Category Archives: Reviews

An update on my cloth diapering adventures

We made some recent changes in the cloth diapering department, so I decided an update post was in order since I’ve blogged so extensively about the subject and I know I have many followers that have been converted to cloth from reading my posts (Haha, funny moment this weekend at our cousin’s baby shower, one of her friends came up to me and said, “Hi Lisa. You don’t know me, but I read your blog. And I started cloth diapering because of you. It’s been so great for us.”).

Well, after 2.5 years, and 2 kids worth of use, the microfiber inserts that came with my BumGenius 3.0 diapers had had it. They were still intact, they were still absorbent, but they stunk. And they stunk bad. Much of the “hook and loop” (Velcro) closures were also pretty worn (you may remember I’d started converting my diapers to snaps, but I only got a handful of them done). Changing diapers was an olfactory experience that I could not really deal with anymore. Then washing and drying them, P. U. It would stink up our whole house!

I tried so many things. Soaking. Bleaching. More soaking. Anti bacterials. Oxi Clean. Baking soda and vinegar. I scoured the Internet for “microfiber stink solutions,” “stinky BumGenius solution,” you name it I probably Googled it and tried it on my diapers. Nothing worked.

I had pretty much resolved to get rid of the inserts and either make or buy my own cotton inserts. Until I could get around to it, I had started using Huggies Pure & Natural Diapers or Seventh Generation diapers for Sprout and Pull-Ups or the Seventh Generation brand training pants for Bean. Stephen and I both noticed quite a spike in our budget during this period. So he started trying to be more proactive about the diaper laundry and using cloth. It was nice, but I was still sick of our microfiber.

Then my aunt called out of the blue one day and said for a combined Mother’s Day, birthday and new baby present this year she wanted to get us a cloth diapering service. She had researched it out, found three companies that serve our area and was surprised it wasn’t as expensive as she’d thought.

So I called up the companies next to find out a little more. I had a nice chat with one of owners of a Santa Clarita based company about cloth diapering and my cloth diapering problems. She told me that microfiber can only be guaranteed a year or a certain number of washes which is why diapering services can’t use them. She was surprised I made it 2.5 years with mine. She said they use cotton pre-folds because they can get the stink out and they last longer. This is basically what I had read on the Internet too, but it made more sense hearing it from someone who’s entire business revolves around cloth diapering.

After looking into it a little more though, I was disappointed to find that the diapering service only takes care of washing the pre-fold inserts and not the covers. To me, this didn’t really seem all that helpful. I’d have to keep two separate pails for the covers and inserts (which cloth diapering stuff already takes up enough room in our place), and I’d still be doing some diapering laundry.

So I talked to my aunt a little more about it and she said she would replace our old diapers instead.

Overall I still felt that my BumGenius diapers were a good investment and a good quality product. But I knew I wanted to go with cotton and not microfiber this time. I also had fairly good experiences with the distributor/parent company (I think that’s what they are?), Cotton Babies, so I did not hesitate to go back to them.

BumGenius does make an organic cotton version of their diapers, but they are all one piece. Plus, the new ones come in your choice of snaps or hook and loop. I actually liked that we could stuff our other diapers because I could control how much we needed to add or subtract for absorbency. I still wanted the flexibility of a pocket diaper or just a cover. I knew I would also go with snaps over hook and loop this time.

Since I bought/was gifted my BG 3.0s over 2.5 years ago, Cotton Babies has come out with two other kinds of diapers, the Flip System and the EconoBum.

The Flip diapers are pretty similar to G Diapers in that they have cloth or disposable inserts depending on your need. You can reuse the covers until they get gross, so you just keep replacing the inserts otherwise. They also have two cloth options, microfiber and cotton. Another good difference between the Flip and G Diapers is that like the BumGenius diapers they are one size and you can get them in snaps or hook and loop closure. They also come in all the fun colors that the BumGenius diapers do. And from what I could tell of the pictures, they looked like they fit just like the BumGenius diapers do, which is one of the things I really liked about those diapers.

