Wednesday, February 29, 2012

week 9: simplifying my closet

After an inspiring sermon about greed this week in church, I am getting started on some spring cleaning around here.
I know that "stuff" really can get in the way.
Consumerism, marketing and advertisements lead us to believe that we need and are entitled to all the "stuff" we accumulate and in the end, it kind of just bogs us down.

Lately, Christian and I have felt as if the walls of our little house are closing in on us.
Some of our complaints are legitimate.
We long for a dining space, more seating and a better place to put the litter box.
However, I have to wonder if our house would feel a little bigger if we didn't have so much stuff. 
What if our closets, cabinets and drawers weren't overflowing?
What if we only kept the things that we really use,  getting rid of the stuff which is weighing us down, filling our house and simply distracting us?

Christian and I may not be rich compared to many of our friends, family members or neighbors, but compared to most people in the world, we are part of a very small minority who do not worry about where our next meal will come from.
I need not forget that.

I am abundantly blessed and I want to be generous with what I have been given.
There are people who desperately need many of the things in my very own house which I rarely use.
It's time for me to stop holding on to the things that only clutter my living space because "maybe I'll use them some day" and willingly donate them to those who will use them now.

These big ideas are very overwhelming to me but as I promised when I started this challenge, I want to slowly throw off the things that hinder me and move toward living a more conscience life.
Part of that is being conscience of the things I buy and own.

Of course, the key word is slowly.
The last thing I need is another huge project or a brand new to do list.
I don't exactly have a ton of extra time on my hands right now.
 This challenge is all about baby steps.

For the next several weeks, I am going to pick JUST ONE small space in my house to clean out and pare down.
I can handle one small project a week if it will help to reduce my stress long term.

I already got started on this week's space:

my closet

It's been a while since the last time I cleaned my closet, (and every other space in my house).
It was summer then, I was pregnant and had superhuman energy.
That was an awesome time.
In that post, I talked about these same desires to stop over-valuing or holding on too tightly to replaceable things.

It feels so good to clean out a closet.
I always promise myself that I will never let it get out of hand again.
This last time, I did really well for a long while.
It lasted many months.
But sometime after I went back to work, this happened:

What can I say?
I am tired and always running late.
More than once I dug through trying to find something in a hurry and made a mess, then I got lazy and never really cleaned it up.
This is the embarrassing result.

Part of the problem is that I simply have too much stuff on those little shelves.

So, a couple days ago, I made three bags.

To fix: (a couple of my favorite sweaters are missing buttons)
To sell: (no shame in bringing a few barely worn items to a local consignment shop.)
To donate: (Goodwill is the old standby but sometimes I wonder if there is an even better place to bring my clothes.  Suggestions?)

It took me (in all of my indecisiveness) about 45 minutes with a fussy baby strapped to my chest for part of the time to go through my closet, pare down and re-fold.
Not bad.

I may be a scarf hoarder.
I'm going to let my sub conscience keep working on me for a few more days before I actually call this a final product but it is a start.

Which space to choose next?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

teacher tricks: part 2

Literacy Work Stations
Students spend a great majority of the week engaged in stations while I lead guided reading groups.
When I taught first grade, I used The Daily 5 as my station system.
I LOVED it for the simplicity and had great results, but when I moved to kindergarten, it just didn't work.
Still, I have taken bits and pieces of what "The Sisters" teach in their book(s) and applied it to my kindergarten stations.

My keys to deterring behavior problems and encouraging independence at stations:
-Only 2-4 students per station at one time
-Students do not travel from station to station in the same group, but instead move independently from one another so that they are with new people at each rotation
-Make sure there is at least one dependable student at each station (if possible) to lead less dependable students in the right direction
-Lots of choices: more than one activity to choose from at most stations
-Use only familiar activities that I have modeled, students have modeled and that we have practiced before hand
Ultimately, most behavior problems in my experience stem from boredom (not enough choices), confusion (unfamiliar activities not practiced well enough before hand) and the poor habits that form when the same students are forced to work together time after time, (certain pairs/groups of students can't seem to make good choices when they are together, one person might become the "boss" or controller of the group, always "helping" the others a little too much, or the same students will argue and get on each others' nerves because they have been together too long.)
I have nine stations in my classroom.
That is a lot, I know, but it allows the groups to stay very small, (usually just two or three students at a station at a time), which keeps noise levels down and behavior problems to a minimum.
Not every station is being used every time since 3-6 students are with me at guided reading and I only have 20 students total.

