The Gift of Faith from my Father

June 18th, 2012 | Posted by Bryn in Dad | Faith - (Comments Off on The Gift of Faith from my Father)

My good friend Susan wrote a post on her blog today about earthly fathers and our heavenly Father. Her thoughts and excellent writing always get my mind working. Here’s what she had to say about how we relate to God based on how we relate to our fathers here on earth:

I have read numerous books about Christian parenting since having my daughters. A common theme in many of these books dealt with how we view our “Heavenly Father” based on the perception we have of our “earthly father”. For example, if your dad was an angry father, you may see God as angry and  hostile. If your dad was gentle and loving, you may see God as calm and peaceful. If your dad abandoned you, you may view God as unavailable. It makes complete sense.

This really hit me because just yesterday I sent my own dad a text with this message:

Hey Dad, …I want to tell you happy father’s day! …You have had a bigger impact on my life than you’ll ever know. Thank you so much for the gift of faith and for just being you.

When I was a really little kid, I can remember specifically wanting to marry somebody like my dad when I grew up. It was obvious that he and my mom were still so in love, and he always took us kids fishing and to the park and swimming in the summer and sledriding in the winter. Plus, we always went to church and prayed before meals.

As I got older, I didn’t always get along with my dad. When I was a teenager we’d butt heads all the time, but I never for one second doubted that he loved me.

When I was in high school, my parents each went on a Cursillo, which is a Catholic retreat based on letting the Holy Spirit lead you to a closer relationship with God. After they got back, I thought they were a bit strange because they were talking about God all the time and praying spontaneous prayers at other times than before meals. What was that about?

A year or two later, at the encouragement of both my parents, I went on a Teens Encounter Christ (TEC) retreat, which is similar to Cursillo, except geared more toward young people. I came home from TEC on a “faith high” and felt like I could conquer the world and all the bad things in it just with my new found faith. Although the real world can sometimes disillusion you after a retreat like that, I had so much support at home and felt comfortable and excited to talk about my experiences with my family.

A few months later, a few of my good friends made the same TEC retreat. One friend had a wonderful time on the retreat and seemed to have developed a real relationship with Christ, but her parents said she was “weird” when she came back, so she never made another of these retreats again. That was the first time my teenage brain registered that what our parents think has an incredible impact on our actions, feelings, and relationships.

I went back to feeling like I really wanted to marry someone like my dad, and being forever grateful that my dad and I have a great relationship that has impacted my faith so much.

Fast forward 12 years to today – I AM married to man much like my father… in obvious ways like they both do construction work and kind of look alike (Creepy, I know). But more importantly, they are both excellent, involved fathers, loving husbands, and live their faith in God every day. It’s easy for me to have a wonderful relationship with Christ because of these men.

Thank you, heavenly Father, for the gifts of my dad and my husband.

Happy Father’s Day to all of you fathers out there, especially Dad and Tyler!

Funny Friday: Let’s Go to the Mall Everybody!

June 15th, 2012 | Posted by Bryn in SF - (Comments Off on Funny Friday: Let’s Go to the Mall Everybody!)

The TV show How I Met Your Mother showed this during one episode when it’s revealed Robin, a.k.a. Robin Sparkles, was a teen pop star in Canada in the mid-nineties.

Marshall: [Looking at Computer] This is the 90s, why does it look like 1986?

Robin Scherbatsky: The 80s didn’t come to Canada til like ’93.

This is the full original video from the show:

And this is the lovely, amazing “Just Dance” version for Wii:

My most radical friend Mandy and I may have danced this in front of a large group of people… complete with open-mouthed smile the whole time.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Funny Friday: Lunchtime Song

June 8th, 2012 | Posted by Bryn in Funny Friday - (Comments Off on Funny Friday: Lunchtime Song)

“It’s peanut butter jelly time, peanut butter jelly time!” – Remember this?

I sing this song almost every day with my kids at lunchtime. Yes, it’s a little weird and kind of annoying. Like me. Enjoy.

Have a great weekend!

Funny Friday: Honest Trailer

May 25th, 2012 | Posted by Bryn in Funny Friday - (Comments Off on Funny Friday: Honest Trailer)

My honey and I discovered these Honest Trailers on Youtube this week and couldn’t stop laughing.

FAIR WARNING: This video is a bit racy and contains a bleeped out f-bomb and another cuss word. Parental discretion advised.