So after a little contemplation and calculating, I decided to go with Flip covers. However, the Flip cotton insert pretty much looked like a cotton pre-fold to me and since I knew from my conversation with the diapering service that pre-folds last the longest, I decided to go with unbleached cotton pre-folds instead of the official Flip insert. Besides, the pre-folds were much cheaper!

The hardest part for me was trying to figure out how many inserts and covers to get. With the BumGenius I had 40+ diapers that I just ordered all together and all their pieces got worn and tossed in the diaper pail together. With these I knew I wouldn’t need as many of the covers since I’d be using them for more than one diaper change. I was slightly concerned about the absorbability of the cotton versus microfiber and whether I’d be doing more changes or doubling up to get that same level of absorbency that I was used to. So in the end, I decided to go with 20 covers and 60 pre-folds.

I know it sounds like a lot, but now that we are using them (well, we have been since Sunday anyway), I think I made the right decision for two kids in diapers. It is a little much for mostly just Sprout though (I had to plan ahead, Bean is pretty much in undies except for naps she wears a cloth diaper, but for preschool and at night we put a disposable training pant on her because she needs the extra absorbency). So a person with one kid in diapers could probably get away with a lot less.

I am also pleased to report that the cotton pre-folds are really absorbent and stand up to what we were used to with the microfiber just fine. I haven’t really noticed any extra diaper changes and we haven’t had any leaks, even overnight. The diapers fit pretty much the same as our BumGenius diapers did. The snaps work great and are easy to use.

I know it may be a bit premature since we are only a few days in, but I am really happy with the change.


My new diapers arrived in the mail last week along with a new Ergo carrier. I was so excited!


A Flip cover and a pre-fold insert after I had pre-washed everything. My initial excitement over the diapers was kind of put on hold when I read that the new Cotton Babies recommendation for diaper prep was SEVEN washes and dries! With our BG 3.0s I distinctly remember that we only had to do three.


Open Flip cover with the pre-fold in place.


Closed up Flip diaper all ready to go.


Bean wearing a Flip diaper with cotton pre-fold for nap today. I love the snaps and the fact that I can put my kids down for a nap sans pants and not worry that they will get bored and take off their diaper. This will be great during the summer when their rooms get a little warm even with the air on because of where they are positioned, getting the afternoon sun and being upstairs where heat rises.

Anyway, that about sums things up. Special thanks to my auntie for the new diapers. I am so happy with them!

Leave a comment

Filed under Family, Natural Living, Parenting, Reviews

I just want to cry because I care.

I think I care too much.

Really I do.

I started reading The Unhealthy Truth by Robyn O’Brien and I am about halfway through. The book isn’t necessarily anything new for me. It’s all stuff I knew by reading other books or watching Food Inc. I knew that our government, particularly when it comes to the food regulatory agencies, was corrupt and that a revolving door for former industry executives exists and major conflicts of interest exist.

I guess I just didn’t connect the dots into making it human. Putting a human face on the matter. Maybe it’s because O’Brien’s story also involves food allergies and that is something that I deal with every day. Maybe it’s because Bean’s been having really awful eczema behind her knees that cracks and oozes puss lately. Maybe it’s because we got food poisoning when we ate at a fairly reputable restaurant this weekend.

I just feel so frustrated and helpless on this matter. Overwhelmed and angry. It’s been all I can think about the last two days or so.

People, children just like my precious two little ones, are getting so sick and harmed because our food system is not safe. And it isn’t safe because the people who are supposed to be keeping it safe aren’t doing their jobs. Instead they are looking out for the corporations.

People like me are having their kids develop food allergies because of pollutants and toxins in our environment, genetically modified foods, factory farming, and overuse of antibiotics in the animals in our food supply as well as in ourselves.

People like me are then told by their pediatricians (not the one I currently go to anymore) that when their kid develops a dairy allergy that the best thing to do is to have them guzzle soy milk instead. Something that is so unhealthful and harmful.

I count myself lucky that six months after I was told this I did my own research and found out that this wasn’t a good idea at all. How many other parents, though, are just following their pediatrician’s advice because they are supposed to be the expert on nutrition and health for children?