Students go to three stations a day, three days a week (in order to get to all 9 stations each week), in addition to coming to my table for guided reading on every station day, (so they actually go to four stations total, three days a week if you count guided reading as a station).
Most rotations last approximately 15 minutes each although I do tend to spend more time with the lower reading groups.

Nine stations and 4 guided reading groups would be a lot to plan for and maintain every week if I didn't have an easy system to maintain.
For one, most stations are basically the same every week so once they learn each station, students know what to expect and the directions don't change much from week to week.

Each station has an "I can" chart.
I printed the "I can" statements which never change and then laminated the sheets, leaving room at the bottom for the directions which do change to be written in dry erase marker.

(The clip art and most fonts I use are DJ Inkers.)

I do not have an aid in my classroom and since I am leading guided reading groups during station time, I am not available to help with problems that arise, (such as computers or tape players acting up or students arguing over whose turn it is), so I always have a parent volunteer in the room for that hour to float around and help "put out fires".

The "I can" charts are as helpful for the parents as they are for the students.
I don't have time to explain each station to each parent, so I tell them that if students are confused or seem to be off task, to simply read the "I can" statements to them.
Most students can't read the words but they know to ask the parent to read it to them if they are confused.

I have the parent helper carry around a sheet of stickers as well.
Some activities involve papers that I do not necessarily need to see as long as the student did it correctly, (see pocket chart, writing, and word work stations for examples of those kinds of papers).
I have the students show the parent helper his/her paper and the parent can guide the student to correct any mistakes he or she may have made.
If the paper looks good, then the parent puts a sticker on it and that student can stick it right into his/her folder to take home.
Great time saver for me-less grading! 

Here is a little tour of the nine stations in my room and some of the little tricks I use to help them run more smoothly.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

teacher tricks: part I

I love sharing ideas with other teachers.
It is so fun to see how other people organize their classrooms or run their stations.
We all have different "tricks" we use to make our lives a little easier.
So, (at the special request of Brooke, a reader and fellow teacher) I wanted to share some of the things I do in my classroom.
I will break it in to three sections over the next few days so that the posts aren't too long:
Part 1: Organization and Classroom Set Up, (that's today)
Part 2: Stations
Part 3: Money/Time Savers

I can take credit for about 5% of the ideas that I will be sharing.
The majority are things that I learned from other teachers, which they probably learned from other teachers, and so on.
If you are a teacher you have probably heard the saying about how we work in a "high theft" profession.

Well, steal away!
 I hope some of these ideas can help other teachers.
And if you have any ideas to share with me, please do!
_ _ _

Classroom Set Up

 I have had 3 kindergarten classrooms over the past 2 years.
That's right.
Last year I taught AM kindergarten in one building, PM kindergarten in another and this year I was moved to yet another school where I teach just half day (AM).
(You can see lots of pictures from both of last year's classrooms here).

All those rooms have given me some practice in classroom set up.
For the most part, my new room has mostly the same set up as my previous ones did but I did make a couple of changes that I am very happy with.

For one, I traded in the HUGE L-shaped desk that came with my classroom for a tiny little desk (which I had to purchase myself but felt it was worth it).
I never sit at my desk anyway.
The big ones just end up being a place for all of my things to pile up.
The smaller desk helps me stay organized.
The old desk took up this entire corner of the classroom, from the window out about 6 feet and then over almost all the way to the wall.

My new, tiny desk opens up carpet space for my class to sit and wall space for the pocket chart station and Writer's Workshop anchor charts.

I also traded in my student desks for tables.
Best decision EVER.

They are just plain old rectangular tables that were in the school's storage space.
I have 20 students this year so I am using four tables with five students at each, (three chairs on one side, 2 on the other).

