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Cloth diaper love!

Having only been at this for a couple months, I am far from the definitive voice on cloth diapering advice :). There are plenty of other blogs for that! Really, I just love my cloth diapers so much I feel the need to rave about them.

We used disposables for the first few weeks, and after one very unfortunate public poopsplosion incident, we finally switched over and have never looked back. We like them so much that we lugged our entire stash with us to the beach last week instead of just a few small compact packages of disposables. Here is why:

1. They don’t leak. Maybe it was just the brand of disposable diapers we were using, but I never met one that didn’t leak. Haven’t had a single problem with our cloth diapers!

2. For some reason, in our house, running errands — especially to big box stores– is the bane of our existence. I just KNOW that if we used disposables, we’d find ourselves having to do emergency Target runs at 9pm on a Sunday. I like that with cloth diapers, I am always just a laundry load away from a replenished stash. Plus, I figure I have to wash his clothes less anyway since we don’t have to deal with leaks.

3. They don’t smell (yet) and when I am tired of having a nasty pail of dirty diapers sitting around, I don’t have to wait for trash day…they can just be dumped in the wash.

4. The environmental benefits may be debatable, but it is nice to know they’re not ending up in a landfill any time soon.

5. Cost! This is a huge one for me. I have spent about $200 on our entire stash. I have a few more of the expensive kind that I received at my shower or that I bought for fun but don’t really need to have in my regular rotation. As he grows out of our current stash I will need to buy larger sizes again, but there is also a large market to buy and sell used diapers, so you can recoup some of your cost. I love not having to spend money on diapers every week.

6. No gross chemicals or plasticky feeling against baby’s skin. I really didn’t like how the disposables would adhere to his skin, and also just get all bloated and fall apart when full.

An extra load or two of laundry a week is much preferable to us over buying diapers, but of course others may feel differently. It just depends on your chore preference, I guess!  Also, breast milk diapers are super easy because they can go directly in the wash. Once he starts eating food, I will have to dispose of the solids in the toilet some how, which of course adds an extra layer of complication. But for now I really feel that cloth diapers are much easier and cleaner than disposables!

Here is what we have in our stash:

Prefolds

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These are the old-fashioned kind of diapers your parents or grandparents probably used. They are just a rectangular piece of absorbent cotton, with a waterproof cover you snap on top. With a cover, you technically don’t need to fasten them together first but I find it much easier to secure the diaper with a snappi (no pins needed!). We have 30 in our stash plus 4 covers and that is about enough to get us through 3 days without washing (though I usually do a load every other day as the pail gets full!).
Pros: Very affordable — each diaper is maybe $1-$3. Low maintenance — the prefolds are not as finicky about detergents, rash creams, or line drying — just wash and go. They also don’t get an ammonia smell the way the microfiber does on my other diapers.
Cons: A few extra steps to getting these diapers on — easy, but not as easy as a disposable or pocket/AIO. You have to buy multiple sizes. You have to actually touch the wet diaper during changes.

Pocket diapers

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These diapers have a “pocket” that holds an absorbent insert.
Pros: Adjustable, one-size diaper that can theoretically work from newborn through potty training. Snaps or velcroes on, mimicking the ease of a disposal. You can adjust the absorbency for daytime or overnight. Fleecy lining stays dry to the touch, also like a disposable.
Cons: Some find stuffing the pocket to be an annoying extra step. You can’t use conventional rash creams or detergent with microfiber. “One size” may not work out that way in reality.  More expensive.

All-in-one diapers

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Often abbreviated AIO. Like pocket diapers, the cover and absorbent part are integrated, making these most similar to disposables. Unlike pockets, the absorbent layer is sewn in so you don’t have to remove or stuff any inserts.

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Pros: it doesn’t get any easier! Truly just snap and go.
Cons: Many are not one size, though the BumGenius Freetimes I have are. Again, you have to be careful with washing and rash creams. The absorbency is not really adjustable, so they may not work overnight for everyone.  Expensive, especially if you have to buy more than one size.

There are SO many different kinds of cloth diapers, and so many brands on top of that — all the choices can get overwhelming!  I like the simplicity and low cost of prefolds, but it can be hard to resist adding more “modern” cloth diapers to my stash here and there!  Do you use cloth diapers?  What is your favorite system?

-R

Updates

Posting from my phone, seems like that’s all I have time for these days! So excuse the brevity, typos and poor iPhone photos :).

Okay, I know I said I’d update this blog at least once a week, and clearly I have failed on that count. We have been devoting nearly all of our free time to preparing the house for our new arrival in just an estimated 10 weeks!

New bathroom:

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Some new and old windows:

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Plus tons of painting, patching, stripping, electrical and miscellaneous sprucing up.

And of course, when you start opening up walls you inevitably discover more projects. Turns out our simple electrical job is not so simple and the house needs significant re-wiring!

