Hopeful Thoughts

Back up and Running!!

After lots of sewing for the craft show back in December, I was tuckered out and had to take some time off. Well, Hopeful Thoughts is back at the sewing machine and cranking out some cuteness for the baby booty in your life!

The web site is going to be updated over the next few weeks to reflect changes in my fabric stash as well as links to my soon to re-open Etsy shop. It’s an exciting time as spring is here and summer is on the way.

In the meantime, here is a glimpse of one of my most recent creations.

Busy Bee, Sales Galore!!

I’ve been SEW busy with the sewing business over the last few weeks. I’ve even added a few items to the ever growing list of what I can do. Here’s what I’ve been up to lately!

I am now officially making the rolled towels for sale. I modified the pattern a bit...they are simply serged around the edges instead of turned a top-stitched. I think this makes a much nicer final product. The blue branches headed off to Florida and the swirls are in New Jersey. Whoa! National delivery!!

Cute Elephant wet bag. LOVE IT!

First Shipment out of State!!!

Nearly two years ago, I headed up to NC for a 10 year reunion with my college buddies from the Meredith College Class of 2000. Hard to believe this is what I looked like back then! (I’m on the right).

G and H meet for the first time.

Yesterday I took these cuties down to the post office to send along to little H in Florida.

A couple of adorable pockets!

Crafting in Between

As I have a few minutes here and there, I’ve been working on a few crafty things since G’s arrival last year. I’ve continued to make the flannel receiving blankets, but I was forced to cut back on my crochet and knitting due to some pretty painful postpartum carpel-tunnel syndrome. I have a few projects on hold that I hope to get back to, but this post is about my newest focus: sewing.

I was fascinated by the diaper pail liners and wet bags that my sister made for me. When my friends Allison decided that she was going to cloth diaper her new baby, I resolved that I was going to make a few things for her. With the help of my little sis, I got fabric ordered and cranked out four diaper pail liners (2 for Allison and 2 spare for myself) and 4 cute little wet bags.

Upon seeing how cute these turned out, I kept going back to the site where we ordered the fabric, Kids in the Garden, and just looking. The lady who runs it makes and sells cloth diapers. She also sells a couple of patterns for making your own. I’d noticed LOTS of sellers on Etsy who make cloth diapers. It was so tempting, but I was completely freaked out by the idea. The idea of working with the elastic scared the heck out of me.

Eventually, curiosity got the better of me. I HAD to try. So, I ordered a pattern (The Nikibaby One Size Diaper)… it was less than $10. I purchased some cute fabric, and a set of snap pliers with plastic snaps.

Yes, the elastic is a super big pain, but it turned out not to be as difficult as I’d expected, and I quickly cranked out this cute little number:

I was SOOOOO excited! Here’s a shot of my little guy modeling it. Sorry for the bad photo. It’s really hard to get him to stop moving!!!

After getting comfortable with this pattern, I thought about how to modify it to make a cover for pre-folds. I took some measurements of the covers I had around the house and made a pattern. Putting the diapers together turned out to be another challenge, as there is the added difficulty of binding the edges with fold over elastic (FOE). After 3 attempts, I finally got it down in time to make a gift for my friend Paige. Wish I had a picture of that one, but here is G in one of the first attempts:

Making diapers has turned out to be a lot of fun. You can do so many creative things. If you are a wanna be cloth diapering expectant mom and a friend of mine, expect some cute “fluff” in your baby gift!

A Year in Review

Come Friday morning when I wake up, the little guy that snuggles next to me each night will be a full blown one-year-old. As I consider how quickly the time has flown, I’m also blessed to reflect on what has transpired in the last year of our lives.

July 29, 2010 at 5:40 in the morning, after nearly 24 hours at Inanna, Grayson emerged into our lives with my little sister and my best friend standing by. In the days and weeks that followed, we were showered with love from visitors. We hosted my entire immediate family…(Mom, Dad, sister, 2 nieces, nephew), with the exception of my brother in law, but including my parents dog. Ryan’s sweet mother was waiting patiently in her car, already in town, for the moment’s notice to come and see her new grandson. To top it off, several families in our amazing little church brought us meals.