Seriously, I don't know why I didn't do this a long time ago.
It works especially well for kindergarten.
When they each had their own desks, they wiggled those things all over the room.
I had to spend a few minutes after class each day straightening desks.

They would stuff papers in there never to be seen again.
They would collect little toys and things inside and play with them while I was talking.
Pencils, library books and folders would get lost in the darkness.

My kiddos keep their pencil boxes on top of the tables, (where I can see them), and handwriting books, math books and writer's workshop notebooks in the blue bins at the end of the tables.
 A "table helper" (designated by the seasonal little die cut on top of that person's pencil box) is in charge of passing those things out when it's time and they are quite efficient at doing that.

Things just seem to stay WAY more neat and orderly now.
 Nothing ever gets lost, (at least not for long).
Papers don't get shoved into the depths, never to be seen again.
 I love it.

When it's time to move students around, I simply pick up their pencil boxes and (Velcro attached) name tags and move them to their new spots.
Then, when it's time to get out a book or Writer's Workshop journals, I have them get theirs' out of their former blue tubs if they have moved tables and put them away in the new blue tubs.
Easy peasy.

Also, I can move our entire classroom around so quickly and easily.
This year, we had Polar Express Day and my class walked over to the other kindergarten room for a short time to read a story.
When they returned, our classroom had been magically transformed!

For some reason, I have an aversion to primary colors.
That makes decorating a kindergarten classroom tricky because most things sold for classrooms are primary colors.
A great deal of the decor in my room is from IKEA. 
(Of course...would you expect anything else from me?)

From the curtains to the little tent that hangs over the listening center to the two little blue ($7) tables in my classroom...IKEA.

The green blanket on the chair, the book boxes, the rugs, the pillows in the classroom library area...

You guessed it.
Oh, and these little cushions too.

You can find all kinds of little inexpensive classroom treasures there.

I love using paper lanterns to designate spaces.
In my first classroom ever I used blue and white paper lanterns left over from our wedding to hang over the reading area.

I have since bought several other paper lanterns (because they can be purchased for super cheap online) and they work great as a way to section off areas in a classroom.

In my new room I use two groups of three paper lanterns to separate the art center from the science center.

I will talk much more about stations tomorrow but as far as classroom set up, I try to simply set up stations where they make sense.
About a third of my room has tile flooring so I set up the art and science stations are over there since they are the most likely to get messy.
The art station is near the drying rack.  
The word work station is near the word wall.

The math station is near the calendar and the number line.

(Red tub which I have several of-also IKEA).

Okay, so really I don't feel like I have any genius ideas to offer in terms of classroom set up, mostly just trial and error and common sense but it's always fun to see pictures of other teachers' classrooms.

More tomorrow...

Monday, February 20, 2012

week 8: date nights in

Continuing on with the theme of relationships this month...
This week's challenge is an idea that came up while chatting with my small group this week:

Date Nights In

We were all talking about how crazy life is, especially when you add kids to the mix and how hard it can be to invest time into your marriage.
Date nights are a nice way to spend time together, but once you have little ones, you need a sitter.
And let's face it, dates can get expensive and they require some effort, (not that effort is a bad thing).
It's just not realistic (for Christian and I anyway) to do a date night out every week.

It seems like it should be easy for us to spend time together without setting up an actual date when Henry is asleep by 6 or 7 o'clock every night and we are just hanging out at home, but for some reason, it isn't.
While talking to my friends I realized we are not the only ones.
It's easy to get distracted and spend all night in the same room without actually hanging out together.

Sometimes we watch TV "together" but we are still multi-tasking.
We are also on our iPhones (as I talked about last week) or computers.
And of course, there are always chores to do.
I end up sorting laundry or grading papers.
He ends up paying bills.

Some of it is unavoidable.
There are certain things we have to do and that's okay.
But if we have four hours from 6:00 (when Henry goes to bed) until 10:00 (our bedtime), it seems like we should be able to just hang out for at least part of the time, and we do, but still probably not enough.

