Friday, May 24, 2013

Comparison-A Diaper Review

I've been pretty stressed out this week, probably why I've managed to blog twice.  When I'm stressed blogging really helps me unwind.  It takes my mind elsewhere.  *breathe*  *ahhhh*

Ok, to me cloth diapering is hands-down one of THE best decisions we've ever made for our family.  I was planning on doing the Flats Handwashing Challenge that I did last year...until I found out that it was while #1 was out of town for a week and I had all four kids by myself plus 7 ballgames scheduled in that time.  (Thankfully 3 were rained out)  I'm not a complete idiot and quietly bowed out of the challenge.

So instead of blogging about how you CAN wash your own diapers if there was an emergency and cloth diapering CAN be done on any income level (you can technically diaper a baby from birth till potty trained on $ on the link above to see how) I'm going to do a quick diaper review.

 Here is most of our stash of diapers.  There are a three pockets, two All In Ones (AIO) and some miscellaneous covers missing-most are in the wash.  I'll define those things in a moment.  I'd like to say first thing that NO ONE needs 28+ diapers in order to cloth diaper.  (I also have NB diapers I'm not even going to get started on I probably have more like 40 some diapers)  We have lots for two reasons.  I've cloth diapered two children at a time three times.  Also I used to blog for a cloth diaper blog that would give me free diapers as compensation.  A third and TOTALLY irrelevant reason is because I may or may not have a cloth diaper habit.  Or should I say "had" a habit.  I've bought one (cloth) diaper since May of last year.  Not bad.

So here in the picture above are 23 cloth and 23 disposable diapers.  The 23 disposable diapers came in a pack of 36 which cost $10.  Those diapers cost about 28 cents each.    You can get cheaper disposables (these are Luvs) and you can get way more expensive ones.  We use one overnight and occasionally send Sweet Pea to the nursery at church in one.

So there sit 23 disposable diapers with a cost of $6.39  The 23 cloth diapers on the left cost me $369.04.   WHAT?  You spent nearly $400 on DIAPERS????  Well, in a minute and I'll show you that you've spent nearly $2,000.  Per kid.

 Here are my Kawaii diapers.  These are my cheapest.  I also have a very pretty purple one with white daisies that a friend gave me when Sweet Pea was born.  You don't want a picture of it right now, I assure you.  Pocket diapers have a cloth insert you put inside, then pull out to wash.  All of mine have snaps in the rise so they fit a variety of size babies-often from about 8 pounds to 30 pounds.

The three polka dot ones cost $12.95 each and come with double inserts as they can be used overnight (and they work!).  The yellow and red cost $10.95 each and while they are ok, they are cheap and haven't held up as long as others we've had.  The velcro isn't attached well.  They are comparable to the Bum Genius diapers you'll see in a first...the quality tapers off much quicker.  I'd recommend the snap (instead of velcro) diapers.  The red and yellow have been used on 3 kids.  Keep that in mind.

 Ah, I'm in love.  Bum Genius diapers.  Buy 5 get one free.  But I never bought 5 at a time, so I paid about $17.97 (current price) each over the past 5 years.  These are also pocket diapers.  Eight of these have been worn by three kids.  I have a little stretched elastic at the legs of a couple of them that were LMM's and one velcro is getting quite used...but other than that they are FANTASTIC.  I have a Bum Genius AIO (in the wash) but it takes a long time to dry and I don't appreciate that.  These are my recommendation to anyone wanting to cloth diaper.  Take the plunge, buy these, and be happy.

These are also pocket diapers.  I have a cute white one with rainbow snaps-I believe it is still hanging out to dry as they dry S L O W.  They're made of organic bamboo.  I couldn't find these being sold anymore, they now have microfleece instead and are retailing for $15.99..but I don't think that is the price I paid for them.  Two of mine I have had on 3 kids, two of them on only 2 kids.  Many many people have complaints about these diapers...but I don't. Except the slow drying time.  These fit skinny babies.  I have skinny babies.  Got a chunk legger?  Don't bother.  Got a long and or skinny kid?  Fantastic fit.  Oh, they're called BabyKicks.  
 Diaper covers (be careful when you go to buy pockets that you're not getting carefully) are used over fitted diapers (ACK.  HATE.  They're these fleece things that LOOK like what's above and have to have a cover over them.  I think they leak and are kinda useless but others rave about them.  My blog, my opinion!) or you can put them over flats or prefolds.  Flat diapers are what I used last year in the Handwashing Challenge and are a single piece of fabric that you fold.  Go to You Tube and search "flat folds" and you'll see lots of examples.  Prefolds are what many people still use as burp clothes today.  They are thick in the middle and thinner on the sides.

