5.28.2010

THE MOTHER LODE: PACKING LIST FOR ETHIOPIA

This morning as Hubs and I contemplated term vs. permanent with a with life insurance planning dude, Samantha brought him a wallet-sized shot of her baby brother and said "Don't worry, you can keep this one and take it home. Isn't he cute?" We are all a little obsessed with Tsega around here.

Progress is being made towards preparation. We bought our plane tickets! And yesterday I spent more money at Target in one trip than, well, ever. It was one of those cart-loads that makes one feel completely embarrassed. But it feels soo good to be a few steps closer.

Of all the things to worry about with international adoption, for some reason, one of the things that causes me the greatest fear is planning for the trip to bring our child home. This is silly because the really important things are bonding with the child and helping him thrive in his new world; to help him deal with his losses as he grows up, and to help him love himself and others, etc etc etc. And yet, I find myself having anxiety issues over packing.

Thankfully, I am not alone in my distress. I have reached out to my wicked awesome adoption friends and they have generously responded. For any future travelers' benefits, I am including here some of my favorite advice. I am not going to write out how many onesies we are bringing, or how many pairs of socks, or to remember deodorant and your camera CF or SD cards. We are all grown ups here. I am gonna share the cool ideas that I wouldn't have thought of.

Things to bring that might not be obvious to your first time Ethiopia traveler

- Toilet paper. One never knows when out and about if a restroom will have any.
- Perscription for Cipro or other drug to help combat anything from eating or drinking something
- Pedialyte. I found some at Target in single-serving powder packets that you can add to a bottle of water! Easy and light to pack! And when you can't even keep your antibiotics down due some hiddeous parasite, this stuff is awesome for replacing electolytes.
- Single serving formula packs for the plane, no scooping and measuring
- One and two gallon sized ziploc bags. Apparently there are millions of uses, like containing spit and pooped-on clothing on flights.
- Items to make flight more comfy: pillow, ear plugs, portable fan, sleep mask, etc.
- Cross body bag or purse instead of shoulder purse or backpack. Much easier to avoid pick pocketing or bag grabbing in the market places.
- Capsule probiotics, start taking a few days before trip to help digest anything unfriendly and keep bowels happy
- Notebooks and a few pens 1) to record feelings, happenings, things said, names of people  2) notes about baby's schedule and habits
- Reading material, pack of cards, something to do together in our down time,
- Power converters
- Ambien for any overnight legs of journey
- Meal replacement/protein bars, dried fruit, nutella, vitamins and nuts:  in case dinner isn't working. Like probably for this queasy pregnant girl.
- Bubble wrap, other packing materials, in case we want to bring home anything that needs protection like pottery or ceramic knick knacks
- Long skirts. Pants might sometimes be too hot, or too casual, but shorts and shorter shirts aren't always appropriate in certain places.
- Advil and Tylenol in case of fever
- Tiny bottles of hand sanitizer
- Extra hair elastics and bobby pins (leave most of them at the orphanage)
- Deflated soccer balls, punch balloons, jolly ranchers, toothbrushes, pens, to give to kids while out and about (my guess is giving them these things will also make us feel terrible since they need food and homes much more than trinkets and candy, but it's nice to have something to give)
- Neosporin, alchohol swabs, band aids
- Dramamine
- Use Rick Steves Packing Cubesto keep clothes compressed and organized
- Baby Tylenol, Orajel (we have no idea if he's teething, or even has any teeth yet)
- Bring the only FDA approved homeopathic stomach-settling remedy for babies. I used this with Cookie Monster who was a fussy, pukey, poopy baby, and it is a wonder elixir. I swear by this stuff.
- Thin rain jacket, sweat shirt. You think it's Africa in summer, it must be hot, but apparently the high altitude of Addis Ababa gets chilly at night.
- a few Nalgene or Sigg water bottles
- Scent free lotion and soap for baby. He might have sensitive skin and weird smells might be distressing. I also just washed all the clothes and blankets we have for Tsega in the Charlie's soap I've been raving about, as it is dye and odor free.
- enough clothes- laundry isn't really possible at guest house. Or Febreze to freshen up.
- disposable changing pads for frequent diaper changing in airplane
- Chewy toy, rattles, board books, stuff to hold and show your young child. If they are older than an infant, crayons, toy cars, legos, book of mazes, etcha-sketch, photo albums, a ball, travel size connect four or memory games, etc.



Things To Buy That Other Families Wish They'd Brought Home

I should mention here when I sent this question "what do you wish you'd bought?" almost everyone universally said more clothing for their kids, in more sizes. Traditional Ethiopian clothing in plenty of sizes for as baby grows up. Check.
- clothes
- scarves
- Ethiopian spices like berbere and mitmita, shiro, etc
- art or decorative pieces for home
- jewelry (for future gifts to children and other family and friends)
- traditional round baskets
- books and newspapers in Amharic
- CDs and DVDs
- dirt from birth village to put in a glass bottle and label for a special decoration.

Basically, thinking into the future, how nice it would be on every birthday or Tsegaversary (the day we meet him, or comes home, or whatever day we decide to acknowledge/celebrate) to have something from Ethiopia to give to him. And our other children and grandparents for that matter. No one has ever said "we bought too many things in Ethiopia."

