Welcome to my third blogging experience...created in order to keep my other blogs free of my crazy rantings. This space will be dedicated to the day to day trials and tribulations of motherhood and life in general...as well as the experiences that come with trying to rediscover the many basics of life that have been lost to the constant hullabaloo and cookie cutter mentality that has become the 21st century.

I am a proud mama to our first born, Gracie, who waits for us in Heaven, and her very lively little sister, Jenna. I am a semi-crunchy mama who works full time outside of the home. If you come here to read, expect to find posts related to cloth diapering, breast feeding, homemade baby food, organics, cooking and recipes, day care & working outside the home, baby wearing, natural childbirth, general fitness, general nutrition, environmental topics, etc.

Feel free to ask questions, share valuable information that you might have or share your thoughts and/or opinions. Please do not come here to attack the things that I believe or the way I live. I will respect your opinions as long as you respect mine, even if it means agreeing to disagree!! :-)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Artificial Food Dyes

Much like high fructose corn syrup, many of the packaged foods found on U.S. shelves today contain artificial coloring.  Candy, Dor.itos, cheese curls, cheese, juice, cookies, yogurt and much more.  The artificial coloring serves no purpose other than to enhance the the appearance of the food we buy...to make it look the way we think it should look.  For most of the last decade, there has been much public and scientific banter regarding artificial food dyes, primarily red #40, yellow #5 and #6 and blue #1.  There has been much speculation about the connection between artificial dyes and numerous health issues, including cancer, autism spectrum disorders and ADHD.

In 2010 the European Union mandated that foods containing artificial dyes have warning messages on the labels.  Over the last week, the FDA announce that perhaps the concerns regarding these artificial dyes just might be founded after all.  They have released statements indicating that artificial dyes "may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children."  Funny...that's the same quote found in the article (above) regarding the European Union's 2010 decision.  Perhaps the folks at the FDA are getting caught up on their reading...  Perhaps, within the next few years, we may see a step toward making the food on our shelves a little safer.  While it would be nice to see a ban on the artificial colors, mandated label warnings would be a nice start. 

Monday, March 21, 2011

Extended Rear Facing

I wonder how many parents found themselves turning their carseats around today.  I was so happy this morning to see that the American Academy of Pediatrics has announced that they now recommend children remain rear-facing in their carseats until 2 years of age.  For more information on carseat recommendations, including today's announcement, click here.

My Fluff Experience So Far...Part 2

So, I love my fluff.  No question about it. I am kind of saddened to know that there are so many people out there who are turned off to cloth diapering by myths and misconceptions.  I do not have any real life family or friends who cloth diaper, with the exception of the couples who attended our Brad.ley birthing class and the class instructor.  I show off Jenna's fluff any chance I get to do so without being pushy about it.  Generally, all I have to do is change her diaper in front of someone with half a brain and they want to know more about it.

Most people ask me why we decided to cloth diaper, and most of the ask me how in the world we ever found these diapers.  My answers are quite simple.  * We decided to do cloth diapering because we feel that it is better for baby; it eliminates the 24/7 contact with chemicals that are found in disposable diapers.  * We decided to do cloth diapering because it is better for the environment.  We use disposable diapers during the first couple of months with Jenna; we had to empty the trash can in her room at least twice a week.  Since switching to cloth diapers, we empty the same can not more than once a month.  This is a huge deal for me since we live about 4 miles from the landfill where all of our trash ends up.  I have watched this landfill grow and grow and grow...and grow since I was a little girl.  I think about the amount of non-biodegradable trash we sent out in just the first two months of Jenna's life, and then start picturing the amount of trash we would be responsible for during the entire time that she would be in disposables, and it makes my stomach turn a little bit.  There is a part of me that is absolutely proud to say that I am doing my part to slow the growth of the landfill.  * We decided to do cloth diapering because of the long term cost benefit.  Granted, the savings is different for every family based on location, preferred brand of disposable diaper, use of disposable diaper coupons, number of diapers used daily/weekly/monthly, the preferred method/brand of cloth diapering, whether cloth diapers are purchased at full retail price or on sale/with a discount...but all things considered, the savings can be tremendous, especially if cloth diapering more than one child. 

