Thursday, April 19, 2012

31 & Art Journal Caravan 2012

Pin It I was cleaning out some old boxes earlier this spring and found several old journals of mine from high school and college. I stopped the cleaning process and decided to sit and read a while. My heart began to race as I read back in time... images and special moments that I'd forgotten started to race through my mind. Some paragraphs seemed like a different person had written them... I was a little shocked at how in-tune I was with my own feelings back then and how long it's been since I've revisited "myself". Twelve years since the last journal entry.... way too long. I decided... it's time to pick this up again.

I've read many articles on how important it is to keep a journal. I've used the excuse of not having time, but, I'm learning that you don't have to write 10 pages per entry... and journaling can consist of sticky notes through-out the day if needed! Just write it down, get it out, and free your mind for more. :)

I signed up for 31, an online journaling/scrapbooking class that gives you 31 prompts to write about. Along with all the tools and instructions needed to design a nice completed project. 31 would be the perfect starting point for me to get back in the habit of journaling for myself. The class starts in May, so, I decided to start brainstorming on the design aspect. To me, the art of the piece is just as important as the words. I've been following along with the Art Journal Caravan 2011 gallery this past year. The movement of art journaling inspires me to color outside the lines. I knew this would be the perfect method and style for this self exploration. I have now joined Art Journal Caravan 2012 and will marry these to projects together. The Caravan also includes prompts and other ideas this year for journaling about ones self. While I wait for 31 to start, I've started on some of the Caravan projects. First step, write a letter to yourself. What a perfect way for me to jump back into my journaling world.

I encourage you, if you are not already, to journal. Don't get caught up in a book... start with a scratch piece of paper. don't worry about grammar or spelling... its a journal... not a New York Times best seller. :) If you need help getting started, there are SO MANY blogs and groups out there that provide tips, prompts and encouragement. I've created a journaling link list to the right, of places I go for inspiration.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Products we Love - GroVia cloth diapers

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I remember the look on my Mother and Grandmother’s face when I (sporting my 8 month baby belly) announced to them that I was going to do cloth diapers. I’m sure this was the first image that popped into their mind’s eye...

… They just smiled and nodded, probably thinking “I hope she knows what she is getting into!”
I remember a girlfriend asking me, “Why on earth would you want to do that? And with you working full time and your husband not touching a poopy diaper with a ten foot pole… do you know what a cloth diaper entails? A big mess…..”   

So, I wanted to share with you the reasons why I decided to go this route, how we managed it (some important Dos and Don’ts), and why I FULL HEARTEDLY recommend every mother look into cloth options.

1 OUR EARTH: The average diaper-wearing child will need more than 6,000 diaper changes. If you use disposable diapers, you’ll be contributing to the mountain of 28 billion disposables trucked to U.S. landfills each year. When I first read this information, I made the decision right then and there that we were going cloth… not questions asked, not matter how much work it would take.

2 – THE COST: During the 2.5 years a child might be using diapers, reusables would cost somewhere between $400 and $1,700 for diapers, laundry supplies, water, and electricity (additional tips below on how to reduce this cost even more). If you pass the cloth diapers along to another child, the cost savings of reusables is even greater. Over the same period, disposables would set you back $2,500 or so. (This little tid-bit of information alone helped my husband get on the same track with my decision.)

3 –CLOTH TODAY: I was so thrilled when (in my endless online search for the perfect cloth diaper system) I came across Gro-Via (at that time, they were called Gro-Baby). No more folding and pinning! Hooray! I looked into other cloth diaper systems and found that I would be buying different sizes as my child grew. Not the case with Gro-Via. Their snap system allowed the outer “shell” to grow with the baby. I also loved that the inner lining was also held in-place with snaps. Quick and easy to install and remove. I took my Mother and Grandmother to the All-Natural baby store in our community to show them this new product. They walked out of the store, arms loaded down with everything I would need for this system. Needless to say, they were impressed and, now, VERY supportive. 

