Cloth Wipes Solution

Overwhelming madness is the phrase that comes to mind when I think about (well, most things I try to pursue, but in particular) cloth wipes solution.

I wasn’t really planning on using cloth wipes.  The thought of Lincoln’s poop still repulses me in a normal way, and I wasn’t exactly giddy about coming into that close of contact with his waste.

However! God had other plans.

He probably knew I wouldn’t change this on my own, but that it’d behoove me to do so.

So, when I received my last shipment of wipes from Amazon, I was struck with chagrin.

The brand I’d been using for almost a year now was different.  For the worse.

The material was more papery, coarse, and felt cheap.  They were thicker, but I liked the pliability of the old ones.

So I was sorely disappointed.

For a couple of minutes.

Then I decided to get off my keister and do something about it!

It didn’t take long to get me excited about the $10 per month savings and the prospect of making my own wipes.

I know there are many avenues you can go, but the best advice I found was this: “match your diapers”

Thank you, Kitchen Stewardship, for your words of wisdom!!!

I chose these washcloths through a serendipitous series of events.  First looking for cute, then looking for cotton, then stumbling upon unbleached 100% cotton!  I didn’t even consider it!  But it made sense, so I went with it.

Then came the task of inventing a solution in which to douse my wipes.

The internet is so wonderful, in that you can find anything you are looking for.

The problem is, there are way too many options for the indecisive!!
I was easily able to rule out anything containing baby oil (gross!), and the options that recommended using baby shampoos and soaps were also a “no”.

I finally landed on a basic recipe loosely based off of Kitchen Stewardship’s.

I couldn’t mimic her recipe as per lack of Castile soap , but that will be remedied in the next few days (update:  I now use Castile soap, and I love it!).

So what I settled on for now was this:

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I saved an empty soy sauce bottle… I save a lot of bottles and now have purpose for them!!IMG_7687

I filled it mostly with water,

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finished filling it with vinegar,

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and then it was time for some essential oils!
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I just added about 10 or 12 drops of tea tree oil.

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I replaced the drizzle-top nozzle, and voila!

IMG_7694I then poured the mixture down over my nicely folded wipes, and I was good to go!!

The bottle is actually perfect for the job because it doesn’t spill all over the place when I’m drizzling the wipes with the concoction, and it’s great if I just need a little extra on a particular wipe!

This works exceedingly well for my purposes, but I would like to get the Castile soap down in there.  Just feels cleaner.

When I’m done doing the dirty work (pun intended!), I just toss the used wipes in my pail with the diapers.  Come laundry day they meet their fate along with all the other dirty laundry, and come out on the other side clean and sparkling!
I didn’t think I’d love making my own wipes.  Actually, I didn’t think I’d make my own wipes!!
But thanks for a little fire under the tush, I did it!  I stepped out of my comfort zone, and my bank account, my baby’s tush, and the earth will eternally thank me for it!  Right?  ;]

3-12-13 Update:  I also add about 20 drops (just a splash, roughly) of Castile soap, and I love it!!  It makes me feel so good about the wipes.  I feel like they REALLY clean my little guy’s bum!!

~Cyndi

Make More Smoothies!

I recently stumbled across a brilliant formula by which to make smoothies.

I’ve always like smoothie shops and what they have to offer.  But for some reason, I could never quite master the art in my own kitchen.

The very most recent attempt I made, I threw a bunch of junk into my blender, and it turned out HIDEOUSLY.

It was probably one of the most disgusting things ever created, and it graced my drain with all its nasty goopiness.

After that, I was on a mission.  I wanted to spare our budget the wasted produce, so I went out seeking smoothie recipes.

But everything I found was more basic than I was interested in.

They were truly *recipes* for one or two flavors.

I was looking for a way to clear the excess produce on the brink of spoilage from my crisper drawer.

So, I searched and I searched and I searched!

I finally stumbled across this from superskinnyme.com on Pinterest.

I am now aware that there are many smoothie formulas out there.  I was unaware of this fact prior to my search.

And just that shift in perspective has made a world of difference!
Smoothies aren’t really about ingredients.  They’re about components.  If you’re missing any items in a particular family, your smoothie will just come out different.