So my goal is to have more date nights right here in our own house.
Henry goes to bed before we eat dinner, so we can have dinner together, rent a movie or watch our favorite shows (Wednesday is probably the best day for our date nights because most of our favorite shows are on that night) and we will act as if we are really on a date, so that means no laundry or paying bills.
No blogging.
 No crazy multi-tasking.

We can hang out, talk, dream about the future, watch TV or movies TOGETHER, and just enjoy each other.
It's not realistic to do it every night, but once a week or so is not unreasonable.

I think there is just this intense pressure to do it all, and our relationships suffer because of it.
I have noticed a huge difference already in the quality of my time spent with Christian on Sundays since I started taking a Sabbath.
And it's not just Christian.
It's other relationships too.
We have done family dinners and dinner with friends the past few Sundays and it feels great to just live in the moment and enjoy the company of the people I love without feeling the need to run off and grade papers, finish a blog post or run an errand.

I think date nights in can be another source of rest and peace in our otherwise crazy, busy weeks.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

6 months

He is more than half way to one year old (how the heck did that happen?!) and this has been the month of "ALMOST there" in so many ways.

Here are all of the milestones that he has come more than half way to mastering:
He is sitting up on his own, (but still can't be completely trusted not to fall over).
He is up on all 4's, rocking back and forth, but usually moving backward not actually crawling forward.
He has put solid food in his mouth a few times but doesn't seem to like it and hasn't actually swallowed enough for it to really count as eating yet.
That hysterical bubble gum chewing thing from last month has turned into lots of babbling and possibly (almost?) some real words.

Getting a good picture of Henry in his bassinet this month was challenging.
Mostly because all he wants to do is put his toes in his mouth.

Six Month Facts and Stats:

Length: 28+ inches (90th percentile)

Weight: just shy of 20 pounds 
(His weight dropped from the 98th percentile down to the 80th percentile this month due to the stomach bug we all caught and the drop in my milk supply that resulted from dehydration.  
We should be back on track by now though.) 

Favorite Activities: baths and swim lessons (this kid LOVES water), rolling over, attempting to crawl, laughing (he is super ticklish), squealing and babbling. 
He wants to be on the move so bad.
He gets up on all fours, rocks back and forth, and pushes himself backward. 
He has done a couple of "frog hops" where he gets up on all fours and hops both back legs forward.
He can spin around in circles with ease. 
As Christian puts it, "He just needs his gas pedal to catch up to his steering wheel."
Still, somehow he does get places and quickly.
It seems like if I look away for two seconds, he is across the room.
And he's not interested in his toys right now.
He wants to play with all of the things that he shouldn't be playing with, (the straps of my purse, shoes, computer cords, etc.) and even when there are toys all over the carpet, he somehow manages to get over to those other things and put them straight into his mouth.
Therefore, he requires constant supervision.
Gone are the days of leaving the room and knowing where he'll be when I return.
How do moms of crawling babies go to the bathroom anyway?

Lately he has started getting under things.
If there is a blanket or a coat on the floor he gets under it, snuggles in and sucks his thumb.
Too funny.

First "word": He definitely says "dada" but is he talking about Christian? 
(Still to be determined.)
It often sounds like he is saying "hi".
With prompting, he sometimes repeats other words or sounds as well.
Not that he knows what he is saying, (he is probably just mimicking sounds), but he definitely looks like a genius when he repeats random words such as "good morning".
This weekend, while his Grammy was showing him a Big Bird puppet, it sounded like he said, "Big Bird".
He also makes a certain sound that I can't really describe when he calls for me and I just know it is his way of saying "mommy".

Nickname(s): He's just not a Hank.
He has two other baby friends called Hank anyway.
But somewhere along the line, Christian started calling him Hutch (or Hutchy) and it's stuck.
We now use them pretty much equally: Henry, Hutch or Hutchy.
  They all fit him well. 

Hair color: Still up in the air... it looks red in pictures but in real life it usually looks golden blond or strawberry blond and sometimes even light brown.

Eye color: I think it's safe to say that he is always going to be a blue eyed boy like his daddy. 

In fact, most things about him are just like daddy.
His light hair, blue eyes, fair skin and that laid back, happy and incredibly social little personality.