We settled into a little routine and in September, I started my little tutoring business. This kept me busy four afternoons a week, but it was a great way to be home with Grayson. Thanks to Hawley, Gus, Allison, Joey, Kaycee, Nathan, Emily, and Kim for helping make that possible by watching my little guy. The business is flourishing and I love being able to work with the kids in this way.

Ryan has continued to enjoy his job as a game programmer, though his official title is “Senior Software Engineer”. He started in September of 2009 at Bonfire Studios (while I was in Argentina). In October of 2010, Bonfire was bought out by Zynga, providing more stability to his position.

Just before Grayson was born, we closed on our house. We’ve experienced lots of ups and downs during Grayson’s lifetime, though we are so glad to be in a house with the little guy around. In September, we were able to put our home buyers’ credit to work and pay for a complete replacement of our HVAC. Then, we turned around and spent whatever rebate we got from that overhaul on a brand new water heater when the old one exploded in December. The joys of an old house! Our AC unit was 35 years old, the furnace dated almost as old as the house, and the water heater was over 20 years old. Recently we’ve had the roof patched from wind damage, and replaced a belt on the tenant’s dryer. I think we need the kitchen drains worked on next.

We have been able to get some work done improving the house in addition to all the repairs. Grayson’s room got a fresh coat of Viking blue paint, thanks to the help of his Grandma, and it’s looking better and better as we add to it. This spring, we hired a crew to do a major overhaul on the yard. Trees were trimmed and brush was cleared and the result is impressive. Next on the list is an exterior paint job, scheduled to take place in the next few weeks, and landscaping with new sod in the fall.

The house is such a blessing. We’ve hosted two baby showers here this year, as the size and layout of our living and kitchen areas works great for big crowds. We still have great tenants in the apartment, who plan to stay for awhile. Not to mention the amazing neighbors in the houses on either side.

And speaking of babies, in Grayson’s first year, we’ve welcomed 3 new babies into our church, two new babies into the neighborhood (one right next door), and are anticipating 5 more over the next 8 months in our little church. Add to that my high school BFF, and we are just bursting with excitement over the babies!

In March, we were finally able to trade in my old car for something more safe and appropriate for mommy stuff. Goodbye rusty white 1999 Camry, hello shiny graphite grey 2011 Outback.

We live pretty far from my side of the family, but thanks to Ryan’s great job and my tutoring income, they haven’t seemed so far away this first year of parenthood. We traveled to my parents’ house for Christmas, I was able to visit my sister in MI over spring break, my mom came for a two-week visit in April, and G and I were able to meet my sister and her kids in NC in June. We’ve been blessed with 3 or 4 visits from Grandma (she’s a great babysitter) and made a couple of road trips to see her in Austin as well.

In December, our dear friends, the Rambows, returned form their stint in Argentina. We were blessed to have them back in our lives for 6 months before they left earlier this month for New Jersey. Emily kept Grayson some for me during tutoring and we are so grateful that he was able to play with their little girl.

I could go on and on about the things that have happened over the last year, but it would take forever. Of course, it would have been easier if I’d blogged all along than to try to cram it into one post anyway! Suffice it to say that it’s been an eventful time, but we are grateful for all we’ve been blessed with.

Some Thoughts for Today

It’s beautiful out today. I’m so glad I was texted by a dear friend this morning to go for a walk to our town square where we had lunch outdoors at a local Mexican restaurant. Grayson loves walks, and he loves his stroller.

After returning home, there were a couple of happenings worth noting.

I have officially ordered G’s new car seat. We’ve had a love-hate relationship with his infant carrier. The convenience of leaving him in the car seat while he’s sleeping has been a plus, but it’s gotten SO HEAVY that G’s little 5 foot tall Mommy simply can’t take it any more! We settled on the Britax Marathon 70 in Onyx. Should be here before the end of the week!