I have heard so many arguments against cloth diapering.  * Moisture breeds diaper rash.  Fast.     * How much do/did these diapers cost?  Wow.  That's expensive.    * That's too much effort for me.  I'd never have the time to do that.    * I couldn't deal with those dirty diapers.  I'd rather toss the really messy diapers in the trash and be done with it.    * I wouldn't be able to send those to day care.    *It's not really any cheaper when you consider the cost of washing and drying.  And remember, time is money. 

The only one of these arguments that might possibly hold water is the day care argument; but I am told that if you approach day care providers in a calm, rational method and show them how easy pockets/AIOs can be, that they are more than happy to put them on, take them off and throw them in a wet bag for you to deal with later.  As far as the time requirements, I have been so pleasantly surprised by how little time and effort is really wrapped up in cloth diapering, at least for us.  When the diapers come off, we pull the inserts out and just lay them inside the diaper;  if the diaper is poopy, we shake/spray the poop into the toilet after the inserts are pulled.  The diaper and inserts go into a wet bag in the bathroom; the whole process takes 1-3 minutes at most.  We wash every 3-4 days, whenever we fill 2 Rum.paR.ooz wet bags.  Some people do a cold water pre-wash soak; we do a hot water pre-wash without detergent.  I have found, through trial and error, that this works better for us.  After the 'pre-wash', we wash again on hot water with Rock.in Gr.een detergent; we rinse with cold water and do the extra rinse with cold water.  I don't put diaper stuff in the dryer; I use a drying rack that holds 4 days worth of diapers and let the stuff air dry.  Generally most stuff dries overnight, especially if I put it in front of the wood stove.  Hanging stuff on the rack and then stuffing inserts back into diapers take a total of about 45 minutes at most (usually about 20 minutes to hang stuff up and 20-25 to stuff 3-4 days worth of pocket diapers).  It's not bad at all. 

So, I know that there are a couple ladies out there that have been waiting for me to finish this post, so I will get to the good stuff.  Here is how the love for my diapers breaks down...

Unbleached Indian cotton prefolds
What I like...ease of use when used as an insert, pretty quick drying, soft.

What I don't like... They hold moisture against Jenna's skin.  A fleece liner certainly solves that problem, but that is an extra step...and something else to explain and justify to the grandparents.

I don't use these as prefolds, but instead we use them as inserts in g-pants.    Because of  the moisture issue, we use the prefold/G-pants method sparingly...primarily just when the grandparents are babysitting. 

Hemp prefolds
What I like... Very absorbent, easy to use as an insert, quick drying for hemp

What I don't like... rougher than cotton prefolds, especially when air dried.  Hold moisture against skin.

We don't use these as prefolds, either, and because they are not at all soft, even when dried in the dryer, I don't use them in the g-pants.  Right now, we use them only as inserts or doublers.

Thirsties Duo Diaper

What I like about it....  It has an inner gusset system, of sorts, which is wonderful for containment of all things not pee.  The velcro makes it easy for the grandparents to put the diaper on without feeling overwhelmed by snaps.  The inserts can be removed from the front or the back of the diaper, and there is room to add additional inserts.  With the exception of when baby first moves from size 1 to size 2, it's a relatively trim fit...especially compared to some other diapers. 

What I don't like about it...  It's a two-size system, rather than a one-size system, so it's more of an expenditure if you plan to use it for the duration of CDing your child.  I'm not such a huge fan of the velcro, but so far we haven't had any issues with the velcro on these diapers.  The microfiber insert is a little wimpy, but the hemp insert more than makes up for it. 