Advice from our Adoption Program Director

Sometimes families will collect donations to bring in huge rubber totes to care centers. Then something terrible happens: the totes full of diapers, formula, clothes, medicine are seized in customs at the airport and never get to the orphanage. Hundreds of dollars and hours wasted. We have been given the advice to decide how much money we'd like to spend on donations, and then go shopping once in Ethiopia. This helps local economy, and no matter the amount, $50, or $500, it goes a LOT further there than it does here; not having to transport it in airports and through customs, and no worries it won't get to the children who need it.  When we arrive, we will ask the Orphanage Director what they are most in need of right now, and then try to go make it happen. It could be laundry soap, it could be paper and pens and books for the kids, it could be diapers. Whatever, it is, we look forward to helping. I think the only tricky thing will be sticking to the budget once we see all the needs around us. This is no way a request, but if anyone would like to donate any amount to the cause, let me know.

On a personal note, this Memorial day weekend will be our last weekend as a family of four.  Despite my intense, unwavering infatuation with all babies, I have always been a little nervous about how the newest little person will affect the current family dynamic. But now with two kiddos in the mix, I have lived the proof: life for the Scooping it Up Family has gotten better each time there is a new child.

Siblings love each other.
The newest child simultaneously bring peace and happy energy to our home.
They help us refocus on the important things.
They bring the best out of Hubs and me. (Sometimes later, when they are two years old, the worst, but that is not their fault.) 

I have to admit something that might not make me popular. With my first two homegrown kids I have yet to experience one day of motherhood that I ever felt was as hard as one day being pregnant. I never had to adjust, or recover or come out of a new baby fog. No fog. I gave birth to my kids and as soon as the morphine wore off, I was instilled with boundless energy like I had a second lease on life.  I require very little sleep to feel ok, which is probably my strongest asset as a mother. Maybe my energy with the new kids was all hormones. This time, I don't know what to expect.

Not only will I have the not hormonal rush and relief of no longer being pregnant, it's a double whammy: I will still BE pregnant and yet need to be 100% for my new little guy. And we will be recovering from time zone changes, long, difficult flights, not to mention we may be the source of our baby's fear instead of his comfort (at least at first).

This is staggering to me: my voice, my smell, my body, my rhythm may be frightening and foreign to my baby. I've never been faced with these challenges. I always could give my babies my all because I was no longer afflicted with them being in my body. This time I have to dig deep into a reserve of strength. And my usual arsenal to win a peaceful and happy child might not work at first.

I am humbled. I am tired just thinking about it. But the packing and the preparation must go on. Because we are down to a little less than seven days.

And, by the way, we got another picture of our man. The gorgeous hair is still there.

Special thank you to Kate, Anne (who have private blogs), Porter, Paige, Katy, Summer, Jenn, Ali, Shannon, and Liz for being such an awesome group of supporters, friends and advice-givers for this trip and adoption process in general. I am the luckiest girl in the world! What is extra cool, is that the formentioned Ali and hubs are in our travel group and though we live in different places and have only recently started reading each others' blogs, we get to spend a week together when we go get our baby boys!

5.26.2010

WHILE WE PACK

Read this article from National Geographic. And don't forget to look at the amazing photos.

Nine days and counting...

5.23.2010

A SUNDAY JEWEL + ADOPTION NEWS

In world filled with much laboring and striving in parliaments, congresses, agencies and corporate offices, God's extraordinary work is most often done by ordinary people in the seeming obscurity of a home and family. - Neal A. Maxwell

And now for some news hot off the press! Tsega has an Embassy date, meaning, he. can. come. home. We finally got the call (on a Saturday no less, I almost passed out with fear because our agency folks don't typically work Saturdays and I was afraid it was bad news); we are going to Ethiopia in twelve days. Basically, a month earlier than they told us we would travel.

One month less in an orphanage. One more month of a tiny life with family instead of without. One month less to prepare for him to come. One month closer to holding him in our arms.

We are humbled, we are grateful, we are shocked, we are thrilled, we are excited, we are nervous, we are sad for our friends that are still waiting for court dates and word about travel, and we are totally unprepared to travel in a few days.  But we will start with first things first. Buying plane tickets, scrutinizing all the wonderful travel and packing advice given us by friends-who-have-gone-before. And setting up that crib we bought that is still in the box. And getting out the baby clothes. Just thinking about our to-do list for the next few days makes me want to hurl a little.

And yes, barring a bad ultra sound and a doctor who says "No way", we decided I am going.
Ethiopia here we come.

5.21.2010

FRIDAY BLISS

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nope. not our pool. but there is some coveting happening.

thank goodness for kind pool-owning friends and warm days.

and a friendly PSA: Stearns Puddle Jumper Life Jackets are The best coast-guard approved floatie thingy ever. (Bostonians, these are one of the only kind of flotation devices allowed at Cochituate State Park and other swimming places 'round here!)

5.20.2010

HOUSEHOLD TRIVIA IN BULLET POINTS

- No word today about travel to Ethiopia to bring Tsega home. Is it possible to combust from tension waiting for something? I've never felt like this before. I am not exaggerating when I say I feel like I am missing a limb. Some days I want to take a sleeping pill and only wake up when we can go get him. I have two Really Good Reasons to not take this route, but my heart goes out to adoptive first-time parents, because the only thing keeping me from needing medication right now is my current state of motherhood and the little people here that need me. Welcome to Crazyville. Resident: Me.

- On the upside, we solved the crib issue. I will admit that craigslist was not the answer this time. It has been so many times in the past. But Tsega has a bed. Whew. One little thing checked off the list.

