mynaturalfamily

Inspiring natural, happy, healthy families!

New Adventures August 15, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — My Natural Family @ 10:10 pm

Well, this marks my last post for the My Natural Family blog.  It’s pretty bittersweet: I’m leaving circle ME as a full-time social marketing specialist because I was accepted into UNL’s Marriage and Family Therapy program as a full-time graduate student.  I found out I was accepted about a week after I found out I was pregnant.  Both bits of news came as total surprises.  Needless to say, April was one rollercoaster of a month.

 I’m excited for life’s next big adventure and the movement towards my dream of working as a family therapist, but also am sad to have to say goodbye to circle ME and all the wonderful people who work here.  I’ll be around to teach the diaper ME classes (can you believe it?  I started out knowing diddly about cloth diapering and now I know enough to talk about them for a whole hour and then some!) and help with the big events (like I’d miss a re-diaper sale), but I sure will miss this place!

I still can’t believe how lucky I am to have found circle ME and been blessed to work here, even it was only for a short 8 months.  Had I not come across the Brysons and their business, I would never have had the knowledge or know-how to cloth diaper my own children, and I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have had the education or courage necessary to plan for a natural birth at the new birthing center in Bellevue, and eventually a home birth for the next kiddo.  This place is such an amazing resource for families here in Lincoln, and I’m glad I can keep coming back for support and guidance as a customer if not work here as an employee.

Stay tuned for the new, updated blog from circle ME!  It will be written by Julia, the newest natural-minded Mama to join the staff.  She is a wealth of information on all things natural family and I promise you won’t want to miss it! 🙂

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Are One-Size Diapers Worth It? July 27, 2011

Filed under: Fluff Stuff & All Things Cloth — My Natural Family @ 11:38 am

When you begin to cloth diaper, you will find no shortage of choices: Snaps or velcro?  Microfiber or hemp inserts (or bamboo or cotton)?  Pockets or prefolds?  Wool or PUL?  Sized or One-Size?  AIOs or AI2s?  Microfleece or microsuede…you get the idea.  It’s enough to drive any newbie over the edge…heck, sometimes this option overload is enough to make a seasoned cloth diaper expert throw up their hands in defeat.

An option that initially confused me was “Sized vs. One-Size.”  When I was first introduced to cloth diapering, I thought, “Why on earth would anyone buy a sized diaper that will only fit a kid for a few months when they make diapers that will fit from birth to potty training?!”  I soon came to learn that a diaper that will fit from birth to potty training and a diaper that will last from birth to potty training are two different things.  Yes, one-size diapers will save you the most money up front, and are probably the best option if you’re diapering multiple children at the same time, but will they really do their job and do it well for 18-36 months?  Double or triple or quadruple that if you want them to last through more than one child (and if you’re up to quintupling it, you go mama!)

The answer on this depends on two major factors: how well you maintain and care for your diapers, and how many you have in a wash rotation.  If you’re not washing with recommended detergents, using too much detergent and not enough water, using diaper creams that contain zinc oxide (Desitin), or consistently drying your PUL on high heat, you will not see most pocket or AIO dipes last past a year (prefolds and flats have more staying power despite how much you use and abuse them, but alas, even they have their limits).  And sadly, no matter how well you do wash and care for your diapers, if you’ve only got 12 of them and was them every day they will most likely last you for the entirety of one child (yay!) but be too worn to make it through another (boo).

Despite this new-found knowledge, I am still opting for a stash that is predominantly One-Size.  For me, it’s an excuse to get a boat-load of diapers, as having 50+ and washing every-other-day will ensure that each diaper only gets washed an average of once, maybe twice per week.  How can one obtain 50 cloth diapers without going bankrupt?  My game plan is to buy a bit here and a bit there throughout the next few months as opposed to all at once, plus take advantage of circle ME’s super sweet registry rewards program 🙂  I will probably get a handful of newborn diapers and Thirsties size one fitteds and covers, as there’s no guarantee that this kid’s coming out at 8 lbs…which, by the way, is another thing to consider: if you have a baby that weighs less than 8 lbs at birth, most one-size diapers will be way too big for your little one.  Alas, if our family lineage has anything to say, it’s that Baby will most likely be greeting us at closer to 10 lbs (hooray). 