The first time I used this diaper on Jenna, it leaked pee all over.  Not a good way to start our relationship.  But I was bound and determined to try each of my new diapers several times before I made a concrete decision about whether or I liked them.  So we tried the Duo a few more times, and I am glad that I did.  At this point, this is a daytime diaper for us.  That's not to say that it would not hold up overnight; we simply haven't used it overnight.  We reserve it for daytime because of the trimmer fit, and because the grandparents can handle it without major issues when they are here babysitting.  Aside from the leaking during our first use, there have been no containment issues with the Duo.  I would definitely recommend this diaper!

Fuzzi Bunz One-Size pocket diaper

What I like about it...  I like that it is adjustable in size and will grow with my babes.  It comes with replacement elastic, which I am sure we will need to use at some point.  We have had no problems with leaks.  The fit is pretty good around Jenna's chubby legs, as well as her waist.  Snaps.  :-)

What I don't like about it...  The elastic can be difficult to adjust - I should note that it is far more difficult to adjust on my original diaper than it is on the second one.  It's a little lacking in insert space compared to the FB perfect size diapers...it just feels like a crowded diaper to me sometimes.  

I bought this diaper because of the overwhelmingly good reviews that I read.  I received a second one as a freebie with a later diaper order.   I replaced one of the microfiber inserts with a hemp insert about a month after we started using cloth (I did this with several diapers).  This boosted the absorbency a bit.  Overall, it's not my favorite, but this is a good diaper.  We use it only during the day.  I wouldn't tell anyone to not buy it.

Fuzzi Bunz Perfect Size pocket diaper
What I like...  Snaps.  The inserts are bigger than the FB one size diaper - substantially bigger.  Good fit around the waist and Jenna's chubby little legs.

What I don't like...  Nothing, really, except that the mediums I have will not fit Jenna's younger sibling(s) in the early days, and I'm not sure I want to spend the money on the smalls.

I have two of these - size medium.  I bought them on super sale for less than $10 each, otherwise I probably wouldn't have purchased them.  I am so glad that I did.  I really like this diaper.  I like it better than the one size.  The medium has plenty of room for expansion, and I don't think that Jenna will outgrow it anytime soon.  I read somewhere that the medium will cover the middle 2/3 of cloth diapering for most kiddos (in terms of size/fit), so I am hoping that that holds true.  I use the large FB microfiber insert and a large Thirsties hemp insert with these diapers and they are quite absorbent this way.  This is our backup for overnight.  I would definitely recommend the perfect fit diaper for those who can afford them (as opposed to the one-size)!

**Spring 2012 update... we are 18 months into cloth diapering with Jenna and the Medium perfect size are still going strong on her little booty with no signs of outgrowing them any time soon.  Love, love, love these diapers.  

Rump-a-Rooz one size pocket diaper
What I like...  I cannot say enough about the inner gussets on this diaper.  Seriously.  Cannot say enough.  No leaks of any kind so far.  Sadly enough, right now, we use this diaper as our overnight...and Jenna does not usually poop at night.  Since we just recently started solids, we are still figuring out her poop, but I think we will probably end up using these during the day, as well as at night.  This diaper is super absorbent, even more so with the hemp inserts.  We have snaps on all of our RaR, and I like them.  Inner fleece is super soft. 

What I don't like...  The rise on this diaper seems to fall a little short.  I kind of expect that Jenna will outgrow these diapers before I want her to.  They are a little pricey.  The hemp stinks in the morning when I take the diapers off of Jenna.  I am not sure if it's because she has them on all night...we haven't tried them during the day, and we haven't really used any other hemp with any regularity at night, so this might not have anything to do with RaR brand. 

I have 7 of these.  I love them.  I bought 2 sets of hemp inserts and pair them with the microfiber (so I have 4 diapers with half hemp/half microfiber insert).  The gussets are amazing.  The fleece on the inside of the diaper is super soft.  Great diaper that I would totally recommend unless your little one starts life on the right-hand size of the bell curve with respect to length/height. 

