Chewy or Crunchy?

Have you heard the term “crunchy mom” or “granola?”  No?  Neither did I.

That is, until I had my second child almost three years ago.  Now, if you do any of the following, you may be Crunchy…

  • Gave birth at home – BY CHOICE!
  • Homeschool your children
  • Do not vaccinate your child
  • Do not believe in circumcision
  • Eat only organic foods
  • Buy “raw milk” and own chickens
  • The thought of eating your placenta doesn’t freak you out
  • Cloth diaper your babies
  • Babywear
  • Co-Sleep or bedshare
  • Forbid T.V. or any screen time for your children

…and can name a few other things I missed!

Ok, so maybe you don’t do ALL or most of these things, but you’re keen on some of them?  Well consider yourself — Chewy!

At least, that’s what I like to call myself.  The ironic part about all of this, is that my ancestors and some of yours, have been doing these things since the beginning of time.  What we now call ‘attachment parenting,’ is what many parents in other countries do because that is what they’ve always done.

You’re your child’s best advocate!  I support YOU in your decisions.

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Black Breastfeeding Week Brunch

It’s that time again.

When I flood your timeline with photos, blog posts, and articles about Black Breastfeeding Week…and why it’s needed. If you aren’t familiar with this week, and the desperate need for it, read up on it here.

Now that that’s out the way, let’s celebrate. You see, I was hesitant to host a Black Breastfeeding Week Brunch at my home for several reasons.

Would anyone come? Would too many come, and I wouldn’t have enough room? Will they enjoy the informal get together (because I don’t have a thing planned 🤣)?

But guess what? I decided to do it. I promoted it in various spaces online, and I personally invited some friends. These ladies showed up and showed out — including some new breastfriends!

This year’s theme was #LoveOnTop, and from the Black Breastfeeding Week website, here’s why that was chosen:

“This year, we say #LoveOnTop because love encompasses everything we do as parents from breastfeeding to nurturing others. Love is also how we survive grief, overcome breastfeeding and parenting challenges and why we practice good self-care. This year we invite you, your family and your community to put Love on Top of it all!”

We couldn’t leave out an important component of the theme — remembering the babies that are no longer with us. I invited any of the moms who lost their little one, whether they made it earth side or not, to write their names on a card and light of candle in memory of them. A child is never forgotten in a mom’s heart.

Happy 1st Birthday, Son!

To my third biological child — happy birthday to you!

It’s been said that the youngest child, or the last child, is the most spoiled.  They are typically the carefree ones, the risk-taker, because parents are less cautious by the time they have their third child (or last child).  I’m not sure if any of this is true just yet (except that we are definitely less cautious this time around).  One thing I do know, is that these last 365 days of the year have been THE TOUGHEST of all my parenting days.

“Have another baby,” they said.

“He’s cute,” they tell me.

I keep telling myself, “this won’t last forever.”

Except, when this baby isn’t like the others!  You would think we would know what we’re doing by the third baby, right?  Wrong.

I honestly, BARELY REMEMBER the first four months of his life.  I, we, were in literal survival mode.  Not only did we have a 2.5 year old to care for, but for 10 weeks straight, he would literally SCREAM for hours and hours and hours…and then some more.  Nothing worked — and I’m a babywearing, breastfeeding pro!  Or so I thought!  I had the most difficult time learning (yes, learning!) to breastfeed this boy.  It was painful.  It was tiring.  It was driving my insane.  Was I really going insane?  Is this what postpartum depression feels like??  As quickly as his screaming stopped, separation anxiety kicked in and now we have a STAGE 5 CLINGER.  Eeeek!

Life was getting crazy.  Hurricanes were coming (literally)!  I was losing myself and friendships.

But…

Here we are.  An entire year around the sun.  Though it was tough, I have SO MUCH to be grateful for.  I may have lost friendships, but I’ve also gained some beautiful friendships, too (something that many mothers will tell you, is difficult to do).  I’m volunteering and working in a community that I love.  We have a beautiful family and an amazing extended family that is always around.