It might seem weird, but I didn’t grow up drinking too many smoothies, so this was an art I’d never encountered before!

I actually even printed up the chart (at the bottom of the page), and I keep it on the inside of my cabinet door.

Today I got super creative and threw some broccoli in to our smoothies!!  It was delicious, and the only give away was the smell of feet floating out of the cup!!

So let me explain to you our favorite smoothie combination so far!!

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Alrighty, fro top to bottom, I added frozen pineapple, frozen strawberries, frozen spinach, and frozen banana

(this last time, the addition of broccoli was a great way to incorporate more of those ever-important greens without

even changing the taste!!)

IMG_7668 Then I got a little coconut water, cinnamon, flax seed, and yogurt going.

IMG_7670Love our Blendtec, by the way!

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It may not be pink or orange, but it’s DELICIOUS!!  And I don’t mind the color at all.

IMG_7650Darion skeptically taking a swig of the green goo I created!!  He acts like he doesn’t like them,

but I’ve yet to see any left in the bottom of his cup!!  :]

So there you have it.  My quest and eventual success to find the ultimate smoothie combo!  Which really turned out to be anything I want it to be.

I also had a revelation that this is a phenomenal way to incorporate coconut oil into our diets.  There are countless, power-packe combos you can make.

But please! don’t take my word for it!!  Get out there and start making your own tantalizing tasty super smoothies!!

Also, feel free to share any favorites in the comments!

~Cyndi

Shop Farmer’s Market


Today, Darion and I cruised down “I” snacking on our loot from the farmer’s market.

As I popped another delicious raspberry in my mouth, Darion made the comment, “I think we spend more money at the farmer’s market than we do at the grocery store!”

I took a second to mull over that, and responded.

“Yeah, sort of.”

Because it’s sort of true.

When I buy produce at the store, it’s pretty inexpensive.

BUT, there’s a catch.

Along with that crispy cucumber I’m tossing in my cart, I’m also getting a lot of things I’m NOT paying for!

The pesticides and potential GMOs attached to that delightful little veggie is more than I am bargaining for.

So yes, shopping at the farmer’s market is way more expensive than that!
On the other hand, when I try to shop all organic at the grocery store, the total practically gives me a heart attack at the register… Clean up on lane 3!!!

Shopping at the farmer’s market (especially when your sleepy baby makes you show up a half hour before they shut down and the farmers are looking to get rid of extra produce!!!), I think we actually spend a less or at least comparable amount!
But quite plainly, the fact is, we experience the real cost of food.  Which I think is a worthy adjustment, considering it’s good to be prepared for how much food actually costs.  If you’re already budgeting for that, it won’t be an overwhelming loss if your mode of shopping is required to change for whatever reason.

But the extra pence we pay for good quality, delicious, more natural alternatives is well worth it in my book.

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Our haul from the farmer’s market… not including three organic hummus and garlic spreads that we got and a carton of raspberries

and two cartons of blackberries that very slightly decimated on the trip home!!  Yum!!  :]  I must admit, most of these items are just for smoothies.

I had some things left over from last week for dinners.

There is a particular accountability at the farmer’s market I’ve yet to experience in any other type of customer-merchant relationship.

Leah and I were just discussing this the other day.

The farmers see you each week, and there is a high level of accountability.

They want to stay in business.  They are going to try their darndest to ensure the quality of their product.

So yes, the goodies ascertained on our weekly ventures to the farmer’s market are a bit pricey.

But is it more than the grocery store?

I guess that depends on what you prioritize, and how you buy at the grocery store.

For us, it’s a good investment to stick to the farmer’s market when possible.  We gain ownership a bit more ownership over our food, and we get products we feel more comfortable trusting than what we can find in a grocery store.

If the task of shopping organic or at the farmer’s market seems overwhelming for your wallet, you can stick to the Clean 15 and the Dirty Dozen lists.  A great way to eat as much organic as possible without breaking the bank.

But honestly, the ability to build relationships, see the face that farms the fruit I’m about to chow down on, and maintain some accountability in my food provider — now that’s invaluable!