- The tomato project was a FAIL, and I am so relieved I don't have to take care of plants this summer.

- Cookie Monster is hitting a stride with talking. He has so far to go, but he is more and more communicative every week. His favorite topics right now? Passing gas and baseball. He apparently is a clone of his father. Thank you Early Intervention for giving my son the tools to be able to call attention to all real and perceived flatulence in our home.

- Today I ate couscous and falafel and chocolate (not all in the same moment). I still am hyper sensitive to smells, especially food, but ever so slowly I am more tolerant of eating! I hereby vow I will never ever invite a Saltine cracker into my home again. I was thrilled to throw away two unopened boxes today. Victory!

- I am somewhat surprised to say we are still really liking cloth diapers. We are 90% committed. Life is better now that I am using the right laundry soap and have more diapers and inserts in my arsenal.


Most regular detergents make it so the diapers repel moisture instead of absorb and wick it away. I was using what I thought was good stuff (additive and softener free) but oh man, after one load it was obvious how much better Charlie's is. It knocks stains and smells out of the park, and yet the fabrics stay really soft. For now I am hoarding it for the diaper supplies, but may end up using it on all our laundry.

This cloth diaper thing kinda fun; I don't know how to describe it. Maybe that gives you the feeling I get when people say "I love using coupons." I will probably never use a coupon. And most coupons are for food and cleaning products we don't eat or use anyway. When I hear people get all fired up about coupons I think "Good for you, but I won't be going near that." So I understand if that is your reaction to the diaper thing. But seriously, if you ever want to hit this up, it is pretty cool. I will be your friend.

- Today we actually signed with a contractor to finish our attic! Our house has four full floors. This is good for losing baby weight. Bad for refereeing behavior of children two floors away. (The attic will mostly be a large playroom). I am thinking of installing an intercom so I can yell at them even when I am not present. Now that's parenting at its finest.

Is it insane to start house renovations 4-8 weeks before bringing home a new baby?  Yes. Yes it is. Our guy claims the heavy traffic and major hammering will be done in the first three weeks, and shouldn't bad after that. I don't know whether to disregard anything a contractor says about anything ever, or to just nod my head and hope he's right. Either way, we are pumped to add office for Hubs, and playroom for kids/guest room.

- Our fabulous semi-sister-law and summer nanny Elizabeth is my sewing side kick. We are collectively nesting for the two babies and have some projects in the works that I can't wait to show you. Stay tuned!

- Reading this book right now. It's really really good, adoptive parent friends.


Off to bed and to my book. And another day of keeping on.

5.18.2010

MAKING MY HEART PITTER PATTER

We are still waiting like crazy people for travel dates to bring Tsega home. We check email constantly hoping for word from our agency. We still don't know if I am going. The unknown hangs like a cloud over this house.

Hubs confided in me that there is a song on the radio; it's supposed to be a "couples" song, but every time he listens to it he thinks about our Habesha Boy. So enjoy a well known song, but listen to it as if it is talking about parents waiting for their kiddo. When I heard it the way Hubs did, it made me cry. (And cry. And cry.)

Is there anything more attractive to a Mama then her man loving their baby ?
Nope.

5.16.2010

CLOTH DIAPERING EXPERIMENT II: OTHER CONSIDERATIONS

Things are going well! After four days of cloth diapering with a very small stash of supplies I have learned a few things, and have ordered a few more products since I am becoming convinced this is doable and even somewhat enjoyable. At least, as enjoyable as something that deals with human waste can be.

As a follow up to first post on this topic, we have achieved two completely dry nights! I finally figured out -with the help of several great commenters- the right combination of inserts to get Cookie Monster through 12+ hours with no leaking at all. Also good news, now Daddy has changed a few diapers with no trouble and no complaints. He's fast with the snaps and I think if I commit to pre-stuffing the diapers with the inserts, I won't ever meet with resistance about using cloth diapers. I am liking AppleCheeks, but before buying more, I am waiting for 1 each of the Fuzzi Bunz and bumGenius 3.0 to arrive so I can compare them. Once I decide which brand I like most, I will buy more so we can go longer in between laundry loads.

So here are a few new tidbits for those who are either morbidly curious, or interested in giving this a try themselves!

Consideration Number One: You definitely need a wet bag. This is a waterproof bag that holds the used diapers and inserts until laundry time. It is supposed to keep in odors and moisture, and is washed right along with the diapers. The bag is sewn and sealed on all the seams and don't wick or leak, even if you dump dripping wet swimwear in them. I ordered the large size of Planet Wise Wet Diaper Bag which apparently holds about 16 diapers. They offer lots of cute fabric designs and the large size sports a handy hook. It should arrive tomorrow, and I will probably hang it on the doorknob in our laundry room. I also bought a small size that is about the size of a gallon ziploc for when we are out and about and need a diaper change.


If we bail on this cloth diaper kick, the bags will be fabulous for trips to the pool and beach, so it won't be a huge loss.

Considerations Number Two A and Two B: This should seem obvious, but no laziness allowed when it comes to poopy diapers. Those flushable liners I talked about in my last expose are a 120% necessary part of cloth diapers in my my limited experience, but they are thin. Here is an example of what we are using right now.