I also ordered a new Baby K’tan carrier. I LOVE my old one, but the more I use it, the more I realize the sizing is wrong. So, I posted the Small one on Craigslist last night for $40. (They run $55-$65 new).

Just as I was ready to take G next door to the sitter for tutoring, I realized he had pooped! So, I was finally able to try out my newly installed diaper sprayer. It works GREAT! I am going to have to get a little help adjusting the connection between the hose and the spray wand, as I ended up with a puddle in the floor. Otherwise, it is the PERFECT tool for the job. It was so easy to use and it cleaned all the solids out of the diaper without splashing into my face or the floor.

The Diaper Sprayer

I mentioned in my previous post that I’d changed my mind about the need for a diaper sprayer for rinsing soiled diapers. I thought I would spend some more time explaining the evolution of my opinion and comment on the installation process.

What do you do with the poop in a baby diaper? If you are exclusively nursing, you just throw the whole thing in the wash and don’t give it a second thought. Breast milk poop washes right out like yogurt!

But, when we’re talking solids, down the toilet it must go! But how do you get it there? Cheapest way is to dunk and swish. If that didn’t work, I figured the shower sprayer would reach my toilet to handle the big messes. Why would I need a special gimmick just for diapers?

I think the dunk and swish must work fine with flat diapers. My sister has never complained. It was not, however, cutting it for my pocket diapers. I just couldn’t get the poop out of the nooks and crannies round the elastic.

So, as planned, I tried to wash it out with the sprayer from my shower. It was effective, but such a hassle. It was difficult to get over to the toilet in the first place, and then the spray was too wide to keep from getting water all over the floor, not to mention causing poop water to splash back in my face!

So, I finally decided to order a diaper sprayer.

It sat around for over a week, thinking I was going to ask my husband to install it. I kept thinking it was going to be hard to do, despite the promise on the package that is was not. So, today, I finally decided to get it done. While G was down for his nap, I installed the diaper sprayer all by myself.

I had a little trouble getting the “t” connector to seal around the connection to the toilet tank and ended up with a little water in the floor when I turned the water back on, but it was easy to fix. I simply hadn’t tightened it enough. Once I fixed that problem, it’s leak free and works perfectly!

I can’t wait for G to poop so I can try it out!!

Lessons learned...cloth and solid foods

About three weeks ago we started Grayson on purees. I knew that we would see a change in his diapers, but I didn’t realize how quickly that change would happen. We fed him mere teaspoons of banana for a few days, and all of a sudden, the diapers were chunky!

I’m not giving up, but I have changed my mind about a couple of things related to cloth diapering.

The Diaper “Pail”

Any old garbage can will NOT do when you are cloth diapering. Something with a good seal is a must. After a bit of shopping after my husband complained several times about the stink in G’s room, I have decided that the diaper pail people know what they are doing. I chose a model that clearly states on the box that it works with any bag.

I am a little miffed that the pails don’t hold nearly as many diapers as my step garbage can. I’m still looking for an option for stashing soiled diapers between washes to avoid stinking up the world so I don’t have to wash every time my pail gets full.

The Diaper Sprayer

I thought this was a gimmick. Absolutely NOT! BUY ONE!!! This is a way better option than dunk and swish in the toilet. Early solid diapers are really sticky, and I have trouble getting it to come off in the toilet. The water pressure from a sprayer helps so much.

Cloth Diapers 101

Updated 3/26/2011 when I learned about shaking your pocket diapers and Econobum covers

As soon as people find out that you are using cloth diapers, they have one of two reactions. Either they think you’re nuts, or they think it’s amazing and they start asking you more questions about what kinds to use. If you are one of those who thinks I’m crazy, you can go back and read my post from earlier in the year on why I chose to use them. If you are one of those with questions, read on, my friend!