~Cyndi

Homemade Clay Toothpaste

First, some background…

If you’ve tried Earthpaste, then you know it’s almost the perfect alternative to conventional store-bought toothpaste laden with sodium laurel sulfate (a carcinogenic surfactant), flouride (ever wonder why toothpaste has directions on how to contact your local poison control if too much is swallowed?), glycerin (which coats your teeth and prevents remineralization), harsh abrasives and whitening agents in many cases, artificial dyes, and a whole slew of other unpronounceable ingredients that those who are “crunchy”-minded will not want to put in their mouths.  Even many of the so-called natural brands available in stores do still typically contain sodium laurel sulfate, glycerin, and sometimes even flouride.

Earthpaste is (an almost) perfect alternative (I will elaborate below) not only because it contains none of the above questionable ingredients in other store-bought brands, but also because it is, in my opinion, superior to other natural options available.  When I first gave up store-bought toothpaste, for lack of a better option, I started just brushing my teeth with straight Dr. Bronner’s soap for a few months.  My teeth felt cleaner and healthier than when I was using conventional toothpaste, but oddly I noticed a black film would form on my teeth, sometimes the fronts, and especially the backs.  It would scrape off with a dental scaler, but I think there must have been some residual glycerin in the soap coating my teeth and forming a scum of some sort.  Not only was that gross, but I want to avoid glycerin to allow remineralization of my teeth.  There are a lot of natural tooth soaps on the market which probably would have been better, though in all my research, I was still not 100% convinced that the glycerin problem would not be an issue with the ones I looked into.  I have also shied away from many homemade toothpaste recipes out there because almost all of them call for baking soda, which, for the most part, is a perfectly safe and natural thing to use on your teeth occasionally, but it is also pretty abrasive for daily use.  I have a couple teeth with sensitivity issues, so I need something more gentle for everyday use.

So on to the pros of Earthpaste.  The ingredients in Earthpaste are as follows:

  • Water
  • Redmond Clay
  • Xylitol
  • Real Salt
  • Various essential oils depending upon the flavor including: tea tree oil, menthol, peppermint, wintergreen, and cinnamon

The back of the package actually permits you to swallow after brushing, which may even be a good idea if you can retrain your brain to do so because of the health benefits of ingesting bentonite clay!

Earthpaste is:

  • Void of harmful ingredients found in most other toothpastes (flouride, sodium laurel sulfate, etc.)
  • Allows for and even aids the process of remineralization since there is no glycerin, and the clay and salt contain beneficial minerals
  • Is non-abrasive (the clay is too soft to damage your teeth, but tough enough to clean any plaque and leave them sparkling white)
  • Tastes wonderful
  • Leaves teeth bright, slick, and clean when done

Earthpaste, in my opinion, is the best brand of commercial toothpaste available.

Now for the cons…there are two drawbacks to Earthpaste, in my opinion.

First of all, I am not sold on Xylitol.  The FDA says its safe.  Many dentists say it actually benefits teeth.  The Xylitol companies want you to think that it’s a perfectly natural alternative to sugar.  However, I keep coming across articles like this one that raise concerns about how it’s manufactured, effects it may have on the digestive tract in humans, and also the effects it has on lab rats (which could presumably apply to humans if given a high enough dose).  The fact is, while it may be derived from natural sources, I don’t know of a single person who could or would grow it in their backyard or create it in their kitchen.  As a general rule, I strive to avoid things that don’t meet those criteria, and the evidence against Xylitol is definitely somewhat alarming.  I sort of feel like, as with many other alternative sweeteners out there, time will tell that Xyltiol is not all it’s cracked up to be.  With that said, I still think Earthpaste is the best commercially made toothpaste money can buy.  I would prefer that it did not contain Xylitol, but if you are in a season where you must buy something pre-made, by all means, choose Earthpaste.  I would recommend not swallowing it on a regular basis if you share my concerns about Xylitol.  You will ingest a minimal quantity if you use it this way.

