Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Road Trip, Stop #3: Greater Charleston


There's more to the Charleston area than awesome historic architecture.

Old military posts.
Plantation houses.

We visited all three.

Josh is a big history buff, and so a trip to a nearby fort was a must-do. We'd been told that the famed Fort Sumter wasn't actually all that interesting, so we decided to check out Fort Moultrie instead. Since it was free to visitors.




Despite the summer heat and humidity, we checked out Cypress Gardens and went on a boat ride around a real, live swamp.

And my, was it gorgeous.

Have you seen The Patriot or The Notebook? Both had scenes filmed there.

Caroline put up with the big yellow life jacket pretty well.

Can I just say that I'm in love with Spanish moss? Because I am.

And lily pads, too.

And the flowers were totally incredible too.


We also toured an old plantation house, Drayton Hall. Complete with a hidden staircase for slaves to use. It had never been updated with plumbing or anything, and was left pretty well untouched since it was built in 1738.

Here's the entrance from the road.

Here's the other entrance, which was used more, because it was off of the Ashley River. Because people frequently traveled by RIVER back in the day it was built.

The interior had all kinds of fancy wood working. I can't imagine how much time that must have taken.

And, of course, slave-wrought iron work too.

The grounds had numerous big old trees on it. Way cool.


Okay, built in 1738?!? Like, when the residents were still English citizens. The sheer history is crazy to me. And the fact that hundreds of humans were once enslaved on that plantation is very sobering.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Cloth Diapers

*Warning: I make several references to baby poop in this post*

As I've mentioned in the past, our family uses cloth diapers.

Most of the time, that is. We use disposables when we travel, or every once in awhile when we have to change a diaper on the run. I keep a few up&up's handy in our diaper bag.

Here's a freshly-laundered stack of clean diapers. They come in a bunch of adorable colors! Now that it is summer, we can coordinate Caroline's dresses with her diapers for an extra-cute, extra-easy outfit.

For us, cloth diapers are a cost-saving measure. The initial investment was substantial, but it will save us money over the years. We're all for saving money on things like this. You know, so we can go on vacation more often and such.

Josh calls me a cloth diaper salesman. It's probably true. But that's only because I've had a number of people ask me about them -- friends who are potentially interested in doing cloth diapers with their own children. And cloth diapers work well for our family, so I'm happy to share about our little system.


I'll do my best to answer the questions here.

What kind do you use?

We use bumGenius 4.0's, the kind with snaps instead of velcro. We'd heard from friends that velcro can wear out after multiple washings. Snaps don't. At $17.95 each they aren't the cheapest cloth diapers on the market. But we have a few friends that use this brand and they've been happy with them. Plus, we figured that if we were going to go with cloth diapers, we wanted some that worked. Like really well.


These particular diapers are called "pocket diapers" because (obviously) there is a pocket involved. There are two parts - the cover and the insert. The covers come one-size-fits-all with all kinds of adjustable snaps. And every diaper comes with two inserts, one that's small for infants, and one that's larger and adjustable for bigger kids. Caroline didn't stay in the infant size for very long, and now we use the larger, more absorbent insert. For overnight needs, we stuff her diapers with both inserts for super-duper absorbency. It looks like the world's largest diaper, but IT WORKS.


So yes, we've been really pleased with them thus far. They...

A) Keep poop and pee in. The most important part, of course!
B) Are cute.
C) Will expand to fit Caroline as she gets older.
D) Wash clean and dry quick.
E) Have different absorbency options for small babies and big babies, daytime and overnight.

When did you start using them?
Although the diapers claim to fit babies as small as 8 pounds, I don't think they're the best for itty bitty babies. They're just a little big for newborns. We put Caroline in cloth around 6 weeks old, when she was between 9 and 10 pounds. We'd thought we would wait a little longer, but disposable diapers kept failing us, again and again. Pampers. Huggies. Newborn and size 1. Daily blowouts. So we tried cloth, and found that our blowouts decreased SIGNIFICANTLY. Yee-haw.

Do they leak?
No diaper can keep it all in, all the time. But we've been really pleased with just how these work. Our blowouts went way down when we made the switch. She rarely pees or poop out of them.

What is the cost savings?
I've read that families spend $1500-$2000 on diapers by the time their kids are potty trained. On the flip side, we have about $500 worth of cloth diapers and they'll last the entire time. And, they can be re-used for future kids. Bonus.

What about poop?
There are no two ways around it. You have to get a little more up close and personal with your baby's poop when you're using cloth. Most of the time, you'll need to get the baby's poop out of the diaper before you wash it. But really, it's not that big of a deal. Aren't you already more up close and personal with somebody else's poop than you ever thought you'd be?

When your baby is on an all-mama-milk diet, dirty diapers are no big deal. You don't even need to get it out of the diaper before you launder it. Just take the poopy diaper off your child, store in somewhere, and throw it in the wash with the others, come time.

It all changes when your baby starts on solid foods. Her poop is no longer water soluble.