** Spring 2012 update...  We have discovered that KangaKare might use an inferior quality elastic in their diapers.  I have had to replace elastic in four diapers over the last 5 months, and have a few more lined up for replacement.  As anticipated, Jenna will likely grow out of these sooner than other brands.  She is 20 months and still relatively tiny - only about 23 pounds and 30-31 inches, and the RaR are fully open and starting to look just a week bit short on the rise.  Otherwise, we still use these heavily overnight.

AppleCheeks envelope/pocket diaper
What I like... The name - I think it's just cute.  It's a trim fitting diaper, due in part to the fact that it's a two-size system (as opposed to one-size).  The AppleCheeks inserts are absorbent; I love hemp and bamboo inserts.  Snaps; I love snaps!  Good fit around Jenna's legs.

What I don't like...  I don't like that I have to buy two sizes, but truthfully, I see on a daily basis with most brands in our stash, the sized diapers and two-size systems fit a little better than the one-size diapers.  The size-one diaper did not get Jenna even close to the end of the advertised size range; I had to buy a set of waist extenders.  If you buy the 'cover', the insert and a booster insert, it's an expensive system...about $27 if you don't get it on sale.  (If you have prefold diapers lying around, you can easily use a prefold folded around a random insert.  We have done this with a hemp prefold and a Thirsties hemp insert and it works just as well as the Applecheeks insert system. 

I have two of the size-one covers and one size-two cover, as well as two inserts and three booster inserts.  I use a hemp prefold with a booster insert in the size-two cover, and it works just as well as their 2 and 3 layer inserts.  The waist extenders work really well, but I'm just a little peeved that I had to spend $7 to get a set of extenders to get her through to the of the size range of a $27 diaper.  Otherwise, we have had no fit issues.  No leaks.  I would recommend this diaper if cost is not an issue for you.

Doopsy SD one-size pocket diaper
What I like...  Snaps.  The hemp/bamboo inserts are quite absorbent.  Good rise for tall babies. 

What I don't like...  This diaper did not fit Jenna well at all.  It came with a microfiber insert in addition to the hemp/bamboo, but I cannot use the microfiber because the bulk that it adds kills the fit of the diaper around Jenna's legs. 

There is a new fit of Doopsy that recently hit the market.  I believe that what I have is now being marketed as the 'trim fit', which could be our problem.  Jenna is not a trim fit kind of girl.  Overall, this diaper just doesn't work the greatest for us.  We still use it, but without the microfiber; using it without the microfiber makes it a daytime only diaper.  I would be interested in trying the newer size/cut/fit if I didn't have to pay for it, or if I could trade in the 3 that I have now, but based on my own experiences so far, I would not recommend this diaper for a kiddo shaped like Jenna.  

** Spring 2012 update - Sold two of our Doopsies.  The one that we kept fits much better now, but we don't have much room left for expansion around her waist.  (I think only one set of snaps to go to expand the girth).  Planning to size this diaper back down and try it (again) as a newborn diaper when her little sister arrives. 

Katydid one-size pocket diaper
What I like...  Snaps, adjustable inserts

What I don't like... The large insert is size-adjustable, but the two inserts don't fit together that well; the overlap just seems like it would be a little uncomfortable for baby to lay on.  When Jenna was about 3 months, this diaper didn't fit her very well, no matter how we adjusted it.  After another month or so passed, the fit was a lot better; not really sure what the problem was. 

The large insert with this diaper is adjustable like the RaR large insert is, but I just don't like how it fits together with the little insert.  Overall, this diaper is okay.  I can't really find anything specific that I don't like about it at this point, but there's not a lot that I love about it.  We haven't had any leaks or blowouts when wearing this diaper, and we use it only during the day.  I wouldn't recommend against it, but it's not my favorite, so I won't buy any more.  Katydid is now marketed as Oh Katy after some changes.  I wouldn't mind trying one of the Oh Katy diapers if I could win one in a giveaway or get one thrown in on a trade.

