Married to the Empire

Monday, February 20, 2012

Cloth Diapering: In the Trenches

Alex is wearing a Grovia All-in-One cloth diaper

I decided when I was pregnant that we would cloth diaper our baby.  After reading lots of opinions on blogs, along with my own personal preferences for wearing only natural materials, I decided to buy all-in-one diapers (AIOs) with cotton only.  No microfiber.  No pockets with inserts, as I knew that would annoy me.  No velcro, snaps only.  So, I settled on two diapers: The Grovia AIO and the bumGenius Elemental One-Size AIO. 

I ordered a few diapers a few months before Alex was born.  I was enamored with the cute designs on the Grovias, but after comparing them to the BG diapers, I realized that the leg openings on the Grovias were huge compared to the BGs.  Steven and I were both skinny children.  I was a very thin baby, so I figured that odds were high that our baby would be thin.  (I wasn't wrong.)  So, although I did order a few more Grovias (couldn't resist the owls! and the airplanes! and the trees!), I ordered far more bumGeniuses. 

When Alex finally grew big enough to start wearing his cloth diapers, I wondered what I had gotten myself into.  The first few weeks were kind of miserable.  He screamed like a banshee the moment he got wet in a cloth diaper.  There was one night I changed him 5 times in a 35-minute period.  Tiresome.  And he couldn't make it through his long nap in the afternoons in cloth. 

I'd spent a lot of money on my stash, and I felt like we had to make this work.  So, we stuck with it.  And you know what?  I'm so glad we did! 

The diapers seem broken in enough now that a wet one generally doesn't bother him immediately.  He can wet it now and still be happy, most of the time.  The poopy ones really aren't bad.  I find that when he poops in a disposable, the smell is so bad that I sometimes have to change his whole outfit, as the smell permeates the diaper and gets onto his clothes.  But that never happens in cloth.  It contains any odors quite well.  And cleaning it isn't bad at all.  I use one of my plastic scrapers from The Clean Team to scrape solids into the toilet.  I did find that there is staining if I don't treat the poopy diapers with an enzyme cleaner, so I do spray that on before dropping it into the diaper pail.  (You can judge me for this; I don't care.  I'm currently using Arm & Hammer's pet cleaner on the poopy diapers.  Organic staining is organic staining whether it comes from a baby or a pet.  Alex has had no adverse reaction to it.) 

Because I'm kind of a laundry nut, I really enjoy washing the diapers.  There's something very satisfactory about putting dirty, stinky diapers in the washer and having them come out clean and fresh.  I do find that the bumGenius diapers are so thick that they require 2 dryer cycles to dry completely.  I would air dry them, but they take too long, and we need to use them before they are dry. 

I can't say that we're saving any money with cloth. (If we were planning to have more children, it probably would be a money saver, but Alex will be an only.)  Because I have to do a cold water wash, then a hot water wash, then 2 dryer cycles, they use a lot of water and electricity.  And, we still use disposables.  We use them at night, as he just can't make it that long in cloth.  We also use them when we go out.  While the church nursery workers are willing to use my cloth diapers, I haven't done that so far because he doesn't have to be changed as often in a disposable.  I'm making it easier on them. 

We love the bumGenius diapers.  Super easy to use.  No leaks ever.  I can take Alex out of the house in them, and he doesn't cry when he's wet.  We're not as happy with the Grovias.  Steven refuses to use them.  I use them, of course, but I have to be diligent about changing Alex frequently because these diapers leak.  They're cute, they're trim, but they're leaky, at least in our experience. 

I knew I was finally won over by cloth diapering when I came home from a long youth weekend in which Alex wore disposables the entire time.  I was exhausted and I reached first for a disposable, thinking I'd make my life a little easier.  Instead, I put it down and grabbed cloth.  The soft cotton is nice, and I'm really starting to prefer putting the baby in it.  And as he can actually wear his bumGeniuses out and about without screaming, I bit the bullet and ordered a few more today.  I think I'm hooked. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day

I'm sure I've mentioned it here before, but I'm not a huge fan of Valentine's Day.  After years of watching other women gripe and whine and moan and issue threats if their significant others didn't jump through the proper hoops they'd set in place, well, it left a bad taste in my mouth.  Besides, we do up birthdays big, as well as Christmas, so we don't need another day set aside to give presents.  We show our love daily.  And when you have a husband who sleeps at the hospital with you every night after you give birth, rather than going home to sleep in a comfortable bed, well, what trinket could top that?  I feel sufficiently loved and cherished every day, and I hope my husband can say the same. 

