Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Cloth Diapering, 5 Years In

As I stuffed our cloth diapers the other night, I was thinking to myself, 'I have been cloth diapering non stop for 5 years!'. And 18 of those months were with two babies in cloth diapers. That is a lot of poop, a lot of laundry, and a lot of cute fluffy bums. It's funny now that my youngest is almost 2, I feel so out of the loop on baby stuff. There are new gadgets, toys, and must haves, and those newborn days feel like eons ago so I have a hard time making recommendations to new mamas anymore. I am in the thick of toddler tantrums and preschool attitudes so I am your girl if you need encouragement there! Diapers are the one thing that I feel very versed on. The thought of not having anyone in diapers in the next 6 months (pleaseeee potty train easy Gideon!) is beyond me. I am sure we will potty train Gideon and decide it's time for another booty to wipe. SO. The point of this post is to tell you how the last 5 years have gone, what I've learned, what products I use, and how EASY cloth diapering can be.

Ford- 3 months old 

Lucy- 21 months old, Gideon- 3 months old



WHY CLOTH DIAPER
I am not a crunchy mama on today's standards but I do like trying natural approaches in addition to modern. There are a ton of reasons why cloth diapering is so great but I can't really give you one simple reason why we do. It saves a ton of money, it is better for the environment,  it is better for your baby's bottom (my kids have only had diaper rashes when they are on medication or in disposables/traveling), and cloth diapered babies often potty train earlier . Those are all awesome reasons but I just wanted to do it. It felt like a challenge that I wanted to face and when Jon said he was on board, I was all in. We started with our first baby so we don't know any different but we LOVE it. 5 years in and we still talk about how easy it is and how cute our kids look in the diapers. Hey... no one ever said "how cute is that baby running around in a soggy Huggies diaper!" but have you seen my babes in cloth?! Did you also know that they can double as swim diapers? We have a few Charlie Banana reusable swim diapers but our Bum Genius diapers have been swam in a ton of times!

PRODUCTS WE USE
Bum Genius 4.0 One Size Pocket Diapers
It looks like there is now a 5.0 edition but we have about 35 of the 4.0 diapers. I started out with 24 gender neutral diapers before I had Ford and that was plenty for one baby in diapers. I could have easily gotten away with 18-20 diapers but I wanted extras. I added 10-12 pink and purple diapers when Lucy was born because I couldn't help myself with the colors! I assumed we would have 2 in diapers with the 2 of them but Ford potty trained when Lucy was about a month old. I chose Bum Genius after reading reviews, blogs, and recommendations from other mamas. I've tried almost every style of cloth diaper and have gotten rid of everything but Bum Genius pockets. They are so easy to use and wash (more on that below) and they also look/work similarly to a disposable diaper (which is nice because we have a lot of babysitters/childcare at church/etc changing diapers).

Step Trash Can
We use a large white Sterlite trash can with a step lid as a diaper pail liner. I started out with a cute tin trash can from IKEA but had to get something bigger eventually. I keep it in a corner of the kids bathroom.

Cloth Diaper Pail Liner
We have 2 of these liners, one in use, one in the wash or backup. I wash diapers every 3 days (more below) and I was the liner with the diapers each time. There are many brands, I recommend reading reviews.

Diaper Sprayer
We are on our 2nd diaper sprayer in 5 years. Something broke/happened to our first one when we moved so we got a Bumkins one, highly rated on Amazon. I have it hooked up to the toilet in the kids bathroom and the diaper pail is nearby.

Wet Bag
We have 2 Itzy Ritzy wet bags. Like the liners, I keep a clean one in my diaper bag and then one for backup. I use the backup one a lot in the summer for swimsuits. We exclusively cloth diaper (as opposed to people only doing it when they are home) so I throw wet/dirty diapers in my wet bag and into my diaper bag when I am out and about. When I get home, I take them upstairs and put wet ones into the pail or spray dirty ones.

Coconut Oil
You cannot use traditional diaper rash ointment with cloth diapers because it ruins the absorbency of the insert. I keep a small mason jar of coconut oil on our changing table and use it at every change. Our kids have had very few rashes (usually when they are sick or on an antibiotic) and if it is bad, we will switch to disposables for a few days and use Dr. Smiths.

Drying Rack
We use this accordion drying rack to dry both the inserts and diaper shells. It stays in the closet next to our laundry room, more info on that below.