He's pretty much Christian's Mini Me.
(And I saw that coming ever since the 4D ultrasound I had at 26 weeks pregnant).

Everywhere we go, everyone we see says, "Oh my goodness, he looks so much like Christian!"
One woman saw Christian in a crowded room full of people, not even standing near me and said, "Oh wow, that man has got to be that baby's dad."

However, my mom recently pulled out a baby picture of me and (if you really look for it), I think you can definitely see some resemblance.

Of course, I am over a year old in that picture and smaller than Henry is now at six months.
(How did I make such a huge baby?)

At six months he is still not sleeping through the night.
On good nights he wakes only once or twice, but if he doesn't get really good naps throughout the day or if he doesn't go to bed really early (like 6:00), he wakes up 4-5 times per night, making it really hard for me to have energy for 5-year-olds the next morning.

So, this month we have really focused on trying not to fill our schedules so that Henry's needs can be met.
It is tough but so very necessary for the health and happiness of us all.
It was really apparent when I was going through pictures for this post.
Aside from some Super Bowl festivities, we spent most of our time at home this month.

We went downtown one evening after work with our friends Matt and David to see our city transformed.
The weather had been so sunny and warm but it was a little chilly that night so we bundled him up.

We thought we would love seeing all of the people, lights and excitement so we made the seat of his stroller forward facing or the first time.

But he was unamused by all of the Super Bowl hype and spend most of the evening like this:

At least he passively got to be a part of the action.

(That was just hours before I started getting sick, therefore unknowingly passing that stomach virus right on to Christian, Henry, Matt and sorry, friends!)

By Super Bowl Sunday, we were mostly recovered.

It was the day before Henry turned 6 months old, and since Americans are infamous for consuming ridiculous amounts of food on Super Bowl Sunday, I figured it was a perfect day for Hutchy to eat his first solid food.

After lots of research and contemplation I chose avocado as his first food.
It is nutritionally valuable, requires no cooking or pureeing, and is reasonably tasteless.

There was not so much eating, mostly just entertainment (both for him and for us).
He enjoyed making a huge mess.
We enjoyed watching him.
He didn't really enjoy the avocado and I'm pretty sure he didn't even swallow it.

Since then he has also tried banana and organic oatmeal and those both went about the same way.
Surely he will eventually enjoy eating food but so far not so much.

These past six months have been a whirlwind.
I find myself wanting to freeze him at whatever stage he's in. 
He's just so lovable right now that I want him to stay this way forever.
But so far, it's true what they say:
It really does just keep getting better and better.

 I am sure this next month will bring lots more changes including real crawling, real eating, lots more "talking" and maybe even teeth.
I don't understand how it's even possible.
Wasn't I just pregnant like yesterday?
I better go start planning his first birthday party now because at this rate it will be here tomorrow.

Henry, I love you.
You truly amaze me.

Monday, February 13, 2012

week 7: no phone zones

I think my iPhone is coming between me and my husband.

Maybe it's coming between me and a whole lot of things but I am going to focus on my marriage for now.

Christian and I are seriously addicted to iPhoning, (yep, I just made up that verb).
We love our iPhones for different reasons; him for the fancy apps, phone and FaceTime and me for the texting, email and ability to surf the web anywhere, anytime.
(Can you tell that I am the introvert in the relationship?)

They have definitely made our lives easier in some ways but lately I've realized they also have the ability to get in the way of genuine conversation and quality time.

We must look pathetic on dates.
We can barely have a conversation any more without being interrupted by incoming emails, phone calls or texts and even when we vow not to answer those, we always end up in some sort of debate, like "How old is Brett Favre anyway?", which is usually solved by "let's google it."
And there we are again, staring at our phones instead of each other.
So un-romantic.

Christian actually made this his New Year's Resolution and I am now ready to jump on board.
This week's challenge:

No phone zones

Our no phone zones are:
-the dinner table
-the bedroom
-the car

We both have our habits whenever we get into the car together. 
He usually calls a friend and talks while I sit in the passenger seat texting, emailing or reading something online, but no more.
We are going to have to fall back on good old fashioned conversation.
Wish us luck!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

cloth diaper Q & A, etc.