Of course, there's also the taint of having spent Valentine's Day 2011 in sadness, as I'd had to call my vet's office that morning to schedule Calvin's Final Appointment. I cried most of the day.  Not, exactly a happy memory. 

But Valentine's Day 2011 also marked the day we found out we were expecting Alex.  Something sweet, for sure, although the news was quite shocking, considering we weren't planning on a baby, nor was I supposed to be able to get pregnant. 

I expect we'll do small things for Valentine's Day as Alex gets older.  I do want him to see the sweet side of the holiday. So, for his first Valentine's Day, we made a little something for Steven.

I suppose it's a little corny and sentimental, but someday, that tiny hand will be bigger than mine, and I expect this will become all the more precious to remember his babyhood. 

(For the record, I wanted to add the cats' paw prints to this, but I'm not dumb enough to ink up cats by myself.  Doing the baby's hand was hard and messy enough!)

And so we can remember what our boy looked like on his first Valentine's Day, here's a picture:

No outfit can say Happy Valentine's Day like one with a monkey driving a monster truck!
We are truly blessed.

Monday, February 6, 2012


Hospitality is a spiritual gift.  One that I don't seem to possess.  Having people over always makes me feel stressed.  Part of it is probably because I'm afraid people will stare too hard at my house.  We have cracks everywhere from foundation issues and leaks under the house.  I hate the wallpaper in my kitchen.  I've never taken it down because the same wallpaper was in both bathrooms, and I'm pretty sure the previous owners super-glued it to the walls.  Taking it down in the bathrooms was a long, tedious process, as it only came off in tiny bits, no matter what method of removal we tried.  I'm not willing to be without my kitchen for days or weeks while we try to peel it off, piece by tiny piece.  Then there's the trouble of moving the cats' things to our bedroom and bathroom, moving the baby's swing, picking up all the pieces from around the house that let you know we live here

But really, those are mostly excuses.  I didn't used to think I was a perfectionist, but the older I get, the more I believe I actually am.  And because my home will never be perfect, well, I don't much like having people over. 

Funny how having a baby has, at least, relaxed me a bit on things.  Some of my former youth are home from college and want to stop by?  Sure!  I have a baby; surely they'll understand if things aren't freshly vacuumed.  Someone wants to drop off food?  Okay.  The kitchen is a wreck, but I have a baby, and I don't always have time to get to things right away.  (Truthfully, in that scenario, I truly was embarrassed, but we'd just come off of a really rough week and we'd barely been home, so I had to give myself a little grace on that one.) 

A $3 sale sheet purchased at IKEA makes an easy, inexpensive tablecloth for my oddly-sized table.

But what really challenged me was our youth group.  And the Super Bowl. 

My husband is the (volunteer) youth minister at our church.  Youth happens on Sunday nights.  Because this is Texas and football is king, we always have a Super Bowl party on Super Bowl Sunday in place of regular youth.  At someone else's house.  But this year, none of our usual homes were available to host, so Steven was just going to cancel youth last night and let the kids go watch wherever they happened to be invited.  The more I thought about that, the more it didn't sit well with me.  Admittedly, I hate football, and cancelling youth for a game seemed wrong somehow, even if it was only a football-watching party (not spiritual development) that was being cancelled. 

So, I told Steven we could have the party here.  In our tiny house.  (Most of the folks in our church have very large homes that are great for entertaining.  We do not.  Our house requires the rearrangement of furniture to house large groups.) 

The funny thing is, I felt good about it.  Not at all stressed, for once.  I was strongly influenced by a book I'm reading right now called Money, Possessions, and Eternity by Randy Alcorn.  (I really recommend it, even though I'm only about 20% of the way through it.)  He makes the point that if we're Christians, we're meant to use what we have for God's glory.  From that I realized that I should be willing to open my home, whether it's perfect or not. 

I think the students had a good time.  We had tons of yummy food, and there was a lot of laughing and talking and just enjoying being together.  Did anyone comment on the cracks in our walls?  Well, yes, one kid did.  (I cringe every time that happens.)  But really, so what?  Yes, our house has had problems.  I shouldn't feel ashamed of it.  And truthfully, in spite of all its issues, I like my home. 

So I guess I can consider this a challenge to myself.  How can I better show hospitality to those around me?