Thursday, August 25, 2011

Sweet Sneak Peek

Recently, one of my friends from our Bradley Birth Class was telling me how she is already planning for her son's first birthday party. *Gasp*, he's even a month younger than my daughter! I didn't laugh at her for planning something 1/3 of a year away, but that might have been because she inspired me...I realized that the earlier I start planning and preparing, the cheaper and nicer it will be, since I can have plenty of time to make things for my daughter's birthday instead of rushing around last minute and buying everything.

So. That being said, I started looking for a theme. I may as well say, I also despise licensed characters. Inasmuch as I have anything to do with it, my daughter won't ever have an "Elmo" or "Barbie" or "Hannah Montana" party, etc...of course, once she can speak her own mind, who knows? She'll probably ask for a licensed character party every year. But for now, the planning is up to me. *evil cackling*

I started my research by looking for a cake. I figured I could build a party theme around a cake, and I did! Naomi's first birthday party theme is officially: Owls. I did a lot of online research, but quickly realized that if I want her sweet treats to be as adorable as this one, and not wind up looking unfortunate, then I needed to practice! I saw some cute owl cake pops and thought I would try my hand at them. I think they turned out to be adorable!

Owl Cake Pop

And here's the whole mess of them. I used a ballpoint pen to poke holes in a cereal box to prop them up while they were drying. They were really a lot easier to make than I'd thought they would be!

Colorful Owl Cake Pops

Now, I'm glad I didn't make an entire cake's worth of cake pops. That would have been entirely too many! But from one box of cake mix, I made 12 regular cupcakes, 12 mini cupcakes, and 1 loaf pan's worth of the rest of the batter, which, when mixed with frosting, became 20 cake balls. Want to know how I made the owls? 

I lightened the photo to more easily show off owl-ey features.

What I did with the mini cupcakes was practice various icing techniques with my metal icing tips. The regular-sized cupcakes, I practiced making ball of yarn cupcakes which will hopefully be for my birthday party/Christmas party later this year. Here's a sneak peek:

I used Pocky with chocolate chips to make the knitting needles. 

Thanks for reading! Let me know what you think!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

And We're Out the Door!

Be forewarned! This post is about nursing in public as part of the Breastfeeding Blog Hop, so if you don't want to know, stop reading now. :-)

First airplane ride!

I remember when I first had my daughter, how nursing wasn't even a discussion for me. I fought hard to be able to nurse her, even switching medications so I could. And I fought even harder when I struggled with latch issues, resulting in excruciatingly painful, bleeding nipples. But she and I won the battle! I remember looking at her nursing one day, thinking "So this is what my breasts were meant to do!" It's convenient to never have to remember bottles because I always have her milk with me. I can and do feed her whenever and wherever she needs to eat.

But not everyone feels that way. People are entitled to their own opinions, but I get frustrated when their opinions cross the line. I've read so many articles in the last few months about how some woman was out  nursing her baby in public, and some manager of whatever business asked her to stop. ABC's series, What Would You Do even had a scenario about it! It makes me appreciate even more the places that are more family-friendly, with changing stations in restrooms men use, with chairs in discrete places for mommies to nurse their babies, etc.

Family-friendly restroom!

Nursing in public is...interesting. There have been many times when I've grabbed my child and run out the door to an appointment, needed to feed her while we were out and about, and realized I forgot my nursing cover at home in the wash. And it's summer, so there are no baby blankets in the diaper bag. I try to be discrete, but that's more for my peace of mind that I won't have any weird stalkers ogling me as I feed my daughter. When I do remember the cover, I feel like I draw WAY more attention to myself, trying to keep my flailing octopus from ripping the cover away and giving a show to the whole store, church congregation, or whatever other audience might be around.

One time, my husband Daniel and I were on a date at a bookstore. There was a lady who weighed at least 400 lbs. carrying around a small baby. She was walking around the store with her breast completely exposed and she wasn't even trying to cover up or be discrete in any way. The baby was only sometimes latched on as she ambled around for a good 20 minutes. We kind of looked at each other with eyes wide open (ok, the baby was smaller than her giant boob!) and laughed about it later, but we weren't upset about it. It was funny to us. But that isn't how I nurse my daughter. Even when I forget the cover, I'm not about to whip out my boob and walk around an entire bookstore like I'm daring someone to confront me. Yes, I believe that I have the right to do that, but no, I'm not going to do it. There are perverts who won't see me feeding my baby, they'll just see "boob". I don't want my baby associated with that. Not to mention, at 8.5 months old, my daughter would be waaaaay too distracted to nurse if I marched her around a store while attempting to feed her! So I will continue to sit in my corner quietly, cover her with my shirt or burp cloth or whatever I have handy, and focus on feeding her. After all, that's the whole point...

