Monday, January 31, 2011

Da-da

We were having dinner at a friend's house a couple weeks ago (Thanks again Willeke!) and Kaleb decided to say "dada" for the first time. Of course he doesn't know what he is saying as he is just practicing sounds, but it is still so sweet! Please excuse the poor video quality, but I wasn't working with much lighting. :)

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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Cloth Diaper Review

I have been asked multiple times about my opinion on our cloth diapers and have shelled out my reviews many times as well, so when a friend recently asked for some advice I decided it was time to write down the information I have in one place so I can continue to refer to it in the future.

We decided to try cloth diapers before Kaleb was born, see this post for the reason as to why we went this route. Our Decision to Cloth Diaper

Now that we have been doing cloth diapers for six months are we still glad we made the initial investment? ABSOLUTELY! We have used disposables here and there, mainly for traveling, and I can never wait to get Kaleb back into his cloth "dipes." I like them that much. Following you will find some questions and answers based on our experience. Please leave a comment with additional questions. Do you already use cloth dipes? Please share your advice!

What about the laundry? Aren't you already doing enough?

Really, the extra laundry doesn't bother me. I am already doing more laundry than I have ever done in my life, so what is one extra load? (Spit-up not only requires the baby's clothes to be changed, but often mine as well!) We generally do a load every other night, and yes... John does help with them which I do appreciate.

What about the Poo?

If you are exclusively breastfeeding that the poo issue really isn't an issue at all. Just throw your diapers into a wet bag and wash later when you have enough for a load. Throw your diapers and bag into the washing machine and do a cold rinse cycle to get rid of all the "yuck" and then do a HOT cycle to wash. (Some also do an additional rinse cycle afterward, we haven't done so and haven't had a problem with build-up or anything. Some also do a cold wash cycle before hand instead of a cold rinse.)

Now that our little one is six months and eating solid foods the ball game has changed a bit, unfortunately! We use liners and toss them in the toilet if he has a poopy diaper. Another option is a diaper sprayer or the good ol' rinse and dunk method, but I would personally prefer not to resort to that one. ;)

Of course liners do add an additional expense to cloth diapering, but I find it worth it. And, once your baby starts pooping on more of a regular schedule you will know when you need to add a liner and when you can probably skip it. 

We have liked the Imse Vimse flushable liners but the next ones I try will be the ones from Bumkins as I have read good reviews on them as well and from my understanding more cloth like. 


What type of detergent do you use?

We use Charlie's Soap and buy it off Amazon. It is eligible for free super saver shipping (Or free prime shipping if you are on Amazon mom!) We only have to use 1/4 of a Tablespoon for our energy efficient washing machine here in Europe (making it only 3 cents a load!) and only 1/2 a Tablespoon with our regular machine in the States. Because it requires so little I can bring it to Europe with me and not have to worry about finding something eco-friendly and safe for cloth dipes over here.

We have also used Rockin' Green which comes in all sorts of fun scents. It does the trick as well, but is more expensive than Charlie's and you have to use more which doesn't make it very travel friendly.

Also, here is a great link that reviews detergents for cloth diapers.

What are "Wet Bags" and which ones do you use?

We have a couple different sized Planetwise wet bags which I really like thus far; they contain the smell have held up well. I would actually recommend these to any one with little ones, they are great to keep in the diaper bag as well in case a change of clothes is needed. :)

What about the wipes? 

When I tell people I use cloth wipes as well they look at me like I have really gone off the deep end, but it just makes sense to me. Why use a disposable and then have to go throw it in the trash can when I can use a cloth one and throw it in the diaper and into the wet bag?

I have only used the Bumgenius Flannel Wipes, but I have also read of moms making their own or even using cheap little washcloths as well. Many of the popular diaper brands make their own version of wipes as well.


There are multiple types of wipe solutions on the market, but we have used BabyBits and really like them. One bag of them makes a ton of solution. If you browse Etsy you will also find plenty of options.

What about diaper cream? Can I use anything?

 Actually, no. You will want to use a diaper cream that is rated as safe for cloth diapers. Apparently some leave a filmy residue on your diapers making them less absorbent. We have used California Baby and also Method. Both have worked well, but Method's version is definitely cheaper. One of the reasons we went with cloth diapers is because I read that diaper rash is less common. I will say that Kaleb hasn't gotten it often, and I think the times he has gotten it has more to do with my diet (citrus foods, etc.) than anything else. 