Some say personal responsibility is the answer and I should just worry about my own family and make the food decisions I want to make for them and I should be the one to do all the research and own up to what we consume. Yeah, maybe that is partly true.

But for me, I just can’t stop there. I can’t sit by while other people and other people’s children suffer. I care about my friend’s kids. I care about my friends. I care about those that aren’t my friends and their kids. I care about our future. I care about our planet. I care.

So what am I supposed to do now? I want to make a bigger difference than just my own family.

3 Comments

Filed under Family, Natural Living, Parenting, Politics, Ramblings, Reviews

Milk

I just finished reading Milk: The Surprising Story of Milk Through the Ages and thought I’d share my review here in addition to those of you that are already connected to me on Goodreads because I know there are some of you that aren’t on Goodreads, but would be interested in my thoughts on this book especially in light of the recent food conversations we’ve been having all over blogland.

This book is a good read, but I rated it 4 stars instead of 5 because I was hoping it would cover the topic in more depth. The recipes take up a majority of this book, the history part does not which when you consider the subtitle, “The surprising story of milk through the ages,” I think you would be surprised too. However, even though the majority of the history/background lesson ends on page 72, she talks more in depth about the various dairy products individually like milk, buttermilk, butter, yogurt, etc in the recipe section. The recipe section is really awesome and I want to own this book now just for that (I borrowed it from the library). Even though she didn’t get into the history of milk as much as I wanted her to, I feel that I still learned quite a bit more than I have already researching the topic on the Internet.

Some of the things I learned:
-What she deems the Northwestern Cow Belt (Northern Germany, the Low Countries, northern France, British Isles, southern Scandinavia), is home to the only people that retain the ability to digest lactose into adulthood. However, this small region of fresh milk usage exported their ideas about drinking fresh rather than sour milk all over the world. Later on science figured out that wasn’t such a great idea and that most other people in the world can’t digest fresh milk.
-“Small though they look today, the East Coast operations begun during this era were on a scale that allowed tens of thousands of city dwellers to take up milk drinking as a relatively safe and affordable daily habit–perceived, however, as necessity, not habit. Medical opinion now unanimously held that drinkable unsoured milk was indispensable for children and healthful for everyone else. Doctors did notice that milk seemed to disagree with more people than any other food of equal importance.” (p. 34)
-We’ve bred our cows to be able to produce more milk, but it is lower quality as far as cream and nutrients are concerned. In 1865 a top cow produced 7 gallons of milk a day. In 1975 the record was set at 19 gallons a day. In 1997 that record was broken at 23 gallons a day.
-“The designation “whole,” though legally sanctioned, is misleading inasmuch as the milk has been separated by centrifuge and recombined to an arbitrary standard. In most states it means a mixture of nonfat milk and cream homogenized to a 3.25 percent milkfat content.” (p. 79)
-“Zero was easily attainable through centrifuging, but centrifuged skim milk lacked the flavor-saving smidging of cream that remained in the milk after hand skimming… For a long time the hardest sell remained skim milk, and for good reason: The usual commercial versions are a singularly thin, vapid travesty of decent hand-skimmed milk. But eventually processors hit on the strategem of using dried skim milk solids to add body and selling the result under names like “Skim Milk Plus.” (Despite any promotional malarkey on the label, the real difference between this and plain skim milk is not extra “creaminess” or “richness” but more lactose and casein.)” (p.47)
-“The ogranic dairying business is tremendously concentrated, with the great preponderance of milk coming from three or four very large producers owned by vast agribusiness conglomerates. The biggest facilities are in the Rocky Mountain and West Coast states, and milk regularly travels thousands of miles from there to reach retail shelves throughout the country. As with conventional milk, gigantic farm operations with several thousand cows now dominate the business. The largest farms depend on the same breeding-and-feeding methods as their conventional counterparts, including high-energy rations to increase volume; thrice-daily milking; and as much confinement with as much restriction of access to grazing as the managers can get away with. (The NOSB regulations mention “access to pasture” and to the outdoors generally, without spelling out how much or little.) Milk entering the pool at large organic dairies is separated and homogenized by the same arbitrary numbers games as conventional milk. The milk is also usually ultrapasteurized, the better to transport it across vast distances and permit weeks rather than days between time of milking and time of use. So far, the major organic-dairy producers have managed to cash in on the widespread popular view of pure, simple, pastoral, animal-friendly organic food without acknowledging how little their wares justify the image. In fact, milk is one of the fastest-growing segements of the organic market… But this is one gift horse that really should be looked in the mouth. Why should we support new-style versions of factory farming clad in the airs of moral superiority to factory farming?” (p.59)
-“If you could see and taste the milk of one cow’s, doe’s, ewe’s, or woman’s milking cycle, from the time she stops producing colostrum to the time when the young animal says farewell to nursing, it would be shot through with huge variations. Milk shifts in makeup not only throughout one lactation, but from the beginning to the end of one day. Indeed, the first and last mouthfuls that an infant swallows at a single nursing ordinarily differ in composition (the final dribs and drabs being the highest in fat). And this is to ignore the question of how one individual cow’s, doe’s, ewe’s, or woman’s milk differs from that of others in her species, herd or bridge club.” (p. 62)
-Through the “white magic” experiments she has you do to show the various phases of milk I found out that skim milk has the most lactose and least casein while cream and butter have the most casein and least lactose. I found this extremely interesting! My husband has always said that he thinks he is slightly lactose intolerant, but when one considers that he usually has trouble with cream and butter rather than lower fat percentage milks/yogurts it seems to point to a problem with casein and not lactose. And so I think I may now know where our daughter got her casein allergy issues.

