Bum Business

Now that we’re a year into parenthood and adventures in cloth diapering, I have been asked several times if we like them/use them/would do it again/hate touching poopy diapers and so on.  And so, my Mom mentioned writing a post for curious minds.  I still think Silas has the cutest buns, diaper or no.  

Do you only do cloth?  No.  I have found that there are two general approaches to cloth diapering:  crunchy granola, refuse to use disposables sort of people and the rest of us who do it to save money and take care of the planet, but don’t get caught up in the reputation over doing what works for the family.  We’re solidly in the second category.  A year later, what works for us is using Target disposables at night and using cloth during the day.  We use disposables when we travel for the most part, although we have lugged the cloth back and forth a few times if it was just overnight.  

What diapers did you get?  We got the GroVia all-in-two hybrid system with snap in inserts and wicked cute shells that go from 8-35 pounds.  They automatically come with organic cotton inserts, which I liked and used with my former nanny babe.  You also have the option (at no extra cost) of stay-dry liners that are hemp fleece and they didn’t have many reviews when I was ordering, so I only got 4 of those and 24 of the organic cotton.  Mistake!  The stay-dry liners wick moisture away SO much better than the organic cotton.  I will only get the stay-dry liners when I boost my stash for kid round two, and the shells are in fantastic shape still.  I line dry them and wash them separately from the diapers, which is more careful than the instructions which say to toss them in with dipes, but I found with nanny baby’s they were in pretty beat up shape by 18 months from going through with inserts every time, especially the hook and loops.  If Silas is wet with the cotton inserts, he is fussy to this day, which is nice because I know the culprit most times since he is such a happy baby.  If he’s wet in the stay-dry, he doesn’t mind nearly as much.  Is this a big deal?  Not really, UNLESS you get a really, really bad sleeper like we did.  Our kid hasn’t slept from the get go, and I swear it’s because when I was pregnant I was all “Snap, I can get any kid on a schedule.  Blah blah blah”.  You know what they say about karma.  Just don’t go there.  

So you don’t use cloth diapers at night?  Nope.  And I don’t feel bad about it.  Silas was up every 2-3 hours until 7 months old with no naps longer than 45 minutes.  Ever.  At 7 months, he slept 3-4 hour stretches at night for the most part and took two 2-hour naps with a third cat nap.  At eleven months, he takes two long naps and sleeps 4-8 hour stretches at night (hallelujah).  I am giving you the sleep low-down so you know that anything that made our already hideous night situation worse was simply not in our best interest, and that happened to be cloth diapers.  Cloth diapering at night (we tried six combos of Kushies, Bumkins, 2 kinds of GroVia, BumGenius, and one more I am forgetting) causes him to wake up chattering away and laughing and then have trouble going back to sleep.  As much as he wakes up at night since birth, he goes right back down like a champion 97% of the time in a disposable.  He never slept longer than 3 hours in a cloth diaper at night.  Not worth it to us!  He usually wears the same Target disposable for 12-13 hours (which is how long he sleeps at night) with no leaks, no extra wakes, and no fussiness or chattering for a solid hour.  Score one for the sleepy parents. 

Hook and Loop or Snaps? We ordered half snap, half hook and loop (velcro tabs).  Many people said “get snaps! Hook and loop wears faster and babies take them off!”  I regret listening.  We use the hook and loop way more heavily than the snaps because A. they are way easier on a squirming, 20 pound monster who wants diaper time to be over, B. they have a free conversion to snaps if the hook and loop no longer work like they should over time and C. they are WAY less bulky and more flattering under clothes, and I’m vain about my kid looking cute.  Skip the snaps, and then send them in to be converted once you hit a year and your kid is attempting to take off his diaper.  Does Si do this?  Yes, he’s a Garner kid and they love to be naked.  He also wears onesies, and good luck getting that thing off to get to the diaper tabs.  

