’t think I’d like that so I’m assuming she wouldn’t either!

I’ve also read that you don’t want to make too much in advance otherwise the solution will get musty.  I’ve read that once a week should be fine. I was curious about whether or not other moms wash their dirty wipes before throwing them in the dry pail with the other used diapers.  I asked on the gDiapers facebook page and most moms said that they didn’t wash it out.  I don’t know how I feel about that.  I’m thinking that I would prefer to wash them off before putting them away, since I’m using the diaper sprayer to wash off the cloth inserts anyway.  We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it, I guess.

We’ll see how it goes!  Wish me luck!

Two-Zero-One-Two…Now Whatcha Gonna Do?

It wouldn’t be a new year without some mention of resolutions or goals of some sort and I’m no different.  I don’t think I’ve ever made the “I’m gonna lose 10 pounds this year” goal but weight loss is definitely on my mind.  I gained somewhere between 22-25 pounds with my pregnancy and then in 2011, I dropped about 30 pounds, so i was in pretty good shape.  Unfortunately I’ve since put on some pounds and would like to lose about 10.  The good news is that several of the goals I put on THE List align with that (drink more water, reduce fast food, reduce soda, eat at home, exercise).  So I think it’s possible.  Here is a run-down of what I’m going to tackle next:

#4 – Begin using a natural toothpaste

I was going to wait until we were all done with the toothpaste in the house to start this but I probably should keep a couple tubes of “normal” toothpaste around just in case.  Just in case of what?  I don’t know.  Anyhoo, I do want to start using a natural toothpaste because I want to reduce the amount of chemicals I’m using but I want to make sure our teeth aren’t suffering.  So I’ll need to find one endorsed by the ADA (Tom’s of Maine is) and figure out if I want one with Fluoride or not.  Unfortunately there is no clear definition of what “natural” means in this space but it seems that it’s generally agreed that it’s free of dyes, preservatives, artificial flavors or sweeteners.  I want to find one that is free of SLS, menthols and eucalyptols.  Almost all commercial toothpastes have SLS, which makes it so latherific.  I think I read that there’s a link between SLS and canker sores, too.  And I’ve suffered from canker sores for a long time, especially during times of stress.  If all else fails, I could always try just plain ol’ baking soda and water.  Didn’t work for my hair but might work on my teeth.

#12 – Reduce the amount of high fructose corn syrup in my diet

HFCS is considered unhealthy because it causes nicks in your arteries.  Weakened arteries can collapse or become clogged and then you have fun situations like heart attacks and strokes.  And I think HFCS has contributed to my gut (that now expanded to encircle my entire trunk).  I don’t know exactly how much HFCS I consume but I want to be more aware.  So step one will be figuring out where it’s popping up in my diet and finding substitutions or eliminations.  Soda was a big culprit and now I drink flavored iced teas.  Well the flavor comes from a syrup that I’m quite certain is made with HFCS.  Sigh.  Will likely need to eliminate those too.  And of course HFCS shows up in all kinds of salad dressings, breads, sweet treats, ketchup, etc.  The good news is if I continue to eliminate  processed foods from diet, I’ll cut this out too.  It starts with awareness, I guess.

#13 – Exercise

I’ve been avoiding this one.  Why?  Don’t know.  I went to the gym a few weeks ago and it felt really really good.  Not just while I was there but for two days afterwards.  Yet I haven’t returned.  Lame.  So here’s the goal: yoga once a week (I have videos and a Wii that might help with that), gym twice a week (for at least 45 minutes) and a walk/run once a week that is a minimum of 2 miles.  I’m supposed to run a half marathon this summer so I need to start training anyway.  My baby likes being in her stroller so the walk/run will be nice with her.  We took her for a 3 mile walk yesterday.  There are a lot of hills where we live so it’s good exercise; I break a sweat every time and I was tired afterwards.

#14 – Switch to cloth wipes

I have about eight more packs of disposable wipes that I need to get through before I do this.  I wash diapers anyway, so why not use wipes too?  I’ll still need disposable wipes for traveling and emergencies so maybe I’ll start making the switch when we’re down to four packs.  I have to research what kind of solution to use…some people just use water, others make a solution of soap, essential oils, and water, others use some tea tree oil in it.  Just need to see what will work best for our baby.  I was shocked when I started reading about wipes.  I thought they were safe to wipe my baby’s face with but then it turns out that most wipes have benzyl alcohol in them, which is toxic when inhaled.  I used to wipe her face and nose with them until I learned this.  Yucko.

#15 – Drink more water

I have so many water bottles.  Plastic, stainless steel, combo.  Yet I drink hardly any water.  This one SHOULD be easy but it’s not for me.  So I have to come up with a plan to make sure I do this one.  The goal is to drink 64 ounces per day.  I have had no water today.  Better get to drinkin’!

I think I can.  I think I can.  I think I can.  What’s on your list this year?  Conversely, what are you going to KEEP doing this year?

gPhoto Shoot

We did it!  Baby, Grandma, and I flew out to Portland and took some pictures for gDiapers.  I was concerned that Miss K would have a hard time or would be tired or cranky but all in all, she did pretty well!  We got to the photo studio in the morning and I was nervous!  I just wanted my baby to be happy and I really wanted her to be in an ad.  I know.  It’s selfish.  But I love this child and I can’t help but want her to represent a product that I believe in.  My husband also made me feel good – he said maybe one day she’ll think it’s really cool that her mom took her to be in a photo shoot for a diaper company.  I hope so.  I’m not trying to pimp out my kid (trust me, the compensation was not a motivator).

