Tutorial: Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Portable Tree

Posted 04-30-2014 at 10:41 AM by Banana Cat

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 I remember bounding up to the front of my kindergarten class one breezy fall morning. I was super excited and had bounced in my seat in the car on the way to school until my mom told me to stop because I was shaking the whole car. It was my birthday, and now I was five, but I didn’t care about that. What I wanted was my book. See, my kindergarten teacher had a huge box of shiny new books she pulled out on every child’s birthday, and you got to choose whatever book you wanted. Then she’d smile, and with a blue Sharpie write, “Happy birthday! Love, Mrs. O,” on the inside cover. I had watched other children beaming as they slid their chosen book into their backpacks—of course, there were a couple of kids who tossed their books in, hardly looking at them, which I never understood—and stared longingly at the box of books as Mrs. O tucked it back into her cabinet until the next birthday. I knew exactly which book I wanted, and when Mrs. O started morning circle by saying, “Let’s all sing to the birthday girl!” I instantly forgot the classroom rule of walking nicely around people and plowed straight through my classmates and yelled, “I want Chicka Chicka Boom Boom please!” I don’t even remember the rest of the day, if I had cake or ice cream or any of the other presents I’m sure I received. I just know I hugged Chicka Chicka Boom Boom to my chest with a giant smile on my face.

Diaper Swapers

Mother’s Day – Don’t Forget Your Own Mother!

Posted 04-28-2014 at 02:55 PM by Matrivine

Mother's Day

We understand that Mother’s Day is not really a time off for many mothers. There is breakfast in bed that was wonderful, but the kitchen was left a mess, there are sick children, and/or the kids need help getting ready for church services. There is someone who knows how you feel. Your own mom. Chances are she has been where you are on Mother’s Day smiling because her family cares while keeping their caring from going nuclear. It’s a bond that you now share. Here are a few ways to show her that you appreciate what she did for you, what you are now doing for your own children.

More Than A Phone Call

It’s important to call our moms on the day that celebrates them taking care of us, but go the extra mile to show that your mom wasn’t just an after thought. She may be far away. You may not be able to take her out to brunch or go get your nails done together. That doesn’t let you off the hook to show her that she is special. Take the time to buy or create a greeting card for your mother and mail it so that it will arrive in time for Mother’s Day. There could be a gift sent in the mail with it. Let her know that now you’re all grown up you think more of her than a quick scramble to the phone Sunday morning.

Use Your Kids

Grandchildren hold a special place in the hearts of their grandmothers. If mom lives far away, make her day special with a scheduled Skype call. Don’t plan it too close to bedtime or nap time. Make sure your children understand that grandma is your mommy and it’s her special day too. After all, they wouldn’t have a mommy without grandma. Send pictures. Be sure to pick pictures where your kids are playing with something granny has sent them or wearing an outfit she had picked out for them. This tells her her gifts are not only appreciated, they are special and used.

In Favor of the All In One

Posted 04-25-2014 at 10:44 AM by Banana Cat

When I decided I wanted to use cloth diapers once I had children, I also decided I needed to Do It Right The First Time, as many first time moms feel that is an attainable goal. Prefolds and covers were what everyone said were cheap, and there seemed to be a decent enough fanbase of those diapers online. Like if I went to a cloth diapering convention there would be predominantly prefold fans shopping at prefold booths and attending prefold presentations and all the pocket, fitted, and all-in-one fans would have their own niches in the corners of the convention center. Anyway, prefolds and covers seemed cheap, popular, and durable, which made them the perfect cloth diaper for me to Do It Right The First Time. They would totally work, and I’d never have to use another type of cloth diaper, and I could feel smug about not spending $25 for a single all-in-one.

Allinone

$125 retail price. Right there.

