I’ve kind of hit a brick wall with the Flats and Handwashing Challenge. It’s losing its novelty. It’s feeling like a bit of a burden at times. I’m still liking the flats part, overall. But boy, handwashing can be daunting at times.

I didn’t mind it so much the first couple of times. Especially when I was just home with my son during the day. But when you’re having a bad day (*cough*Wednesday*cough*) or you get busy doing other things… it’s just kind of a pain in the butt.

I’m so glad that I have a lot of flats, though. (Major thanks to Diaper Junction for giving me a dozen flats to try, I have loved and needed them!). I’m probably not going to get a chance to wash today, and didn’t yesterday, so I’m going to have a GIANT load to wash tomorrow. But it’s nice knowing I have enough flats to get me through, and don’t have to cheat, or skip out on doing something fun just because I really need to wash.

I’m not going to lie, I’ve almost given up a couple of times. I thought, ‘No one will know if I just toss this one load into the washer.’ I would really love to use our other diapers today, when we have to leave on a 30+ minute drive to visit the in-laws and will be gone for the afternoon before driving back home. But I’m pushing through, and I’m still committed. And then I feel like a total wuss after I read something like this.

This has given me a whole new respect for anyone who always does it this way. Perhaps it’s different if you always do, or you don’t have an “end” in sight (besides potty training). It does give you a skewed view of things, when you know that, come next week, you can go back to using your (beloved) washing machine. And modern cloth diapers.

I didn’t realize how oddly attached I was to our cloth diapers. A couple days ago I put away a load of cloth diapers that were clean but in a laundry basket (the last load of his regular diapers that I washed prior to the challenge) and I was surprised how much I missed them.

That said… I think I’ll be using flats a lot more now. I love letting my son go coverless, and they really are such a simple diaper. I already use them as inserts for all of my one-size FuzziBunz pockets. But this has motivated me to start pad-folding them more often into covers. And, yes, pinning them on. There’s just something classic and adorable about a pinned flat diaper on your baby… but I think it would be even cuter coming out of the washer and dryer!


Where has this week gone? I can’t believe it’s almost Thursday already!

I am currently enjoying some much-needed downtime. My husband is playing softball, my son is sleeping (and so are the dogs!) so I am enjoying a cocktail and watching some girly stuff on tv (since I don’t have to share with my husband). And, of course, I’m tinkering around online.

The Flats and Handwashing Challenge is going really well. It’s been a nice change up to our usual routine, and has made me appreciate things (like my washer and dryer) a lot more. It’s an interesting experience, but in a fun way.

I was a guest blogger on the Rockin’ Green blog yesterday! So that was exciting. Check out how I approached handwashing my diapers for the first time (and what I learned along the way).

I washed again today, making a few tweaks (like actually doing a good job wringing out the flats) and it was much easier and didn’t take as long. Pre-rinsing everything really helped. Things dried much faster, too.

I ran into one snag, though… my hemp and bamboo doublers take a loooong time to air dry. I almost had to throw some in the dryer. I only use them for overnights, but I didn’t realize how long those would take to dry.

The flats were definitely “crunchier” after being air dried, too, but not nearly as bad as I expected. I found the Diaper Junction flats were a bit softer than the Target flats after being air dried… but I’m not going to lie, I had to fight the urge to throw everything in the dryer to fluff them up a bit!

I’m really enjoying the flats part of the challenge, though. I’ve used them in the past, but not for every diaper change like this. My pinning skills are getting quite good, and when he’s being sassy I love the easy of a pad-folded flat tucked into a cover. I’m not having any troubles with the 5 cover limit. I’ve been letting him go coverless as much as possible at home, though, so that helps.

If you’re participating, how is it going for you so far?

Oh, and I got to try out my new Green Line diaper cover and am really liking it so far! I think I’ll be getting another in the future. Not the best picture, but isn’t it adorable?

Day One: Easy Peasy.