Are they high maintenance? Gross? Hard to get clean?  We don’t think so.  We have a diaper sprayer that isn’t hooked up in this house, and I still don’t find poopy diapers stressful, although the sprayer would make things considerably easier.  Especially the stay-dry liners are easy to–ahem–plop without any yucky residue like the cotton ones have.  The inserts go through a wash cycle on cold, no soap.  Then the liners go in and they all go through a warm cycle with Charlie’s soap.  We used Rockin’ Green at first and liked it, but I love Charlie’s soap more.  Lafayette has funky hard water, so we may switch back to Hard Rock Rockin’ Green after this round of Charlie’s, but not sure since the diapers seem SO clean with this machine versus our last one.  We have a super capacity, commercial grade washer and dryer that came with this house and it makes an enormous difference.  It isn’t HE, and sometimes HE machines can cause issues since the key to getting dipes clean is getting enough water through them, which is the opposite of the point of high efficiency/using less water per load.  

Did you ever get the ammonia smell?  Yes!  Right before we moved (early August) I noticed whenever Si was wet, he started to smell like ammonia from build up in the diapers.  After lots of research, the culprit was A. the diapers aren’t getting clean, B. they aren’t getting enough water through them, or C. they need to be stripped.  In the end, I soaked them (clean) in our bathtub full of HOT water with a whole package of Rockin’ Green Funk Rock Ammonia Bouncer overnight.  Tim wrung them out, I washed them twice, and boom.  Zero ammonia smell.  Nothing!  And I mean like brand new, beautiful diapers.  Only creepy cloth diapering moms shove their face into a clean diaper and sniff as deeply as they can only to be elated at no funky chemical smells.  I can admit it.    

Will you use cloth with your next kid?  Yup.  Maybe my next kid won’t have such sensitive buns and will use cloth all night, too!  Nanny babe was always fine in cloth at night, so it really is a kid to kid issue.  We will probably get a bunch of the stay-dry liners and use the shells we already have, although I have considered getting a handful of Thirsties All-in-ones to bolster the stash instead since they are so affordable.  I bought 6 AIO’s of various brands off of craigslist before I was ever pregnant, and I find myself grabbing them pretty often just because they are easy and less bulky.  They will be worn out after Silas, though, so another AIO alternative is definitely something I would consider adding to the GroVia stash we already have instead of buying more GroVias.  GroVia makes an AIO diaper, but they are expensive and the set up is weird as far as closure goes, in my opinion.  Thirsties are like a cloth disposable–super easy for dads/daycares/noncloth friendlies, but I don’t know anyone who has used them.  Anybody?   

Feel free to throw out any other questions if you have them.  


Weekend Warriors

So, Tim was in Pennsylvania all week for a conference.  While he was gone, I was on my A game for pretty much the first time since we moved in and had our initial burst of productivity.  I painted the kitchen, swapped our dining tables (after ours collapsed mid-dinner party with Matt and Alyssa–mortifying), pulled up the carpet in the office to find wood floors, and then went one step past sensible and started in on the living room uncarpeting process.  He got home at about 2am on Saturday morning, and by ten we were knee deep in floral carpet, grungy padding, and a nosy toddler.

Here’s the thing about pulling up carpet:  you never know what’s under it.  Lo and behold, the office floors were so pretty that I was blinded by their gleam.  The living room was a disaster, as we discovered with every passing inch we pulled up.  Cracked boards, missing planks, severe water damage, plywood patches, carpet tack strips installed with nails every 2 inches that splintered and came up in four inch sections while they damaged the hardwood underneath…  We spent all of Saturday working on the flooring in shifts to keep Silas out of harm’s way.  Tim dug out the tack strips, one by one, and I pulled up about six thousand staples.  Then we had experiments in wood filling, followed by sanding and painting today.