If a child is allowed to sit in their messy pants for awhile, the feces can squish or rub through these onto the lovely, pretty white part of the diaper, give you rinsing and yucky laundering duties. If bowel movements happen, I've learned: change asap. In the morning, no sippy, or breakfast, or Sesame Street until a diaper change. The other factor to remember is these diapers really hold in smells. We faced a must-rinse-dangit diaper situation this morning because Hubs didn't smell that Cookie had had a bowel movement and baby boy sat on it for 45 minutes. The liner did help a lot, but it was pushed beyond its capabilities. We would have had no problems if the diaper had been changed first thing. If we ever did a long car drive or were in a situation where I was afraid I wouldn't be able to change a messy diaper within a minutes, I'd put in two of those liners for added protection. It can't hurt.

Consideration Number Three: Using disposable (in this house, Target brand) baby wipes with reusable diapers is tricky. Normally, one just wraps up the wipes in the dirty diaper and you don't think about them. Now, we have to figure out where to put them as they are being used in the middle of a messy change, and how to dispose of them. Dropping loose, uncovered poopy wipes into the trash can isn't possible, even setting them down on the changing table is kind of weird since they are covered in feces, but setting them inside the cloth diaper is also awkward since they will need to be retrieved and disposed of at some point. What do other folks do?

Flushing them is risky on a lot of toilets as they aren't meant to be flushed.  There are two solutions as I see it. One would be purchasing flushable wipes that will not clog one's toilet. After messy diapers we have to take a trip to the bathroom anyway because those handy diaper liners holding in all the messiness must be flushed.  I haven't found an inexpensive option for flushable wipes yet.

Another option is using cloth wipes. I'd never heard or this or considered it, but the way some folks do it is having a pile of dedicated bum wipes that are kept dry, and having nearby a little spray bottle with a special solution meant for the express purpose of cleaning messy bums.

One option I read about are Baby Bum Drops (found at Kelly's Closet)

The product description: Use Baby Bum Drops to make an all natural diaper wipes solution. Made with organic calendula blossoms and aloe vera to help soothe the skin and clear skin irritations. A natural glycerin soap base creates a mild cleansing action, and pure essential oils of lavender and mandarin aromatics. Also contains anti-bacterial tea tree essential oil to keep your baby wipes fresh and germ-free.

How to use: Pour one cup of very hot water over one Baby Bum Drop to dissolve. Use in a spray bottle on cloth wipes for quick, convenient cleansing of baby's bum. A three-ounce box makes approximately 50 cups of wipes solution.

I like the idea: as I use wipes on a messy bum, throw them in with the diaper like I did with disposables. This time though, instead of it all going in the trash, it all goes into the wash.

I can see there being one little hiccup with this route: if the used wipes are totally nasty after the diaper change, I would need to rinse them pretty quickly and not let them sit too long. The diapers will have been, due to the flushable liner, feces free, the wipes will not be. Not sure how this will go. Maybe have separate bags, like the kind I referenced above?

Now is when I wish I had friends who have done this so I can gain from their wisdom. No need to reinvent the wheel. If anyone reading has suggestions, I am ALL ears. I will say this, I won't buy cloth wipes. I would probably go buy some cotton flannel fabric from JoAnn and cut them out myself. It would be much more economical I think.

Final Consideration for now: I realize it seems there is a lot of upfront buying going on, even just to get a proper feel for what it is like to use cloth diapers. The risk is that we will hate it and have wasted money. I guess my only thought is, I hope we don't hate it and it gets easier and becomes the "norm." If any friends or family are intrigued, shoot me your questions.

I should mention, I am not getting diddly squat from any of the mentioned brands or companies for my name dropping. I would like to. I would love to get lots of free diaper products to use and review. But for now, I am just being a honest citizen. ;)

5.14.2010

THE CLOTH DIAPER EXPERIMENT: APPLECHEEKS REVIEW

When first possessed by this cloth diaper idea it stemmed from my fear of having three children in diapers this summer and fall, and the frequency with which we visit the dump each month. (Not enough.) I should explain, we live in a town that doesn't have a garbage pick up service. To this Mama it is physically painful.

So, in order to prevent maggots and animals and horrific smells, very frequent dump trips are required. But sometimes it doesn't happen. At least, it didn't last summer. And there was some seriously appalling maggot infestations because of it. Screams. Tears. Gagging. The works.

Anyway, coupled with the probable good feeling that ought to accompany a commitment like doing away with disposable diapers, and the stark money-saving possibilities, I started the research. I was quite taken with three brands. Fuzzi Bunz, BumGenius, and AppleCheeks. Even the names of the brands are adorable, and the way modern cloth diapers look are even more so. These ain't yo mama's cloth diapers. No pins. No plastic pants.

I decided to start off buying a few AppleCheeks and inserts to see how it went. THEN, the lovely folks at AppleCheeks got wind of my experiment and sent me a few more diapers and inserts to give me a chance to have a better feel for them. They didn't ask me to review their diapers on my blog, but it was my intention to do so anyway, so a big thanks to Ilana and AppleCheeks!

These are called "envelope" diapers. Which means there is a diaper that on it's own is totally non absorbent. This is the covering, the breathable but water-resistant outside of the diaper. It has elastic on the back, front and legs, which rocks compared to disposables which only have elastics on the legs. Think newborn blowouts with poop up to the neck? Much harder to do in these puppies because of the elastic around the waist.

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The envelope refers to the opening in the micro fleece lining that allows for the insert. The inserts can be made of many things, all brands seem to have some combination of cotton, bamboo or hemp. I have found the white fleecy lining to be amazing magical stuff. After a full night of wetting, it feels dry to the touch. It very effectively wicks away the moisture from baby's bum and sends it all to the inserts in the envelope. Say goodbye to most rashes, I would think.