The purple cover is a Palm Tree that I got for free as a promotion.  I don't know exactly what one by itself would cost as the site I buy from sells them in a set of covers, flats, and fastener.  My best guess when dividing all that out is individually it would be about $13.21.  It has been fine but I don't use flats a ton.

The pretty pink and white one is a Bummis Whisper Wrap.  It retails at $12.97 and also has worked fine.  I do use both of these over velcro pockets these days.  Why over a pocket?  Because at nap time or anytime she doesn't have pants on Sweet Pea removes her velcro diapers.  #1 prefers velcro diapers so I don't have many snap closure ones.  So if I don't have a snap closure diaper to put on her, I put one of these over it so she can't take it off.  I call it security.

The diaper on the left is a Thirsties Duo diaper.  Thirsties is the first brand I ever bought.  I started with them because they had cheap covers with good reviews and all I could afford was a few covers and my mom gave me all the old flats and prefolds that were mine when I was a baby.  I still have a couple of those original covers (even Snug used them) but have sold most of them off.  I like the Thirsties Duo diaper but not as much as my Bum Genius ones.  At $17.50 each, I'd rather pay the extra 47 cents and get diapers I love.  It is a good diaper, and this print is cute.

Last and absolutely least is my (not so) Happy Heiny.  I don't have lots of nice things to say about it.  I've owned 2 and when this one joins its friend in the trash someday I won't shed a tear.  I think it is intended for chunkier babies.  It just fits poorly.  Again, other people love them.  I wasn't going to talk about NB diapers, but I do want to say something nice about this brand.  They have a NB size diaper that I really really like.  This particular diaper is a pocket and retails at $18.97.

Ok, so like I said, pictured was about $369.04.  That's based on current pricing, but diapers really haven't changed in price much in the past 5 years.  That seems like a TON of money.  

But think about this.  We'll base my numbers on a pack of 36 diapers for $10.  Say you change your baby only 6 times in 24 hours (when they're little way more than that I would hope).  That's 168 diapers a month-$46.67 a month.  Most kids are in diapers at the very least 24 months-most much longer-overnight way longer.  If you don't take into consideration that younger babies need to be changed much more often (but  have 5-6 more diapers per pack) and that as they get older there are LESS diapers per pack, and that many people pay more than $10 per 36 diapers you still get $1,120 for one kid to be diapered, and many people would consider that to be a low estimate.  

Suddenly my $369.04 doesn't seem like much.  Now I admit we buy one pack a month, so we spend probably between $120-$150 a year on disposables.  HOWEVER...of the diapers pictured, you'd only NEED about 16 and if you did all those in my favorite Bum Genius diapers at buy 5 get 1 free you could change your price to $251.58-much less.  Those diapers fit (per the manufacture) babies 7-35 lbs.  

Keep this in mind too.  Cloth diaper babies potty train months earlier than their peers.  They often are trained (even overnight) right around their second birthday.  According to the University of Michigan The average age for kids in disposables is girls 29 months and boys 31 months-and not overnight.  They say "it is common for children to wet at night until they are 5 years old".  Guess what?  Back when everyone used cloth, the average age to start to potty train was 18 months-and be diaper free overnight by 2.  MANY cloth families today will tell you this is very possible.  

One more thing.  With my large stash $369.04 plus lets say 2 years worth of disposables $300 (on the high end) I'm spending $669.04 (that four cents is really important, evidently .  Still not the (low) estimate of $1,120.  BUT IT GETS BETTER.  Of the pictured diapers, 13 belonged to LMM (read: three kids have used them), and all but maybe five or six (can't remember) BOTH of my girls wore.  So the cost goes down again.  Because it isn't $369 (dropping that four cents, its annoying) PER KID, its that PER FAMILY.  