I made one change, though… my Green Line diaper cover came in the mail today, and it’s super cute and there’s no way I can wait a whole week to try it out. So I’ll be substituting that for one of my sbish wool covers (the longies are staying, since the weather is on the cooler side this week). My five covers for the challenge are now the Flip, the GEN-Y Universal, a pair of sbish longies, a Blueberry Coverall, and my new Green Line cover.

Anyhow, so far so good. I will update again tomorrow after I handwash them. I’ll also take a few photos (including one of my adorable new cover). Other than a couple of sloppy folding jobs (with a wiggly baby), everything went very well today. I absolutely LOVE the trimness of the flats. He was sitting there playing today with a pinned flat inside of a Flip cover, with a onesie over the top, and it almost looked like he was wearing a disposable. We also went out on an outing this afternoon (lunch with my friends, then to Target) and had no issues. I actually prefer the natural fibers when we go out and about, because I never have leaks with them. There was a span of time when my son was a few months old where I only used prefolds when we left the house.

I am loving my Diaper Junction flats. They are a great size and a bit thicker than my Target flats. I’m getting a nice fold with them, with a good cross-over in the front so I can secure it with one pin. I am leaning toward using them when I want to pin and saving the Target flats for padfolding into covers.

Are you taking the Flats and Handwashing Challenge? How did your first day go?


I can’t believe how quickly the Flats & Handwashing Challenge is coming up! Less than a week to go now. Are you participating? It’s pretty straightforward: all flat diapers, all handwashed, all air dried, a five cover limit, and liners are okay but diaper sprayers aren’t. Got it?

I am starting to prepare, or think about how I want to prepare.

The day before the challenge, I will do my usual diaper laundry but, instead of stuffing my FuzziBunz with flats like I normally do (I’ve done away with most of our microfiber inserts) I will be putting the empty pockets in the diaper storage and folding up all my flats for use on Monday.

I almost forgot about the 5 cover limit… so now I’ve decided on:

1) GEN-Y Universal in “Dinomite”
2) sustainablebabyish wool cover in “squash”
3) sustainablebabyish wool longies in “air”
4) Flip in “ribbit”
5) Blueberry Coverall (my only cover with velcro) in “blue on chocolate”

I figure this will give me a good range of what I want to use. I’ll use the GEN-Y when I want to padfold, the Flip will do well for padfolding or using pins and snappis, and the wool is nice in general. I love the Blueberry for overnights.

This weekend my bathroom will be getting a good scrubbing. I plan on washing the diapers in the tub, so I want it very clean (and it will certainly stay clean since I’ll want to disinfect it after washing diapers). Hmm, I like this part of it!

Finally, I will be washing my wool and relanolizing it. I should do this soon, since it takes a couple of days to air dry.

I still haven’t told my husband about this challenge. He’s a pretty good sport, and I change most of the diapers, so I don’t think he’ll balk too much.

I’m feeling pretty good about it all. I’m not too worried about the flats part of the challenge; there was a period of time when I had taken a break from “modern” cloth diapers and was using mostly prefolds, and I have had great success with our flats when I’ve used them (and padfolding in a cover is super easy, and will be vital for when my son initiates the alligator death-roll during diaper changes and inevitably screams bloody murder while I try to pin). The part that worries me is the handwashing… will I get them clean enough? How long will they take to air dry? Will they be “crunchy” after air drying? What if the weather doesn’t hold up and I have to dry them inside (which is a good possibility)?

I plan on washing every other day. I don’t want to go too long and have tons of diapers to wash (which have been sitting for days) but I also don’t want to undertake the washing process every day. We’ll see how it goes, though, I might be surprised and find it isn’t as much of a burden as I expect. Since I haven’t just used flats before, though, I don’t know how long my stash will last me. I plan on changing frequently, so they might add up quickly.

Thanks again to Diaper Junction for sending me a dozen of their birdseye flats to use. I’m excited to compare them to the Target flats that I’m used to using. I can already tell that they are better quality.

If you’re joining the challenge, what have you done (or what do you plan on doing) to prepare?

Dining Room Reno

May 5, 2011

Oh man, this beautiful, sunny spring weather just makes me want to DO STUFF.