1 Comment

Filed under Reviews

Learning baby

I remember the first time I took Bean to one of my old workplaces and the head anchor there was like, “Lisa do you read to her?” “Um, not really,” I answered quite sheepishly. “Oh, I read to my boys all the time. I’d nurse them for hours and just read and read.”

I came home and was a little freaked out and intimidated. Oh, no! What if I was already stunting Bean’s development? I didn’t even have any kids books yet. I remember calling my sister-in-law and asking her if I should already be reading. A few weeks later Ruth brought up a mini-library for Bean and I started trying to read sometimes, but she honestly wasn’t at all interested.

Within the past year, Stephen has really started to love reading and learning. He is rarely without a book these days and his guitars and amps are mostly sitting around collecting dust. Part of that makes me a little sad as I’ve always been a big proponent of his musical endeavors, but it just isn’t where he’s at right now. I do love, however, the effect of both of us reading all the time has on Bean. Like most kids she wants to copy everything we do and being such a Papa’s girl this is especially true of anything he does. She loves to pull out her books when we do and look at the pictures, point to things in the book and ask us, “Isth ut?” (which I think might mean “What is that?” or “What is it?”) and have us read to her.

The past couple months I’ve also started going on starfall.com a couple times a week and doing a few letters with her until she gets bored. And then for her birthday, my sister, Andrea, gave us the Your Baby Can Read! language development system which has been featured on infomercials and TV shows. I admit to thinking this thing is quite cheesy, but I read through the materials and what he says about early learning seems to make sense.

I am not, however, willing to dedicate a daily allotment of time for reviewing the DVD, books and flash cards. I think his system is a bit strict for a child this young. Plus, I think the way the system goes about teaching words encourages sight-reading over phonics (which is why I continue to use starfall).

In the few weeks since we started using it though, Bean has learned some of the words. While she can’t say all of them, she does recognize clap (she claps her hands when it is said), mouth (will point to her mouth), baby (she can actually say this one), arms up (does this), and hi (waves).


Clapping after pointing to the word clap and hearing me say it.


Waving “hi” after I pointed to the girl waving hi and said hi to her.