So yes.  Nothing lasts forever.  But for now, I’ll celebrate this little guy that has completely changed our lives — Steele Lee Roy ❤

Cloth Diapers – How To B/S/T

B/S/T * EUC * PPD * FFS * MMARO

It seems like a you need a dictionary nowadays, to decipher what all of these acronyms mean.  It was certainly overwhelming to me when I first ventured into the world of BSTing.  BSTing is simply a term used to describe the process of “buying / selling / trading.”  For many, buying cloth diapers secondhand is an excellent way to save a lot of money, while still being able to afford a particular brand or style of diapers that work for you and your family.  Some are initially turned off by it, but purchasing “preloved” diapers and sanitizing them with a 30 minute bleach soak, makes them good as new!

Like everything else, once you do it a few times, and granted you have good experiences, it gets easier and you know what to be on the lookout for.  Here are a few ways to “safely” BST…

When BUYING diapers:

  1. Ask the condition of the diapers (Excellent Used Condition / Good Used Condition).  Though the condition that is mentioned is all relative, be sure to ask the seller a few questions about it.
    • How is the PUL?
    • How are the elastics?
    • How long have you owned them?  Are you the first owner?
    • What kind of detergent do you use?
  2. Don’t be afraid to ask for a few additional pictures of the insides, if they aren’t initially posted.
  3. ONLY use a reliable payment method that offers protection for your transactions.  I personally prefer PayPal (hence the small fee you pay when you sell an item).  It’s been around awhile and as a buyer, you DO NOT need a PayPal account.  As long as you have an email address, you’ll receive an invoice / link where you can enter your debit or credit card information.

 

When SELLING diapers:

  1. Look over the condition of your diaper and try to list the description as accurately as possible.
    • EUC – Excellent Used Condition. Hardly worn, no flaws or issues, typically you’re the first owner of the diaper and can vouch for how well it’s taken care of.  Elastics are almost new.
    • GUC – Good Used Condition. Worn but still has a good amount of life left to the diapers.  PUL should still be intact with no issues.  Elastics may have lost some stretch, but still functioning well.
    • Fair / Play Condition – Used a lot, in which the elastics are stretched out or almost to the max.  The PUL may have holes or cracked, and the diaper may leak.  This diaper would be best used as a “swim diaper,” or if the PUL is functional, the buyer could replace the elastics.
  2. Provide pictures of outer, bum and inside photos.  Then, list a price and state whether the price includes shipping (PPD) or not.  PPD is the acronym for Postage Paid Domestically, meaning the seller agrees to pay for shipping as long as the buyer lives domestically.
  3. When invoicing the buyer, it’s in your best interest to provide details.  What is the name and style of the diaper? What is the condition?  Are you including any inserts? Is shipping included the in price?

**Including all details in your invoice, protects you, as a seller.  When the buyer received it, if there is an issue with “not receiving an insert,” or “not receiving a diaper as stated,” then you have some sort of proof to provide to PayPal during the dispute.  Although the buyer is responsible for reading the invoice and details / condition, they may still challenge it.

 

When TRADING diapers:

This isn’t done often, but if 2 parties would like to trade diapers, it’s best to do it as follows…

  1. Each party declares the “trade value” of their diaper.
  2. Each person invoices the other person for the amount the diaper costs (i.e. the trade value)
  3. Each person pays their invoice (even if it’s the same amount of money going back and forth)
  4. Then ship your diaper, after payment is received.

*Paying for each of your trades, protects each party, in the instance that a diaper isn’t received or it is damaged.  In that case, a claim to PayPal could be made.

Lastly, if you decide to BST your diapers locally, it’s still recommended that you follow these steps.  I’ve purchased and sold via PayPal even when purchasing or selling locally.  The good news is, odds are typically in your favor overall.  In 3.5 years of doing this, I’ve only had two “real” issue with a buyer — one was resolved directly with the buyer, and the other was resolved with PayPal.