There are three basic types of cloth diapers on the market. I’m going to try to address all three and give my experience with each and tell what I think are the pros and cons. I’ll also try to recommend brands that I like, but keep in mind that there are a LOT of cloth diapers on the market. The best way to find out what you like is to try a few and see what works best for you and your family. I recommend visiting the following sites as you research options: Green Mountain Diapers, Cotton Babies, Jillian’s Drawers, and GroVia. The sites are full of great information, but are also great places to do your shopping.

Type 1: Covers and Pre-folds

Newborn Prorap cover with Unbleached Indian cotton prefold in infant size.

These are the new and improved version of the traditional cloth diapers that our parents used and the first type I was exposed to. My sister started off cloth diapering her second child using Cloth-eez prefold diapers and Bummi’s super snap covers she ordered from Green Mountain Diapers. I started Grayson off in tiny newborn Indian cotton prefolds and ProRap covers with velcro that were purchased from the Little Lions web site. Back in the old days, you had a giant piece of cotton that you folded up to fit your baby, pinned with those GIANT safety pins, and then covered with plastic pants. These days, it’s so much easier. The cotton comes pre-folded and stitched into various sizes to fit your baby. Also, pins aren’t needed. You can use Snappi fasteners or simply fasten a water proof cover over the prefold. The Snappis are a great option because they give a better fit to your baby which helps to contain messes.

I liked the ProRap covers for a couple of reasons. They fit the tiny baby and held in the messes really well. The newborn size scoops down in the front to allow the belly button to stay dry. I also like the ease of the velcro closures, though snaps are an option in some sizes. In addition, they seem to be one of the cheapest covers out there! Bummis also come with velcro, but my sister chose the snaps. Lots of people prefer the snaps because it’s harder for the baby to remove his own diaper than with velcro. However, I don’t think you get as good of a fit, and the solution to diaper removal is to put a onesie or pants on your baby. Simple!

A tiny Grayson in a ProRap diaper cover.

When Grayson got a little bigger, I switched to Thirsties Duo Wrap covers and larger prefolds. The Duo Wraps come in two sizes, both are adjustable. I like that the two sizes give a better fit as your baby grows. (Thirsties also sells sized diapers that don’t adjust.) There are lots of “One size” cover options out there, but some complain that they tend to be too big on a little baby and too small on a big one. It’s a matter of preference and budget as you decided whether to replace your covers for each size or choose “One Size” diapers.

This is a Size One in the Thisties Duo Wrap. This size fit Grayson until he was about 5 months old. At almost 6 months, the Size Two is a better fit..

Recently, I became aware of Econobum diapers, made by Cotton Babies (they also make Bum Genius). These diapers are amazingly affordable. They are one-size covers that run less than $10 a piece. Depending on which package you choose, you can stock your diaper collection with 2 dozen prefolds and 6-8 covers for right around $100! These diapers have a great fit and come in 4 color options. The covers aren’t designed to last through multiple children, but the prefolds are some of the nicest I’ve seen.

There is also the option of wool “soakers” to use over the prefolds. Wool naturally deodorizes and is very absorbent. It also allows the skin to breathe, and doesn’t make a baby hot like you might expect. I haven’t personally used wool covers, but I made a few for my my sister who loved them on her baby in the summer time when she dressed him in nothing but a diaper and a t-shirt. (See the post on this knitting project.) She moved away from the in the winter because his pants were getting damp. Wool covers are very expensive to buy, but REALLY cheap to make if you are a knitter.

Covers and prefolds are a good choice for many because this is by far the cheapest option (even if you get new sizes when your baby grows) and one that provides a good fit for babies because prefolds are chosen to fit to the size of your child. There are also several “hybrid” options that allow you to use reusable covers with disposable inserts. A friend of mine has had a great experience with GroVia diapers. I think I would like to try these myself, but I’ve already invested in other types!

For the time being, I have moved away from covers and prefolds because babies tend to feel wetness more, and this didn’t work for us. Grayson hated being wet and I was changing his diaper every 30 minutes! We may return to it when Grayson is ready for potty training, but, for now we’ve chosen to go another route.