I really don’t think there is much to his system though that most parents couldn’t cobble together on their own. I think the biggest part is just actually setting aside time to either read or go over words, pictures, letters, colors, etc. Repetition seems to be a big part of it too. I also think it is important to watch their cues when they are this young. If they are clearly disinterested and ready to move on to the next thing, I wouldn’t force them to continue to sit through the rest of the video or book or whatever.


She really likes pointing to the tiger and hearing me say that one. I’m not sure why.

Anyway, a few friends asked me to do a bit of a review of the product and that is what I think so far. I guess this means homeschooling has already begun around here?

3 Comments

Filed under Family, Homeschooling, Literary Love, Parenting, Reviews

A book review and showing off what I learned from it

The camera manual just wasn’t cutting it for me. Can we say dry much? So when Stephen and I took our birthday cash to the bookstore last week I decided that I was going to get a photography book. After perusing several it came down to two books, one was about photographing babies only and the other was Photographing Your Family: And all the kids and friends and animals who wander through too by Joel Sartore with John Healey from the National Geographic publications. Since the latter was more broad I chose it, but I think I want to go back and get the other book too because it looked like it had a lot of good hints and I liked the way it had little lessons throughout. For those of you on GoodReads, please excuse my reposting of the review, but I wanted to share it with everyone…

Every family has that one person who’s running around trying to document their lives, even the most seemingly insignificant moments. This book is for that person. Get it for them. Joel Sartore is a professional photographer for National Geographic and he will say all the things to this person that you’ve been dying to. Then he’ll give them a bunch of really great, practical, easy to understand photography hints so they can get the best photographs of your family.

Some of my favorites:

“If you’re living with someone, you have better access to that person than to anyone else on earth. That’s huge when it comes to getting great shots. But should you shoot everything? No way. In fact, you shouldn’t shoot most things. Bad light, bad composition, and sensitive subject matter are all red flags. There’s a time and place for everything.”

“Because you have unlimited time and access, your family photos should be the best photos you’ve ever taken. Just be discriminating. Remember, not everything your loved one does merits photographic preservation.”

“Believe it or not, I often construct my pictures from the rear forward. If I can’t make the background look good, I move on. You can really tell if photographers know what they’re doing by looking at their backgrounds. Are there streetlights and tree limbs sticking out of loved ones? That’s the mark of a rookie.”

“Being selective about what you shoot is tough, but it’s the key to making really interesting frames. Ask yourself, ‘Should I take a picture of that?’ and most of the time, the answer will be a resounding no because most of the time the light is too harsh, or the kids or the cat or the spouse are not really doing much. Think about why you’re taking these images. Are they to preserve some special moment? Are you going to show them to people? Is it worth their time and yours? Have you captured something funny, something joyous, something peaceful, something sad? It can all be good, but you have to give it some thought and time.”

“Shoot candidly. Nothing bores me more than seeing photos of people standing stiff and smiling just because the camera is on them. They all look like bowling pins. My mother’s camerawork is gawd-awful, for example. She has this little point-and-shoot thing and drags everyone out in front of it, then lines ’em up and shoots. It’s predictable and irritating.”

“There are many, many times when taking pictures is not appropriate. Ever see a fumbling, oblivious photographer draw attention away from a wedding ceremony? Not cool. Or how about the obnoxious click of a shutter during a school exam? Know your limits at solemn ceremonies. Ask permission to shoot sensitive subjects, even among family members.”

“Please remember, they’re just pictures. Put it in perspective. A hundred years from now, nobody will know you existed. Ever see people who are videotaping every moment of their kids game? Or snapping stills endlessly at school plays or piano recitals? Who in the world will be willing to look at all this stuff? Is that harsh? Maybe, but somebody has to tell the truth, and it may as well be me, an objective observer who has had to sit through way too many bad slide shows. It’s truly mind-numbing.”(less) “

So anyway, I’ve learned a lot and will be revisiting this book several times over to make sure I get the stuff down that he’s talking about. For now I’ve already started putting some of it into practice and really thinking about my photographs. This week I decided to mainly focus on the Av (Apperature priority) mode on my camera and specifically getting some fun and candid portraits. I pretty much kept my F value at 4 or 5 all week long. Now, just because I read a book doesn’t mean all my pictures were great or worth keeping. I did get some that I am much happier with and I feel like I’ve progressed a ton in feeling comfortable as an amatuer photographer.