I know, people are fundamentally opposed to painting wood floors, but I assure you this was our best (short term) solution.  If it makes you sick to think about me grinning maniacally while I graywashed our living room, read no further.  We have plans to install new hardwood flooring in a year or so after we feel more solid on what we want for the space, but this is a great short term fix in our eyes.  I just couldn’t live with that flowery disaster staring me in the face day in and day out, and I want to take my time deciding what we want for the long term in this house since she’s an old gem.  It feels like we need to respect her enough to make good decisions that are appropriate for this kind of house.  I will confess that we had no plans or previous conversations about starting such an enormous project.  Tim was a trooper being my wing man after a week of travelling and really wishing he was drinking a beer and watching sports.  He even took it upon himself to paint the ceiling in the living room gray, which I am really digging now that the room is so light and airy without the dark carpeting.

Alas, the pictures.

Before (as in before paint, after carpet):




And the office, after carpet but before refinishing which is on the back burner for a while yet (pretend you don’ t notice that it’s our catch-all space that STILL hasn’t been unpacked):


I promised Tim no more house projects this week because we are going to focus on wardrobes.  Bring on the winter wear and the next size of duds for the little lad.  In the mean time, my list is started for our next working weekend and it involves guest bath updates, laundry room updates, cabinet painting, and office painting.  Booyah!  Yes, I will be enlisting help for those adventures, bless my family’s heart.


So, today we have a great big, so darling, almost walking eleven month old.  He is so enjoyable these days, and last night he slept almost NINE hours in one fell swoop.  Yes, this from the kid who wakes notoriously every 3-4 hours all night, every night for the last year.  I don’t expect it to happen again, but boy was I excited this morning when I woke at 5:30!  Check out his new trick that makes mama’s palms sweat.


Also, take note of the battle wounds that come with ambling around like he does.  He says bonk (“gonk”) and boy does he know what it means.  He’ll shake off the first one, but two in a row are just too much to handle and usually result in tears.  He’s so darn cute.


Coming up:  a little weekend project before and after.

Coconut Flecked Pumpkin Muffins

It’s Fall.  I can smell it in the air and see it in the leaves and nothing makes me quite as happy as wearing a puffy vest (sorry Staci and Clinton) and making something with pumpkin in it.  Today I dug out my old pumpkin bread recipe and tweaked it to be a little more healthy and babe-friendly and, if I do say so myself, it’s amazing.  It’s vegan but doesn’t taste like it, and yes there’s still sugar in it, but these are minimally sweet–not cupcakey in the slightest and not as sweet as Starbucks pumpkin loaf, just for a frame of reference.  Here it is:

3 1/2 cups quality oat, whole wheat pastry, or other flour
1 1/3 cups packed dark brown sugar (feel free to bump it to 2 cups if you want a sweeter muffin)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 can pumpkin puree
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup applesauce
2/3 cup coconut milk

2/3 cup flaked coconut
1 cup chopped walnuts, toasted in the preheating oven if you’re feeling fancy

  1. Preheat oven to 350 (325 if you’re using a dark or nonstick pan–important!).  Sift together the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon.
  2. Add the pumpkin puree, oil, applesauce, and coconut milk. Mix well but gently, then fold in the flaked coconut and toasted walnuts.  (Omit the nuts if making them for baby.  I meant to and forgot, so I guess I get to eat this round!)
  3. Divide the batter evenly between two loaf pans, greased and floured.  Or grease muffin tins and fill those 2/3 full.
  4. Bake loaf pans for 1 hour and 15 minutes.  Bake muffins for 15-20 minutes.  It’s done when a toothpick in the center comes out clean.  
  5. After you take them out of the oven, cover and let them steam for a few minutes, then let them cool completely before storing.



(Note: I know we posted when Si hit ten months, but as the days pass, he is just turning into this marvelous little person.  I am going to start writing letters to him each month instead of the update.  That way I will have something to give him later on that feels like it’s his.  Feel free to skip these posts.)

Silas P,

Ten whole months old and you are such an amazing little being!  I didn’t realize how much we would have to learn from each other, and I can’t believe how much we are both learning each day about family and love and the way the world works.  The truth is, amid the cleaning and what-are-we-having-for-dinner and running around all day long, the best parts of life happen in between naps if we let them.  It’s so hard to turn off the rest of the day, to slow down and play and just hang out with you, but it’s the most important part of motherhood to make that happen and I wouldn’t trade it for the moon.  We grown ups would do well to remember how important it is to play a little more during our grown up busy days.