If we are blessed with another baby, there are several of my diapers that might have to retire.  Always sad.  I've only ever had to ditch maybe 5 or 6-and all but one of those I bought off of other people who had used them on 2+ kids.  But even if I got an entire new stash, I'd still be saving money...and the environment (don't get me started).  

I admit cloth diapering isn't for everyone.  Neither is babywearing.  Neither is co-sleeping.  Neither is breastfeeding.  Or amber teething necklaces.  Many many things about parenting are not one size fits all.  I just wanted to put this out there for parents who are considering cloth diapering.  

Now I've blogged and am all de-stressed and ready for a three day Memorial Day weekend!  

THANK YOU to all the families who have lost a loved one to help make our country free.  We are so blessed to live in a country where we can decide babywearing or stroller.  Co-sleeping or crib.  Breast or bottle.  Amber or Tylenol.  Cloth or disposable.  So very very blessed.  

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Homeschooling Weirdo

*Please read the whole post before you hate me*

"I am never going to homeschool my kids and do that to them."  That was my thought in high school.  While I knew a couple of "normal" families who homeschooled, 90% of homeschoolers my age that I knew were complete whack jobs.  Just being real here people.  I thought homeschoolers were weirdos.

"Why would anyone not send their kids to school?" That was my thought in college as I was learning to be an educator.  I loved LOVED being in the classroom and loved teaching.  I had also always loved going to school.  I knew a couple of non weirdo homeschoolers...but not many.

"People who homeschool are hurting the public school system and their kids are going to be completely backwards" This was my thought while I was a public school teacher.  Now, by this time I had some good friends who had been homeschooled and I was very impressed with them.  I pretty much thought they were the exception to the rule.  But I still was very loyal to the public school system and thought it was kinda silly not to send your kid.  I also had some girls in my CILT* program who really hadn't been homeschooled well and were struggling with basic social and academic things.  But then again I had some that were some of the most well adjusted, smartest, nicest, most dependable girls I had ever met.

Towards the end of my teaching I began seeing more and more homeschool families who were...normal.  The 10% margin I'd say I had seen in high school was starting to get bigger.  I did not see myself ever homeschooling but I had come to the place where I acknowledged it could be done, and done well.

Then I stayed home with my kids.  Because of financial resources we "homeschooled" Snug when he was 3 for preschool.  He and two kids I had in Draycare had school three days a week.  It was fantastic.  They were learning.  The other moms were happy and I really enjoyed it.  The next year he started pre-k at a local preschool and that also went well.  My kids still go there and we still love it.  Homeschooling had, technically, taken place in my home.  Something that was NEVER going to happen.

Fast forward a couple of years.  Snug is now in kindergarten.  I always envisioned my kids in the district where I had taught.  When we moved, that was no longer possible.  I know that was really hard for me.  I loved where I taught.  Those years spent with those dedicated teachers will always be very special.  I did my student teaching with one of the most fantastic teachers I'll ever know.  I was privileged to then teach in that same building for the next five years.

Snug goes to kindergarten two full days a week, once a month three full days a week.  I am expected, by the district, to work with him at home on the days he doesn't go.  It is a LOT of work.  I find myself thinking "Why do I get up early and have this boy in school when I'm doing all the work?"  Not completely true, of course, but annoying nonetheless.  He had a very nice teacher who I'm convinced he had a huge crush on.

As his kindergarten year progressed he started first grade language arts at home as he was completely bored with what was being taught at know, when he actually got to go to school.  He is ahead in all areas, except that he cannot tie his shoes.  His teacher is surprised at conferences when she finds out he turned five a week before school started.  (Something I really don't recommend for most boys)  I don't know why she didn't know how young he is, but that is no matter.  She says he is more than ready for first grade.  I am able most of the year to volunteer in his classroom because #1 is working evenings and home during the day.  I vow that I will never send another one of my children to kindergarten as the schedule is ridiculous and I can get the work done in half the time at home if I spread it out over 5 days.  Besides, now we know several homeschool families who...are normal.  And some who we really admire and would like to have our kids be like.  So what's a year of homeschooling going to hurt?