This shot breaks all the rules… rule of thirds is definitely broken… her ear and the little wisps of hair next to it are what are in focus instead of her face… she’s cut off in weird places… etc. But I love it. I love the expression of absolute delight at doing her favorite thing: swinging.


My white balance setting was way off on this one, but I kinda fixed it in the processing phase. I also cropped it. She was laughing and trying to grab her papa’s mop of hair and he was really out of focus to the point where it hurt your eyes to look at the photo.

Love both of these, but wish his hair wasn’t all in his face! He’s getting it cut this weekend:

Anyway, hope you are enjoying the return of Eye Candy Friday as much as I am. 🙂

6 Comments

Filed under Eye Candy Friday, Family, Photography, Reviews

The new camera, the good and the bad…

Alright so this post is going to take the place of Eye Candy Friday for this week. I wanted to talk about my new camera.

A few months ago my dad let me go onto his commission points redemption site and pick out a new camera for my birthday because I had been complaining about how much I hated our Canon Powershot G5, specifically the lag time on it. Eventually it stopped being on backorder and it arrived at my door the week before my birthday.

After a lot of great input from all my photog friends I decided on the Canon Rebel XSi. It came with an 18-55mm lense with a built in image stabilizer.

So here is what I think about it after using it a couple weeks…

Things I like:
-No lag time. The shutter speed is really fast too. So great, especially when trying to photograph an on-the-go baby girl.
-The auto settings on here really annoy me. Which is kind of good because it is forcing me to learn how to do things manually and that will make me a better photographer in the long run.
-The color and crispness of the photos it takes is WAY better.
-I love being able to adjust my zoom with my hand on the lens body, instead of using a little toggle. I just find this to be so much more intuitive.
-Because I went from a Canon to another Canon a lot of stuff is the same.

Things I miss from the old camera:
-The easy to locate and adjust flash on/off button. On all the XSi’s auto settings you aren’t even allowed to turn off the flash (one of the things that annoys me about those settings). To do it in the other modes it is a bit of a more complicated process which involves going into the menu and finding the off place. I do not like this. On the PowerShot there was just a little button that you could push to turn the flash to always on, auto on, or off. I have never been a big fan of the flash because it always makes my pictures look overexposed. I like using natural light much better so having a complicated process to turn off the flash is a bit annoying.
-No video. I knew this before I bought it, but I still miss the ability to capture little videos. Guess we’re just going to have to get a little video camera now. 🙂

Anyway, thanks, Dad, for the camera. It is definitely an improvement over our last one.

4 Comments

Filed under Reviews

Last post about Sleepless in America, promise

I finished Sleepless in America by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka today.

I must admit the last few chapters I was pretty disenchanted, but I pushed on. Here is my review:

I did like this book. Kurcinka has clearly done her research on sleep. I liked reading about circadian rythm, how a person’s/child’s personality impacts sleep, and how different environmental factors impact sleep.

I do feel like I am walking away from this book with a better knowledge of sleep and how to help my daughter get the sleep she needs.

I also liked that she helps parents approach the process of getting their child to sleep in a gentle and sensitive manner. You aren’t left feeling like you are coddling your child if you help them into sleep. You are not told to leave your child crying desperately for you.

Kurcinka really does a great job of helping you to see the problem of sleep from your child’s eyes and reminding you that they are a little person just like you.

That said, there were some negatives to the book.

Kurcinka claims that we should take what works for our family and throw out the rest.

However, her entire strategy seems to revolve around a schedule. I know that I am not alone in being the parent of a child that refuses to have perfect and predictable schedule. There has to be some other way to get your child to have good sleep.

So I guess I’m left with taking her advice and holding onto the tips that will usher my child gently into sleep and tossing the doesn’t-work-no-matter-how-hard-I-try schedule out the window.

Leave a comment

Filed under Literary Love, Parenting, Reviews