Like clean the house from top to bottom. Except, when I plan on doing that, I am quickly reminded that it’s very difficult to do with a nine month old.

I’ve been itching to do something to our dining room. It’s been the same way since we moved in (September 2009) and the custom window treatments, while neutral enough to stick around through our quick leaps from home-ownership to wedding to pregnancy to baby, look like something that stepped off the set of The Golden Girls.

Our dining room was also very dark, which made the rest of the first floor feel pretty dark, too. The window treatments had become non-operational, so even though there are three widows in there, we had zero natural light.

I wanted to do a little face lift, nothing expensive but something to spruce the place up and make it feel more like our own. I went shopping last night, and only spent about $150 on supplies and window treatments.

Day 1 of my dining room mini-renovation has begun! Those icky old window treatments are officially in the trash! My son is ready for his nap so there’s a pause in the action, but Kizzy (our younger beagle) is enjoying the fact that there are now several sun spots on the dining room floor to snooze on.

Update: I’ve been productive while the kiddo took his morning nap. The woodwork around the windows and the window sills have been cleaned and polished. Everything is off the walls now, too. It looks so bright and airy without anything on the windows! If I wasn’t such a paranoid freak I’d leave them without anything on them, haha. But at least now we’ll be able to open up the new blinds… once they’re installed, that is. Also, it feels great to have some windows open and fresh air coming in. Oh, and Kizzy is still laying on the floor in her sun spot. 🙂

Update #2: All the window treatments are up! And I started stenciling a wall, but only did a little bit because I wanted to make sure it was worth the effort before I did too much. It currently looks like a bomb went off in here, but it’s time to relax for the night.

I recently mentioned that I would be taking the Flats and Handwashing Challenge. We will be using flat diapers only, and they must be handwashed. Diapers must also be air-dried. Click here for all the rules and information.

Why am I doing this, you may ask?

1. Because it’s a challenge. Springtime makes me want to change things up, and challenge myself. This week, I challenged myself by buying my very first sewing machine and taught myself how to use it. That week, I will challenge myself to have to do our diapering differently.

2. Because our current diapering situation is a luxury for some people. What better way to appreciate the ease of pocket and all-in-one diapers, and the modern technology of my lovely washing machine, than to have to do things the “hard way”?

3. Because it will make me feel more prepared. What if something happens and we are in an emergency situation? What if we don’t have access to our washer? What if I am somewhere and need to put on a makeshift diaper? This will help me realize that I can do a lot with very little.

4. Because it’s something different. What stay at home mom couldn’t use a break from routine?

5. Because this is how my mom had to do it. When she cloth diapered my sister (full-time) and me (part-time), this is how they did it. My son won’t have to wear those ugly rubber pants, but he’ll have the same diapering system that the generations before him did. My mom used flats and pins and handwashed for financial reasons… and did it all while also working full time. I have a feeling this will make me tip my hat to her!

6. Because disposable diapers are expensive, and this is proof that cloth diapering can be cheap from the start and that there’s no excuse not to do it! Even if you don’t have a washer and dryer, or you can’t afford modern cloth diapers. There is no need to literally throw away money when you are struggling to make ends meet.

Major thanks to Diaper Junction for generously donating a dozen of their flats to me as part of this challenge! Now I don’t need to convince my husband that, yes, I need more diapers. *rolls eyes*

Want to join me? This challenge takes place May 23-30. Don’t forget that you can also find very cheap flats at Target if you want to find them in town. Otherwise, check out the Diaper Junction link above, they are lovely!

I’m joining this:

Cloth diaper users, would you participate in something like this?

I’ll admit, I’m a bit apprehensive about it, but at the same time I like our flats and they aren’t all that difficult to use. I’m more weary of handwashing everything! haha… but, at the same time, there are many people who have to (or had to) do it like this every single day, often for multiple babies.

I’ve been using my pocket and all-in-one diapers a lot lately, so maybe this would be a fun challenge. Kickin’ it old school.

I might have to pick up an extra pack of Target flats! Read up on them here.