 

I think prefolds and covers worked fine on my daughter in the newborn stage. The memory of my first three months as a new mother is one giant blur of diapers, laundry, baby, and exhaustion. I remember moving to pockets around then, once she was large enough to fit into them. Oh, we still used prefolds and covers mostly, but I thought pocket diapers were cute and I liked how stuffable they were for nighttime, ignoring the fact that I could just pop a doubler into the prefolds. In my mind, that was Not The Right Way. Pockets at night were a part of Doing It Right The First Time.

My daughter grew fast. She outgrew one size of prefolds, then a month later outgrew the next size. I panicked a little every time I checked our bank account. Part of the reason we decided to use cloth diapers on our children was so that we would save money. I hadn’t counted on having a child that grew at Mach 5, though, and buying new sets of prefolds every couple of months was taking a bigger hit on our budget than I would have liked. This was not how I was supposed to Do It Right The First Time. My carefully laid out plans were not working!

Cotton Sherpa: An Underused Cloth Diaper Fabric?

Posted 04-24-2014 at 02:31 PM by Banana Cat

When talking about diaper fabrics, you probably hear the same names over and over again. Bamboo, hemp, birdseye, cotton twill (commonly known as “prefold fabric”); less commonly you may hear about minky, fleece, and velor. These fabrics all have their pros and cons when it comes to diapers in terms of absorbency and softness. However, there is one fabric occasionally used in cloth diapers that I don’t hear about often and I think it deserves some recognition: cotton sherpa.

“Sherpa” is kind of a catch-all phrase for man made fabric made to resemble sheep’s wool (as opposed to coming from the sheep itself). “Man made” doesn’t mean it’s made from synthetic material, though; it’s often made from cotton, although there are some synthetic varieties out there. Of course the common use of the word “sherpa” is to refer to the Himalayan men who are expert mountaineers; how this word came to be used to refer to fabric I have no idea (but if you do, let me know! I’m always up for learning new things).

 

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A tiny portion of my sherpa-related cloth diapering items: one minky/sherpa wipe and two sherpa inserts.

Breastfeeding and The Working Mommy

Posted 04-23-2014 at 12:42 PM by Matrivine

working mom

Breast feeding is both rewarding to mom and baby. There are bonding benefits as well as health benefits. However, our fast pace lifestyle makes it difficult to give our little ones what they need while trying to make a living. What options are there when you go back to work?

Pumping

Pumping or hand expression in pretty easy to do. Picking a breast pump can be a little more tricky. Many are very expensive. There are pumps that can pump both breasts at the same time. There are one breast at a time breast pumps. There are manual and electric pumps. If you have the time (and the aim) you could even procure milk from your breasts using your own hands. Choosing a pump really depends on two things. How much can you afford to spend on a breast pump? How much time do you have. A double pump may be best if you have less time, even if it is a little more expensive. On the other hand if you have less cash a manual pump may be a better fit.

Help! How Many Newborn Diapers Do I Need?

Posted 04-22-2014 at 02:55 PM by Banana Cat

So you’ve decided to cloth diaper, and you have a baby on the way. You’ve decided on the style and brand of diapers to buy, and now you just need to decide how many to buy. As tempting as it is to get all of the styles and colors possible, you will discover that buying cloth diapers upfront can absolutely bankrupt you if you go a little crazy. Many people know this from experience. I, uh, may or may not be one of those people. So, before you drain your bank account, let’s explore the question: how many do you really need?

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There are many, many newborn diapers to choose from!

Tutorial: Spring Blossom Craft

Posted 04-21-2014 at 02:46 PM by Banana Cat

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If you’re a child, you might look outside and see skies that are a little more blue, breathe in air that’s a little more fresh, hear a few more birds chirping, and see the bright green buds of flowers unfurling from the ground. The world is changing and full of wonder. If you’re an adult, you might look outside and see sunlight still streaming through your child’s windows at bedtime, breathe in air that makes you sneeze, hear the incessant screech of birds at 5am, and see the unwelcome buds of flowers that promise to spray pollen at your nose every time you walk by. The world is changing and full of minor annoyances that only exist at this time of year. However you look at it, spring has arrived.