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The AppleCheeks brand inserts look like a rectangle, and you fold it into thirds to create several layers of absorbing material.

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Then stuff into envelope, getting it as smooth and flat as possible. I found this not hard, but takes a little practice to make sure the insert stays where I want it while putting it on baby. It can slide around inside a little bit and get bunchy.

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Here's what it looks like ready to go on a baby bum:
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AppleCheeks also offers "boosters" smaller absorbing inserts you can fold or lay flat to add a little more power to your diaper. For boys, you'd place this in the front since this is where the fluid tends to concentrate.
We definitely need these.

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Here is where the magic happens. You can place a ultra thin, flushable liner (it looks and feels like a used dryer sheet. Sheer, soft cottony paper) on top of all of the fleece liner to catch feces. So instead of having a mess when Number 2 comes, you simply grab the corners of the liner, and flush it down the toilet. No rinsing the diaper in a tub, toilet or sink.

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This worked very effectively about five minutes ago. As I was typing Marky came in and told me "poo poo" and I was pleased to say the liner kept the diaper totally clean. In fact, that rockin' fleece part was still so dry I simply changed out the wet insert with a new tri-folded insert and booster and kept the same envelope cover.

Here it is all ready to go:
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Now, for some learning curve issues.

Our first night I did not put enough absorbing inserts in,  nor did I place a flushable liner. My boy child has a fairly predictable bowel schedule so this seemed unnecessary. At 1am, he was a disaster, crying, screaming, couldn't fall back asleep. I wasn't sure if he was uncomfortable with the diaper or just having a weird night. My hubby and I took turns rocking him and eventually he slept in our bed most of the night, though restlessly. At 5am, he whimpered "Poo poo." I thought he was using the word to tell me he was wet and I went to go get more diaper gear. As it turns out, for some crazy reason back at 1am he had had a bowel movement and we had NO idea all night. Poor guy!

So, the diaper was totally pushed to its limits. It was a nasty mess and definitely his pants were wet. I did have to do the ol' rinse in the toilet thing of yesteryear.  But realize this: We slept with a poopy 2-year-old for four hours and couldn't smell a thing. Those diapers are amazing. Also, he did have a little rash going, but it that fleece liner had really done an amazing job at wicking away the moisture, so the rash would have been far far worse had he been lying in that stuff in a disposable.

Our second night I admit with sadness I still haven't figured out the right combo and amount of inserts and boosters to keep him 100% dry. His pants were a little damp this morning, although his bum was perfectly happy and dry. Luckily though, no surprise poop at night.

I will keep a flushable liner in there at all times, day and night. It's not worth the risk. They stay really dry too, so yesterday I kept the same flushable liner in through a few diaper changes since they hadn't seen any feces yet and it was dry to the touch despite him having wetted a few times. It really all goes down to those folded inserts quite magically.

I heard good things about another brand of inserts boosters called Thirsties so bought them to supplement the tri-folded AppleCheeks inserts. I have found these so far to be the most absorbent, which is a trade off because they take the longest to dry. That hemp soaks up so much that it takes them a good 35 minutes longer in the dryer than the other brands of inserts.

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I also have read as far as absorbency goes, the more my inserts are washed and dried, the more absorbent they become and so the nighttime leaking might resolve itself in a few more washes.

The other "con" of these diapers is that they are definitely a bit bulky. They make the bum on pants more snug for sure. On the flip side, a full cloth diaper doesn't sag to the knees and droop the way disposables do.

AppleCheeks come in two sizes 1 and 2 (20-35 lbs), Cookie Monster is in size 2. We found the snaps to be very easy to use and to get a good fit, and he is doing a good job of laying still while I mess with it. I think I will get faster at putting them on with practice. He likes picking out which color he wants, which is nice. And oh my gosh, have I mentioned how cute they are?

Cookie wanted to give you a little fashion show with his new look:
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Even Sis thinks they are darling:
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In summation

1) I hope to resolve the heavy wetting leakage at night, because during the day these perform great and I am very happy with how easy they are to use and how well they keep baby dry.

2) If I want to get serious and continue I will need more diapers, more inserts (I would guess having three inserts and two smaller boosters for every envelope is a good ratio for an effective supply of diapers), and I will need a waterproof diaper pail liner. AppleCheeks makes one that you basically wash every time you do a load of diapers. I've read it keeps odors in beautifully.

3) I love that when I wash the diapers I don't have to reach in the envelope part and take out the inserts. They come out in the wash. You just dump the diapers in the load. No touching dirty diapers is great.

4) I also have ordered a FuzziBunz envelope diaper which seems to work very similarly to AppleCheeks, and a BumGenius to try those two brands out. Bum Genius is called a "One Size" diaper intended to span a baby's entire diaper-wearing life. It also uses velcro instead of snaps. I don't know if I will love that because velcro tends to annoy me in the wash. We shall see.

5) I've heard that after a few months, despite frequent washing the diapers can start to hold smells. And that the best way to combat this is to dry in the sun outside. Our Boston weather has been far too crappy and rainy to make this possible, but in the future I could see myself letting them dry in the sun every once in awhile to try and prevent odors.

Overall, I'd give AppleCheeks an B+. I will amend to a solid A if I can figure out how to keep my boy dry through the night.