Target Flats

March 10, 2011

Flat diapers are the cheapest, most basic cloth diapers you can use. It’s what our mothers or grandmothers or great grandmothers were most likely to have used. A flat is, essentially, a large square or rectangular piece of (usually) cotton fabric. It needs to be folded up in order to use it as a diaper. There are many ways to fold them. I’m not here to explain that; a quick Google search will give you a lot of tutorials on how to fold and use flats.

What I want to share today is my source for flat diapers, and why they are so wonderful and versatile. I wish I could take the credit for “discovering” this secret, but I read about it on Diaper Swappers from some of the creative, thrifty parents there. However, I thought I’d explain what they are, how to find them, and how they can be used. My apologies, I included a lot of photos.

What you want to look for are “flour sack towels.” I know they can be found at other stores (including some grocery stores). My experience is with the ones from Target. And I love Target, and do about 90% of our shopping there, so… yeah. These are located in the kitchen towel section and are from their Room Essentials (RE) line of housewares.

They run $3.99 for a pack of 4. See what I mean about cheap? That’s about a dollar a diaper. Disposables usually run about a quarter per diaper (give or take) and can only be used ONCE. They also sit in our landfills for hundreds of years, and can contain a lot of icky stuff.

You can use the flat as a diaper, and use a pin or Snappi to hold it shut (you’ll want a cover of some sort, as it won’t have a waterproof outer layer). They are a very trim option.

Here’s one that is “kite folded” and pinned:

And here it’s folded in quarters (fold it in half, and then fold it in half again… it will be squareish, much like a prefold), and then Snappied on after I “jellyrolled” the sides in (which creates a nice tight seal around the legs). I also placed a doubler inside of it, for extra absorbency. See how trim it is, even with the doubler?

To compare, here is a flat folded into quarters (as above) and placed over a red-edged GMD prefold:

Now, if folding up bits of cloth to diaper your baby isn’t your thing, have no fear. There are two more uses for these. If you’re not a fan of microfiber inserts (many people aren’t) these can be folded up to be used as an insert for pocket diapers. Fold the flat into quarters (again, as above) and then fold it in thirds. Here is one you can compare to a microfiber insert:

Cotton absorbs very quickly and can hold quite a bit, and I swear these things fill in my Fuzzibunz and make them fit my son even better. This is kind of a crappy picture, but you get the idea:

If you like the Flip system, or other systems where you place an insert or prefold into a cover, then these are a wonderful, inexpensive option you can try. I like them with my Gen-Y Universal covers. Here’s a comparison. From left to right: folded up flat, Flip organic insert (folded the shorter way), red GMD prefold (trifolded).

And here’s that flat placed into a cover (this is a Flip cover):

So that’s about it. I’d recommend ANY parent have these on hand, especially those that cloth diaper. These are what you want to have on hand if your washer or dryer ever break and you have to handwash your diapers (or can’t make it to the store for disposables). The single layer of cotton is easier to wash and they air dry quickly. Four of them for the cost of a latte… what do you have to lose?

Welcome to part two of my series on the first six months. I want to share what I’ve learned about cloth diapering. This isn’t going to be a “how to” because, well, there is a whole heck of a lot of information out there on how to cloth diaper. I thought I’d share my own personal experiences on it all, though, along with a few tips that have helped me out.

1) Be careful, it can be surprisingly addicting. If you would have told me that I would want to buy diapers the way I once used to buy designer bags… I would have laughed in your face. I remember having “wish lists” of bags that I wanted to save up for. Now, I have that for diapers. I like trying new things, and once you find something that really works it can be hard not to want to stock up on them. They make some really cute diapers, too. So be prepared for this, because you just might surprise yourself. I think part of the addiction stems from the fact that, well, it brings some fun and purpose to changing dirty diapers. I change a lot of diapers. Anything that can make it seem like a little less of a chore is a good thing in my book.

2) I wish I had tried more things before buying a stash of one diaper. I bought into the “pocket craze” and ordered 15 Fuzzibunz to start out with. While I do like the diapers a lot, they aren’t my favorite and there are definitely better diapers for newborns. I wish I had started with prefolds, and then got a variety of diapers to test out. I have spent a lot of money on diapers (still less than I would on disposables, especially when you keep in mind how many of these diapers I’ll be able to use on our next baby) and could have saved some money if I had been willing to look beyond the new modern cloth diapers.