Type 2: Pocket Diapers

Pocket diapers provide a barrier between the baby and the absorbent layer. This has been a GREAT solution for my baby who hates being wet. The absorbent later fits inside a pocket created by the waterproof shell and a liner of a breathable layer like fleece. Usually the absorbent layer has to be removed before washing, which can be pretty yucky. However, I recently learned from another blog that you can grab the diaper by the closed end and simply shake out the lining into the diaper pail!

This shot is just to give an idea of how pocket diapers function.

We started with small sizeFuzziBuns, which are great. I know several people who have loved these diapers and they come in sizes as well as “one size” options. Ours were used previously and tended to leak because liquid beaded up on the liner. This is a common problem if you use diaper creams on your baby and most diaper companies advise against this. In fact, it voids the warranty if you use diaper creams. A product like RLR can help with this problem in most cases, but these particular diapers were just too old, so I had to order new ones. However, the design of the Fuzzi Buns diapers makes them function well as covers over prefolds, and I used them that way for awhile.

Grayson in small Fuzzi Bunz at two months old. He weighed about 14 pounds. Snaps are on almost the tightest setting, so he still had room to grow into these.

After lots of online research and praises from friends, I decided to go with Bum Genius one size pocket diapers with velcro closures. Most of my stash is version 3.0, but I added a dozen of version 4.0 when they went on sale. The new version is a bit more roomy, but essentially the same. We also wound up with a few Thirsties Duo pocket diapers and one lone Happy Heinys pocket diaper (the result of a doting grandma who found one with cute little bears on it!). The BumGenius have become my favorites, but Thirsties are easier to wash because the pockets are designed to allow the liners to agitate out in the wash so you don’t have to remove them before washing.

Grayson in a BumGenius 3.0 pocket diaper, one size.

Positives for pockets diapers are the barrier to wetness, middle price range , quick to wash and dry, and easy to put on (no pins or Snappis needed).

Negatives are expense, tendency to leak over time requiring “stripping”, and the need to stuff the liners in after each wash.

Type 3: All in Ones

These diapers are ready to go with a moisture barrier without stuffing, but there is no liner to remove. They are the easiest to use. They work pretty much like disposables except you have to wash them. The only con is the price, but it’s big enough that if savings is your reason for choosing cloth, this is probably not your diaper type. It’s also difficult to find a one size option in this type, so you have to restock your diapers every time you need a new size.

How many diapers do you need?

This really depends on how often you want to wash diapers and what kind you choose. I think 2 dozen is ideal to wash no more than every other day. If you choose covers and prefolds, this means you need 2 dozen prefolds, but probably only 6 covers since you can reuse a cover several times. If you choose pockets or AIOs, you need a full 24 diapers in the current size.

I’m still confused. How do I decide?

Several companies offer a diaper trial package for amazing prices. You can try all different kinds and send back what you don’t like for almost a full refund. A great one that I know of isJillian’s Drawers. Green Mountain diapers offers a great outline of what to start with.

Also, all the websites that I have referenced are LOADED with great information about how to choose, use, and care for your cloth diapers. Spend time reading as much as you can before you make your decision and you won’t be disappointed.

I do recommend that you use a newborn sized diaper option to begin with, no matter what type of diaper you choose. One size diapers tend to be too big for tiny newborns. Many avid cloth diapering folks will even use disposables until their babies are big enough to wear their one size diapers.

Also, invest in a diaper sprayer for cleaning solids out of the diapers before you wash. I don’t care what your budget is, these will make your life SOOOOO much easier when you start your baby on solids!!

Happy cloth diapering!

Why Cloth Diapers?

As most of my dearest friends already know, we are choosing cloth diapers for Baby Inselmann. It’s been amazing to me to hear all of the opinions that people seem to have about cloth. My goal here is to help people understand my reasons. Feel free to make your own opinions, but here are mine!