Anyways, we got to the photo shoot and I met three gals from gDiapers – all were FANTASTICALLY nice.  Really, just friendly and professional and I just can’t say enough good things.  One of the people I met was Kim Graham-Nye, one of the founders of the company.  She was really cool.  I couldn’t help but tell her how much I admired what she’s doing with the company.  It’s really really impressive and I hope she has nothing but success.  Back to the photo shoot.  We dressed Miss K in one of the spring line’s new items and she looked AH.  DOR.  AH.  BLE.  She did great!  She smiled and crawled and played and it seemed like they got plenty of good shots.  I hope that they end up using some of the shots in their marketing materials. They also had me change my shirt and they took some pictures of me with Miss K.

I got to preview the new spring line – as usual, gDiapers continues to put out great products.  But that’s all I’ll say about that!  You’re just going to have to wait til they’re released to fall in love.  🙂 I wish I could have taken one of each home with me – but alas.  It was not destined to be.

I was a little disappointed in the other gmums.  They were kind of cold; maybe they all knew each other or they’ve done this before.  Most of them just weren’t very friendly but that’s ok.  Karen, Gillian, Heather and Kim more than made up for it.  The ladies in the afternoon were a little better.

Miss K did do one wardrobe change and she was a trooper – poor thing tumbled a little when she was climbing on a prop and cried a little but settled down pretty quickly.  She did great.  I’m so proud of her.  So was her grandma.

In the afternoon, they called back to see if we could sit in on some more pictures.  I thought we were really far away but then we passed the exit for the photo studio on the freeway so I called them back and asked if they still needed us and they said yes so we stopped by again.  Unfortunately we weren’t planning on this second shoot so she wasn’t fed and rested.  The second one didn’t go as well; poor baby started crying some and was just tired.  I felt bad about that so I pulled her out of the shots a couple times and did my best to make her happy.  This time instead of dDiapers employee Gillian helping out, Heather was there and she was just delightful.  So so friendly and warm.

The funny part was that K. wore three different things and two of those things came out of my diaper bag.  The first time they were doing pictures with an existing color and when they put theirs on her, it looked a little saggy because it hadn’t been washed.  I happened to have that same color in good condition in my bag so we used that!  The second time they were in a rush and liked the color she was wearing when we came in for the afternoon shoot so they took pictures of her in that color.  Funny, huh?

I’m seriously impressed with both the photographer and the gDiapers folks.  They were still going – all day of taking pictures with unpredictable babies and still upbeat.  Awesome.  I know it’s a little crazy but I’m glad we did it.  The pictures won’t be published until the spring but that’s ok.  It was a good experience for us.

The travel itself for the most part went well also.  First time traveling without my husband and I was a bit nervous but it was ok.  My mom went with us and she’s really a piece of cake to travel with.  She is on board with whatever plan I come up with, genuinely wants to help, and isn’t picky about where we stay or what we eat.  Really, I am blessed.  She was fantastic the entire trip.  She sat in the back seat with Miss K when we drove places and fed her and watched her so that I could run out and get food and gas and whatever else.  Miss K did good on the flights, too.  She was a little fussy on the last leg of the trip but otherwise was a trooper.  They almost routed us back to Oakland halfway through our flight from San Jose to Orange County but then ended up landing at LAX.  Phew.  I was really dreading flying all the way back to Oakland and extending our travel day.  We could have waited a while and taken a flight from LAX to Orange County Airport (it’s about a 45 minute drive) but we just had our ride pick us up from LAX instead.  I didn’t want the poor thing to have to go up and down in the air any more than she needed to.  All in all, a great trip.  Thank you Mom, and thank you gDiapers!

Ohhhh. Emmmm. Geeee…

Guess where we’re going next week.  Come on, guess.  Did you guess?  We’re going to Portland, Oregon because Miss K is going to be in a gDiapers photoshoot!!!!!  Squeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!

A few weeks ago, gDiapers posted on their facebook page that they were looking for babies to be in the next set of marketing materials.  They were looking for babies between the age of two weeks and 1 year, who were not yet walking.  Miss K fits that bill!  So I sent in about seven pictures of her and right when I was about to give up on the dream of having my pretty girl in a gDiapers ad, I received an email saying that they were interested in taking her picture!  So exciting.

I don’t know exactly where they’ll use the images.  From what I’ve seen, they’ll probably use them on their website, possibly as product pictures on other sites that sell gDiapers (like ecomom.com, diapers,com, etc.).  I’m not sure if they use these images for baby expos or brochures/pamphlets also.  I’m just so happy that my baby will be representing a company that we so firmly believe in.

I’m a little nervous because you just can’t predict what a baby will do on any given day.  Miss K. is a happy little butterfly; in general she has no cranky times.  But sometimes, if she’s not feeling well or if she’s tired, things can get a little tough.  I’m hoping I can manipulate her schedule enough that she has enough rest and food that she’ll be in good spirits.  You never know.  The pictures may  not come out right and they may not end up using any of them.  Babies are unpredictable.  But I’m really hoping that’s not the case.  It would be a thrill to log on to their site or onto facebook and see her little face.

Remember how I said that maybe I was in gAddict Remission?  Ya, strike that.  We’re back with some serious fervor.

By the way, they also asked if I’d be willing to have my picture taken with her.  I’m not nearly as photogenic as she is but I’m game.  The chances that they’ll use my face aren’t huge, so I’m good with that.  Wish us luck!  I’ll report back once we return.  So excited!