So onto my second and more obvious con: PRICE.  Perhaps the most affordable way to buy Earthpaste is to place a large enough Vitacost order to get their free shipping.  Vitacost sells Earthpaste for $4.59/tube.  When I first tried Earthpaste, I think I paid close to $8 with shipping to order it off Amazon.com.  Unfortunately, I have not seen it made available on Amazon prime with free shipping yet.  So my suggestion is to try it once and then figure out a way to order it in bulk to save on shipping.  Still, even at $4 or so per tube, it is only a teeny tiny 4 ounce tube of paste, and unfortunately, I find that I have to use close to double the quantity of Earthpaste that I would a regular foaming toothpaste to get all of my teeth coated and to the point where they feel clean.  It took my hubby and I about 2 weeks to run through our first tube of Earthpaste.  So if we used 26 tubes of Earthpaste per year, even at $4 a tube, that’s over $100 on toothpaste.  I guess that might not sound bad to most people, but the majority of my beauty products these days cost me pennies per week, and I prefer not to sink this kind of money into a toothpaste that is not 100% ideal in my eyes.  So, after trying commercially produced Earthpaste, I set out to make my own.  It took a lot of trial and error, and the homemade version is not exactly like Earthpaste, but I think it works just as well, it’s cheaper, and I have more control over the ingredients.

The recipe…

Homemade Clay Toothpaste

Ingredients

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  • 1/4 cup food-grade bentonite clay (I use Redmond Clay, which is the same stuff they use in Earthpaste)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil (does not really matter if it is solid or liquid)
  • 1/4 teaspoon unrefined sea salt (I use Celtic salt)
  • 30 or so drops of essential oil of your choice: peppermint, wintergreen, cinnamon…or get creative – orange?  lime?  Your choice.
  • 3 drops tea tree essential oil
  • Stevia to taste (optional but greatly improves the taste and serves as a good substitute for the Xylitol)
  • Water

Note regarding Stevia: please don’t make the same mistake I did and get the processed powdered junk you see pictured above.  Stevia is a green plant and should be purchased in pure, liquid, extract form.  I am using the powdered junk up in my toothpaste which I spit out but definitely will not buy it again.

Directions

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.

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Stir to incorporate with a rubber spatula, adding one tablespoon of water at a time until a paste-like consistency is achieved.

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You will want to test the paste by brushing as usual and adding more of various ingredients until the taste and consistency suit you.

Once desired final product is achieved, transfer to an airtight container.  You may wish to put each family member’s paste into a separate container since this paste is not a squeezable paste.  My hubby and I share, but I could see siblings who share not wanting to contaminate the paste with each other’s cooties.  Maybe a rule could be instated requiring the use of a clean finger rather than a cootyified toothbrush to scoop out the paste for each use.

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The above container lasts my hubby and me about 2 months.  The most expensive ingredient (due to the volume used) is the Redmond Clay.  I can buy a 10 ounce jar of Redmond Clay through Azure Standard for $6.45.  I think you can make at least 5 batches of the above recipe with one jar of clay.  Allowing generously for the cost of the other ingredients, I think it’s safe to say you could supply two people with a year supply of homemade clay toothpaste for less than $20 compared to at least $100 for Earthpaste, plus you have more control over the ingredients and can customize the recipe for you and your family’s tastes.  I also like that the homemade recipe contains coconut oil.  Coconut oil is very beneficial for your teeth.  In fact, you can brush your teeth with coconut oil alone in a pinch, though I find that it does not deal with the plaque over time as well as Earthpaste or homemade clay toothpaste.

So whether you buy Earthpaste or venture to make your own homemade clay toothpaste, I think at this point in time, these are both great options for more natural, healthy, “crunchy” teeth for you and your family!

Plant a Garden


I love going to the farmer’s market, don’t get me wrong.

But boy, some Thursdays it feels almost impossible to drag myself out of bed, get me AND Lincoln dressed, and drive across town!  While I recognize that this is totally a first-world problem, I still do struggle with leaving the house.  ;]

So wouldn’t it be nice if there were some magical way to cut down on my farmer’s market needs?

Enter: gardening

This year, for the first time ever, I am going to try to garden.

