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The Journey to Finding My Diaper Stash | Cloth Diapers

I knew what cloth diapers were. My mom had used them on us as kids, but they were this huge undertaking in my mind. I was starting to learn about them prior to having kids, and I loved the idea of them, but I was hesitant to commit. I thought my family would think I was insane for even thinking about it…

Then my mom and sister asked me if I was going to cloth diaper…and encouraged me to do so. THEN we saw adorable cloth diapers in the store…SOLD!

Once Little Man was actually here, it took a while to really dive in. I never really received or purchased any diapers before he was born (well, he was born 3+ weeks early, so there was actually A LOT I had not done yet!) As a brand new mom, with a brand new cold, and a brand new level of exhaustion, I embraced the “ease” of disposable diapers. Let me say, I don’t feel cloth diapering has to be more complex than disposables, personally, but I still hadn’t quite figured it all out, so it was this HUGE thing to me at the time.


Before I get too far, let’s start off with some vocabulary:

Types of Diapers:

Flats: THE ORIGINAL. These are just a large, flat, thin piece of cloth. It can be folded in many different ways (depending on size, age, gender, etc), fastened with pins or snappis, and then has to be covered with a waterproof diaper cover. They can also be used in other diapers for additional absorbency.

Prefolds: These are similar to flats, that they are a square/rectangular cloth that has to be folded and placed on the baby with pins or snappis, and covered with a waterproof diaper cover. The difference are that these have a thicker section in the center of the cloth. These are often used by both cloth diaper and non-cloth diaper parents as awesome burp rags.

Fitteds: These are basically a prefold that has been shaped more like a commonly known “diaper” shape, so no folding is needed. Simply wrap around baby like a disposable and secure. There are ones that require pins or a snappi, or there are ones that have snaps attached that you use. These require a waterproof cover.Pocket Diapers: These are waterproof “shells” that have a thin inner layer of fabric. There is an opening at one or more ends of the diaper to place inserts between the layers for absorbency. You buy the diaper and the inserts separately, usually, so if you decide you like one type of shell and a different type of insert, you can mix and match. The ones that have two openings (one on each end), are sometimes called “Sleeve” diapers. There doesn’t seem to be many of them around that I have seen. The benefit of these “sleeves” is that you do not have to remove the inserts after use. Simply drop them in the wash and they agitate out. With pocket diapers with only one opening, you must remove the inserts prior to washing.

All-in-Twos: The same idea as a pocket diaper, but instead of going inside a pocket, it lays or snaps directly on top of the diaper. This means the insert is directly touching the baby’s skin. Again, as long as the shell/cover is not soiled, you can simply replace the insert with a clean one and use the same cover again.

All-in-Ones: These are probably the closest to a disposable. They are a waterproof diaper with 1-2 strips of fabric attached inside, and sometimes another strip to snap in. You basically lay baby on top, and snap or velcro the sides down like a disposable. These tend to cost more than the others, and they take longer to dry.

Hybrids: These are like All-in-Twos, but they can be used with cloth inserts, or disposable inserts.

One Size or OS Diapers: These are adjustable diapers that are made to fit babies from birth to potty training (actual sizing is slightly different for different diapers). You simply snap the length of the diaper up or down to fit baby, and then tighten or loosen the waist accordingly.

Sized Diapers: These are self explanatory. They come in different sizes just like disposables. You have to move up in size as your baby grow into the next weight range.

Inserts come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and materials. There can be a lot to take in, but if you take the time to try it out, it can be great! Also, for anyone trying it out for the first time, I HIGHLY suggest getting an assorted supply of different types/brands and testing them out. Each person is going to prefer different things, and sometimes things fit one baby better than others! (Just like disposables!) Many cloth diaper stores have “bundles” that you can purchase to test out diapers styles/brands, and then you can return what you don’t like for store credit.


Wash, Wash, Wash:

When I decided to start trying cloth, I knew I needed a wash routine. I tested my water hardness and headed over to Fluff Love & CD Science on Facebook. Some people don’t agree with them, but I understand all of their reasoning behind the things they do, and it works for my diapers. A LOT of people use them (hello, almost 100,000 members at the moment). There are a lot of beliefs on washing routines out there, and even the manufacturers each have their own directions. Less detergent, more detergent, extra rinses, no rinses, this detergent, that detergent, etc., etc. Just go to Fluff Love and dive in. They even have pages dedicated to specific washing machines to tell you, based on their own testing, what methods work best for each machine!


When Little Man was tiny, I fell in love with flats. I bought 20-30 flour sack towels at Walmart, washed them a few times, and folded them into a fold for newborns. I kept the stack by the changing table and just laid Little Man on top of one, wrapped it around him, snapped it into place, threw on a cover (we were gifted a few) and we were good to go. Cheap, easy, and kinda fun. I think the towels cost about $10 for 10 of them at the time. Once Little Man was 3-5 month old he started out peeing them. Insert my next love…

Fitteds! I decided to give fitteds a try. I bought three. I LOVED them. I bought the sized ones from Green Mountain Diapers that had snaps. I quickly bought more. Lay baby down, wrap it around, snap to fit, slap on a cover, or leave it without a cover if you are just hanging out around the house. Change when you start to feel dampness. They were super absorbent, so I never really had a “leak” issue if I left a cover off. His diaper just felt kind of moist or rigid, and I would change it.