Enough with all the extras, what about the diapers themselves?

Newborn:

When Kaleb was itty bitty we used both Kissaluvs Fitted Diapers Size 0 with XS Thirstie Covers and Bumgenius fitted diapers in XS.

I read plenty of reviews that said Kissaluvs work great for newborn poo. We never had a problem with blowouts which meant no stained clothes! Both the Kissaluvs and the Thirstie x-small covers had cutouts for the umbilical cord, so I didn't have to worry about Kaleb's diapers rubbing his little belly button while it was healing.

We also read that the Bumgenius fitted diapers worked well for others, so we tried both. If I were to do it all over again, I would have only purchased the Bumgenius ones. I loved how they fit and it was one less step than the fitted diapers with a cover. In those early days, when sleep is rare, every minute saved is appreciated!

That being said, many parents decide to just do disposables in the beginning until their little ones are big enough to fit in one size fits all diapers. For us, it wasn't terribly long until Kaleb fit into those, but I am still glad we did cloth in the beginning and we will use those diapers for our next babies anyway.

10-12+ Pounds:

Each diaper company is slightly different, but most of the one sized diapers fit at around 10-12 pounds. One sized diapers grow with your baby making them a very cost efficient option. We tried various different kinds as I wanted to know what would work the best for us. To be honest, they all work just fine... but I do find myself grabbing for certain ones first.

Bumgenius Organic:

This one is probably the one I always look for first. There aren't any inserts, so no stuffing is required! This also means that you don't have to take the insert out upon washing. (Side note: When in Europe I don't take out the inserts first, our front loading washing machine spins around enough that they come out on their own!) I also like the snaps on this diaper as you don't have to worry about the velcro getting worn out. I also prefer the snaps on these to the snaps on the FuzziBunz, there is more stretch and less snaps! I would not recommend this as a night time diaper.

Bumgenius Fitted:

I believe these are being discontinued in the larger sizes, but I happened to buy one and I love it! They are trimmer than the one sized diapers and fit great. I believe they are currently on sale at Cottonbabies for only 9.95. The only caveat of these is that you have to continue buying diapers as your baby grows, but Kaleb is wearing the medium right now and I imagine that he would continue to wear the same size for quite some time as his body shape will probably change as he begins to crawl.

Bumgenius 4.0

I actually have these in the 3.0 version (4.0 was not yet out), but I wish I had all of mine in the 4.0 version! They now offer these diapers with snaps. Had I to build my collection from scratch right now, this is exactly what I would purchase. I love that you can stuff them for nighttime use, that they grow with your baby, and the snaps don't wear out. I would not hesitate to recommend these to anyone.


FuzziBunz

The nice thing about FuzziBunz is that you are able to adjust the gussets with elastic to fit your baby. While this is a nice feature, I also find it to be a bit of a pain. My Bumgenius diapers fit around Kaleb's thighs just fine. Then again he is a rather chunky baby... so if you have a slimmer baby this might be more of a selling point. I just prefer the Bumgenius ones because I don't have to mess with changing the elastic! The FuzziBunz have a total of six snaps whereas the new Bumgenius 4.0s have a total of four snaps. Really it is a matter of personal preference as I know others who use the FuzziBunz and love them.

We have also used the Flips and Goodmamas but prefer the ones listed above. I do really like the Flip covers though and actually even use them over disposables when we are traveling... no worry blow outs on the airplane!!! Also, for cloth diapering on a budget the Flips would be a good option, I only feel they are a hassle with poopy diapers. Others prefer them though, especially if you find yourself having to take out inserts before throwing them in the wash. I do like the organic version better than the regular one.

How many diapers do I need to buy?

Just count how many diapers you go through in a day and go from there. We have enough now to do laundry every other day. I wouldn't want to let it sit longer than that anyway, so I don't see the need in having more than that. You could definitely do laundry every day (we did when Kaleb was a newborn!) and get by with far less diapers. That being said, you will want a couple extras for those days when you forget to throw in the load on time and to account for when your diapers are actually in the wash.

Where do you do your shopping? 

Cottonbabies- This is probably my favorite site- they offer free shipping with ANY purchase! If you sign up for their e-mail newsletter you will also be the first to know about their "seconds sales" which is one way to score great deals on your dipes. I have purchased quite a few of our Bumgenius diapers this way and have never had a problem with them. 