First grade rolls around and my happy-go-lucky boy is gone.  He is depressed, hates school, and is violent to his siblings.  Woah.  What on earth???  After doing some digging and having an inside source I find out a few things and ask to have him moved to another classroom.  I am no longer able to volunteer in his classroom and had I been there we would have made the move MUCH sooner.  (#1 is now a detective and working wonderfully family friendly hours).  The principal is very helpful in making the transition and our kid is back! Yay!  However...he is significantly ahead in language arts.  And ahead in weird ways in math.  And yet he has some holes in math.  And in his new classroom he has quite a bit of homework.  Nightly homework becomes a BIG struggle.  We are not happy with the math curriculum being used, and Snug is not challenged at all in language arts in the classroom (something I absolutely do NOT  blame his teacher for as I know how hard it is to be in her position and the pressures the state is putting on teachers).

We sign up for the Great Homeschool Conference per the suggestion of a friend because we are not sending LMM to kindergarten in this district.  Then the opportunity for him to go to pre-K another year at his current preschool becomes available and we take it.  But we already paid to go to the homeschool conference.  So we go anyway, because we'll need to have that information for the next year.

Wow.  We didn't expect to be converted.  I wouldn't say converted, although I often do.  I'd say convicted.  I sat in one session and it hit me.  I'm sitting here wondering what his report card will look like when I get home from the conference (it was coming home that afternoon).  I send him 6.5 hours a day and very often have NO idea what he is doing or how he is doing.  We get up really early (he starts at 7:30 am) and then juggle nap schedules to get him at 2pm.  2pm pick up STINKS when you have little people who need a nap.  We forgo activities because our kids won't be getting ready for/in bed by 7pm.  Baseball and basketball season become nightmares because it puts our kids to bed at, *gasp* 8:30 and we can barely drag Snug out of bed the next morning.

Many things we teach our children at home are NOT being backed up at school.  God made you, loves you, and has a purpose for you.  That certainly is not being taught-in fact quite the contrary.  We already knew we'd be doing something different with the kids in later grades, but had no idea what exactly, hoping for Christian school?

Ok, back to the conference.  It was really good.  I'd recommend it for anyone-there were great marriage and parenting seminars.  But I found it quite comical that many sessions were lead by moms who "were NEVER EVER going to homeschool."  The more I learned the more I thought that maybe we would homeschool our kids when they hit 4th or 5th grade.  They were fine until then.  We also found out more about the CORE curriculum being adopted by our state.  I'll leave that for another post, but we were not impressed.  We've since done our own research so as not to just get one side, but our opinion hasn't changed.  Ok, so we'll homeschool LMM for kindergarten, and then all of them (?) when they hit middle school.  That's a long way away we don't even need to think about it.  This is Friday.

Saturday morning I saw some familiar faces...from the camp I work at 8 hours away!!!  There were a couple of girls that I had in a class last year.  They were homeschooled-I had no idea!  I asked them how they liked being homeschooled and they were very positive about it.  I told them we were considering homeschooling when our kids got older and they had a funny response-funny odd, not funny hilarious.  They got very serious and told us that kids who weren't homeschooled when they were younger had trouble making friends.  Many homeschool relationships are built when the kids are young.  Switching to homeschool is like being the new kid in a school-VERY hard.  They also don't necessarily hang on to the friendships they had with the kids in their old schools and they have a hard time with that too.  Hmmm.

Next we went to a session by a man named Todd Wilson.  We sat in his session, and he is one of the funniest speakers I've ever heard, and I cried through the WHOLE THING.  I cried hard.  I think #1 was wondering if baby #5 was on his/her way (no).  I literally felt the Holy Spirit telling me that we needed to do this next year.  It was so scary.  I didn't want to mess up my kids.  I don't want weirdo kids.  I don't want to lose my LIFE.  I don't want the responsibility of educating my kids!  "I don't...I don't..."  But I felt the Lord telling me "Yes, but I do."  Oh my gosh.