HOW TO CLOTH DIAPER
Cloth diapering isn't any harder than using disposables, it is just a tiny bit more work. Our diapers are one size and have adjustable snaps so your baby can wear them from 8lbs to potty trained. We started all of our babies in cloth diapers at 6 weeks old, after the continuous poops subside a bit! We cloth diaper exclusively and aren't scared to change cloth diapers in public. I change them just like you'd change a disposable but I put it in my wet bag when we are done. I empty the wet bag when we get home (usually 1-2 diapers because we aren't gone for more than 4 ish hours at a time, more diapers when they are younger). My biggest recommendation for cloth diapers is to change more often. It takes a while to figure out the correct snap sizes for your kiddos and since they are always growing and gaining weight, they can leak if you aren't making adjustments. Gideon is almost 2 so not peeing that much (and he pees on the potty throughout the day), but as babies, I changed my babies every 2 ish hours when we were home just to be safe. The boys were both heavy wetters so we used/use disposable overnight diapers (Target brand) after not being able to find a good cloth solution. The kids all slept 12 hours at 6 months so that is essentially being in a diaper for 13 hours, hard not to leak out!  When we travel, we use Target brand disposable diapers. We also keep a package or two on hand just in case. Gideon has to wear disposable diapers to Mother's Day Out (he just started last month) and uses about 4 a week. I put him in a cloth diaper right when we get home.

So.... you change the diaper, you remove the insert, and put it into the diaper pail. If the diaper is dirty, you spray it out in the toilet and put it into the pail.

WASH ROUTINE
I wash diapers every 3 days, sometimes 4 days now that Gideon doesn't use that many. When Lucy and Gideon were both in cloth, there were days where we went through so many diapers with blowouts so I washed more frequently. When I am ready to wash, I grab the pail liner and call it my Santa Sack, ha! I dump everything directly into the washer (remember, the poop has been sprayed into the toilet already so there isn't any solid waste in your washer). I add about 3/4 cup vinegar (I eyeball it so that is a guess), and put 1 TBSP Purex Free and Clear into my detergent dispenser. I did a lot of research on detergent and Purex is the only "normal" brand you can use on cloth diapers (versus cloth diaper specific brands that are incredibly expensive). It is important to use specific detergent because most mainstream detergents can strip your diapers of their absorbency. I switched over to using Purex Free and Clear on all of our laundry, easy easy! I wash everything on COLD and do a custom cycle. COLD RINSE, COLD WASH, COLD RINSE. Okay I lie, I don't do the last cold rinse anymore. I used to at the beginning of our cloth diapering days but my current routine is cold rinse then cold wash and it is done in an hour. Once they are done, I hang everything on an accordion drying rack. You can dry the inserts in the dryer but not the diaper shells, heat causes them to lose their elasticity. I use Grovia Mighty Bubbles on my diapers every few months to strip them of any build up or ammonia smell. They are tablets and really easy to use in your washing machine. I didn't start using these until after I had two in cloth but I recommend using them proactively. Once my diapers are dry (usually less than 24 hours), I load them up into my Santa Sack (also hang dry), and bring them upstairs to stuff. I can stuff 20 diapers in about 5 minutes and either do it in my room catching up on Jimmy Fallon or my audiobook, or in the playroom while the kids run around. We have a big wrought iron basket by Gideon's changing table that I keep the fresh diapers in.

TIPS AND TRICKS
  • I put a few drops of Young Living's Purification Essential Oil on a cotton ball and put it in the bottom of the diaper pail. It helps with the pee smell.
  • Every time I take the big bag of diapers out of the can to wash, I spray Thieves cleaner inside the can and on the outside too. I've always been terrified of Pink Eye and I know you catch it from fecal matter. It gets me in the cleaning mood and I usually spray the toilet seat, handle, diaper sprayer, and doorknobs in the bathroom while I am at it. 
Have additional cloth diaper questions? Send me an email



Wednesday, September 26, 2018

My Canvas Picture Wall




Ever since Ford was born 5 years ago (what?!), I've been printing photos on photo canvases with the vision of having an entire wall in our home with canvases of our family as it grows. I envision a wall without an inch of free space because there are photos of tiny babies, family vacations, Christmas card photo shoots where behind the smiles are 10 pieces of bribed candy, and kids who are growing at an exponential rate each year. We've had our family picture taken twice in the past year, once for Christmas cards and once for our church to spotlight our adoption story, and I haven't printed out any of the pictures yet. Knowing we have Christmas card pictures in a few weeks (how is it almost October?!), I knew it was time to order last year's canvas! I ordered two canvases from Collage.com and I can't tell you how satisfied I am with the quality! The canvases themselves are thick and sturdy, unlike some others that I've ordered elsewhere that are ridiculously flimsy. The colors are bold and bright and the picture is perfectly clear. I was shocked that the canvas came with hanging hardware already installed, I've always had to take them to a frame shop to get wires installed to hang. And let me tell you about order them for a quick second. It was easy-peasy and took me less than 5 minutes to upload my photo, choose my sizes, and complete my order. My order was to my house in less than a week! I highly recommend using Collage.com and they are constantly running killer sales! Right now everything is 50% off using the code FALL50. 