Jillian's Drawers- Great "gently used" program. We bought most of our newborn diapers this way to save money and then "stripped" them. (Basically using a special detergent on them and then rinsing them until you don't see any more suds.) I also purchased our baby bits wipe solution through this company. And, be sure to sign up for their e-mail as well, they are informative and you'll be first to know about their upcoming sales.

Amazon- I use Amazon for most of the extras as I find they usually have good prices and fast, easy shipping!

Also be sure to do a google search at time of purchasing your diapers. I was able to find a deal for 25% off diapers at the time I purchased my FuzziBunz which resulted in a great deal... I don't like to pay full price for anything, let alone diapers!

Just a warning, cloth diapering can get a bit addicting! I love all the fun colors and designs available. I just have to remind myself that one of the reasons I am doing this is to SAVE money, not to spend it... even if it is a good deal! Cloth diapering is great for baby, great for the environment, and great on the pocketbook. What is there not to love? Really, it is easy peasy. If I can do it, trust me when I say... so can you!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Christmas 2010

If I had to rank Christmases past, this most recent one would be at the top of my list. Not only was it Kaleb's first Christmas, but it was the first time in three years that my entire immediate family had been together. The memories we made were sweet, sweet enough to get me by in the coming years when I long for us all to be together again. And the photos? Well, those help too.

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Our travels back to the States were exhausting, but oh so worth it. Sweet little Kaleb was such a trooper... even through our two hour wait to get to a hotel room in Memphis thanks to the cancellation of our original flight through Minneapolis. Thankfully our little guy can sleep still crash like this:

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Grandma came to see him the day we arrived. It brought me such joy to see the ones I love share their love with my son as well. 

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We were up pretty early each morning, trying hard to adjust to jet lag. I felt as if I had a newborn again, up every three hours in the night to eat. But those mornings, when the world was still silent and it was just Kaleb and I up in our home were precious. Our first morning we put together Kaleb's first Christmas present, a jumperoo.

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And then it was time to get the lights up on the tree. We waited for the ornaments until daddy could join us via skype.

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Not only did we get to see my immediate family, but some extended family as well. My brother arrived back in the States and a couple days later us siblings loaded up the car and headed to see our grandparents with stops to see family along the way.

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While I will cherish most of these photos and memories for years to come, the ones of Kaleb with my grandfather are perhaps the most treasured of them all. He hasn't been doing well lately and I don't know if things will ever be the same. But for the time we were there, he seemed pretty normal and for that I am thankful.

"The best thing about a picture is that it never changes, even when the people in it do." - Andy Warhol

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My uncle may be much older than me, but he is still a child at heart. Watching him interact with Kaleb was touching, but the way Kaleb looked at him was priceless. A baby, a child is not born with prejudice. There was such innocence from not only Kaleb but from my uncle as well. If only we could all see the world through their pure eyes.

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My little five month old, growing up entirely too fast.

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Then we were off to see my other grandma. She lives by herself and I often find myself wondering how lonely that must be at times. To have the opportunity to visit her right before Christmas was a gift. Of course, by the end of the evening Kaleb had decided enough was enough and threw quite a fit at dinner. Life isn't always perfect, is it?

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Even the best of plans don't always go as intended. John was to arrive on the 22nd but thanks to the storm in London, his flight with American Airlines was canceled. He was told they couldn't get him into the States until late Christmas night. Since he only had limited time at home as it was, he canceled that ticket and purchased a new one through a different airline. So, when he finally arrived home it was the best Christmas present I could have ever asked for... my little family together at last.

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Anyone with kids in a family knows how much more fun Christmas is with little ones around! It was fun to watch him try to open things, although the gift wrapping was more exciting than the present for him. I think that is how it should be, we should all learn to enjoy the simple things in life. It is easy to get wrapped up in a commercial Christmas (I for one am guilty of this as well), when in reality Jesus was born in a simple manger.

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I caught myself thinking about Mary multiple times this Christmas. Last Christmas I was able to better imagine what it was like for Gabriel to tell her she was with child. But this time, I was able to better imagine what it was like for her to make that long journey, for her to not have a place to give birth. And then... what it was like when she held Jesus for the first time. Then I would snap back into the present day, to say Kaleb was spoiled is probably an understatement. But not just spoiled with "things," but spoiled with love... which isn't a bad thing at all.

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Traditions were started and stockings were made and hung over the fireplace. We now open up new Christmas pajamas on Christmas Eve and then enjoy a quiet morning with cinnamon rolls as a family.