**Diapers in the photo are from Shine Cloth**

9 Kids, Every Year.

9 Kids.

Every year, in MY zip code in South Florida, 9 kids are removed from their homes and families!*

Now.  When I moved here a little over a year ago, it was by God’s grace that we found this beautiful home and were able to afford it. Let me give you a few facts about where I live:

 

  • My City’s Median Income: $71,000+ (compared to the US’ $65,000+)
  • Unemployment Rate: 4.4% (compared to the US’s 5.2%)
  • Crime Rate: 16 (On a scale from 1 – 100, the US’s average is 31)
  • Education: 35% of Citizens hold 4-year degrees (29% of the US does)
  • Median Value of a Home: $313,000

 

I know those are just numbers, but it gives you a glimpse into my neighborhood. Like many, when we looked to buy a home, our first concern was LOCATION and SCHOOLS. My kids go to public school, and I want my home to be an investment.  Whether you agree with the public school ratings or not, living in a zone with A-rated schools, almost guarantees that your home’s value will increase over time.  It ALSO means that the cost of homes would be almost out of reach for us.

Stay with me here.

Its easy to look at our neighbors, our kid’s friends at school, the people we shop in grocery stores with, and those whom we attend church with…and think, “Wow, 9 kids will be taken from their homes before 2018 is over.”

Not to mention, less than 30 minutes from where I live, two neighboring zip codes have the highest rates of removal with over 100+ kids being removed each year.

Where will they go?? According to 4Kids — a non-profit child welfare agency, they will be placed in shelters, group homes, foster care families, and independent living homes.  They started the #CloseToHome4Kids social media Campaign, to bring light to this crisis.  Will you make a donation today?  Are you will to take the next step to fostering a child?

We did.  We are foster parents, and we’ll never regret the impact it’s made in our lives!

*According to 4Kids website.

Flats and Handwashing Challenge COMPLETED!

I did it!

Today is the last day, and I survived!  Two additional kids this year, one in diapers, and on solo parenting duty most days.

Overall, the challenge was what I expected it to be.  With the added personal challenge of only washing after work hours, that put a lot into perspective.  I’m not sure if working parents or a working single parent, would be able to cloth diaper full time without a washer and dryer.  I’d like to think it would be possible, because, after all, my mother-in-law did it (out of necessity).  Knowing that inexpensive cloth diapers options are available and could be handwashed, allows parents to make an educated decision for their families.  A back up stash of flats and diaper covers could be an option for those families who have diaper needs, even if they only used it part time…which alleviates funds for other necessities.

This was my third year that I participated, and here’s what I’ve learned:

  • If you want your kid to poop, decide to handwash for a week
  • If you want your kid to poop more than once a day, decide to handwash for a week
  • If you need rain for 7+ days in a row, decide to handwash for a week
  • Men’s cotton t-shirts work GREAT for overnight options (and don’t cut them)
  • My baby uses less diapers than I thought — approximately 6 or 7 per day (at 10 months old)
  • Don’t underestimate the power of a good soak
  • Keep your hands slathered in olive oil, gold bond, or petroleum jelly if you decide to skip the gloves to wring out your diapers

Honestly, we use Flats regularly.  I don’t mind handwashing occasionally, and will do so for my ‘pre-wash cycle’ before tossing them into my washer.

I really hope that everyone learned something this week…and if so, I’d love to hear in the comments below!

Here’s a recap of the week-long challenge:

Day 1 – What and Why?

Day 2 – My Stash / How Much?

Day 3 – Fave Fold

Day 4 – Wash Routine

Day 5 – Open Topic ~ CD Banks

Day 6 – Thumbs Up and Thumbs Down

I’m participating in the Flats and Handwashing Challenge hosted by Cloth Diaper Revival.

What’s Working Out — What’s Not?

We’re almost done with the Flats and Handwashing Challenge. It’s Day 6 and today we’re talking about what is working and what isn’t.

Since I’m up before the kids, watching The Royal Wedding right now as I type this…

This year, though I have only 1 in diapers like I did last year (but was pregnant), I have 2 additional kids than last year! I also challenged myself this year, to wash “after work hours,” to simulate what it would be like for a working mom with kids or a single, working mom with kids.