One fine spring morning, I decided we’d drive to the local university to see the cherry blossoms blooming on the trees. Then I actually pulled up the blinds and saw the dark clouds rolling towards us, plump with rain. The next day was the same, with an added bonus of extreme wind. The third day I was getting a little desperate and tried to point out the blossoming trees you could kind of see from our top-floor apartment window. My two year old glanced out, blandly noted that a city bus was driving by, then continued painting her limbs purple with a jar of tempura paint. I gave up and decided if we couldn’t go see spring blossoms, by golly we’d make our own.

Supplies

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  • Tissue paper or colored coffee filters
  • Sticks or branches
  • Construction paper
  • Glue strong enough to keep sticks on the construction paper

Step One

Breastfeeding Benefits For Mom

Posted 04-17-2014 at 09:13 AM by Matrivine

breastfeeding

We all know that breastfeeding is a benefit to our little ones, but what about for mom? It turns out that breastfeeding can be a healthy practice for mom as well.

Weight Loss

We all want to lose a little weight after a pregnancy, and breastfeeding can help with that. When done correctly, we eat better while breastfeeding. We also burn more calories as we produce milk for our children. If we were to add routine exercise to our schedule we could be fit in no time. We just don’t want to go overboard with our dieting. That wouldn’t help either mommy or baby.

Less Work For Feedings

Making bottles in the middle of the night can be less than fun when we have a crying baby waiting to eat. Whether we prepare bottles before bedtime and put them in the fridge, or make the bottles at the time of the feeding, they still need to be heated to the right temperature, which can be problematic when we are a little groggy at midnight. It’s much easier to be able to sit in a rocking chair and pull out a breast to feed our child in less than a minute. An added bonus would be less bottle cleaning or the scent of bad formula. Nasty!

Different Snap Configurations: Yes, They Matter!

Posted 04-16-2014 at 08:12 AM by Banana Cat

Okay. You’ve chosen between using hook-and-loop or snap closures on your diapers, or even a mixture of both. No more closure issues to deal with, right? Well, guess what—not all snap closures are the same, and different snap configurations can be the difference between you being able to use a diaper on your child or not!

I don’t mean to depress you, or send cloth diaper newbies away screaming at all the choices they have to make. But more than once, I have heard stories about parents buying a big-brand diaper that others rave about, only to discover that the snaps are too low or too far apart to get a good fit on their child, and they sadly return the diaper. Unfortunately, you won’t know what snap styles will fit your child until you are actually putting the diaper on him or her. Luckily, you can make most diapers work, but it can be frustrating when one just won’t fit properly and you know it’s because of snap placements. Let’s look at some snap styles below.

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A colorful collection of snap diapers. I even use some of them.

And Then I Needed A Wetbag

Posted 04-15-2014 at 08:55 AM by Banana Cat

One of the things on every new cloth diapering family’s to-get list is a wetbag. What is a wetbag? For one, it is not a bag that is wet; though it is a bag that will potentially be wet (I guess the name Potentially Wet Bag didn’t really catch on). Wetbags are waterproof bags about the size of a sheet of printer paper, give or take a couple of inches depending on the brand, that close with a zipper. You know how baby stores sell little disposable bags to hook onto a diaper bag or stroller that are meant to store a disposable diaper until you can get to a trashcan? Wetbags are the cloth diaperer’s version of that.

From that basic description, wetbags can really differ from each other depending on the manufacturer. Some have extra zippered pockets on the sides, so you can store dry diapers, wipes, and other supplies apart from the dirty diapers on the inside. Some have loops on one corner so you can hang the wetbag from a hook or doorknob, and there are a surprising number of varieties these loops come in. Some are a simple loop of elastic, others are made of thick fabric and have snaps so you can snap them on and off whatever hook or knob you have.

Wetbag

Wetbags: Made in as many prints and designs as cloth diapers.