3) That said, there are some wonderful modern cloth diapers out there. I am thankful for them because they are what turned me on to cloth diapering, and have helped bring about this cloth diaper revolution and make them more mainstream. They can be very convenient. They are super cute. Get some for sure!

4) Try the “scary” stuff. Prefolds and flats? Are you kidding me? Snappis, pins, wool? No way. Except, well, they are pretty awesome. When I first started cloth diapering my little newborn, I never expected for any of those things to enter our house. But my son is currently napping in a pinned prefold with wool longies. Never say never! There’s a reason people still use some of these things. They are effective, simple, and inexpensive.

5) There’s something to be said for natural fibers. Cotton, hemp, bamboo. Wool covers. Yes, the microfleece liners and microfiber inserts have their place. But so do these natural fibers. They are thirsty, breathable, soft, and nice. You can’t help but feel good when you put organic cotton on your little one’s bottom. (If prefolds and fitteds aren’t your thing, check out the bumGenius Organic Elemental all-in-one diapers and the Flip hybrid system with the organic insert.)

6) You can use cloth for overnights, but it takes more planning. In the early weeks, I changed my son throughout the night, but once he started getting bigger and sleeping for longer stretches I stopped changing him overnight. You can’t just put a regular cloth diaper on and expect it to hold for 12 hours. Some people swear by “double stuffing” their pocket diapers, but I’ve always struggled with pocket diapers leaking overnight. My favorite choice? A sustainablebabyish snapless multi with two of their doublers. These are wonderful diapers. No matter what you use, you’ll need more of it. Hemp inserts (I like the Babykicks Hemparoo Joey Bunz inserts) hold a lot and are good to pair up with other materials. If you are getting leaks, try something else.

7) Give cloth wipes a try. They are easier than you think.

8 ) The right supplies will make cloth diapering easier for you. Get more than one wet bag if you can afford to. I recommend a smaller, zippered wet bag for the diaper bag. I do most of G’s diaper changes on our first/main floor, but keep his large diaper pail upstairs in his room… so I have a couple of smaller wet bags that I put his dirty diapers and wipes into, and then I can just empty those into his big wet bag. You don’t need a ton of stuff, but things like diaper sprayers (they hook up to your toilet’s water line and you can spray poops into the toilet once your baby is on solids or if your baby is formula fed), liners, extra doublers and inserts, nice storage containers, etc. will certainly help you. (Random note: I had to put a space between the 8 and the “)” at the beginning of this one because WordPress automatically turned that into a smiley face with sunglasses. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8) 9 10).

9) They are just diapers, and it’s just laundry. Really. If you get detergent build up on your diapers they most likely aren’t ruined. You might need to fine-tune your laundry routine but, in the end, they are just diapers. If you need to take a break from them and use disposables for awhile, or don’t want to take them on vacation, you aren’t a bad mother and it isn’t the end of the world. Don’t panic if something isn’t working. Do some research, look around online, ask for advice, whatever. Diapers will get dirty. And if they are stained, the sun is a miracle worker. A good sunning does wonders for stained diapers (and it’s good for the soul, too). Also, the laundry isn’t so bad. I don’t spend my evenings washing diapers, like so many people seem to think. It doesn’t have to be time-consuming. You can cloth diaper, even if you’re busy or have a job. They don’t have to be washed every day.

10) I don’t care if I’m a weirdo. Don’t know anyone else who cloth diapers? Do other people think you’re crazy for wanting to cloth diaper? Do people turn up their noses at the thought of you washing your kid’s poopy diapers? OH WELL. That’s how a lot of people were with me and I just bit my tongue and tried to educate (or ignore) them. So pave the way. Be “weird.” It’s okay… they aren’t the ones doing the laundry, they aren’t the ones changing your baby, they aren’t the ones buying the stuff. Just smile and know that your baby’s bum has less chemicals on it, that you’re saving money, and you’re helping the planet with every diaper change.