Let’s Talk about Cloth, Baby: The Wash Routine

May 24th, 2012 | Posted by Bryn in SF - (Comments Off on Let’s Talk about Cloth, Baby: The Wash Routine)

Before I was a mother, few things scared me more than having to change a #2 diaper. My gross-out threshold has gone way up since having children, even more so since I started cloth diapering. More on that later.

Probably the most important thing about using cloth diapers is being able to get them clean. REALLY clean. If you don’t, your baby can end up with rashes or infections or just general smelliness.

When I first started with cloth, I thought that any old “free & clear” detergent would be fine — like Dreft, because that’s what we use for newborn babies’ clothes, right? WRONG!

I washed my first set of pocket diapers in Greenworks free & clear detergent from Wal-Mart, and my daughter proceeded to get horrendous rashes after only a few hours. So I researched. And researched. And researched. (This is something I’m good at… or I just waste a lot of time reading the same stuff over and over. Whatever.)

I came across Rockin’ Green detergent at the suggestion of a friend (Thanks Amber!). First I had to strip all the old detergent buildup out of the diapers by washing them on hot several times with some dawn dish soap. After “rockin’ a soak” or two, diaper rash was no longer an issue for my little gal. Phew!

That was my experience, but what are the “rules” for washing cloth diapers? There are more than you think.

Choosing the Right Detergent

As you can tell from my story above, it is extremely important to choose the right detergent for your cloth diapers. You can avoid diaper rashes and help your diapers last as long as possible.

So far, I’ve only tried two different cloth diaper detergents (besides the horrible Wal-Mart one):

  1. Rockin’ Green – This is a dry detergent (most liquid detergents aren’t good for cloth diapers) that is made from only biodegradable ingredients and are scented naturally. They have several different types to choose from depending on where you live and what type of water you have–Hard Rock for hard water, Soft Rock for soft water, and Classic Rock for in-between water. They also have a product called Funk Rock that is supposed to battle ammonia smells (which happen sometimes after you’ve used your diapers for awhile – it’s a result storing urine soaked diapers in too tight of a container for too long… or at least that’s what happened to me!).
  2. Soap Nuts– Yes, that’s right – soap nuts. There are a few different brands, but they are all the same thing. These “nuts” are from the Chinese soapberry tree and are completely natural and biodegradable. They have worked extremely well on my stinky ammonia diapers and get all of the stink and stains out every time. “But Bryn, really? You put nuts in your washing machine?” Yes! They look kind of like giant raisins except with a bit harder texture and you put them in the included canvas bag and throw it in with your wash cycle. It doesn’t have any suds, but it works!

Other cloth diaper detergents that friend have recommended include:

  • Bac-out
  • Country Save
  • Charlie’s Soap
  • Powdered Tide

The other good news is that you can use your cloth diaper detergent on regular clothes as well. They are especially great for getting super soft newborn clothes super clean with a natural detergent that won’t irritate that teeny baby velvety skin.

The Wash Routine

Now that you have your cloth diapers and your detergent, the first step is prepping (pre-washing)–which may consist of one hot wash or boiling your cotton diapers. Click here for more info on prepping.

I have a top load washing machine, which is much easier to get diapers clean than a front loader. If you already have a front loader, you can still use and wash cloth diapers in your own machine, but you may have to follow a slightly different routine. If you are thinking of purchasing a new washing machine and want to cloth diaper, a top loader is the way to go. My high efficiency top loader is still able to soak diapers when needed and use the Super size even with only a few items, but a low H2O washer may have trouble with this. But don’t take my word for it, do your research and figure out what’s best for you!

Here is my regular wash routine:

  1. Rinse out #2 diapers in the toilet as needed before putting in the wet bag (You DO NOT need to rinse out #2 diapers of babies who are exclusively breastfed, it will all come out in the washing machine.)
  2. Put all diapers, covers, inserts, and the wet bag in the washer.
  3. Full wash cycle on COLD with no detergent on largest load size possible so that there is a LOT of water (this gets out any remaining particles from soiled diapers)
  4. Add detergent and do another full wash cycle on HOT with a cold rinse and an extra cold rinse.
  5. Now that it’s summer time, I do ANOTHER quick rinse with no detergent (I take out the Soap Nuts bag) just to make sure they are good and clean. This really seems to help with any stinkiness going on.
  6. Dry microfiber inserts and cotton flats in the dryer on medium for an hour.
  7. Hang dry covers, pocket diapers, and wet bag. Drying PUL (the waterproof material) in the dryer on a regular basis will wear them out quickly.