What a week to do these posts about cloth diapers.
I feel like I have so much updating to do and it's only been 10 days since I started this "cloth diaper week", (which has now officially gone longer than a week).
In case you missed anything, here are the topics I covered:

-the who's and what's of cloth diapering (explanation of different kinds/brands)
-this is how we do it (the process of using, washing and storing diapers)
-cloth diapering accessories
-how I cloth diaper without carrying a diaper bag 

And hopefully, this will wrap up the topic, (for now).

Since that first post I wrote about cloth diapers just over a week ago, all of the following things have happened:

-I have tried two new diapers thanks to a diaper swap with my friend Emily.
She let me try a Best Bottoms which was on my hybrid wish list and she gave me a Baby Beehinds MagicAlls AIO- an easy and very absorbent diaper, a little on the bulky side but great for overnight.  
I gave her my Rumparooz pocket diaper because it was too small on Henry and kept leaking. 
We are both very pleased with our trades.

I highly recommend diaper swapping if you have any cloth diapering friends to swap with.  
You can get rid of diapers that do not fit or do not work for your baby and try new diapers without spending any money at all.  

You can also do temporary diaper swaps or diaper borrowing, (as Emily and I did with the Best Bottom that she loves so that I could try it before spending the money on one for myself.)
If you do not have any local friends to trade with, you can still participate in diaper swapping through websites like or even Facebook groups like this.
That is just a little more expensive, (shipping) and takes more trust because you do not know the person you are buying from/swapping with.

-I now have experience with diaper stink.
 I have read that ammonia smells are pretty much inevitable when it comes to microfiber so I have just been waiting for it.
Sure enough, for the first time ever, I felt like some stink lingered behind in Henry's pocket diapers this week, so I got to try the Bac-Out that I talked about in this post.
 I put about three squirts in the rinse cycle before washing and I think it did the trick. 

You can also put it right on the diapers themselves.
 BUT, I will warn that if you put it directly on the diaper, you must rinse really well in hot water to kill the enzymes so that they don't attack baby's skin while he or she is wearing the diaper later. 
 Henry seems really sensitive to Bac-Out.
I had two extra stinky diapers so I sprayed them directly with the Bac-Out and Henry definitely had a rash after wearing those two diapers so I re-washed them with a few squirts of Dawn dish soap (another trick for getting out oils from diaper rash cream, smells or fixing diapers if they are repelling) and then I did a ton of extra hot rinses to kill the enzymes and to make sure that the Dawn was all the way rinsed out.
Those diapers don't smell at all anymore!

Some people always spray their diapers with Bac-Out before putting them into the wet bag but I won't be doing that now that I know Henry is pretty sensitive.
I have also heard that for VERY pesky smells, soaking diapers in Bac-Out overnight is a good answer but again-rinse, rinse, rinse and then rinse again just to be safe.

- I now have plenty of experience with diaper stripping.
The Dawn dish soap trick mentioned above is one way to strip, using really hot water is another way, and simply doing extra rinses is another.
Diaper stripping un-does build up which may be causing stink, repelling or rash.

The other day, I absentmindedly washed an entire load of cloth diaper laundry using non-cloth diaper safe detergent.
(I'm going to blame it on the stomach virus.
I now feel like I have a perpetual hangover and I am not thinking straight.)

Anyway, I poured a heaping cap full (more than I ever even use on our clothes) into the washing machine before I could take it back.
Thankfully, I did realize it right away.

Some detergents, (like the one with brighteners that I use), do not rinse out all the way which is why you can't use just any detergent on your diapers.
As a side note, this was great motivation for me to switch to eco-friendly, cloth diaper safe detergent for ALL of my laundry in the future.
Christian is all about his whites being super white so I have been scared to switch everything over but I plan to do some research and find a detergent that will meet all of our laundering needs.
(I would welcome any suggestions.)