Well, let me be completely honest, actually.  Last year I tried to garden.  Sorta.  With my basic, non-organic seeds and a store bought kit with minimal directions.  I thought I could manage without putting any effort forth.

All I wound up growing was mold.

So, I retreated, did some studying, and I’m back and better than ever this year!

To start, I scoured the internet.  I did hours and hours of research, I talked to a ton of people, and I landed on organic, raised-bed gardening.

I am starting out basic this year with a nice little collection of tomatoes, lettuce, and zucchini.  At the last minute, I also impulse bought some basil.

So my first step was planting a garden.

I bought some inexpensive, biodegradable pots, some organic potting soil, and some Seeds of Change seeds.  I went with heirloom seeds, which have the most benefits, in my opinion.

I liked the fact that I was able to purchase the seeds at Lowe’s!  All except zucchini, which had unfortunately sold out.

So, to start my garden….IMG_7309

I used an old, emptied rubbermaid I was storing fabric in.  I can put the fabric back in it later.

IMG_7310I then put my cups in the container,

IMG_7313filled each cup full with soil up to within about an inch of the brim,

IMG_7318planted my seeds according to their individual directions (these are lettuce seeds),

IMG_7327and sprayed them with filtered water until the walls of the pots were saturated.

IMG_7332I then took some ClingWrap (stay with me!!),

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and some plastic forks,

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and I made a sort of greenhouse for my little babies.

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Then I stuck ’em up on top of the fridge for warmth, and let them do their thing!!

And boy, I was absolutely blown away to see this sight after just 6 days!!

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Now, let me be clear about something.  I am fighting a genetic predisposition to a black thumb.  Our mom has definitely killed some plants in her day.  Well, she kept a plant alive for over a year, gave it to me, and I killed it!!!!  I’d like to think that would have happened anyway…

But I’m pretty sure that’s not the case.

I have never kept anything alive for long.  Although last year’s mold had a pretty good run!

I’m terrified that I’m going to invest all this time and effort and not be fit to adequately care for these baby plants.

But, I was completely inspired to try by this verse in the Bible:

19 By the sweat of your brow
you will eat your food
until you return to the ground,
since from it you were taken;
for dust you are
and to dust you will return.”

-Genesis 3:19

Now yes, I realize that this verse is outlining the curse that man faces for sin.  But you know what?   It made me realize that we are living in a kind of weird situation where we don’t really do the work for our own foods.

I kind of want to see how it goes when we work the ground ourselves.

Rather than eating chemicals, we are clearly designed to eat plants and fruits.  And I don’t think those plants and fruits were really designed to be doused in toxins.

I know that keeping a garden will be work.  But I think it’s going to be an incredibly beneficial addition to our family.

It’s already so fun, too, to show my little Linky the sprouts and compare the different types with him.  He doesn’t understand yet, but year after year, he will look forward to waking up and checking on our plants.  This is one of his very first lessons in earth science!

I am also building connections with people in a way I never have before.  I have mentorship in my friend Bonnie, who has gardened before (she gave me the confidence to forge ahead!).  I remembered seeing tomato plants in her backyard, and asked her about gardening.

Come to find out, she’s planning to do a raised-bed garden this year too!!  How funny, because I don’t think I’d have really known if I hadn’t asked!

I am finding free manure and mulch, and I am trying to make this as economical as possible.  That is supposed to be a huge benefit to gardening, so I don’t want to go overboard, spending on things I don’t even need.

Keep checking back for more updates on our little garden!

~Cyndi

Raw Cheese

Raw as in made from unpasteurized milk.

Now, let me take a moment and be honest here.
I tried European style yogurt.  I tried raw milk.  I don’t love either of those things, and the healthier versions weren’t my cup of tea.  They were neither worse nor better, in my opinion.  I like them as ingredients, but not as stand-alones.

But cheese… OH cheese!!!  If someone forced me to live off of cheese, I’d love them forever and possibly bare their children (yep, Darion lets me eat as much cheese as I want, case and point!).

So I am a bit of a cheese connoisseur, to put it lightly.

I love the regular, greasy, tangy sharp cheddar from the grocery store with the strange, biting after-taste.