Am I sold on cloth diapering? I want to be. But Hubs hasn't been around this week and so I would need to get him on board. Our babysitter loves them and has been really supportive. The jury is still out for a total committment.

More reviews to come once the other brands arrive and we go a few more nights!

**update: Great comments and suggestions everyone!  I realize didn't I address costs in this review. These puppies aren't cheap -$20 each, plus more for the inserts-, but neither is 2 to 3 years of buying disposable diapers. The way we calculated it in a spreadsheet, even if you drop a whopping $400-$600 on diapers, inserts, supplies, etc (we are gonna have a lot of kiddos using these so we could be on the upper end of this tally because we will need a lot of diapers in our weekly rotation), it is still at least half the cost of 3 years of disposable diapers.

I should add here that we don't buy Costco or store brand disposables. I use Pampers from day one with my newborns, so that might affect your own calculations. The savings get even more intense if you plan to use these suckers on more than one baby, as we are. I will be sure to continue to inform you as I learn exactly how many diapers it takes to not go insane, and how the laundering part goes.

Also, I am so happy I am inspiring other moms to look into it. Really, it's kinda addicting. Also, we US Mamas got nothin' on Canada Mommies. Far more families in Canada are using cloth diapers than here. More retail stores in Canada sell cloth diapers. The vast majority of the hits on my blog in the last few hours since this posted  are from Canada, which tells me more folks there are googling cloth diaper reviews. Go Canada. This USA Mama is proud to join your ranks in helping the planet, and my photography-spending budget, one cute baby butt at a time.

**update 3/2011 The fact that the diapers sometimes cover up the smell is not always a good thing. I have to be vigilant, because sometimes Cookie will sit in the poop for at least an hour before I discover it.

Also, now that I ahve three boys in these things, some babies' poop is easy. It rolls off in a happy little ball into the toilet, plop! That is how my 14 month old is, cloth diapering him is so much easier because of this. The 2-year-old, his poop has never been easy, always super mushy (sorry) and indeed, we do have to rinse in the toilet sometimes. It really depends on the kid how easy it is to deal with poop. You never know what you're gonna deal with. Just wanted to share.

5.13.2010

THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE CONFLICTS

Good things: We finally got a little (and I mean, very little) update on our boy, and one tiny picture. His medical exam and picture were taken on my birthday. So even though we didn't get it for a little while, it's kinda nice knowing that someone took a picture of my baby on my birthday. I cling to these glimpses of information and possible karma-like goodness for dear life, and so you'll have to forgive a bit of silliness when I assign meaning to connections like that. Finding order in chaos. That's all.

Bad things: Still no word on when Tsega can come to his new family and home. He's growing. He's changing. Tomorrow he's going to be another day older. And he has no mother holding him. No tickles from siblings. No bed or clothes or blankies to call his own. No Daddy to sing to him or protect him.

Well, he has us, but we are useless to him right now. His family is thinking about him every day and wishing he were here, and praying for him, but that's it. I can play the game in my mind of wanting to be glad he has  more time in Ethiopia. But if I am honest with myself, I will admit that at this point, I don't count his orphanage and loving but over-worked nannies as his "Ethiopia."

Good things: I've been told the nannies there do their best to give the infants tummy time, hold them during feedings, stimulate them, etc. I've heard they are ruthless when it comes to cleanliness and washing clothes and bedding. They take the kids outside to play. The children there are happy, play games, have enough to eat. This video is what our boy hears and sees every day. Those women in white take care of him. I want to give them a huge hug and thank them. I hope I get that chance.



Conflict things: T is developing, but brain, social and physical development happens better in a family than in institutional care. I wish we spoke Amharic and lived in Ethiopia sometimes. I wish we weren't taking him from his beautiful country and heritage. But at the same time, I want to get him the HECK out of that care center. I want to moosh his sweet face in my neck and teach him that I will be the source of his comfort. Babies need Mamas. I would never want to take him from his, but since he is not with her right now, I am going bonkers needing to be there for him.

I feel guilty that I am only a little conflicted about taking him from what he knows as his home and his life at Toukoul, because I feel- I hope, I pray- that what we are to him is better. There is no question it's better for us. We love him and want him. And though it's not perfect, I do believe that we are better for him than what he has right now. I am not talking about living in America, or in a "well to do" town with great soccer teams and clean streets. I am talking about a family.

Good things: Had an echo-cardiogram for Baby In Utero. Heart looks perfect. No sign of pericardial effusion. Also as a bonus, a fairly good looking gent from South Africa was the cardiologist. He said the heart problem thing was Much Ado About Nothing. That's what we like to hear. Thank you for all your positive thoughts and prayers on Baby's behalf.

Bad things: In my nesting phase I want to go nuts with house projects while realizing that in no way helps us prepare to welcome two infants into our family, or prepare for Ethiopia. And yet, since sometimes I don't know what more I can do to prepare for Tsega, I think about painting our master bedroom and finally putting up some art in the family room. It's utterly ridiculous. We haven't even bought the boy a crib. Though I am trying, see I am not a fan of the new ban on drop side cribs. I don't give a care who says they are a safety hazard, I am insanely short, and I can actually hear myself getting larger every day, which means I can't reach inside a crib without the side going down. The lawmakers who decided to stick their nose in this were all over 5'7 I guarantee it. 