Am I bummed that I will be spending a healthy chunk of change on diapers that will only fit my kid for a few months, or should people who purchase mostly sized diapers reconsider?  Not really.  An advantage to sized is that since they will be worn and washed less, they will be in better shape for your next child or, if you’ve decided you’re done with your glory days of pregnancy and birth, will have a much higher resale value than your one-size diapers.  It all comes down to your priorities and current financial situation.  Do you want to save more money now or get more back later?  Do you want to be able to diaper more than one child at a time with the same diapers or let each kid have their own stash?  There is no right or wrong choice, but know that whether you opt for sized or one-size diapers, you can take solace in the fact that either way you’re still saving A TON more money than you would by purchasing disposables!

 

Tomorrow’s Child July 18, 2011

Filed under: Raising Little People — My Natural Family @ 2:34 pm

I had the opportunity to watch a documentary film this last week about businesses that were working hard to increase their sustainability factor.  During the film, a poem was recited by Ray Anderson, CEO of Interface Inc., the world’s largest carpet tile manufacturer, and Glenn Thomas, an employee at Interface and the poem’s authorIt was incredibly touching to see two men who had never before cared what their industry was doing to the environment (so long as they made a profit and complied with the government regulations of creating and disposing of waste), become aware of the fact that this is the only world we’ve got, and if we destroy it, we are essentially destroying a child’s future.  Maybe not for our own children, or even for our grandchildren, but for the children that we will never have the opportunity to meet: what would life be like for them if our present generation doesn’t take care to protect our environment and find ways to renew our resources?

Tomorrow’s Child (by Glenn Thomas)
Without a name; an unseen face
and knowing not your time nor place
Tomorrow’s Child, though yet unborn,
I met you first last Tuesday morn.

A wise friend introduced us two,
and through his sobering point of view
I saw a day that you would see;
a day for you, but not for me

Knowing you has changed my thinking,
for I never had an inkling
That perhaps the things I do
might someday, somehow, threaten you

Tomorrow’s Child, my daughter-son
I’m afraid I’ve just begun
To think of you and of your good,
Though always having known I should.

Begin I will to weigh the cost
of what I squander; what is lost
If ever I forget that you
will someday come to live here too.

 

Cloth diapering is certainly one way to ensure there’s a clean earth left for our children’s children’s children, but what other ways do you care for tomorrow’s child?  What are the little things you and your family do each day to reduce waste, recycle materials and reuse goods?

 

No One Likes The Stinkies July 11, 2011

Filed under: Fluff Stuff & All Things Cloth — My Natural Family @ 3:41 pm

Lately it seems like case after case of ammonia-laden diapers has plagued our poor customers.  If your olfactory glands have ever been sucker-punched by the distinct smell of ammonia during a diaper change, then you know that that odor and that odor alone is enough to make even the most determined cloth diapering parents throw in the prefold and switch to disposable.  What’s even worse is the chemical burn your baby can get that often accompanies ammonia build-up 😦

So how can you combat that offensive ammonia build up in your otherwise perfect fluff?  I think the answer lies in being preventative rather than reactionary: build up a defense against those stinkies before they even have a chance to ravage your diaper stash!  With this strategy, a little product called Bac Out will become your best friend.  It’s a naturally derived enzyme-buster that you can use as a pre-wash treatment for your dipes to start attacking odor-causing bacteria immediately.  It’s a concentrated eco-friendly cleanser, so you fill a spray bottle with 1 part Bac Out /6 parts water and voila!  Simply spray the non-toxic, bacteria-hating solution on your diapers and inserts before you throw them in your wetbag or diaper pale.  It’s a step that will add all of 5 seconds to your diaper changing routine, and save you from hours of soaking and stripping diapers.

It can also be used as an addition to your cold-rinse/wash (sans detergent) when you do your diaper laundry.  Just three squirts of Bac Out right from the bottle  (no need to dilute) right into your pre-rinse will and it will attack any and all bacteria that like to cause ammonia.  And because it’s a gentle “green” cleaner, you don’t have to be overly concerned with rinsing and rinsing and rinsing like you would with bleach:  a single extra rinse ought to do the trick!  A super awesome bonus:  Bac Out works as a non-toxic household cleaner as well!  Told you it would become your best friend 🙂

But what to do if you’re already experiencing the ammonia stinkies?  First, if you’re a pocket-lover, try to recall how long you’ve had your microfiber inserts.  After about a year of use, no amount of stripping, bleaching, soaking, screaming or crying will rid that microfiber of the ammonia smell.  Luckily this doesn’t mean you have to buy a whole new diaper stash, just some replacement inserts.  Your pocket covers will benefit from a good stripping.

So what are some stripping tactics to fight already present ammonia?:

1) Dawn Liquid Detergent.  Yup, just regular old Dawn soap.  The blue kind though…for some reason it only works with the blue kind.  If you’re not one to fool around, you can manually scrub the soap onto each diaper/insert with an old toothbrush.  If you’re low on elbow grease, simply putting 1-2 tablespoons of the detergent into your wash cycle will do the trick (the Dawn replaces your usual detergent in this case; don’t use both simultaneously).  Whichever way you prefer to use your Dawn, you will have to do many, many rinses to make sure that there is absolutely no residue left on your diapers.  Even when it looks like there are no bubbles left in the water, stick your hand and feel to make sure you can’t detect a hint of soap film still present in the water.

2) Funk Rock.  A product brought to you buy the makers of Rockin’ Green Soap, this stuff really does rock!  Simply toss your diapers in the washer, sink, tub or bucket; add 4 tablespoons of Funk Rock with hot water; let your dipes soak for 30-60 minutes (the longer the better); rinse, and wash your diapers as usual immediately after.  I’ve heard lots of customers rave about how wonderfully this stuff really does kill ammonia-causing bacteria! (We have a few packets of this left at circle ME right now at half price, only $6.95!!!)

3) RLR. Especially designed to strip diapers of soap build-up and residue that can cause repelling (and it erases stains!), word on the street is it works wonders for ammonia build-up as well.  Just do a soak like you would normally do a pre-wash vinegar soak  (as a side note, you may find that vinegar soaks in areas that have hard water can actually make things worse!!!  Something about how the acid in the vinegar reacts with particulates present in hard water in a way that can increase build up and odor…?).  RLR is not a bleach, blueing agent, or detergent. It is gentle and safe for all fabrics and PUL, and it is free of perfumes. You can use it once a month, or more frequently if you find you need it.  Always rinse thoroughly until it’s all out.  Fabrics are actually said to last longer with regular use of RLR!  Neat.

4) Tea Tree Oil or Grapefruit Seed Oil.  A tablespoon or two in your pre-rinse will attack bacteria with fervor!

5) Bleach.  If you’re not particularly crunchy and don’t mind using chemicals that tend to be a bit harsher, bleach will definitely do the trick as a pre-wash rinse treatment!  Just add a cap-ful into your water and let it agitate for a bit before you throw your diapers in, and make sure you rinse, rinse, rinse!

 

You Can Help With Cloth! July 8, 2011

Filed under: Fluff Stuff & All Things Cloth — My Natural Family @ 2:38 pm

circle ME is hosting a cloth diaper drive in an effort to help members of CrossBridge Church on their mission trip to Lira, Uganda.  They will be helping in a children’s village run by Children of the Nations (COTN).  COTN focuses on ministering to orphaned and destitute children, and nurturing them so that they might one day transform the current condition of their nation.

LaTava of CrossBridge Church reached out to us for help in providing much needed supplies, namely cloth diapers!  Right now, the babies of Lira are using rags as diapers because they do not have access to the proper materials to make their own diapers, nor do they have the financial means to purchase current modern cloth (or even disposable) diapers.  We were initially just going to donate a great number of prefolds, flats and covers, but we realized sponsoring a diaper drive could enable us to help even more babies!

So here’s the breakdown: come into circle ME during business hours between now and Wednesday, July 20th with new or used flats, prefolds and/or covers and for every diaper you donate, circle ME will match your donation up to 150 diapers!!!  We are so excited to have this opportunity to help those who do not (yet) have the means to help themselves.  Don’t have used dipes to donate?  Come on in and purchase some new ones and we’ll prep and wash them prior to donating them to the missionaries 🙂  For less than $10.00, you can provide a clean and healthy diapering option to children who live day in and day out without easy access to food, clean water and medical care.  Most of them were orphaned at a very young age.  It’s a small way to help, but we are honored to be a part of their mission in any way we can.  For more info on the missionaries and their outreach programs, you can visit their blog.

“You will find as you look back upon your life that the moments when you have truly lived are the moments when you have done things in the spirit of love.” – Henry Drummond

 

The Art of Couponing July 5, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — My Natural Family @ 11:00 am

We have a brand-new, one-time only class coming to circle ME this Saturday all about saving hundreds of dollars with coupons!   Based on the amount of people registering, it’s safe to say that our customers are pumped!  I certainly will be sticking my head in as much as possible while simultaneously working the front of the store, as I could use a lesson in how to save money (I recently spent the better half of a paycheck at Motherhood Maternity…I felt like a fashionable sucker afterwards).

The part that sounds most exciting is that the wonderful woman teaching the class, Beth Swihart, doesn’t devote all her free time to scouring newspapers and the internet for deals, yet still saves hundreds.  I was able to sit through about half an episode of Extreme Couponing before I started getting the shakes from watching a woman dumpster dive with her children and best friend in an attempt to find coupons that others had thrown away.  Saving money is wonderful, but once couponing crosses the line into obsessive-compulsive behaviors I’m not convinced it’s worth it.  And I know several mothers who would rather spend time with their family than clip coupons and dig around in the trash, so parts of that show make “Super Couponing” seem unrealistic for the average person.

Beth emailed me a little bit about her background and a couple of her finest moments in couponing:

About a year and a half ago I took a basic couponing class with a friend of mine. I learned in that short hour and a half that although I thought I was a pretty good shopper (buying generic brand or lower quality items that were better priced), I realized that I was spending way more than I should have been and for less quality than my family deserved. I started clipping coupons and shopping sales and finding websites to help me save even more.  After a couple of months I realized I was saving almost $200 a month and buying better food for my family and more of it and developing a nice stockpile of toiletries and dried goods. 

 I’ve had a couple of really good shopping trips.  I spent $3.84 on a bill that was originally $229.61.  That was a lot of fun!  Another (time was) with the girls I usually shop with. Between 4 full grocery carts we spent $54.19 and saved $849.05.

 Couponing has become a money-making hobby for me and I spend less than an hour a week clipping coupons. I love sharing what I’ve learned with others!

Check out http://www.circleme.me/Calendar.php to learn more about this class and other FREE classes circle ME is offering for the month of July!  Don’t forget to register if you’re interested in attending 🙂

 

 

I’ll Take It! June 21, 2011

Filed under: Pregnancy and Birth — My Natural Family @ 11:42 am

So many helpful thoughts and suggestions were generously offered to me throughout the week for the “help a new mother out” sale.  It pretty much reaffirmed how gracious and caring circle ME’s clientele are 🙂  It’s hard to narrow down all the wonderful advice, so as promised, I’ll share a few of the tidbits that were delightfully practical, and some that really warmed my heart (and some of them even made me cry a bit…these hormone fluctuations are going to be the death of me):

* It’s good to try to be “Super Mom,” but it’s okay (and expected) that in some areas you may fall short. Prioritize what aspects are most important to you, your husband, and your baby.

* My “advice” is to try to limit the number of parenting books you read (amen, sister) and instead find some moms you trust and ask them for help because they know you and can walk alongside you on your journey.

* The first 6 weeks are about survival: if baby is bathed, dressed and fed and mommy is bathed, dressed and fed then it was a successful day.  What helped my husband and I survive?  Establishing a ROUTINE!  As a first time mom, I found it very difficult to read my baby’s cues — is she crying because she’s hungry?  Tired?  Overstimulated?  Trying to figure out what my baby was telling us was easiest for me when we stuck to a routine (as this momma and I were talking, she shared that routine and “schedule” were not the same thing: routine is more the order of how you do things: feed, followed by activity, followed by sleep.  If you fed Baby, then did an activity, but she then cried when you laid her down to rest when she normally would just fall asleep, you know she may need to be fed again before she sleeps.  It’s not saying “Well I just fed you an hour ago and I’m not going to feed you again for another hour or two because that’s not our schedule).

* Sleep when your baby sleeps.  It’s not always possible, but when the opportunity is there jump on that train fast!  You don’ t realize how vital sleep is until you go 48 consecutive hours without it.

* Always pick the sling over the stroller.  Baby is much happier.

* GET A DOULA!

* Don’t forget about yourself.  The old saying “If Mama ain’t happy ain’t nobody happy” is actually true.  It’s so easy to get swept up in being this beautiful little person’s mom that many forget that they also enjoy doing other things and have hobbies or work that they love.  Take care of yourself too and you will be better equipped to take care of your baby.

* Cherish both the quiet nights and early mornings — they grow up so fast, and you’ll never look back and wish you hadn’t held your baby through those sleepy times.

* Breastfeeding can be tough the first 6 weeks especially!  A pump will be the best investment you ever make.  Pump after a feeding if possible to up your milk production and get some of that vital hind-milk!

* My best advice to you as a new parent is to never forget to give your husband lots of attention also.  It’s so easy as a mom to get wrapped up in our children.  Put your relationship with him first as often as possible and your children will grow up in a two-parent home with a great example of what marriage can be.  By putting him first, you are creating the best future they can have.

*  Be who you want your kids to become.  This is ultimately our greatest challenge but also our most important task…Often we focus on WHAT we want our children to be rather than WHO we want them to be.  So we spend money, time and energy making sure they will be smart, athletic, creative, etc. by fretting over music classes, sports teams and tutoring.  But what really matters is WHO they are; that we are raising individuals who will be people of character, honor our earth and take care of one another.  And how do they learn that?  By watching us….After all, how many times do we catch ourselves thinking, “I sound just like my mother!”  That’s because, indeed, children mirror the character modeled to them.  So BE who you want them to BECOME.  And expect to mess up and need Grace along the way 🙂

* Do not be afraid to apologize to your children when you’ve made a genuine mistake. 

Reading all these words of wisdom made me even more excited (and thankfully less terrified) to embark on this journey of motherhood.  It makes me wish I could hold this kid in my arms right now 🙂  I think the most comforting things to hear were that I can expect to make mistakes.  On paper, and through my academic study of child development, various theories on parenting make it seem like if you “just do this, follow this, and practice this your child will be perfect.”  Obviously, there’s no such thing as a perfect child or a perfect parent, so to hold yourself, your children or your husband up to unrealistic expectations can be disappointing, to say the least.  All we can do for sure is love our families abundantly and unconditionally, and support other moms and dads as they make their way through the same daunting (and amazing) adventures.

What are some of the greatest lessons you’ve learned on your journeys through birth and parenthood?