Friday, August 5, 2011

Why We Chose Cloth Diapers

3 weeks: newborn cloth diaper

Before our daughter was born, we had TONS of decisions to make. One of those included what kind of diapers to use. I have worked in childcare many years, and my only diapering experience was with disposables. You put the clean diaper on the baby, take the soiled one off, wipe the baby and throw away the diaper. Bam, done. I never thought about using cloth diapers. My preconceived ideas about them were that they were too complicated, that I would have to touch a lot more ick than I would like, and that they'd be too much work with diaper pins, plastic pants, all that washing and clotheslines. Besides, Daniel would never go for it.

Boy was I wrong.

I visited my friend Carolyn, who was using cloth diapers on both of her little girls. They looked like a MUCH cuter version of disposables! Just as easy to put on and take off, the only difference being that you washed them instead of throwing them away. I thought, "I can do that!" So I did what I always do before making a really big decision: research! Turns out there are lots of kinds of cloth diapers, including the old-fashioned ones you have to fold. But there have been many technological advances in cloth diapers in the last 5 years!

5 weeks: Flip diaper & cover

I looked at many different factors as to why or why not to use cloth diapers:

Convenience: For both disposables and cloth, you velcro the diaper on the baby, take it off, and throw it in a pail. For cloth, you wash them. For disposables, you throw them away. I felt like I do so much laundry anyway, what are a few extra loads a week? Plus, it is illegal to toss human waste into landfills. If you read the box of disposable diapers, the instructions say to shake waste off into the toilet before disposing of the diaper. If I'm going to do that anyway, it may as well be from my cloth diapers. We received a diaper sprayer from our baby registry. It's basically the same thing that's attached to your kitchen sink, but attached to the toilet and with a variable pressure to spray out poopy diapers once our daughter started solids. Much more convenient! We have even traveled with cloth diapers. We decided, however, that for car trips, we will use cloth, but for plane trips, we will use disposables. It's just too difficult to find convenient and affordable washers/dryers in hotels.

Bulkiness: Cloth diapers are more bulky, so the baby often wears one clothing size larger than s/he would have in disposables, since today's baby clothing is made to fit over disposables.

Baby's health: Most disposable diapers contain chemicals, including the bleaching chemical, dioxin, which is known to cause cancer. Even if you buy the natural cotton unbleached disposable diapers, they still have the gelling chemical to contain liquid matter. Cloth diapers are much more natural, cause less diaper rash and feel better on baby's skin. Also, cloth-diapered babies are often potty-trained sooner because they have the ability to feel the wetness.

Environment: Though cloth diapers do cost more in energy and water to wash than disposables do, disposables have way more of an impact both in manufacturing and in disposal for our planet. A disposable diaper can remain in a landfill for 500-600 years. (visit the link on dioxin to see more statistics). So all those disposable diapers my mom used on me in the 80's are still around somewhere. Yikes. A cotton diaper takes around 6 months to biodegrade. This is the one that got me on board.

Cost: This is the one that really got Daniel on board. For about 4 month's worth of the cost of disposables for one baby, we could buy enough cloth diapers to last from birth to potty-trained. And then reuse the same diapers for ALL of our children! And then sell them when the last child is potty-trained to recoup some of the cost. On average, disposables cost about $66/month per child, which is $792/year and $1584/lifetime, assuming your child wears diapers for only 24 months. Per child. The cloth diapers we bought cost us around $250. For our baby and any siblings she may have. We got a middle-of-the-road option; there are much more affordable diapers out there, and many more expensive ones as well.

2.5 months: bumGenius diaper

Our Stash: I thought the best blend of cost and convenience was a "pocket" diaper, like bumGenius. I then discovered how much I love the convenience of the 2-piece Flip diaper system. So our "stash" consists of 13 velcro bumGenius, 5 Flip diaper covers, 1 Econobum diaper cover (that I got for free for spending $50 at, 5 Flip stay-dry inserts and 24 regular-size unbleached cotton prefolds. The only ones I got new were the prefolds and half of the bumGenius. I do have a few random borrowed diapers that I rotate in our stash occasionally from my sister-in-law and my friend. We also spent about $40 for cloth newborn-size diapers so our daughter could wear cloth diapers from birth (the one-size ones SAY they fit from 8lbs, but they really fit from about 6 weeks old, or whenever your baby gets some leg fat). I was glad to have this more comfortable, natural option for our daughter when she was so tiny.

7 months: Econobum cover over prefold

For all my disposable-using friends who are actually reading this blog with interest, thank you! I hope this has been informative. I understand that not everyone wants to or can use cloth diapers. If you are willing to think about it though, there is a great movement out there on facebook called Change 3 Things that challenges non-cloth diaper users to try using just 3 cloth diapers a day. The impact on your wallet and our planet will truly be significant. And if you have any questions at all, this is something that I'm very passionate about and would love to talk with you about!

7.5 months: bumGenius diaper