But we are incredibly lucky to have such wonderful families who have devoted a sizable amount of assistance and sweat equity in this journey! I really don’t know where we’d be without them. SOL for sure! So perhaps I’ll run out of time before I have a chance to DIY a pinterest-worthy nursery. But you learn there are more important things. It really takes a village, and we are so lucky that this baby will be welcomed into his or hers with so much love.

So that is where I’ve been. When I have a chance to breathe, I’ll post about our bathroom, refurbishing the windows, and all our other adventures. Stay tuned!

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Windows and doors: soul of a building

Becoming the 5th owners of a nearly century-old house with a few years of neglect has been a blessing and a curse.  Nothing more exemplifies this dichotomy than the doors and windows of the house.

They are (okay, were) all original.  All 100% wood and glass.  All coated on the outside with chipping lead paint.  And all in various states of disrepair.

When you get into a situation like this, it is tempting to rip it all out and throw in the cheapest option.

But I truly feel like becoming the owner of a 90+ year old house is a commitment to its preservation.  I really believe that the concept that we should not invest in our own homes, that we should spend as little as possible, that we should only consider how to short change the next potential owner to maximize the return on our dollar rather than consider what is best for the house, for ourselves, is part of what got us into this housing market mess in the first place.  A house is a financial investment, and a big one at that, but should we really go about our lives thinking only of our immediate returns?  A house is so much more than that.  It is also a home.

All that, plus you know, I really hate vinyl.

Windows and doors, perhaps more than any other architectural feature, say a lot about a building.  You can tell so much about a house immediately simply by standing on the curb and examining the detailing and symmetry of the windows and doors.  Here is a website with lots of photos that explains it quite well.  Different historic periods had very specific ways of conveying the aesthetic of the day through the doors and windows.  On my morning commute through a few distinctive neighborhoods of DC, I love looking at the beautiful detailing and originality of the windows on the Victorian row houses.  And you can immediately tell when they’ve been replaced cheaply.  They simply don’t make ‘em like they used to.  I mean, you’d never see a lovely stained glass transom light above the door of your average house built today.  People simply don’t build pretty things anymore.  They build cheap things.

Vinyl windows don’t have a very long lifespan.  They warp and generally need to be replaced after 20-30 years where they end up in a landfill.   They cannot be repaired.    They are quite ugly.  Their one claim to fame, their energy efficiency, is kind of diminished when you consider that they ultimately warp and bend out of shape.  And it is the opinion of many preservationists that a properly maintained, properly working wood window is not substantially less energy efficient than modern windows.

As for my improperly maintained wood windows?  I can attest that these are less energy efficient, ha.  But with adequate weatherstripping and those optically clear plastic sheets you hang over them with a hair dryer, you can gain a big improvement and reduce a lot of draftiness.

Here is one of the prettier casement windows in my house:.

Another one, plus a sleepy cat who thinks he’s now mantle decor?

Now, there are a few windows on the sides of the house, toward the rear, that we have absolutely replaced with cheap vinyl windows.  We also had the lead-painted trim wrapped in aluminum.  These were a little more urgent and a clear safety hazard (one was in our kitchen, one was preventing AC in our bedroom!).  And in the rear-side of a house, where it can’t be seen from the street, it’s not as critical to preserve its history.

But there are a few beautiful windows in the front that we so far just can’t bring ourselves to destroy.  And the door.  We NEEDED a new door!

Windows are very much one thing, but when you go through a doorway every day, it gets a lot of wear and tear.  I think if we really wanted to, we probably could have stripped and sanded and reglazed the glass on this door, but it was ultimately too much work for an old and flimsy door that really needed replacement.

Here it sits on our front porch waiting to be taken to Community Forklift where someone will hopefully upcycle it into something creative and pin it on pinterest.

It still even had the original doorknob with old-timey lever lock keyhole  (We switched out the knob with a cheap replacement as a temporary solution when it broke).

This historic door could not be replaced by just any door.  We wanted something that matched the historic feel and character of our home.

Our contractor and some of our friends/family were SHOCKED that we were not getting some sturdy, nondescript and cheap fiberglass door.  They also were taken aback by our choice of a door that had a similar lite (glass pane) pattern.  WON’T KIDS THROW ROCKS AT IT, BUGLERS BUST THROUGH IT, ETC ETC?! Um, well they haven’t in 90 years.  And if children really wanted to throw rocks at glass, everyone may as well get rid of their windows too.  Why is it so weird to have glass on a door these days?

Anyway.  We picked out a door from Simpson with traditional Arts & Crafts styling made of ash and stained.

If you would like a wood entry door, it is important that it is in a covered location and that you choose an appropriate species of wood.  It’s a good idea to have a storm door too.  That part is still on our To Do list.

But it’s a beautiful door, no?

We also ordered some period-appropriate hardware.

It is also incredibly sturdy, energy efficient, and should last this house at least another century.

Repairing the old windows is our next project.  Stay tuned!

-R