4 –THE CUTE FACTOR: Ok, I will be honest and say, as a first time mom, I was ALL about the “Cute Factor” for everything. I was glad that I wasn’t compromising my need for cuteness for all the other reasons above to go cloth. These cloth diaper shells were super cute! Fun, bright colors (and now they have adorable prints!!).
As my baby showers happened, I found more and more people were so curious and excited about this system. I was doing demonstrations in living rooms at family functions. I seriously thought about calling Gro-Via to become a consultant. Ha ha. 

March 2010, my son was born and I wish I could say he came home in a Gro-Via diaper. At that time, the diaper didn’t allow for the umbilical cord (they do now! Thanks Gro-Via for listening to mothers and improving your product!). But let me tell you, as soon as his cord fell off, he was in his cloth diapers. 

It was time to put all of our plans to the test. Did we buy enough supplies to get us through? How would we fit in all the washing and drying? Was this going to give my son diaper rash if we didn’t change him every hour? What do we do with this FULL diaper pail of wet and stinky diapers!? Are these things really working? Well, with anything, especially your first crack at it, there is going to be learning curves, trial and errors, and a point when you have to look at the hard facts and decide… is this really worth it?

We found that, YES, it IS SO worth it. We purchased a front loader, energy efficient washer. This would reduce the amount of water we were using for washing. We found that we were washing a load of cloth liners and shells every day. We eventually purchased more liners so that we had a stash at my mom’s house too. The All-Natural baby store wasn’t open at midnight in case we ran out of liners… so… we had to make sure we were prepared. I will admit that I stuffed a dish towel in his shell one morning as I ran a couple of liners in the dryer.

Eventually, we had a system down perfectly and I was able to line dry everything, cutting down the cost of energy used by the dyer. My wonderful mother gave me a tip to set some of the “stained” liners out in the sun to dry. A Natural Bleach! Worked perfect.

The Important Dos and Don’ts we found:
DO your research and find out what works best for you. Although I’m a HUGE fan of Gro-Via, you may find another system works better for you. I was walking through Babies-r-us one day and saw that the G-Diaper system and fun black diaper shell. I bought it and found that it didn’t work with our system. Each and every cloth diaper brand is different in how they work. Some have pockets for the liners, some are all-in-one, and some have plastic shells. You just have to find the right one for you.
DO encourage other moms who are curious and interested. I’ve found that by staying excited about it, I was able to push through some of the frustrating moments and stay true to our mission.
DO look for other ways to continue in your path of being green. Once we had our system down, I branched out and started making my own wipes. It became a fun challenge for me and I felt like a good mom and a good steward to the earth.
DO take pictures of your baby sporting their cloth diaper. They will look back and ask you questions about it and you can encourage them in their efforts to be green. 

DON’T Give up (most important)
DON’T get caught up in battles about cloth verse disposable. Make the choice for you and your family, be strong in your decision, but, don’t flaunt it. There will be other Mothers around you that don’t choose cloth and that is their decision. Don’t let it ruin relationships. It’s just a diaper.
DON’T feel bad if you have to use a disposable in an emergency. Did you get a cake made out of disposable diapers as a shower gift? Well, I did, and I did stash a couple of them in diaper bags and in the car for emergencies. And I used them when I needed to.
DON’T give them away when you’re done if you plan to have another child…. If you have another baby, you’re set! We are still on the fence about having another one, but, I still have them ready if we decide to! I will probably keep a few anyway, just to show my son when he is older. You know… embarrass him at dinner in front of his girlfriend…. Bwahahahaha.
(And no, I was not hired or paid by Gro-Via to endorse their product. I just love their product so much that I want to share it and make it easy for curious moms)

My next adventure in cloth is Gro-Via’s  trainer for toddlers. These are gonna be Awesome this summer!

Good luck in whatever decision you make and remember to choose your battles. All in all, the main thing that is important is a healthy and happy family, and of course, your sanity as a mom.
Try out Gro-Via, they have a curious about cloth package so you can try it out before investing.