So when I took my first bite of raw cheddar, I was instantaneously transported to a farm with flowing, knee-high grasses and cows grazing in the distance.  There might have been a farmer.  Haha!  I jest; but seriously, the cheese is amazing!

This stuff tasted better than any cheese I’ve ever had in my life!!  It tasted REAL!  And that’s the point.

This cheddar is not dyed a foreign tinge of yellowish-orangeish (who made that decision anyhow?).  It’s an off-white.

And you know what’s funny?  Think about it… cheese is made from milk.  I’ve never seen ORANGE milk, but if I did, I’m not likely to drink it!!  How ’bout you?

Raw cheddar doesn’t have that weird after-taste in the back of your throat either.  And you know who loved it perhaps even more than me?  My little mini me!!  Darion liked it too!!  Safe to say, we are dairy converts in this home!!  So amazing!!

IMG_7522Hilarious fact: While we were eating our raw cheddar, our cloth diapers were delivered!!  We are officially a crunchy family!!
I about fell off my rocker when Darion rejected a new tube of deodorant at Target today and asked me to make him some homemade deodorant!!  God is working to change our lives, and I couldn’t be more grateful!!

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Now, I want to share a secret with the apprehensive.

I.

was.

scared.

Yup.  For some reason, I got a nervous tingling in my stomach when I tried it.  Just like I did with the yogurt.  Just like I did with the butter.  Just like I did with the milk.

And after I tried it, I realized it was all for naught!!

I was only timid because that’s me.  But I did want to validate any readers out there who may battle with the same fears.

Just because you’re crunchy, doesn’t mean you’re suddenly fearless.  It’s okay to be afraid.  It’s a big life change.  I am always afraid of change, even the positive ones!!

Doing something different than you’ve done your whole life is a bit nerve-racking

But this is a change I will never turn my back on, so long as I can help it.

I would strongly suggest that, if you want to try raw dairy, this be the first change you make.  It won’t disappoint!

Cloth Diapers – They Have Arrived!!!!

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Look at that beautiful sight!!!  All clean, stuffed, and folded up!!  We got 12 amazing BumGenius cloth diapers!  I am LOVING this so far!!  It fits Lincoln so securely, and let’s be honest… these things are WAY more adorable than the papery, plain disposables!!

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Baby checking out his new wardrobeIMG_7551

The last disposable before our family’s conversion (yep, that sure is a baltic amber teething anklet!!)

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First picture of Little Man in his new cloth diaper!  Shnazzy!IMG_7565

He seems comfortable!

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This little diap is like a baby tux!!

So initial thoughts on cloth diapering: love it!

Darion and I obsessively checked the front door today in hopes that we could catch Santa before he even hit the walk!!  And guess what… we totally did!!  The poor FedEx guy was probably freaked out when we opened the door so quick!!  Haha!

Now, let’s be clear… I still haven’t dealt with the messier side of cloth diapering yet.  So that’s probably why I’m still so enchanted!  Let’s call this the “honeymoon phase”.

But, I’m loving the extra cash in my future!  And I’m loooving how adorable Linky looks in them!  Also, the freedom to adjust the absorption in his diapers, adding extra inserts for overnights – you can’t beat that flexibility!
At this point, we have 12 diapers.  Lincoln uses about 4-5 diapers per day.  I will be likely doing a load of diapers every other day until we can build up our stockpile.

But honestly, I’m home anyhow, so this isn’t a big concern for me.

I love how securely these diapers wrap around Lincoln’s pudgy little thighs though, and I am really excited that they will grow with him!  No more going through the slight onset of dollar depression when I realize that the next size diaper comes with yet fewer diapers than it’s smaller counterpart!

So, Leah keeps trying to talk me into doing some type of video showcasing our cloth diaper set up.  She still has yet to sell me on the idea, but I do plan to do a picture walk with y’all!  So be looking out for that post in the near future!

Today was a very big day in our little home too.  We all tried raw cheese for the first time!  You can read about that here.

Well, like I said, keep checking back for more diaper details!  If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments section and we’ll do our best to answer them!