From time to time (like once every two months), I “strip” my diapers, meaning scrubbing clean diapers with a drop or two of dawn dish soap and washing and rinsing on the hottest setting possible over and over and over until there are no more bubbles.

An alternative to stripping is doing an overnight soak with Rockin’ Green. See the instructions here.

See? It’s not so bad! You can do it!

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Stay tuned for more posts on cloth diapers. There is so much to know, and any cloth diapering mom loves talking about it! If you have any questions that you’d like to see answered in future posts, please contact me.

For more information on which diaper is right for you, see Let’s Talk about Cloth, Baby: Getting Started
For information on prepping your new cloth diapers, see Let’s Talk about Cloth, Baby: Prepping

Let’s Talk about Cloth, Baby: Prepping your Cloth Diapers

May 24th, 2012 | Posted by Bryn in SF - (Comments Off on Let’s Talk about Cloth, Baby: Prepping your Cloth Diapers)

No matter what type of diapers you chose, it’s a good idea to pre-wash them because you want only the cleanest fabric possible next to your baby’s sensitive areas.

What is prepping?

Depending on which type of diapers you purchase, you may need to “prep” (pre-wash or boil) your diapers to achieve maximum absorbancy.

Why?

  • Unbleached flat and prefold diapers are made of natural cotton, and this cotton contains natural wax, which needs to be stripped off before the diapers will be really absorbent.
  • When many flat or prefold diapers are brand new, they are pretty stiff in texture, and they will continually get softer and fluffier with each wash.
  • These diapers will also shrink in the wash–flats look like tablecloths when they arrive, but they shrink to a manageable size after a few washes.
  • Any type of diaper you purchase may have been sitting in a warehouse awhile and may have a little dust in the fabric.

How?

Synthetic fibers–such as microfiber inserts–just need one hot wash with a cloth-friendly detergent, and you’re good to go!

Natural fibers–such as cotton flats or prefolds–will need to be washed at least 3-5 times on the hottest setting possible.

An alternative to all those wash cycles is to boil them, like this:

This method also works for stripping diapers after they’ve been used for awhile and are retaining smells.

Pocket diapers, All-in-One diapers, and diaper covers–follow the manufacturers instructions, usually just one hot wash.

For more information on which diaper is right for you, see Let’s Talk about Cloth, Baby: Getting Started

Make-a-List Monday: A Smack in the Face

May 21st, 2012 | Posted by Bryn in Faith | Make-A-List Monday - (Comments Off on Make-a-List Monday: A Smack in the Face)

Some days I just need a smack in the face. That’s what this list is. I found this over the weekend and cried because I know I am not as humble as God wants me to be. I believe that He puts

things like this in my life (even on a blog!) to remind me of what’s important. To shake me awake from my routines, to dump a cold bucket of water over me spiritually. Maybe Mother Teresa’s words can be your wake up call this morning too.

I’ve blogged a little bit about humility before, but I’m no expert and have a lot of work to do on myself.

I found this list via Pinterest on Truth & Charity –  The post “The Humble Pie Challenge” is based on Mother Teresa’s words. Head on over there for some amazing reflections on this list and how each part applies to the married vocation. Mother Teresa was incredibly humble and loving, and her entire life is an awesome role model for all Christians today.

Mother Teresa’s Humility List

1. Speak as little as possible about yourself.
2. Keep busy with your own affairs and not those of others.
3. Avoid curiosity.
4. Do not interfere in the affairs of others.
5. Accept small irritations with good humor.
6. Do not dwell on the faults of others.
7. Accept censures even if unmerited.
8. Give in to the will of others.
9. Accept insults and injuries.
10. Accept contempt, being forgotten and disregarded.
11. Be courteous and delicate even when provoked by someone.
12. Do not seek to be admired and loved.
13. Do not protect yourself behind your own dignity.
14. Give in, in discussions, even when you are right.
15. Choose always the more difficult task.

I wish all of you peace on this Monday morning, and Happy Birthday to my little Peach!

Let’s Talk about Cloth, Baby: Getting Started

May 16th, 2012 | Posted by Bryn in SF - (Comments Off on Let’s Talk about Cloth, Baby: Getting Started)

In the past few months, I have had several friends ask about cloth diapering. I have been cloth diapering off and on for about the last two years, so I’m no expert, but with all the crazy cloth diapering websites out there, it may be helpful to at least one of my 24 pregnant friends (yes! 24!) to read about cloth diapering in plain old English.