** Spring 2012 update - This diaper has been great for us over the last six months, and I don't dislike it anymore.  I guess it was just not compatible with her chunky little body when she was younger.  We use this as a daytime diaper and have no complaints at this point. 

Kawaii Overnight one-size pocket diaper
What I like... Nice big, thick, super absorbent inserts.  Snaps.  Good fit around Jenna's chunky legs, as well as her waist.  Room for a hemp insert, if needed, even with the two microfiber inserts.   No leaks yet!  Super soft fleece inner.  Room for growth.  Affordable pricing, especially when compared to some of the other diapers on my list. 

What I don't like... Not much.  I wish this diaper had inner gussets.  Bulky, but it's intended to be an overnight diaper, so bulk is okay.

I really like this diaper.  It is our only non-RaR overnight diaper, and at some point, I will probably buy more.  The two microfiber inserts that come with it are generally enough for us to get through the overnight hours; this is one of the only diapers that comes with two microfiber inserts that I have have left alone - I usually replace one of them with hemp, but I have not done that with this diaper.  There is plenty of room to add a third insert without changing the fit, so if we ever need extra absorbency, I can throw in a thin hemp insert.  If we have to start using our RaR during the day to take advantage of the inner gusset system, we may end up buying more of these to take the place of the RaR during the over night hours.  They do make it with velcro, but I just like snaps better.  I would like to try some of the regular Kawaii diapers, too.  I would definitely recommend this diaper to anyone looking for a good overnight pocket diaper. 

** Spring 2012 update - still really like this diaper for overnights.  Have started using both microfiber inserts and boosting with a third insert (you guessed it - the Thirsties hemp) over the last few months to prevent wet pajamas.

Go Green Pocket Diapers - The Champ
What I like...  Snaps; they are different colors, so no counting snaps when putting the diaper on (as long as you can remember what color snap you are on!),  room for growth, inserts can be removed from front or back of the diaper.  Good fit around Jenna's legs and waist. Cheaper than other 'national' brands. 

What I don't like... Inner surface is micro suede instead of fleece; I just like fleece better.  When the rise is sized down, the inserts don't fit terribly neatly under the micro suede, they just kind of stick out the end. 

I have two of these.  They are marketed to have an inner gusset system, but I find that it's not a beefy enough system to compete with RaR, nor does it seem to work as well as the Thirsties brand's little gusset system.  Each Champ diaper comes with two microfiber inserts that are deceivingly absorbent.  Each insert has a snap on one end to attach it to the inside of the diaper.  I think that this is supposed to help with positioning of the insert, but the two inserts don't attach to each other; I personally think it's a little odd to anchor one and not the other, but that's just me.  Overall, this diaper is pretty good, but I honestly wouldn't miss it if it disappeared from my stash and was replaced with a FB Perfect Size.  For the price, I can't complain.   

Thirsties hemp inserts
What I like... good absorbency, thin - minimal bulk

What I don't like... they are the slowest drying items in my stash. BUT...they are made to be absorbent and hold moisture, so it should be expected that they will take a little longer to dry. 

I have two sets of size small and two sets of size large.  I use them frequently.  I use them in some diapers that come with two microfiber inserts; I take out one of the microfiber and replace with the hemp.  They are thin enough to use as a third insert in most pocket diapers.  I use them inside of the prefolds that we use with the g-pants for some extra absorbency and to help keep the prefold from squishing up between Jenna's legs.  Despite the long drying time, I love these inserts, and I would definitely recommend them!!

Sigma diaper sprayer
We just started using the sprayer a couple weeks ago, so I don't really have much to say about it, other than it's doing a good job spraying off the poo that needs to be sprayed off at this point.  Hopefully it holds up.  Time will tell.  