Sure enough, after the wash cycle, I did a rinse cycle and opened the lid part way through to see this:



So I did more rinse cycles.
And still, more suds:

I thought it would never end, but like all things, it did and I eventually saw clear, sud-free water and those beautiful diapers again.

I didn't count, but I think it took somewhere near 10 rinse cycles before the suds were completely gone.

-Finally, this week I got some really good questions from all of you, (in comments, on Facebook or through email).
These three seem to be re-occurring, so I thought I would answer them here:

Q:  I am pregnant.  What kind of diaper should I register for/buy to start?

Oh boy.  
This question is so hard.
The problem is that the diapers that I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE and want to recommend may not work for you and your baby and then you'll be mad at me and I don't want that!

Here's what I mean:
When I was pregnant, I took the advice of a friend of a friend who said that GroVia made THE BEST diapers ever.
I even drove 2 hours with friends to the nearest store that we knew of which actually carried GroVia diapers.
I saw and felt them for myself, loved them and registered for all GroVia diapers with confidence.
They are adorable, they are the trimmest of trim, they are one size so they are super smart financially, and there are options (AIOs and Hybrids).
What could go wrong?

I did read reviews online which said that GroVia was better for skinny/petite babies.
I was a tiny baby and I thought Christian was about average, so I didn't think it would be a problem.

My friends threw me a diaper shower and gave me hundreds of dollars worth of beautiful GroVia diapers and I absolutely loved them.

Then Henry came.
He gained a pound a week for the first couple of months, got big and chunky before my eyes, and continually fell in the 98th percentile for weight.
The super trim cut through the crotch of the GroVia diapers cause them to dig into Henry's sensitive little baby legs and bum, leaving red marks.
Well, then.

He is also a quick and heavy wetter (pees a lot all at one time).
The tight weave of the GroVia cotton makes them absorbent but slow absorbing, which means they often leak on him because the cotton just can't soak up the wetness quickly enough.
Luckily, I had not pre-washed all of my diapers, (praise God I don't follow directions!) so I got to return the ones that were still in their packages, (although return shipping was expensive) and exchange them for other diapers, which is how I was able to try lots of other brands.

So the deal is that you have NO idea what your baby's characteristics are going to be and that makes registering for or buying diapers really tricky.
That is why I recommend getting just one of a few different brands/kinds that you think you will love based on pictures, reviews, etc. and then wait to try them on your baby and see what you actually end up liking before ordering more.
If you end up hating a diaper, it will not be a big deal to sell it or swap it, but it you have ten of them, it's a little more disappointing.

Now, here's what I wish I would have done:
I wish I would have registered for just one or two of a few different brands/styles.
I would have been pumped to get all those different diapers as gifts.
Most of them would have been one size diapers because they are the most economical.
They fit babies from 8ish pounds through potty training (and can be reused for future kids).

However, one size diapers are really bulky on newborns.
Sure, they fit at 8 pounds, but can you fit newborn clothes over them?
Not so much.

This really bothered me.
I didn't like the way the diapers looked with clothes until Henry was 12-14 pounds, (which for him was before he was even 2 months old but for most babies could be 6+ months!).
Because I didn't like the way they looked, I didn't use them all the time, which means I am responsible for several pounds of disposables which will sit in a landfill somewhere for the next 500+ years.
(And for wasting our money every time I bought a pack of disposables.)

I had one tiny little newborn GroVia AIO diaper, a gift from my friend Jane.

Oh man, was it ever cute...

At the time, I wished I had a whole set of newborn sized diapers but knew it just wasn't smart financially.

However, I recently learned about newborn diaper rental programs and I wish I would have known about them then.
There are tons of options online.
Just google it.

Most offer 24 diapers for three months for about $35-40 a month, (you pay more up front as a deposit but then you get a refund or a sizable credit toward bigger diapers when you return the newborn diapers on time and in good condition).
I noticed that most services are offering fitteds with covers (which I have heard is a great option for newborns) but some also offer all in ones (like newborn bumGenius, size 0 FuzziBunz or Lil Joeys).
These programs are less expensive if you choose the gently used option, (which doesn't bother or scare me at all because I know that these companies take care to sanitize diapers).