Also… it’s a learning process, and there’s a learning curve. Don’t be discouraged by that. It can be overwhelming because there is so much information out there about cloth diapering, and so many different opinions. So take a deep breath. Take it a step at a time. Keep some disposables on hand in the beginning, just in case, if it will encourage you to keep cloth diapering when things get a little tough. Newborns are hard work and you have so much to figure out. But it gets easier. You’ll get braver, more confident, more comfortable each day. Your newborn will become a smiling infant. You’ll learn things together, as you go.

Newborns are TINY. Even if it doesn’t seem that way in the beginning, you will look back and think, ‘Wow, look at those little bird legs.’ Expect this to affect the way you diaper. Changes in height and weight, changes in diet, changes in activity… that will all change how you diaper. Be adaptable. Enjoy it. You will look back on pictures of your newborn in cloth diapers and realize how cute and silly they looked! And how quickly that time went by. Before you know it you will be working on your baby’s NEXT six months and packing away diapers that no longer fit.

And, if you are still worried about cloth diapering and it makes you feel better, I have had TWO poop blowouts EVER. And they were my own fault. Cloth diapers hold in poop like you wouldn’t believe. One of my friends said her (newborn) daughter had a (disposable) diaper blowout every. single. day. No thank you! I like the poop kept in the diapers where it belongs, and not on my son’s clothes or blankets.

I remember when I was pregnant and swore up and down that I wouldn’t be one of “those” mothers who talks about her baby’s poop. So it goes.

Today I’d like to talk about cleaning. More importantly: cleaning products.

I used to be a cleaning product junkie. Maybe because I spent some time during college cleaning on-campus apartments? But I’ve tried to block that from memory. Anyhow, I used to like having a different cleaner or soap or solution for every possible household surface.

I’ve become more conscious of my decisions and how they affect the earth and my budget. Not only that, but how they might affect my family.

Having a child made me so much more aware of all of the chemicals in just about EVERYTHING. Cloth diapering has changed how I do laundry; I no longer like to use things with dyes, artificial fragrances, etc. and I no longer use fabric softener. At first I only made that change to my son’s clothing (and his diapers) but then I thought, ‘Why should I have that stuff on my skin?’ and ‘That stuff is coating my clothes, and my son spends a lot of time in my arms.’

A few years ago, I began using greener and more natural cleaning products in our home, such as Method. I began to cut back on the harsh chemicals I was using. My “harsh” disinfectants of choice include Method and 7th Generation sprays. I use Method mop solution (hardwood floor formula) and have a few of their other products. I like their hand soaps.

The latest thing I am trying is utilizing vinegar as a household cleaner. I already buy distilled white vinegar by the gallon. It has so many uses. I use it for laundry. I use it as an ear wash for one of my dogs (per my veterinarian’s suggestion). I use it to clean out coffee maker. And now, mixed 50/50 with water, I will be using it as an all-purpose spray.

Yesterday, I rinsed out two of my empty Method bottles and added my own special touch with some scrapbook paper (and packaging tape… admittedly, it looked better before the tape was added, but sometimes you have to be practical and I don’t want to wreck the label the first time I reach for the bottle with damp hands). Voila! All-purpose, inexpensive, earth-friendly household cleaner.

I have the following goals to work on in regard to our household cleaning habits:
1) Limit our paper towel use. Use rags for cleaning, cloth napkins more frequently, and hand towels more often (my husband gets a special nudge on this one).
2) Phase out our antibacterial hand soaps, and go back to using our Method soap full-time. Leave bottles of hand sanitizer in the kitchen and bathroom for when hand sanitizing is actually necessary (i.e., far less often than at every hand washing).
3) Switch over to a different type of dishwasher detergent. Something less chemically and more earth/family friendly.

How about you? Do you prefer to scour with bleach and harsh chemicals, or do you like to take the more natural route? Got any favorite homemade cleaners? Did having children change the way you clean your house? (Er, well, beside needing to clean more often yet magically having a dirtier house.)