Reason #1) The Environment

Cloth diapers reduce the amount of waste that I will be adding to the landfills. I’m choosing organic cotton, so their production is even more friendly to the environment, and since they are cotton, they should degrade more easily when the few dozen diapers that I have do wind up too worn for use.

I’ve also taken the contamination of the water by detergent into account. By the time I begin cloth diapering, I will have switched to a natural detergent that is low in cost, safe for sensitive babies, AND BIODEGRADABLE. It’s even certified safe for SMALL bodies of water. Too cool! Check out Charlie’s Soap for yourself! It’s amazing! (A clean rinsing detergent is really important, as most detergents cause build up in fabrics over time, which can decrease absorbency of your diapers).

Reason #2) COST

My needs for cloth diapering will include the following (which I will be ordering from this site): 4 newborn covers at $11 each;1 dozen newborn size organic cotton pre-folds for $25;1 Dozen small covers and 3 dozen pre-folds, FREE from my awesome sister; 8-12 Bummis Medium covers at $12.25 each, $98-$147; 3 dozen Medium size organic cotton pre-folds at $35 per dozen, $105; and flannel cloth wipes that I made, cost is for materials, about $8. The newborn size diapers will also serve as doublers to increase absorbency for night time use, so that will be one less thing to buy. The cost per load to run my washer and dryer is about $0.75, plus a bit for detergent, so we’ll say $0.90 per load. This means I’ll spend about $94 on the extra two loads of laundry I’ll do each week for a full year. That gives a total cost for diapering of about $423 for a whole year. Assuming I diaper for the second year, too, I’m only adding the cost of another year of laundry, so we’re talking just over $500 for two full years of diapering. If we have another kid, we only add the cost of the laundry since the diapers can be used again and again.

Disposable diapers seem to sell for about $0.40 each, depending on the size. I did an average cost of the smallest and largest per diaper cost to get this number. I got my information from a bulk package that was on sale at diapers.com, just to be fair to those who shop cheap. Estimating a use of about 8 diapers a day, this would cost $1168 per year. Not to mention what will be paid for the wipes, which run about $0.03 each. Using 1-3 per diaper change would work out to about 16 per day, adding another $175 to your diapering total for the year. We’re at $1343 by now. Over the course of two years, we’ve spent close to $2700 on diapers!

Looks to me like I’m saving over $2000 by choosing to cloth diaper my one kiddo! If we have a second, it’s even more! What could I do with $2000????

Reason #3) Better for Baby

There are always exceptions to this sort of reason. I know plenty of kids who’ve worn disposable diapers and haven’t had any diaper rash problems. However, overall, babies in cloth diapers experience less skin irritation than those in disposables. In addition, many sources show that kids in cloth tend to potty train sooner than those in disposables.

Reason #4) They are EASY to use

Cloth diapers have come a long way since my mom used them on me. You can still use pins and plastic pants if you like, but I’m not! I will have an extra step when compared with disposables in actually putting on the diapers, but it’s really not that big of a deal to lay a cotton pre-fold into a cover before closing up the diaper. We’re getting covers with hook and loop tabs, so they will be just as easy as disposables to put on.

As for washing, that’s easy, too! Since I’m choosing to nurse, we’ll be able to throw all of our diapers right into the pail without any rinsing. Nursing poop washes out just like yogurt! We’ll be lining our pail with a waterproof, washable PUL bag. On washing day, I’ll simply turn the bag inside out into the washer, leave it in the washer, too, and I never have to touch the dirty diapers. I’ll run a cold pre-rinse, a hot wash, and an extra rinse at the end, then toss them all in the dryer. You really don’t have to fold them, either.

Once Baby starts on solids, we will have to swish the solid waste out in the toilet. Provided you do this ASAP after taking the diaper off the munchkin and BEFORE tossing it in the pail, this is really not a big deal. It’s waiting that causes the big stink! Personally, It’s worth it to me to swish poop if I get to keep my $2000!!

I hope that this blog has been helpful. I’m excited about our decision and can’t wait for the little guy to get here!