One of our friends turned us on to these little beauties: Flushable liners. We put these between Caroline's botton and her diaper with each change. And then when we've got a dirty diaper on our hands, we can just pull a corner of the liner off of the diaper, and dump it into the toilet. And flush it away. EASY.

They're usually a little residue left in the diaper, but the washing machine can handle it.

What about diaper rash cream?
Our diapers don't recommend you use diaper rash cream with them, because it can worm its way into the fabric and decrease the absorbency. Obviously this can be a bit problematic, since rash cream comes in handy. However, when you use diaper liners, you don't have to worry about it. They protect the diaper from the cream.

Are they hard to use?
Nope. The process of changing them is really similar to changing any other kind of diaper. Since we use liners, there's a very small extra step involved. We also use baby powder on her little bottom - the cornstarch-based kind. Traditional baby powder uses talc, and that can be bad for babies' lungs. So I read, anyway.

What about wipes?
We also use cloth diaper wipes (why not?) and have been pleased with them thus far. We use this kind, which we like because there's a little bit of texture involved. It comes in handy for scrubbing! They really look and feel like little washcloths. We keep a little bucket of water + a squirt of baby soap + a squirt of baby oil near her changing table. When we're ready for a change, we just dunk a dry cloth wipe into the bucket to get it wet, and then wipe away.

When we don't have the little bucket handy, we just dunk the dry wipe under a running faucet to wet it down. It works just fine.

Where do you store them?
bumGenius recommends that dirty and wet diapers be stored dry (no water or solution involved), which is great because it's super easy.

We've got two places where we keep them in our house, mainly because we have two floors and it's convenient to have two spots.

First, we've got a little plastic trash can/diaper pail in the garage.

The other spot is right in her bedroom. We bought a big wet bag online and put up a little sticky hook on her dresser. It is lined with something waterproof, and zips on top. And it does a great job of keeping all the smells in.

And - bonus - I just toss it in the washing machine with the diapers and clean them all at once.

What about the smell?
Of course used diapers smell. We just do our best to manage it. Diaper pail in the garage. Zipper bag in Caroline's room.

And on diaper washing day? Especially since our washer and dryer are right off of the kitchen? We burn candles. And sometimes just take off for an hour.

How do you launder them?
This part isn't too hard. First, pull the inserts out of the diaper covers and put them all in the washing machine, along with the wet bag and diaper wipes.

We have a fancy-schmancy washing machine (thanks to my in-laws!) that has a "Sanitary" cycle built right in. It's a looooong wash cycle (2+ hours) and we give it an extra rinse as well. Once per month we add a half cup of bleach to the load, which nicely takes care of lingering smells.

If you don't have a crazy washing machine, it's still totally doable. First wash the diapers on cold (to get the poop off, basically). Then wash on hot to get them nice and clean. Then give them an extra rinse before drying.

We line dry the diaper covers and use the dryer to dry the inserts, the wipes, and the wet bag.

You're supposed to be super careful on what you use for detergent, since dyes and certain chemicals can break down the diapers over time. We use a scoop of Charlie's Soap and a half scoop of Baby OxiClean.

And there you go. More than you ever wanted to know about cloth diapers! Anything I'm missing?


Any further tips and tricks that I should know about, all you veteran cloth diaper-ers?

Also, there's a bunch of resources on the internet (of course!) so feel free to check out these links for more info:
Cotton Babies FAQ
Pin Stripes and Polka Dots

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Monday, June 13, 2011

Road Trip, Stop #2: Charleston, SC


How did I live for 27 years and NOT know just how cool Charleston is?

I had no idea.

The old, majestic houses. The iron scrolls. The history. The side porches. Oh my goodness. Incredible.

We also enjoyed the food. No surprises there.

We stayed with one of my best friends from my childhood - Laura. She actually lives in a darling historic house on the north end of down town. I loved getting to spend time with her in Charleston. We haven't had much of a chance to spend time together since high school. You know, ten years ago. And two weeks after we left? This girl got married! So happy for them.

When we were in town she asked me to take some photos of Charleston that they could use to hang up in their living room. She wants 4 of them, and for them to be square.

A photo project? FUN.

So we walked all around town. Caroline strolled.
And was sometimes fed a bottle as we went.

So, if you were Laura and her husband, Adam, what Charleston pics would you choose?

A. The Battery. Apparently Charleston and the surrounding areas played a pretty important role in both the Civil and Revolutionary Wars. I don't think I really knew that.

B. Totally awesome iron gates. They're all over town.

C. Window grates. This one is a classic "harp."

D. The iconic pineapple fountain. They even let you play in it!

E. The side porch is classic Charleston.

F. Can I have this house, please?

G. Local women sit and weave these on street corners. Beautiful work.

H. I forget the significance of this house. But it is OLD. Like, 1700's.

I. Pineapples are big down there. I think it's a symbol of welcome.

J. Another fabulous house with a crazy-cool iron gate.

And then we've got more choices for Laura and Adam. Do they want color?

Or perhaps they want them in black and white?

What about a retro vibe?

I'm fond of this faded effect: