Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Cloth Diapering in Day Care (CDDC) Chronicles, Vol. 1

I love my daughter's day care provider for many reasons. For one, she's basically family. My sister-in-law took her boys there for years, and for a while my youngest nephew and my daughter were at the day care together. It wasn't until recently that S-I-L pulled the boys out of this facility in favor of something closer to home. And even still when I pick my daughter up, the owner asks about the boys. She's also so loving toward my daughter and always gives her a big hug before I take her home. But I most love her because she's been pretty good at accommodating my many parenting requests, sometimes to her chagrin. She doesn't feed her any meat, keeps the sugar at a minimum, and even made some concessions on cloth diapering. That last thing is huge, because even before we started taking our daughter to her, she was pretty adamant that she didn't want to use cloth diapers. She only agreed to use them after we showed her the pocket diapers we use and assured her she wouldn't have to use any pins. She's "old school," so to her cloth diapering meant sticking herself with pins. Nope, we've definitely come a long way since those days!

But even though she relented on the cloth diapering issue, I can tell it still doesn't completely set well with her. At least that's the feeling I get sometimes. We used to bring the baby to day care in a prefold and cover, although we always packed pocket diapers for changes. However, she later asked that we start bringing her to day care wearing the pocket diapers we normally pack. I got the sense that she wasn't comfortable changing our baby out of prefolds, so we agreed to bring her wearing pocket diapers. But yesterday she seemed to reach her threshold of tolerance.

Layla had wet through her diaper and messed up her clothing twice that day, and the owner insisted the diapers weren't working and we would have to do something different. Immediately, I knew what the problem was. It wasn't the effectiveness of the diapers. They've worked since our daughter was a newborn and have held up against some pretty serious messes. And it wasn't that my daughter was wetting more. After all, her bladder is only so big! The problem was the diapers had started to repel liquid.

Repelling is a pretty common problem with pocket diapers. When they work properly, pocket diapers are some of the most effective at holding liquid and preventing leaks. But over time and after numerous wash cycles, residues from laundry detergent (and even hard water) can build up on the fibers and severely inhibit the diaper's ability to absorb liquid. Sure enough, that's what had happened to my daughter's diapers. I tested one of them by running some water over the insert and over the shell and both times the water beaded up and ran off to the side. This meant it was time to strip the diapers.

"Stripping" is simply the process of getting the residue off the diapers. The method I like to use is running one cold cycle using Dawn dishwashing liquid instead of laundry detergent, followed with an extra rinse and a subsequent hot cycle with no detergent. Basically, you're using the dishwashing liquid to break up the residue and then rinsing over and over again to make sure absolutely nothing is left on the diapers. You'll likely have to do this from time to time with your diapers, and it's also important to use only half the amount of recommended detergent in your regular washing to prevent such build-up.

To put her concerns to rest, I told the day care owner I'd strip my daughter's diapers to get them back to normal and we'd proceed from there. Of course, she didn't know what "stripping diapers" meant, but when I picked up the baby from day care today she happily told me, "Whatever you did to those diapers worked. We didn't have any problems!"

What can I say? It's still a process, one of continuing learning and adjustment for both of us. It's my hope that cloth diapering will eventually become more commonplace and navigating these things with day care providers won't be so challenging.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Could you live a life without...

…toilet paper? What do you think? Could you do your daily, uh, “business” without that faithful roll of TP?

Right now we’re in the throes of potty-training and I can’t remember the last time I wasn’t forced to watch Elmo’s Potty Time at some point during the day. I’m thankful at least for the instructional reinforcement Elmo provides, and it could always be worse – it could be Barney! In the video Elmo teaches children the finer points of using the potty, including the all-important steps of wiping yourself with toilet paper and flushing the toilet after you’re done. There’s even a little vignette showing how toilet paper is made in the factory, complete with a rap song to explain it all. Suffice it to say toilet paper gets discussed a lot in this video. So when we sit baby girl on the potty, I try to follow Elmo’s steps to the letter. I let her do her thing, wipe her with toilet paper after she’s done, and clean her up. But as you know, she’s cloth-diapered, and when I change her diaper I always use a cloth wipe. As I was changing her diaper this morning it occurred to me, why don’t I use cloth for myself when I use the potty?

Oh, don’t look at me like that! It’s a valid question. Part of the reason for this blog is to chronicle my efforts at living a greener and less-wasteful life, finding ways to be kinder to the planet in my everyday living and parenting. Well, this is an area for possible improvement, don’t you think? A whopping 98% of toilet paper in America comes from virgin wood, according to The Guardian – that’s a lot of trees! In fact, toilet paper is very much an American convention. Take a trip overseas and most people use bidets or another form of water-based cleansing. We Americans, however, spend $6 billion a year on TP, with the average American using 50 pounds of the stuff per year (thanks for the stats, Mental Floss!). And have you gone to the store lately to buy toilet paper? I cringed the last time I saw the prices! I have a hard time paying so much for something that I’m intentionally going to desecrate. It makes no sense.

So I issued myself a challenge. Since the baby gets her butt wiped with cloth, so will I. For her, we usually keep some wipes soaked in water and a small drop of baby wash in a container. I, too, will keep some pre-moistened wipes on hand in our own bathroom. I’ll use a small wet bag from Bummis – similar to the ones we keep dirty diapers in when we travel – to store all my dirty wipes (SHAMELESS PLUG: These wet bags are available at Goo Goo Gaia).

As for washing, they’ll go right in the wash with the baby’s diapers. I’m going to try this for a week and check back in to share my experiences. I’m not saying that this is going to be easy or that it isn’t at least a tiny bit cuckoo. But it’s worth a try, right? One less tree has to die and I get to keep my money in my pocket.

So, what do you think… could you go without TP?

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Goo Goo Gaia Give-Aways -- Earth Mama Angel Baby Gift Pack

This give-away is for all the mamas (and non-mamas, too). Because women usually take care of themselves last, we're going to take care of you. Enter for a chance to win an Earth Mama Angel Baby gift pack, including:

  • Happy Feet Organic Herbal Foot Soak
  • Earth Mama Body Butter
  • Peaceful Mama Tea

This is a $40 gift pack and we're giving it away for FREE!

We're conducting this give-away on Facebook. Here's how to enter:
  • First, become a fan of Goo Goo Gaia on Facebook (kudos to you if you already are!)
  • Second, make this blurb your status message: I'm a @Goo Goo Gaia HOT MAMA! Now, don't copy-and-paste it. You have have to type it out exactly like it is. Why, you ask? Because when you start typing the "@" sign followed by "Goo Goo Gaia", you'll see a drop-down menu show up with our page listed. Be sure to click the Goo Goo Gaia page from this drop-down list (this is called "tagging"). Remember, the "@" sign must be typed in front of "Goo Goo Gaia" with no spaces. Once you've tagged us, come back to our page and let us know you've entered. If the tag isn't created on your page, however, we can't enter you in the contest :-(
  • Bloggers -You have more chances to win! Just create an entry in your blog about our give-away and include a link to our blog. We'll enter you in the contest! Make sure you come back to our blog and tell us you've entered in the comments section so we can properly credit you for your entry.
  • Contest ends March 6th. We'll select the winner randomly from those who've participated. You can enter multiple times throughout the week, but only once a day. The more times you enter, the greater your chances!

Good luck, and take care of yourselves!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

You mean I can get paid for using reusable bags?

My baby girl has been sick lately. She’s had some nasty stomach bug that’s been giving her problems for about a week now, which has made changing her diaper *sarcasm alert* an absolute joy! The BRAT diet only worked marginally, and she’s about sick to death of eating rice at this point anyway. So it was time to visit to our beloved pediatrician. The doctor gave her a prescription which we filled at the CVS across the street. While we were there I decided to pick up a few toiletries and brought them to the check-out counter, where I saw something that interested me. CVS is now giving shoppers an incentive to bring their own reusable bags. It’s called the Green Bag Tag™ and you use it in conjunction with your CVS ExtraCare card. You buy the tag for 99 cents and attach it to your reusable bag (which can be any bag, even a reused plastic shopping bag). When you shop, the cashier scans your bag tag as well as your ExtraCare card and with every fourth visit you earn $1 in Extra Bucks. Adding to the environmental friendliness of it all, the tag is made of renewable corn-based material. Apparently they've been doing this for a few months now, but the store near our house either isn't doing it or hasn't introduced it yet, so I never knew about it until yesterday.

You might question whether this is just another form of “greenwashing” – you know, another company playing on the environmental sensibilities of its customers in order to make more money. Well, yes, I’m sure this new effort will bring in a lot of extra cash to the business since they’re charging a small fee for the tags and they’ll presumably save money on the cost of single-use plastic bags. But personally, I’m all for it. For people like me who frequent CVS (we go at least twice a week) it works because the tag will pay for itself pretty quickly. And after that, any amount of money I can save – however small that is – is helpful to my family’s budget. Those dollars add up over time! Plus the promotion will likely get more people to use reusable bags and possibly reduce the amount of litter caused by plastic ones.

For a while now, stores have given small discounts to their customers for bringing their own bags. Most grocery stores in our area do this, as does my favorite store, Tar-jhay (Target). Washington, DC recently started imposing a tax on single-use plastic and paper shopping bags. The tax funds city efforts to clean up the Anacostia River, for which the number 1 pollutant is plastic shopping bags. While I appreciate the effort on the part of the city of Washington, I’m not crazy about the tax because it makes the health of the river dependent on the very thing that’s hurting it the most. And does the government have to tax everything? Eh, I guess that’s a conversation best reserved for another blog.

At any rate, I’m happy that CVS has instituted this campaign. I most appreciate when businesses adopt holistically green practices such as powering their stores with renewable energy sources, stocking fair-trade merchandise, etc. But I commend CVS for doing something, anything, to help its customers live and shop more responsibly. Hopefully I won't have to use my Green Bag Tag™ to pick up any more prescriptions for sick babies in the near future.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Baby, It's COLD Outside!

For the second time in less than a week, the DC area has been hit with a major snow storm. Scratch that... there is a full-blown BLIZZARD going on outside! We've barely left the house since Friday evening and everything is shut down. Thankfully, we stocked up on food and our electricity hasn't gone out.

The blizzard combined with a financial fast my family has embarked upon for the month of February (we can only spend money on essentials and have to give up luxuries like eating out) means that we have to cook, whether we like it or not. Sadly, I can't remember when we last cooked this often, which I know is bad because it's so much healthier to prepare your food at home. But when you're a busy family, it gets a little difficult sometimes. The fast and the storm have been helping us get back to basics.

In the spirit of keeping warm and cozying up with food and family, I'd like to share a recipe for my favorite cold-weather comfort food: Vegetarian Chili!

3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 medium-sized onion, diced
1 package of Morningstar Farms® Meal Starters™ Grillers® Recipe Crumbles™
2 cups of cooked kidney beans
4 cups of crushed tomatoes
1 small can of green chilies or 2 fresh serrano peppers (with or without the seeds), chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons of chili powder
1 teaspoon of cumin
1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1 cup of water
Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

In a dutch oven or deep skillet, heat the oil and sauté the onions until they're translucent. Add the recipe crumbles and sauté until they're thawed, seasoning with salt and pepper if desired. Add the beans, crushed tomatoes, chilies, and garlic. Stir in the chili powder, and add the cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper to your liking. Add the water and bring to a boil. Let it boil for about a minute. Turn the heat to low and let it simmer for about an hour. You can sneak in a few tastes along the way and season as you desire.

This chili goes great with cornbread or rice. Even though it's a little bit spicy my 17-month-old daughter loves it, which surprises me because she NEVER let me eat anything spicy when I was pregnant! I hope you enjoy it as much as our family does. Stay warm!

Monday, February 1, 2010


Wow, it feels like forever since I’ve stepped into the blogosphere! Initially, it started out as a case of really bad blogger’s block, but eventually a wonderful idea came to me. Because raising an earth-conscious child had become such a passion of mine, I decided to open my own cloth diaper and natural parenting boutique.  When I found that many of my friends were coming to me for advice on cloth diapering and eco-friendly living, I figured it was a logical step. So, I proudly introduce you to…

Goo Goo Gaia – Cloth Diapers and Natural Parenting

INER-G will still be my own blog chronicling my attempts at living and parenting “green.” But it will also serve as the companion blog for Goo Goo Gaia, and it will be here that I announce promotions, new products, giveaways, and other things of interest to our customers. I invite everyone to visit our store and sign up for an account. In fact, if you do I will send you a coupon code for 10% off your next order! See, you’re saving money and the planet already!

Thank you in advance for supporting us. We’re family-run and still growing, so we appreciate your business and your prayers. Be blessed!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Your kid's a what-a-tarian?

My daughter recently had her 9-month Well Baby check-up. Where those 9 months went so fast, I have no idea. But I'm happy to say she's right on target with her growth and meeting her milestones. Her motor skills are developing nicely and she is at a very healthy weight. I had those common parent questions for her pediatrician. When do we start brushing teeth? How many BMs should she be having a day? When do we introduce the sippy cup? How much should we be feeding her? The doctor patiently and thoroughly answered all of my questions. And then we talked about Layla's diet.

I'm a vegetarian and have been one for 17 years now. I was not raised a vegetarian, however. Ironically, I was the queen of meat for a very long time. No hamburger was ever safe around me! But when I became a teenager I decided to try my hand at vegetarianism. Initially it was for the challenge, but when I researched how animals were treated in the processing of meat and the effect it has on our bodies and the environment, my resolve to put off meat was strengthened. No more hamburgers for me, not the beef kind at least. Over half a lifetime later, I'm now a mom and it is my preference that my daughter also abstain from meat. Now, I know someone in our family is going to offer the girl a chicken bone or something, and while I'm not totally fine with that I don't think I'm inclined to freak out about it either. But as far as everyday living is concerned, I do want my daughter's diet to be vegetarian. With all the hormones they pump into food these days, I'm really not trying to buy my child's first training bra when she's 5 years old! My husband is a meat-eater and is concerned about Layla's protein intake. Honestly, I am, too. Like I said, I wasn't raised vegetarian so I don't know what it's like to feed a small child vegetarian food when they are already notoriously finicky at that age. Getting them to eat balanced meals is difficult enough without dietary restrictions.

I looked to her pediatrician for advice on the subject. Firstly, I'd hoped she'd validate my wishes for Layla's diet and allay the fears of other family members concerned about proper nutrition. Secondly, I needed some direction on what foods to introduce and when. She was so reassuring and totally supportive of this choice. She said that we already consume too much animal protein as it is and gave serving suggestions, like cooking beans a little longer than normal so that the skins are softened and easier for Layla to chew. She said soy was okay, but to introduce it over a period of a couple of days to make sure Layla isn't allergic. Nuts are a no-go until she's a year old, and after that we can give her soy, almond, or rice milk. I feel really blessed to have such a supportive pediatrician for Layla.

I know there are people all over the world who raise vegetarian children. But it's not entirely easy when everyone -- and I mean EVERYONE -- around you eats meat and feeds it to their kids. I imagine we'll have to endure questions about how we feed her and if we're giving her all that she needs. But she's perfectly healthy and incredibly smart, so I'm expecting that her development will speak for itself.