Here is a sneak peek at my canvas wall. 5 years down and lots more pictures to go!





Monday, April 30, 2018

1.5 Years Post Adoption FAQ

Gideon Aaron Hart
Born 11/7/2016
Placed with us 11/15/2016
Adoption Finalized 5/23/2017

A few times a month I receive messages through Instagram or email asking about our adoption. I get so excited to hear of people starting the process and looking for encouragement and advice and love sharing the story of our adoption. Many people ask the same questions.... agencies, cost, emotions, type of adoption... and I've been wanting to compile all of that info in one space. If you're a mama, you know how that goes... you have an idea in your head and it takes months to execute. I wrote a blog post here, right after we announced we were adoption that answers the questions:

  • Why are you adopting?
  • What type of adoption?
  • What is a home study?
  • What agency are you using and why?
  • How long does it take to be matched?
  • A little bit about open adoption. 
So if you are looking for that information, please click over to that post! Today I want to answer some questions about our specific experience in adoption and post. If you have additional questions, please email me at ruthiehart1@gmail.com

Agency
I talked more about how we chose to work with Christian Adoption Consultants in my previous post, and now post adoption, I couldn't imagine walking through it without them. Susan VanSyckle was our consultant, she was amazing every step of the way. Not just her work before and during our adoption, but she has created a private group for her clients that provides the deepest and most incredible support and encouragement. Adoption doesn't end with you bringing home a baby. There are challenges and obstacles that families made only of biological children will never face. There is sadness and brokenness that comes with adoption, and walking through it with other families going through the same thing is really beautiful. Our first match was through Adoption Choices of Nevada and when that match failed (more below), we went to the top of their matching list and matched with Gideon a few days later. CAC only works with "Adoption Friendly States". You can adopt in all states but "adoption friendly" means that once birth mom relinquishes her rights 48-72 hours after birth, they are irrevocable. 

Failed Adoption
If you've been reading my blog for a while, you would know that we were matched with a sweet birth mama for 4 months and thought we were going to be welcoming another daughter into our family. The baby girl was born, beautiful and healthy, and mama chose to parent her. As much as it broke our hearts, we were also filled with so much joy. Baby girl would not have to experience the trauma of leaving her mama. She was never ours to begin with. We have full peace with what happened, especially knowing that this was the road that led us to Gideon, who was always meant to be our son. 

Stork Drop
Gideon was known as a stork drop. His birth mama had been working with Adoption Choices of Nevada for a few weeks before he was born but didn't have the chance to match with a family before he was born. We got the call about a baby boy born on 11/7/2016 on 11/8. He was not even 24 hours old and our social worker sent us his picture. We prayed and knew that presenting our profile book to this mama was the next step in our journey. It was only 4 days after we found out we weren't going to bringing home baby girl, but it just felt right. We laughed at the thought of having a son, bringing him home to his beautiful pink nursery upstairs. We FaceTimed with Gideon's first mama on 11/9, she chose us on 11/10, and relinquished her parental rights on 11/11. We flew to Las Vegas that evening and met our son the next day, 11/12/2016.

Naming Your Child
We named Gideon and you can read about how we chose it here. Gideon's first mom named him Aaron Royal and that was listed on his original birth certificate along with her last name (more on his amended birth certificate in the finalization paragraph). When we signed placement paperwork, we had to declare what we wanted his name to be changed to. We kept his first name Aaron as his middle name. Many adoptive families use parts of the name given by the birth family or collaborate on a name. But as the adoptive family, you get to name the child whatever you'd like. His legal name post finalization is Gideon Aaron Hart and that is on his birth certificate and social security card. 