    When I was investigating what type of diapers to buy, I read lots of reviews on bum.Gen.ius, but then decided on a bunch of others instead.  BG is currently running a good sale, so I bought one to try it out.  It came in today's mail, so I'll let you all know in a few weeks what I think of it.    **Update on the BG 4.0 - April 20, 2011**  I meant to order it in snap closure, but accidentally ordered it in aplix.  I prefer the snaps simply because every experience I have had with velcro and aplix generally ends with tons of my hair, cat hair, dog hair and fuzz all entangled in the hook side of the aplix.  This time, the aplix kind of worked out, though.  We just added it to the rotation with the Thirsties and gPants that the grandparents are using when they babysit.  Overall, I am pleased with this diaper.  After seeing how relatively thin the inserts were (especially compared to some others), I was skeptical about how absorbent they would really be...but no problems so far.  I'm not entirely sure how many more I will buy...they frequently run 'buy 5 get 1 free' sales, but other than that, they restrict sales and use of retailer coupons.  That's kind of a turn off for me...it just smells like greed.

    ** Spring 2012 update - we now own 7 bumGenius diapers.  Turns out that the inserts are deceptively deceiving and this makes a great nap time diaper (or great for trips to the store, etc).  Despite my initial resistance to them, I would totally recommend them.   Sadly, I don't think that they will size down small enough to fit Jenna's little sister until she's 2 or 3 months old.

    Sunday, March 20, 2011

    Homemade Ice Cream

    My in-laws gave us an ice cream maker a couple years ago for Christmas, and for the last year or so we have been making ice cream a few times a month.  We usually make plain vanilla and then dress it up when we eat it.

    • 2 (14 ounce) cans sweetened condensed milk
    • 5 cups milk
    • 2 cups heavy cream
    • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    I usually use 2% milk and half-and-half instead of the heavy cream.  If desired, you can add 3 cups of fruit pieces. 

    Monday, March 7, 2011


    I have always considered lasagna to be a basic dish...noodles, spaghetti sauce, mozzarella cheese, ricotta cheese, meat (if desired) and a little fennel seed (if desired).  Mix and layer....no recipe needed.  I stumbled upon this recipe when I was pregnant with Jenna, and it had such rave reviews that I figured that I would perhaps make lasagna using a recipe and see how it was.  I pretty much followed the recipe to a tee.  I am so glad that I decided to make this...it was the best lasagna that I have ever eaten!!  I like a lot of sauce in my lasagna, so I double the recipe for the sauce, used a bit more than called for when assembling everything, and then froze the rest. 

    Here's a list of what you will need...

    1 pound sweet Italian sausage
    3/4 pound lean ground beef
    1/2 cup minced onion
    2 cloves garlic, crushed
    1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
    2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
    2 (6.5 ounce) cans canned tomato sauce
    1/2 cup water
    2 tablespoons white sugar
    1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil leaves
    1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
    1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
    1 tablespoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
    4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
    12 lasagna noodles
    16 ounces ricotta cheese
    1 egg
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    3/4 pound mozzarella cheese, sliced
    3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

    In a Dutch oven, cook sausage, ground beef, onion, and garlic over medium heat until well browned. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and water. Season with sugar, basil, fennel seeds, Italian seasoning, 1 tablespoon salt, pepper, and 2 tablespoons parsley. Simmer, covered, for about 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.

    Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook lasagna noodles in boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes. Drain noodles, and rinse with cold water. In a mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese with egg, remaining parsley, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
    Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
    To assemble, spread 1 1/2 cups of meat sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish. Arrange 6 noodles lengthwise over meat sauce. Spread with one half of the ricotta cheese mixture. Top with a third of mozzarella cheese slices. Spoon 1 1/2 cups meat sauce over mozzarella, and sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Repeat layers, and top with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Cover with foil: to prevent sticking, either spray foil with cooking spray, or make sure the foil does not touch the cheese.
    Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil, and bake an additional 25 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes before serving.