Snug is also in an odd position.  At the end of first grade, when he could easily by age just be ending kindergarten, he is well into a third grade reading level and writes at a beginning of third grade level.  He also can do end of second grade math, but still has some odd gaps in his mathematics.  He still cannot tie his shoes.  Homeschooling him this next year could get him caught up in some areas, and take him laterally in others (lots of reading and writing about science, social studies, history, and Bible at the level he is currently on).

#1 said he wanted me to homeschool but didn't want to put that pressure on me.  He figured when I was ready, this year or in five years, I'd let him know.  Um, wow.  I thought he thought I was nuts for  even considering it for more than kindergarten.  He also said we could turn the girls' bedroom into a homeschool room, move the girls to our room, and build us a room in the basement THIS SUMMER.  This was something I'd wanted to do (not a homeschool room, but the rest of it) for quite awhile and we'd been debating.

I have no idea if we'll do this for more than a year or two.  We might hate it.  We might love it. We might be completely crazy.  But you know what?  It isn't crazy to do what you know God is leading you to do.  Truthfully I mourn a little that my kids might not grow up in a traditional classroom like I did.  I loved school.  I LOVED LOVED LOVED teaching school.  I believe that public schools are a very important institution in our country.  I will continue to support our public schools.  But my kids might not be there.  And I know that's weird.  I'm reserving the right to be weird, but I vow to do my darndest to teach my kids to be respectful, participate in a group, and be good citizens-and NOT be weird-that's reserved for me.  I am not doing this to keep them away from the world, rather equip them to BE in the world.  Its a scary place.

Want to know my biggest BIGGEST fear going into this?  I'm a very insecure person.  I'm afraid that my friends who still teach won't like me.  That they'll think I don't respect them for what they do daily.  I do.  I admire them and support them.  I think they have one of the hardest jobs in the world, and yet one of the most rewarding.  I love teachers.  And next year, I am tiptoeing back into the field.  Just in a different way.

Don't hate me.

*Campers In Leadership Training

Friday, May 3, 2013

A Glance at April

 Wow, I had almost given up blogging, but not quite yet.  I am so lazy.  I just upload pictures to Facebook and move on.  Life is really busy and I just don't really take the time to sit down and write.  These first pictures are from Rosebud's birthday party.
 We did a pinwheel theme.  It was fun, but these sandwiches were quite a bit of work.  Thankfully I had lots of help in the kitchen.  I found her crown on Pinterest, which took me to an Etsy site.  When I saw the price I laughed and dug into my sewing supplies.  I did it for about $4 because I already owned quite a bit of what I needed.
 I can't believe she is three already.  Three is an emotional age apparently.  She can be super giggly and happy and sweet or super NOT that way.  And it can be minute by minute.
 Our favorite Reptile Man came to Little Monkey Man's school.  I was disappointed that the large snake didn't make an appearance.  The biggest one he has all the kids in the class can hold at one time.  This one is just a little guy.
 LMM loved the whole presentation.

 The portrait studio I use for the kids birthdays closed.  So now I will be doing my own pictures.  My brother played with this one and got her eyes to be really blue, but I'm having trouble saving it so I can do anything with it.  We have a Mac now and I feel illiterate.
 We "borrowed" a neighbor's yard to take her pictures in.  They had a beautiful magnolia in bloom and some of the pictures were taken by a weeping willow that was just beautiful.
 We got one last one in our dandelion infested yard :o)
 Next up is SWAT rappelling!  #1 hates heights, but braved it for SWAT training.  It was a really windy cold day but we stopped by to cheer him on anyway.
 He never looks nervous, but he always says he is scared to death.  Personally I'd LOVE to do it.
 He did this the day after the Boston Marathon Bomber was captured.  I am very proud to be married to "one of those guys".  We pray he never has to use his skills in quite that big of an event.
 Snug is doing a "Flat Stanley" project for school. But he is called "Flat Freddie".  We are supposed to be taking lots of pictures of them doing things together...well we have a few but I keep forgetting about it.
 I participated in the Great Cloth Diaper Change again this year.  It might be my last time, which is so sad.  I just won't have anyone in diapers next year.
She was a ver good participant!  I haven't heard yet if we broke last year's Guinness World record.  I hope so!