Tag Archives: eco-friendly

Backyard chickens and basketball

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Yesterday I took the kids to the park for a bit and overheard the following while passing by the basketball courts where two very basketball looking dudes were playing a game…

P1: Oh yeah, we got more chickens, six little ones.
P2: What’s the deal with that anyway, do you guys eat eggs every morning or what?
P1: Yep. Every morning. Sometimes for lunch. Plus, we treat ours better than the hens that lay eggs for the stores. They get to run around in our backyard and eat what they’re supposed to.

I mean, if two basketball dudes are talking about this sort of thing, I hope we’re on the cusp of major change.

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Tutorial: Turning BumGenius 3.0 diaper cover to training pant (PullUp)

I feel like we have been potty training with Bean for forever. I know it hasn’t been that long though. It started with what was essentially a little EC (elimination communication) where she would make a certain face or tell us when she was going and we would take her to the potty to do her business.

At some point she started really wanting to use the potty rather than go in her diaper. Then at another point she hated using the potty. At another point she was too distracted to use the potty regularly. Then she was mostly accident free so long as I prompted her to go. Lately she has been telling me she has to go while running to the bathroom and she is mostly accident free.

However, that is only with me. Lately she only wants me to help her with potty stuff and throws a huge fit if I am busy and Stephen has to take her instead. She wants nothing to do with help from her preschool or Sunday school teachers. So I usually just have her try before and after and she wears a PullUp to class. We also use PullUps for trips, days where we are out of the house all day doing errands or activities and for naps and at night.

My original plan was to use a cloth version of PullUps. I searched out a few different options and eventually settled on the Happy Heiny trainers. The reviews said these were trim and I liked that you could order them with snaps on each side so that if there was a poop accident it would be much easier to clean up and deal with. Besides, the actual PullUps brand training pants also open at the sides, so that is what I expected and was used to. No one wants to drag a training pant full of poop down their toddler’s leg and then try to have them navigate their feet out of that training pant without making a mess.

When my order got here though I was so disappointed. They are so bulky. When we stuff them with even just one insert, it is like she has a balloon between her legs. People always made fun of me because of our kids’ giant cloth diaper bums, but believe me there is worse out there than the BumGenius. BumGenius and now our Flip diapers are actually really trim comparatively.

So anyway we’ve been going through a lot of PullUps lately, especially since Bean started preschool. And I hate buying them. I hate worrying about if we have enough to get us through this or that. I hate throwing them away and creating so much trash. I hate that Bean gets rashes from them all the time. I hate that they are plastered with Disney Princess crap (I know, slightly silly of me). I just hate them. Period.

I have asked around though and there really doesn’t seem to be a much better alternative in the cloth diapering world that matches up to an actual PullUp.

So, I have been getting crafty the last couple days. I have all the BumGenius covers that we are no longer using. I also have something like 300 snaps that I ordered for when my plan was to replace the velcro on them. I figured the worst that could happen is that I could wind up permanently ruining something that we are probably going to wind up throwing away anyway, right?

I did a search to see if there were any tutorials on how to go about converting a BumGenius cover to a PullUp or training pant. One blog had a picture, but her training pant did not open at the sides. She basically just removed the tabs and sewed them shut.

So I had to come up with my own plan.

The first thing I did was take an actual PullUp and lay it down open and flat against one of my diaper covers to figure out where I needed to make alterations.

Pretty much other than the fact that the BumGenius is more bikini cut than the PullUp (which actually we usually wind up folding the PullUps down a bit because Bean is her mother’s very sensitive daughter and if it touches her wrong she is uncomfortable and whines), the only difference is that the elastic and Velcro tabs extend beyond the PullUp.

So yesterday I made my first one. I used a seam ripper to remove the Velcro from the front, the elastic tabs and the laundry tabs.

Then I flipped the back part where the elastic tabs used to be inside out and made a seam there.

The result pretty much lines up with the PullUp.

Then I used my snap pliers to attach some snaps on the sides and I had a cloth PullUp. So I had Bean try it on and model it for me. She wasn’t super cooperative. First she didn’t want to put it on at all because, “No, I’m a big girl now! I don’t wear diapers anymore!” And then she didn’t want to hold still for the picture.

We used the prototype last night with a pre-fold and had no leaks or issues. However, though it fits, it is a little snug. There is no way she’d be able to get it on and off by herself.

So I made another today and instead of completely removing the elastic tab, I cut just before the velcro tabs and then repeated the process.