When I see your face full of curiosity and zeal for all things new, I see a little boy.  You are hardly my little baby anymore!  You have always had such a habit of observation, even when you were first born.  You can thank Grandma Susie for that–she was an observer, too.  It’s a good trait, and one that leads to wisdom early on in your years.  It’s one of my favorite things about who you are.  You are persistent, sometimes bordering on relentless about those things you really want–like the power cords!–and you notice the way things work in a way that keeps me constantly surprised.  Grins that span your whole face come with the slightest funny happening, and I love that you are so quick to smile so wide that you close your eyes and scrunch your nose at the same time.  Mid-pursuit of the cat or whatever you see, suddenly you will plop down on your belly, grin at me, and kick your right foot a few times.

You have become quite the social fellow these past months, always trying to engage passersby with a “hi!” or a giant, toothy grin.  Yes, you have an impressive mouthful of 8 teeth still, and despite lots of chewing and biting (ouch) there are still just eight, which is quite enough for managing whatever food you decide you must have.  Steamed veggies are still your favorite, though lasagna, blueberries and steak could compete for the top slot.  You have decided mashes and baby-like foods are downright lame for the most part, which is alright by me.  Such a great eater!  You love healthy foods the most and I feel like a lucky mama indeed that fruits and veggies are your preferred choices.  If you hear the rustle of a wrapper or bag that could possible contain food, you say “eat!” and flail and crawl as fast as you can to pull up on my pant legs to demand at least a bite of whatever goodness might be lurking inside.  You are hilarious!  Maybe you could turn all this food love into a profession someday, eh?

Firetrucks are the toy of choice at the moment.  You make beautiful (ok, hideous) siren noises that are so charming and sweet.  In fact, anything with wheels (yes, even your push mower) has a siren noise to accompany it these days.  It’s a very musical element to your playing, and I like it that I can be in the kitchen and know exactly what you are doing.  When you get quiet, I know it’s time to come see what you’re doing.  You know, like eating a cricket or something.  (Yes, you did that yesterday.)  The farm animals are running a close second for favorite toy, largely because of those delectable legs that are perfect for molar teething.  Speaking of molar teething, I thought you’d be a fan of Sophie more these days for her molar-friendly legs, but you don’t like her at all.  In fact, ever since you fell down on the squeaky duck and it scared the daylights out of you, squeaky things have fallen largely out of favor.  I don’t blame you.  It was disconcerting.  🙂

We start our mornings with music and breakfast and some playing on the floor and it’s a good routine.  Sometimes we even have a dance party!  You are still loving Dean Martin and Elizabeth Mitchell the most, but you’re also pretty jazzed about Blurred Lines for our dance parties, which is hilarious.  Gotta love a good beat, kid.  You also really like to play the piano a few times a day.  Daddy can’t wait for you to play a song someday, although I don’t think he realizes how many more years that will be or how much you will despise piano lessons as all piano students do in the thick of it.  You’re so close to walking!  You stand by yourself just fine when you don’t pay attention, so I know it won’t be much longer before you take off.  I’m not ready for a toddling bambino!  Slow down, baby!  Ok, don’t.  Because growing is the best part of life, and I hope I’m the last person to hold you back.

Love you, little babaloosky!


P.S.  I forgot some things!  You discovered the joys of dropping things into the HVAC registers this week.  Shaking your sippy is big fun, but you always bonk your forehead, and then it’s a very sad story indeed.  Lots of sounds starting with hard G’s and some N’s.  You also have started chewing the sides of your crib, just like I did, and you love to play in your bed after you wake.  Sometimes you don’t even want to get out when I come up to get you!  You like your space for waking up, but boy are you a wallerbug when you get sleepy.  Doing a great job with your coconut milk, too, and you have almost weaned yourself except for nighttime, which is bittersweet for me but I am glad you are on your own time.  Life should always be on our own time.

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