The first question to ask when thinking about cloth is:

Which type of diaper is right for me?

This is different for everyone. Cloth diapering has come a long, LONG way since our mothers cloth diapered us with diaper pins and rubber pants. Today, the options are adorable, easy, and so soft! Today I’ll talk about four main types of cloth.*

All-in-One {AIO}

 

BumGenius Elemental AIO diaper. Photo credit: http://www.clothandcarry.com

This is exactly what you think. It actually looks like a regular disposable except made of an outer layer of soft waterproof material (PUL), several inner layers of absorbent microfiber, and a layer of super soft microfleece or suedecloth (which is a polyester fabric that feels like a very fine fleece) – this inner layer is designed to keep baby’s skin dry. Instead of a sticky tab like disposables have to fasten, these use either snaps or hook & loop (like Velcro, but softer). Newer versions of AIOs are a bit easier to clean with absorbent layers that flip out but are still attached (like BumGenius Elemental, shown at right).

Pros:

  • Ease of use (as easy as disposables)
  • Quick on and off
  • Daddy and babysitter friendly
  • No stuffing or folding

Cons:

  • One of the more expensive options
  • Harder to get inner layers clean (lots and lots of rinsing required!)
  • May retain smells
  • Outer layer of PUL can “delaminate” (become less waterproof) over a long period of use (not really a huge concern for most people)
  • Long drying time

 

Pocket Diapers

 

V’s first day in cloth at two months old. This is a one-size pocket diaper snapped to the smallest setting.

Pocket diapers look like AIOs at first glance, but they are actually just the outer waterproof layer and the stay-dry inner (microfleece, suedecloth, or velour) with a pocket for stuffing absorbent material. These also use hook & loop or snaps as fasteners.

Pros:

  • Ease of use
  • Can adjust absorbancy
  • Daddy and babysitter friendly
  • Easier to get clean than AIOs because of removable absorbent layers
  • Dry fairly quickly
  • Can stuff with microfiber or natural cotton flat or prefold diapers
  • Can replace inner absorbent material when it gets worn out or retains too many smells

Cons:

  • Can be nearly as expensive as AIOs
  • Outer layer can delaminate over a long period of use

Many pocket diapers and AIOs are “one-size” meaning they are advertised to fit your baby from birth until potty training. I find that they don’t quite fit right at birth for my babies when they have those skinny chicken legs. They started fitting well at about two months through potty training.

 

Fitted Diapers

 

Kissaluvs brand fitted diaper with snaps. Photo credit: http://www.jilliansdrawers.com/

Fitted diapers are diapers that are shaped the same as disposables, except they are only the absorbent material and need a waterproof cover (see below). Many people use fitteds full time or just for overnights because they are very very absorbent.

Pros:

  • Extremely absorbent
  • Great for overnight use
  • Still pretty easy to use if they have snaps or hook & loop
  • Pretty affordable

Cons:

  • Bulky, hard to fit under jeans or tight fitting clothes
  • Slow drying time
  • Can build up smells over time
  • Require a waterproof cover

Prefold, Flat, and Contour Diapers

 

Unbleached indian prefold diapers. Photo credit: http://www.bumritediapers.com

Prefold, flat, and contour diapers all look different from one another, but they all work in mostly the same way.

Prefold diapers are usually either Indian or Chinese cotton (read about the difference between these two here). This type of diaper is also sold as a “burp cloth” and is a rectangle with more layers in the center third and fewer layers on the outer thirds. Prefold diapers must be used with a waterproof cover (see below) and can be trifolded and laid in a tight cover or pinned or “snappied” on. So what is a Snappi? See below for more information.

Flat diapers are large squares of Indian or Chinese cotton that can be folded in several different ways to achieve optimal absorbancy where your baby needs it. Because they are only one layer of cotton, they dry quickly.

Contour diapers are shaped like a disposable except they don’t have elastic or snaps or hook & loop and are also not as fluffy as fitteds. They can be laid in a tight waterproof cover or pinned or snappied on with a waterproof cover over top.