Craigslist must once again be my friend, but you know about my current complaints about craigslist. And you know that I am limited by my snobbery and want any crib we purchase to match wood tone with the crib we currently have, because they two cribs will be in the same room. It's embarassing. Here I am, trying to go on a trip to one of the poorest countries in the world, to adopt a child who has lost his first family and I am thinking about shades of paint and matching cribs. I am know I am selfish and stupid. It's hard to cure the priviledged American in me, even when faced with realities of poverty and destitution that are very relevant to our family.

Good things: Tonight hallmarks the onset of my cloth diaper experiment. Cookie is officially wearing his first cloth diaper to bed tonight, and will also be wearing some tomorrow. I really really want this to work. I will be posting about this shortly, I promise, even if it is an utter fail.

Conflict things: Another thing on my mind that is wholly unrelated to children is Veet. Has anyone ever tried it? Does it work better than shaving? Help me.

And if you are actually still reading the end of this long-winded post, I will reward you with a happy little moment. This bunch of sunshiney folk make it easy to want to get out bed in the morning. And I know heavenly providence is giving me more strength to do so every day.

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But you know who is giving me extra motivation lately? 


5.10.2010

BEEFIN' ON CRAIGS LIST (and a confession)

I have been a regular on craigslist lately. We are doing a bit o' decorating, and I like to be a girl who looks for a bargain. Now, I am not talking Wal-Mart bargain. I admit I am a snob.  I want quality; not particle board furniture that you have to assemble but the holes weren't drilled properly so they fail to line up. I want something lovely, unique, or vintagey. With dovetailing if possible. And I don't want to pay very much for it. People devote entire blogs to the amazing things they found on craigs list and spruced up. I can't ever seem to find these things. Maybe I don't have the vision.  Whatever the big fail is, this is what is irking me as I peruse today:

-When sellers describe something as "rod" iron instead of "wrought" iron.

-When Bostonians indicate that the desk they are selling has "three draws." Look people. I know we drop the not-so-important Rs around here when we speak, but I know you made it through at least 10th grade, so please tell me somewhere you read something that taught you the word is "drawer." I don't care if you don't say it, but don't leave it out when you spell it. Thank you.

-The ad wherein seller describes their furniture item as "classy" and it is always the last thing you'd call classy. Like this beautiful futon.


-The ad that says "Couch needs new home." Alert: No one is looking on craigslist to adopt your three-decades-old couch from you out of the goodness of the heart.

-The ad selling aforementioned couch shows a picture of a ratty, sagging, sofa that is a clearly a health hazard. When I think about how many skin cells or animal particles or dust mites or who knows what else happened on that couch it gives me the heebie jeebies, and a little gag forms at the back of my throat. *(see confession)

Dear Seller: you know it's a piece of junk, just find a friend and take it to your curb or to the dump. Don't try to guilt someone on craigslist into "giving it a good home" like it deserves human compassion.

- Or worse, the ad that claims the seller is doing YOU a favor by giving away a nasty couch. Like this.

- The ad that says "table. wood. call today. see picture for details."  Included is a teeny picture taken in a pitch black room with a camera phone.  How about you measure it?? Tell me how big it is. I want a table. I'd like your table to be "the one." But I am not going to call you to ask. Just take the time to list the dimensions!!

- The ad that says "Table. Wood. 14 x35 x 22." Guess what I've learned - every Joe Schmo on craigslist puts the height, depth and width in a different order! I know because I've emailed on four tables now to clarify and they all come back saying they meant something different. I am so confused now I don't even know what the proper order of dimesions is supposed to be.

So I will ask the internets: Do you have a wooden console or hall-type table that is about 36 inches wide, no more than 18 inches deep, and is about 38 inches tall?

No?

Neither does anyone else.

* I have a sordid confession to make about used furniture. It makes me cry inside when I think about it. When we first married, at the ripe ages of 23 and 22 (I had Hubs beat by a few months) we were not exactly rolling in dough.  We slept on an air mattress from Target for several months. Then, when it popped under kitty claws we had to get a mattress. It did not even occur to us at all to go to a store purchase a new one.

We couldn't afford it.  So, we perused ads for folks selling them. And bought one. For $200 dollars. Some young couple who lived near us had it for a few years, were moving to Hawaii and needed to ditch it. Enter the Scooping it Up Newlyweds.

I remember telling a family member about our "lucky find" and she blanched. She scarcely could guard her "ewww" reaction. At the time I thought "Man, what is your problem?" I might have even felt a tidge judged. And now, when Hubs I talk about it, we blanch too.  And laugh our heads off because a mattress is probably the most disgusting piece of used furniture one could acquire.  I don't want to get all descriptive about why it's not ok. Everyone's imagination and/or experience should be enough.

All I want to say is, we were poor, aside from taking out a loan we didn't really have a choice. But for the record: we are completely and utterly appalled by the purchase and are glad that only a few years later we traded it in for a new model.

So the real question is, do we let our kids go through equally disturbing but relatively harmless growing experiences when they are young, or first married? Or now that we know better do we protect them from such things and help them buy the new mattress?

5.08.2010

SIX LITTLE WORDS

Can you write a memoir about motherhood in six words? These folks have a competition going, but I thought we could have a jam session on our own.  Here are some of my potential submissions:

stretch marks are totally worth it.

my mom raised six children: saint

cute boobs: a thing of yesteryear.

licked food off baby's face? yup.

i love my son's birth family.

pregnancy brain, newborn brain, never heals.

i never want an empty lap.

no greater calling than being "Mama."

love trandscends oceans and DNA. (this one is pushing it, I don't know if 'DNA' can count as one word)

Tell me some of your six word memoirs on your mom or being a mother or wanting to be a mother!