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However, Kaleb had to forgo the cinnamon rolls and try rice cereal instead.

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Just like this blog post is coming to an end, so did Christmas. Before we knew it we were taking daddy to the airport to say good-bye for another week.

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I am pretty sure Kaleb was sad as well.

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And then we were sending my brother off. All the anticipation, the waiting was over and all that was left were the Christmas trees still standing as a reminder of the memories that were made there. It was hard to leave, but I was also happy to return back here as well. Kaleb and I both missed John. Of course now we miss family back at home, but unfortunately we can't have it all. Maybe someday.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Kaleb's First Half-Birthday!

We are celebrating Kaleb's first half year of life today, complete with his first ever serving of veggies and lunch out at a favorite restaurant. I've said it before and I'll say it again. It seems like just yesterday that we were waking up after a stormy night with restless sleep, ready to head to the hospital to meet our little guy. Yet at the same time, I can hardly remember what life was like before him... before I heard his first cry or kissed him for the first time.

The other day I was pushing Kaleb in his stroller and listening to a sermon on being a mommy. The last time I listened to that sermon was last spring in Germany, when I was pregnant and Kaleb was still moving around in my womb. It seemed so surreal to me and I couldn't help but to be in awe of God's plan not only for my life, but for Kaleb's as well.

I'm off to check on the yams baking in the oven, waiting to be pureed for Kaleb's half-birthday luncheon. (I will be sure to get it on video!) In the meantime, here is a preview of our Christmas in the States. Oh how I love the sweet faces he makes. Happy half-Birthday Kaleb Josiah!

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Friday, January 14, 2011

Local Newspaper Article.

While it is pretty common for John to be interviewed by the media, it isn't often that a reporter sits down to ask me questions. So... the link below is one of those rare occasions you will find me in a newspaper. My favorite part? Kaleb's sweet little face, of course! I just love his little expressions.

Suikerkoekjes bakken voor Suzanne (Which I think means "Sugar Cookies baked for Suzanne." Our first "date" was baking sugar cookies for our high school girls' basketball team! I can't understand the article in its entirety because it is in Dutch, but if I get a translation of it I will pass it along.)

For those of you who don't want to bother with the article because you can't understand it anyway, I managed to cut the photograph out and post it below. (Photo taken by Pepijn van den Broeke)


I hope you are enjoying your day, wherever you may be. It is dark and gloomy here but we are enjoying lots of cuddles indoors. We are starting to wake Kaleb up to the song, "This is the day that the Lord has made" each morning and it is a good reminder for me to be thankful for each day and every moment that we have been given. Even the dark and gloomy ones. I hope that you are able to do the same.

- Suzanne

Thursday, January 13, 2011

From Holland to bella Italia to the good ol' U S of A and back.

After a wonderful three and a half weeks back at home in the States, Kaleb and I have arrived back in Groningen. Although our time home was incredibly special, by the end of our trip I was also anxious to get back to our life here in Europe. I missed John terribly (he was only home for less than a week right around Christmas.) And I must admit, I thrive on routine. I was always the one who was actually excited for school to start so that I could back into a better schedule. Also, knowing my time at home was limited, I probably wore myself a little thin trying to squeeze in everyone I wanted to see and everything I wanted to do. 

I'll save the rest of our recapture and photos for another blog post. For now, the long awaited photos of our trip to Italy! We left for Bergamo, Italy and drove up to the Como area the beginning of December. I had been to Lake Como before and was beyond excited to return. One of these days I must get John there to vacation as well... I love the area that much. It was different his time around as the weather was much colder and we even got to see snow on the ground (not exactly how I was imagining a trip to Italy!) But, the view was still breathtakingly beautiful.

Downtown Como by night with lights already up for Christmas.
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Our dependable method of transportation from the airport to our hotel and back!
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Snug as a bug in a rug. :)
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I love fruit stands anywhere in the world... but everything just seems better in Italy.
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Cured hams and cheeses. Although I found the meat a bit disturbing, the cheeses did look delicious. Although frankly, my favorite part about this photo is probably the sign. I find Italian to be ever so romantic.
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These delicacies were more up my alley.
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Marzipan anyone?
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Kaleb's first trip to Italy... I think he fell in love too. :)
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Kaleb's first boat trip too! I took a video so "daddy" could watch it later since he missed out.
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Oh Como, I miss that place already. Someday I hope to return for a relaxing getaway at a hotel right on the lake. Until that day, I will relive my memories through my photos. :)