Cost of Adoption
The most common question I get is "how much does adoption cost?". I can only speak on behalf of our adoption which was on the expensive side, but there are cheaper agencies. Private adoption is expensive and I often hear people say "it should be cheaper so more people can do it!". And that is a double edge sword because yes I wish it was more affordable so more people could adopt, but once you adopt, you realize why it is so expensive. There are so many people working day and night to care for these expectant mamas, counseling them, taking them to their appointments, holding their hands as they give birth. There are social workers, lawyers, case workers. So when it comes down to it, they are making very little money and working very long hours. Sorry I am getting off on a tangent but post adoption, I now know why adoption is so expensive and I am not angered by it. Using CAC was more expensive, but we felt God pointing us to them every step of the way. We knew He would provide for what He called us to. Our package with CAC was $2,300 and we spent another $1,500 on our home study (look at this post for more info on a home study).  When we matched for the first time, the entire cost was due within 2 weeks and it was $40,000. We "lost" $16,000 in our failed match and we have full peace in that. That money is not ours to begin with. God used it to care for that mama and her family for 4 months. When we matched with Gideon, we had a balance of $24,000 in our account with Adoption Choices of Nevada and we owed another $10,000 to complete his adoption. We hired a lawyer who works directly with our agency for finalization which was $300. On top of those expenses was travel. We love flying Southwest because you can cancel/change your flights up to 30 minutes before your flight which was very helpful with adoption! Since we booked last minute to go to Vegas, flights were expensive, I think around $500 a piece one way. When you adopt out of state, legal paperwork must be filed between states (called ICPC) and you must remain in the adopting state until you are cleared, anywhere from 7-10 business days. Both of us had to be there at placement but only one of us had to stay through ICPC so we booked Jon a return flight, coming home 1.5 weeks later, and planned on me staying to wait for clearance. His flight was cheaper, but still not that cheap. I got a call a few days after Jon left and was on a plane 2 hours later. Needless to say, that was an expensive flight ($600) but well worth it! We were cleared to go home the day before Thanksgiving, praise the Lord! While in Vegas, we stayed with one of my best friend's Katie, which was absolutely amazing! It also saved us probably $2-3k of housing costs. Most people adopting in other states stay in AirBNBs or with friends when possible! I may be forgetting a few little expenses but my rough estimate is $55,000. Again, our adoption was on the expensive side. You can adopt from an agency in your state and that is often times a lot cheaper, and you don't have to pay for travel. 

Paying For Adoption
We had our first conversation about adoption in October 2012 and started saving for it then. We didn't adopt Gideon until 4 years later and paid for our adoption in cash. Many people raise money for their adoptions through garage sales, MLM parties, t shirt sales, and more. There are also a lot of grants available to adoptive families but I don't have experience with those. Again, I truly believe God will provide for what He calls you to. This doesn't mean $50k will show up on your door step but He will make a way. 

Open/Closed Adoption
Gideon's story is one that we keep within our family. It is his story to tell if and when he would like to. So questions regarding his specific first mom and why she placed him for adoption go unanswered. 70% of adoptions are open and I love how far the world has come in normalizing and removing the shame and stigma of adoption. We have a semi open adoption where we sent pictures and videos and updates to Gideon's first mama but we haven't seen her since we said goodbye in Vegas. We are praying we get to visit with her soon. 

Finalizing Adoption
Once Gideon was placed with us, we were his parents. This part gets a little bit confusing but basically we had physical custody of Gideon for the first 6 months but the agency had legal custody. He had our last name, he was covered under our insurance, he was our son. Each state has different finalization requirements but our social worker had to visit us once a month, 6 times, before finalization. Seems silly since we had already done so much work on our home study but that is the rule! We really enjoyed our meetings with her because we talked about our unique situation, how to talk to our kids about adoption as they got older, and she just got to know our family more. We also had to get medical forms filled out by his pediatrician at his well checks and submit those to our lawyer in Las Vegas. A month before we finalized, our lawyer called us with our court date, May 23rd, 2017. He stood in front of the judge in Carson City, NV with us on speaker phone and the whole thing took less than 3 minutes. But it was the most beautiful 3 minutes. Jon and I sobbed, standing in the same corner of his office we were in when we got the call about Gideon. This time, holding our son. A couple of weeks later we received Gideon's birth certificate listing us as his parents. This was very bittersweet. I know I am his mommy but I hurt for his first mom, seeing her name gone from his birth certificate. Again, there is sadness and grief that come with each part of adoption. From there, I was able to take his birth certificate to the Social Security Administration to get him a social security number. We got that in the mail when he was about 10 months old. 

Adopting Again
We do not feel like our family is complete at this moment but we aren't actively looking to expand it. This may be TMI but Jon got a vasectomy 2 months before Gideon was born after we both felt clear discernment that we were done having children biologically. The Lord has placed foster care on our hearts pretty strongly in the past few months and that is most likely the next step for our family We had 3 babies in 3 years and it was hard y'all! We are really enjoying our kids ages and the dynamic of our family so we are just enjoying it. Do we want a bigger family? Yes! How will it happen? We aren't sure. We want to be faithful to where God has us and obedient to what He is calling us to.

I hope this answers questions you have about adoption but if you are still left with questions, send me an email
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