Also, check out local diaper services.
I live in the Indianapolis area and there is one cloth diaper service here which will deliver newborn sized diapers to you, pick up the dirty ones weekly and exchange them for clean ones.
They are very reasonably priced, offer cloth diapering classes, or you can just go in and chat with their very knowledgeable staff.

They also have lots of different brands of diapers, some detergent and some accessories for sale at their location if you are like me and want to physically touch something before you buy it.
If you live around here, check them out: Toasty Baby.

I wish I would have done one of these services when Henry was a newborn and then in that second and third month, I could have started trying out the one size diapers that I had already bought/recieved as gifts to see which ones I liked best.
That way, when I returned the newborn diapers, I could have used my store credit toward other diapers that I wanted to try or that I already knew I loved.

 I really think we will do one of those programs next time around so that I can cloth diaper a sweet baby bum from the very start AND get some new diapers when it's all over.
Q: How can I register for cloth diapers?

Cloth diapering is not exactly mainstream here in the Indianapolis area, so you can't register for most cloth diapers in mainstream stores.
(Buy Buy Baby carries some bumGenius, Target carries Charlie Banana online and Babies R Us carries gDiapers but that's about it).
All of the diapers I wanted when I registered were online.

So, I registered using
It works basically like Pinterest.
You put a little button on your toolbar and whenever you see something online that you want (cloth diapers or ANYTHING else from any online store), you push the "add to myregistry" button and enter the info you need.
I was also able to sync my Target registry to that one.
It was really great.

(My friend Emily registered at since they carry just about everything including cloth diapers).

Like I said, a big group of generous friends offered to throw me a diaper shower.
Imagine what a smart financial decision cloth diapering is when you get all (or most) of your diapers as gifts and they can be reused for that baby through potty training and also for every future child.
Between breastfeeding and receiving almost all of our diapers as gifts, Henry has been cheap so far!

I can even see how it could work for friends to buy a newborn diaper rental package as a gift because of how my smart friends did my diaper shower.
Here's how it worked:
The invitation explained that I would be cloth diapering and that they would be giving our family the gift that keeps on giving.
It came with instructions to send money in lieu of bringing a gift to the shower.
My mother in law collected the money and ordered all of the diapers at once instead of having everyone make individual online purchases, (only one shipping fee that way).

Let's say you invite 20 friends x $20 per friend = $400 (that would be plenty to buy a newborn diapering package and several different brands/styles of bigger diapers from your registry.)
The friend who threw my shower did not specify how much to give so obviously some people gave more and some gave less but it added up quickly.
They were able to get us ALL of the diapers we had registered for.

It was a very creative, different and fun shower idea.
I highly recommend it.

Q:  Snaps or Velcro?

I recommend a mix of both, especially if you are going to be sending your little one to day care.
In general, I like snaps better for quality and for looks.
However, Velcro is just more fool proof, (more like a disposable).
When we bring Henry to the church nursery on Sundays, we send Velcro closure all in one diapers.

Snap Pros: 
-usually cuter
-last longer (especially if you plan to reuse for future kids)
-stronger and harder for baby to pull off when they get older and begin learning to play with/take off their diapers. 
-no snagging/sticking to other diapers in the laundry

Snap cons: 
-tricker to fit on the baby. (You have to memorize where to snap on each diaper to fit the baby best. People tend to snap too loosely, causing leaks, which can be frustrating for babysitters or even daddies).

 Velcro pros: 
-easier, faster to put on, (especially in the dark when you are tired!) 

Velcro cons: 
-even with laundry tabs, mine sometimes come undone in the laundry, sticking to other diapers and causing snags

My advice when it comes to Velcro is to read reviews on each brand.
My Grovia Velcro tabs are already starting to curl up and I've only been using those diapers a few months, (sad since GroVia's velcro tabs are most definitely cuter than other brands).
Some brands use stronger, better quality Velcro than others.

Feel free to keep sending your cloth diapering questions my way.
I will do my best to answer them in the comments section.
 Now back to blogging about all of those other things in my life...

_ _ _ 

Read my most updated cloth diapering post here.