Pros:

  • All natural fibers are good for babies with sensitive skin
  • Line dry time is extremely quick for flat diapers
  • Last forever
  • Can use flats from birth until potty training
  • Most affordable option

Cons:

  • Requires a waterproof cover and pins or snappies in some cases
  • Requires some folding (flats and prefolds)
  • More difficult for those unfamiliar with cloth
  • Takes a bit longer – a bit harder for wiggly toddlers

Covers and Accessories

Diaper Covers

 

Thirsties Duo Wrap PUL diaper cover. Photo credit: http://www.clothandcarry.com

Waterproof diaper covers are necessary when using fitteds, prefolds, flats, or contour diapers. There are several very reliable brands such as Bummis, Flip, and Woolybottoms. They come in all sorts of super cute fabrics and patterns, so you can use the diaper as part of your child’s outfit. You can also reuse them throughout the day as long as they don’t get too soiled by changing the inner absorbent diaper.

Diaper covers must be waterproof, and there are several options in materials for waterproof covers. A very common material for covers is polyurethane laminated fabric (PUL) which is a soft fabric with a laminated waterproof backing. The only drawback to this type of fabric is that after years of use (maybe through one or more children) they can “delaminate” — when the waterproof backing starts to deteriorate and the diaper cover is no longer waterproof. You can prevent delamination by line drying pocket and plain diaper covers and only drying them in the dryer occasionally (sometimes the dryer can melt the polyurethane back together a little bit too).

Another material for diaper covers is wool. I know you are thinking of the scratchy wool sweater you had when you were a kid, but these soft wool covers are amazingly breathable and perfect for summer months in the heat. Many wool covers are made to put in the washing machine, but they don’t need to be washed unless they get really dirty. Read more about wool here.

Fleece is also a good option for summer months because it’s breathable. Both wool and fleece tend to be MORE waterproof than PUL because PUL just keeps the moisture in while wool and fleece absorb moisture too. I only have a few diapers with fleece, but they are overnight diapers when PUL won’t cut it.

Diaper covers can be the pull-on style (pull on like underwear) or wrap style (like disposables) that use snaps or hook & loop (aka Velcro) to fasten.

Snappi

 

 

The Snappi is THE modern day alternative to diaper pins. It’s a flexible plastic fastener with three arms that have little teeth on the end to grip the diaper. They won’t poke baby’s skin and are very easy to use. See the picture at right. Read more about the Snappi here.

Wet Bag

The wet bag is a must have for cloth diapering moms. If you are cloth diapering on the go, you will want a wet bag for your diaper bag so the soiled diaper doesn’t get everything wet and stink up your bag.

I also use a large wet bag at home. It contains the smells and is a great place to keep wet diapers between washes.

Diaper Sprayer

This is not a necessity, but I’m sure it’d be nice to have, especially as your baby gets older. This is a sprayer that attaches to your toilet and sprays a strong stream of water to get excess poo off your cloth diaper so you don’t have to swish it in the toilet. We don’t actually have one of these, but like I said, it’d be nice!

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I hope this was a good introduction to cloth diapering. It all seemed overwhelming to me at first. Once I got started, it was not as bad as it sounds. I’ll be discussing laundry routines, expenses, terms used in cloth diapering, and other frequently asked questions about cloth diapers in future posts over the next couple weeks. Stay tuned.

Moms who already cloth diaper their children: what info am I forgetting? What else should I be sure to include in future posts?

Moms thinking about cloth diapering: what questions do you have?

 *Please note: The pros and cons are all my own personal opinion or experiences. A lot of people purchase several different types of diapers and see what works best for their baby.

Make-A-List Monday: Faith in Action

May 14th, 2012 | Posted by Bryn in SF - (Comments Off on Make-A-List Monday: Faith in Action)

Today’s Make-A-List Monday isn’t actually on this site. I am a contributing writer for Catholic Mothers Online, and I wrote a list of ten practical ways to put your faith into action.

Conversation with Myself

April 18th, 2012 | Posted by Bryn in Kids - (Comments Off on Conversation with Myself)

When I’m working, I tend to talk to myself. When I worked in an office, people would constantly be asking me, “what?” because they could hear me mumbling. Now I always know when I’m talking to myself even when I don’t initially realize it because my kids answer back.

Here’s an excerpt from a recent “conversation.”

Me: Now where is that file?

TT (4 and confused): I don’t know.

Me: Okay, here it is. Let’s change this font and add an image. Now what should I put in this section?

TT: MOM! I don’t know! Leave me alone!

Me: What? Who are you talking to?

There was a study done recently by some really smart people that says I’m not crazy, I’m just more efficient. Click here to check it out.

What do you think? Do you get more done when you talk to yourself?