5.07.2010

A SLIGHT MISUNDERSTANDING

Our resident feline heard us all atwitterin' about the new bird theme in our dining room and thought she'd help out. This isn't exactly what we were going for...

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How on earth this indoor, front-declawed cat caught herself a live bird and killed it is completely beyond me. But I'll tell you what, watching her toss it around and snap it's neck served to completely and utterly gross me out this morning.

Thanks for helping, Fifi. Next time, leave the decorating to the people.

5.06.2010

DO IT YOURSELF PELMET BOX

I know, I know, pelmeting is NOT a word. But we did undertake recently our very first crafty home decorating project ever. What can I say, 2010 is a big year for us.

It all started with Hubs, my favorite shopping buddy, picking up an antiquey-looking bird cage that he thought would look cool in our little dining area. And then we become obsessed with birds. We even looked into getting some real live, tweeting, pooping, flying finches. We scaled back a bit, though, and have contented ourselves - for now- with adding a little avian color to the room in the form of tea-towels turning into a pelmet box.

I found inspiration here and pretty much followed the exact step by step instructions with a few tweaks.

To create our 9 1/2 foot box we used foam board, a staple gun, gorilla glue, gorilla tape, which we found much stronger than duct tape, some tiny nails, and a lot of hope that it would hold.

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We stayed clear of using wood because we wanted this thing to light weight. We did not know if it would work because the tutorial we referenced made a box that looked about 40 inches wide. Ours is much larger.

Also, what made it fun but tricky was not using a uniform piece of fabric. Our house is currently extremely sedate. Not a lot of color, not a lot of texture, not a lot of anything on the walls.  I loved the bright colors I saw on these tea towels from Anthropologie. They happen to big on birds this season, to my delight.

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I should add here that I don't sew. I'd like to, but I don't. Our fabulous summer helper and sister-in-law Elizabeth is a fabulous seamstress and she was key in this project. Here she is decoding a borrowed sewing machine.

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Hubs was my official foam board cutter and box building manager. He did all the math and measuring, which really ensured that I didn't mess up my own idea. My hero worked on this with me until the wee hours.

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I wish I could show you pictures of more in between stages, but I didn't want to get obnoxious while Liz and Hubs were such troopers.  So, once the box was assembled, dry, secured, I painted white over the black tape so it wouldn't show through. We stretched a layer of thin cotton batting and the sewn-together towels over the box with pins to make sure it looked ok, and then started stapling.

Here is the almost final result:
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On this below shot you can see how the fabric wraps around the box to the back
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And here, looking up underneath, you can see how we still need to secure the bottom of the fabric and batting to the box. We couldn't staple the bottom like the top and sides because of the cute crocheted and ribbon stuff at the bottoms of the fabric.

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As of right now, it is simply hanging on two really long, thick nails. We are all a little surprised it worked, and we love having color in the dining room. The final bit will be adding some ribbon to give it a top border.

Here is a close up of that cute cage that started it all, and the new enormous mirror in the room:
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Like with so many things that happen in this house of late, I have an idea and far more capable hands do the executing while I sit around and throw out opinions. Thanks Hubs and Liz, and Little Green Notebook for the inspiration!

5.03.2010

BIG BOY TURNS TWO

Dear Cookie Monster,

This weekend you turned two, and your family was disappointed to find you had a nasty fever and an equally nasty temperment because of it.  Most festivities on your behalf were quite hampered.  We love you very much and wanted to give you a day of celebration; though I suppose we did get to show you love by wiping your tears, and not getting irritated by your constant need to be held.  

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In fact, your wish for closeness is our favorite thing about you. You are our snuggly boy. Your first impulse every morning is to hug your parents. You melt into our bodies, letting your shape be completely enveloped in ours. You could teach workshops on how to hug and snuggle. You still love to be rocked to sleep.You make our family show more physical affection because you give it and you need it.

Your favorite things in the world are trains, trucks, airplanes and balls. You actually enjoy watching televised baseball and basketball, and love playing any kind of ball with Daddy. You love playing with Sis, and she understands your every word. She makes you laugh more than anyone.

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Speech therapy is helping, and you are getting better and communicating, but it hasn't always made things easier; now that you can try to express what you want, you are more stubborn since you know we understand you. Today you are refusing to put on clothes except for your shoes, which you love. So Sis is playing outside while you are inside walking around in a diaper and Vans. You're a booger.

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When I asked you last week what kind of cake you wanted for your birthday you said "Choo choo" and I asked what color, you said "Blue." I really tried son, and this is what I came up with.

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I must not have done a good job with my design plan and decorating because at the end of this video when we ask you "what is it?" you let me know what you think.




You were tentative about your present at first.
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But then got pretty excited. You played with it for 2 hours yesterday without stop. Mama loves hitting a home run with birthday presents.
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Grandma Jane sent you some big boy underwear. You were pretty thrilled about them, but when I asked where the undies go, this is what you thought. My guess is we have another year before potty training is on the table.

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Happy Birthday, sweet boy. I still remember the day you were born like it was yesterday. You are going to be an awesome big brother.

Love, Your Adoring Mama

PS to the internet:  I know he shouldn't have a paci anymore. This falls under the "Please don't judge me, I know he's in speech therapy and there are going to be two more babies in this house and I haven't had the strength to take away his comfort object yet and... just please don't judge me" category.