Let’s start with “what isn’t working?”

Even though my wash routine takes less than 30 minutes, I wait until after I’ve eaten dinner with the kids, after they’ve done H.W., after they’ve showered and after they’ve gone to bed. That’s somewhere between 9pm – 10pm. That would usually be the time I hurry to the shower myself and hop into bed before the baby wakes again…because, well, he never sleeps longer than 2-3 hour stretches. I won’t lie. It’s been tough and takes discipline to get up and handwash diapers at that time. Essentially, I have enough diapers that I wouldn’t have to handwash everyday, but allowing them to pile up would make the washing process longer when I got around to it. So technically, I’m making it work but I won’t lie to ya, it isn’t easy!

Time is money and money is time. You either would need the money to buy disposables or in this case, make the time to handwash cloth diapers.

What is working?

As silly as it sounds, our Flats and FSTs are working. They always have and they always will! That’s why we’ve used these diapers before the challenge and will continue after. They’re easy and cheap!

I’m participating in the Flats and Handwashing Challenge hosted by Cloth Diaper Revival

Are You Willing To Help??

It’s Day 5 of the Flats and Handwashing Challenge, and this is an “Open Topic” day.

Thank goodness, because I have A LOT to say!

The whole purpose of this Challenge was to not only show parents, that cloth diapering without a washer / dryer, is possible…but that it can be done with limited resources, including the expensive upfront costs of cloth diapering. With “budget” stashes costing $40-100, that’s still money that some do not have readily available.  So what’s the next option?  Well. Apparently there are non-profit, cloth diaper banks that will loan families a small stash to use, then return either when they’ve acquired their own stash or when their child has potty trained.  The only requirement is, usually, proof that you’re receiving some type of government aid. I’ve spent 3 years pointing families to these organizations.  I also recently found out that these organizations are turning parents away and / or making it difficult to obtain approval for a stash!!

Why?!  Here’s some of the reasons I’ve heard from parents:

  • I had twins and couldn’t afford diapers, but wasn’t approved because I (mom) wasn’t a U.S. citizen.
  • It was a lengthy application process that also wanted me to write and submit a 2 paragraph essay before considering me
  • I couldn’t apply because I couldn’t afford the $40 shipping charge for them to send me the diapers
  • They’re no longer accepting applications
  • I applied and I never heard anything back

WHAT?!?!? Soooo…they pretty much “weed out” the obvious people who are TRULY IN NEED of cloth diapers, and provide these loaner stashes to the privileged few??

GroVia, the company that moms love to buy because they’re “ethically made” (whatever that means)…well their lending program, GroVia Gives, charges families a MINIMUM of $40 to borrow the diapers, only crediting them $20 to be used to purchase their own diapers upon receiving the stash back. If a family can afford $40, I can provide them an entire stash to KEEP!

Other organizations are saying they’re no longer accepting applications because they don’t have enough diapers. But I’m confused. Because this same non-profit, flat out refuses to accept Alvas, Sunbaby Diapers, Happy Flute, or any other brands that are directly made in China ::GASP::  Apparently those diapers aren’t “deemed” safe and / or compliant, but the jeans and shoes and disposable diapers with chemicals in them, are ok to touch babies???

So what have I done to help??

For the last 2 1/2 years, I’ve personally collected and bought inexpensive cloth diapers, sanitized them, and stored them in bins in my home.  When I hear of a family in need, I have them personally pick up or I ship a small stash to them, using my own dollars…no questions asked.  If someone can go as far as swallowing their pride and ASKING for help with diapers, surely they need the help.  I trust them to return the diapers when their done with them, and ship back.

What can you do to help??

If you’d like to send a monetary donation, feel free to send it to PayPal Donation to Alyson

I’m also happy to take ANY working diaper donations, shipped to my home.  Comment below or contact me via Facebook.

I’m participating in the Flats and Handwashing Challenge hosted by Cloth Diaper Revival.