Bean is napping right now so I haven’t actually tried this one on her, but I think it should be a slightly better fit and easier to get on and off. Also, success at nap today, when presented with a disposable PullUp, “I don’t want to wear a sposable, Mama, I want to wear a cloth PullUp.” She was very disappointed I didn’t have more. I told her I had to make more.

Edited to add: The second attempt seems just a tad too big. It stays on, but starts to sag. I will have to adjust again. Overall I have it mostly figured out though.

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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!

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The ramblings of a very frustrated person

I am frustrated about a ton of stuff right now.

And it all feels completely overwhelming. Like there is nothing that can be done. No good choices. All compromises. Hard compromises. Imperfection.

Historically, personally speaking, this has been the worst time for me to write a post. But it is so maddening that I can think of nothing better than writing it all out.

Where to begin?

I guess I will start at the food industry. It pretty much sucks. Alternatives are not always affordable. I already feel like our grocery budget is completely outrageous compared to most people. And then we are supposed to afford all this other stuff, like preschool.

Which brings me to that topic. And how it is completely agreed upon that every child should go to preschool, that it has many benefits and children who go thru it are more successful. And how Kindergarten teachers I know that see on a child’s history that they didn’t go to preschool and automatically label them from the beginning as a problem child. But it is, in many cases, prohibitively expensive. So in our case we are settling for something mediocre, but barely affordable and even then my husband is making a big deal about the cost.

And the housing market and how we bought at the worst time ever and our house is now worth 45% less than when we bought it. And we don’t even get to live in it. Or how we’ll never be able to afford to live in a house in this city.

Or how PETA is complaining about how makeup brushes are made with animal fur and bad for animal welfare and skin so here use these other kinds made with taklon which is a polyester synthetic petroleum product and petroleum is bad for the environment too.

And how this city is too close to LA and everyone is so driven and aggressive and I find it highly annoying trying to compete with it.

And how I basically want to drop out of life and live in the middle of nowhere and just have a farm and barely make out an existence, but who cares because then at least I would have complete control over all the inputs into my family’s diet.

Or how everyone goes on these nice vacations to foreign countries and Disneyland and we don’t even have passports or the ability to go anywhere pretty much ever and every time we do go on vacation it results in arguments about money stuff for the next several months afterwards which completely negates any relaxing or fun effects of a vacation.

Or how vacations are just exhausting and means you usually have to deal with a lot of annoying people at airports or on the road or at Disneyland or at a children’s museum. Which is just annoying because life is already full of enough of that.

Or how my cloth diapers that are supposed to be environmentally friendly by reducing the amount of trash in our landfills (1 ton per kid per year) are made out of petroleum products and probably caused more harm to the environment while they were being made than if I just used disposables all along. But then how disposables are super expensive and we’ve already invested in cloth. And how the diapers won’t let go of their funk and it has been frustrating me for about a year now.

Or how I have made converts out of people with regards to cloth or food or homebirth, but what does that say about my ability to evangelize “the things that have eternal importance” and how most people just see me as another angry environmentalist wacko with too much time for research on my hands who’s faith is secondary?

And speaking of faith, how just when you think you’ve found what you are looking for the Church fails you again and you realize that no matter what there are really hard compromises to be made and how you believe in Jesus and all that but pretty much have started to hate church in general. Because it is sucky people making sucky mistakes and being generally sucky and I just want to be a hermit on my farm in the middle of nowhere.

The end.

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The October Daily, 10/18

I pulled out our next batch of handmedowns last night. We have been so blessed by friends and family in that we have hardly had to buy any clothes for our kids. I spent the day doing laundry and going through the closet to make room for all the “new” fall stuff.

Bean obviously has a mountain of clothes as usual (right) and Sprout has a pretty good pile too (left).

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My paperless kitchen

Aside from pregnancy updates, you may have noticed that blog content around here is a little low lately. Well, I got a little inspiration this morning thanks to Morgan sharing this little gem in my Google Reader: How to Create a Paperless Kitchen.

Stephen and I (Actually, he was the main proponent behind it. What? My formerly registered Republican husband an environmentalist? Huh?), just implemented this in our kitchen not too long ago. I was so excited that I was about to leave the longest comment ever on Morgan’s shared items and then I decided that it would probably just be better if I wrote up a post.

Now the original poster does a very good job of explaining the whys and hows (so you should really go check that out), but I just wanted to talk about how we make this work for us so if any of you are thinking about doing this you can maybe get some more ideas.

When we first started feeding Bean solid foods I set out to just use washcloths to clean her up after meals. This was easy when we lived in a one story house and getting a washcloth just meant a quick trip down the hall to her bedroom. When we moved to TO, however, I got in a really bad habit of using disposable wipes after her meals because going upstairs to get a clean washcloth after a meal (or remembering to bring some down beforehand) and then taking it back up to dispose of in the diaper pail seemed like such a pain, especially after I got pregnant again. I also kept running out of washcloths before it was time to do a load of diapers.

When we sat down to talk about creating a paperless kitchen in our house the solutions to this problem were obvious and simple. I bought a few more packs of washcloths so we wouldn’t run out all the time and started keeping a stack of clean cloths in the drawer where we keep Bean’s bibs. So now I always have some clean cloths handy to clean up with after meal time.


Burp cloths, bibs and wash cloths. This is Bean’s drawer. Sprout has a similar drawer next to it with his stuff.

We were also really bad about using paper for meal times and cleanup. The thing is, we already had plenty of kitchen towels, napkins and other cloth cleaning products, but we were just really bad about using them when a paper towel was right there and so handy. So not having a roll of paper towels out all the time has also help force us to grab the cloth stuff.


My kitchen towel and hot pad drawer.


Microfiber cleaning cloths for heavy duty stuff.


I found these super absorbant cloths at Trader Joe’s. I haven’t really found a use for them yet, but they are there.


These are my somewhat boring collection of cloth napkins that we’ve had ever since we got married. I wish I had some in much more fun prints. I’ll hopefully make/buy some more eventually, but these work for now.

I guess the other big key for us in creating a paperless kitchen was designating a space to put the dirty stuff. Maybe this isn’t such a big deal when you live in a place that is only one story, but it was a big deal in our two story apartment. I did not want to be going up and down the stairs several times a day with dirty dish towels, wash cloths, napkins, etc. Nor did I want these items piled on my small amount of kitchen counter space to be taken up in one big load. I actually stole the solution to this problem from my sister-in-law. When we watched her girls during their Norway vacation I noticed she kept a little laundry basket under the sink for kitchen laundry. Brilliant! I already had a perfect sized basket. It was just a matter of organizing under the sink a little to make room.

I usually grab whatever is in the basket when I am getting ready to do a load of Bean’s diapers and wash it all together. I guess it might seem gross to some people that I’m washing kitchen laundry with diaper laundry, but it IS clean in the end and I don’t really see it as a big deal. So that’s what we do. Plus, I don’t want greasy and food covered laundry getting washed in with the rest of my stuff.

One thing we still use paper for is the occasional big Saturday morning breakfast in order to drain the grease off meat, but other than that I’m proud to say we’ve been happily paper free in our kitchen for a few months now. Hopefully this inspires some of you to do the same.

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Obesity in America

This weekend when we got our box of AH produce, I was once again intrigued by the newsletter that accompanied it. This happens to me almost every week even though I will admit to not agreeing 100 percent with everything he has to say. In light of this headline I saw this morning on my iGoogle page, I think the following excerpt from the newsletter is really interesting:

We talked a few weeks back about the necessity of soil microbes to digest and make available to crop roots the various natural minerals our bodies need for proper functioning and how 60lbs of synthetic fertilizer (most growers would use 80-120lbs at a time) is a lethal dose to most of the more efficient microbes. Well, this sterilizing of the soil with commercial “N” (nitrogen) is responsible for the major reduction in nutritional value in conventionally grown whole fruits and vegetables over the past 60 years. When soil ceases to be a thriving, living organism, it ceases to give us the nurtrition we need to thrive! Some would say conventional produce has lost 40-60% of its nutritional value, but for arguments sake, what if we took a really safe number like 20%. Now stay with me here. If our body needs just 20% more food until it’s nutritionally satisfied and turns off the “feed me” switch; that all by itself explains the obesity problem we’re “suddenly” confronted with as a nation. Okay, so we buy energy from people who don’t much like us. Not sustainable! We turn it into synthetic fertilizer to feed us and our livestock nutritionally inferior crops. NOT SUSTAINABLE!! Then we overload the medical folks with all kinds of nutritionally preventable maladies. REALLY NOT SUSTAINABLE!!! The solution is so simple and so sustainable that man’s employed it throughout history. Biological fertility gives us everything we need to produce delicious, nutritious exciting food. We’re not elitists or snobs and we wouldn’t force others to do it our way, we’re just sustainably healthy and happy and anyone who’d like to quit being sick and grumpy is welcome to join us.

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