I briefly tried sleeves. I still feel like I’m too lazy to do pocket diapers (stuffing before use AND removing insert after use? Bah!) Sleeves allowed me to just toss the in the wash and go. I liked the concept, but I could only find them still made in one brand, Thirsties, and I just wasn’t impressed with the diaper quality or the fit for Little Man. They quickly became my least favorite.

When Little Man started to outgrow his fitteds, it was time to decide if I wanted to buy the next size up, or try something else. I had won some Sweet Pea AIOs (All-in-Ones) in a giveaway and was kind of liking the ease of them. I was surviving on a tiny stash of those and my Thirsties. Like me Thirsties, I wasn’t in love with the fit of the Sweet Pea diapers. They worked great if I got them on him just right, but they were super bulky, and tended to leak. (Many people LOVE this brand, I just didn’t have a great time with them).

Eventually I purchased some GroVia AIOs and some BumGenius Freetimes (AIOs).

GroVia AIOs snap differently than other diapers. The side wings fold in and the squared off front snaps on top of them. They create a nice, trim fit and look. I love it. They are cotton inside, so that means that you can feel the moisture on them, which means Little Man can feel the moisture against his skin. Some people prefer this, because the theory is that it gets baby use to the idea of wet vs dry, so they aren’t just sitting around in a wet diaper all day without caring. Some think it helps in potty training, because little ones can associate the feeling of urinating with the feeling of a wet diaper.

BumGenius is a very popular brand. You can buy them in cloth diaper stores, as well as more mainstream stores like Babies R Us and Buy Buy Baby. They also come in super cute colors and patterns (SO important!). I went with the Freetimes because I wanted to have AIOs. I wasn’t really thinking about the microfiber, stay dry liners. It has two inserts sewed in like flaps that you lay over one another and place on baby. These stay dry materials do just that, they feel “dry” even when wet…much like a disposable diaper. In hindsight, I might have got with the BumGenius Elementals, which are cotton, but I didn’t really know about them at the time. It’s not a hug deal, and I may try them in the future, but if you are wanting to stick to cotton, BumGenius does have that option!

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Eventually I got rid of all of my other diapers (There are lots of places and Facebook groups online to sell diapers, as well as many cloth diapers stores will buy back for store credit), and am a full GroVia and BumGenius convert. Honestly, I’d be 100% GroVia if I could, but the convenience of a local supply of BumGenius, as well as their much larger selection of cute colors (I am not a hug fan of about half of the GroVia prints/colors), means that BumGenius stays around!

I think if/when we have more kids, I will stick my with the flats and fitteds for when they are little, but once they get more active, and begin fighting changes more, AIOs are just easier for me.

So ultimately my advice is:

  • If you want to try cloth, don’t be afraid, just test it out!
  • Look for starter pack deals with cloth diapers stores to test out before committing to a specific stash
  • Don’t invest in all one type/brand of diaper before even testing things on your baby
  • Find what works for you and your baby and then try to ignore the desire to BUY ALL THE DIAPERS
  • If you try it out and it’s not for you, that’s fine!

That’s the story of my journey through cloth diapering so far. Some time I’ll share about some of the other things I like to use with my cloth diapering routine, but I think the above is PLENTY to absorb for now!

NOTE: I feel like my experience talking to other cloth families, that pockets are the way most go. They are middle of the line price and “complexity” and allow for a more dynamic mix of materials based on specific needs. I, again, just feel too lazy to stuff and unstuff them. That may just be in my head…I may try them one day…I’m actually already leaning towards trying out some hybrids!

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Learning How to be in Front of the Camera | Self Portraits

In taking on a 365 project, I’ve had to start getting serious about self portraits (since it’s the theme for the day multiple times). I have always been hesitant to be in front of the camera, but I am starting to get better at capturing myself. Mainly I take a million photos until I get at least one That is semi-decent. Some times I don’t get any “good” shots, but I’m relaxing a bit on my high standards for self portraits.

As a new mom, I’ve come to realize how important it is to get photos. I don’t just want shots of my Little Man, I want shots of him with family and friends, enjoying life. I want photos of loved ones to cherish for years to come and remind me of all sorts of things that my brain can’t always keep clear. If I want these kinds of captured moments, then I know my family does as well. I know that they cherish them too, even if they don’t really think about needing to capture such things.

Some of my favorite photos of Little Man are actually photos of him with someone else…and sometimes that someone is me. So I will learn to be a selfie pro!

Selfies on an SLR camera are a bit more tricky than on a phone, but I have the necessary gear. As I take the time to think shots out and patiently try to capture them, sometimes I end up with fun shots that weren’t the intended image, but bring a smile to my face.
Here’s to learning to take photos of myself!



 

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My Photography Style | Photography

It’s taken a long time for me to really find my photography style. I have been shooting artistically since middle school and I have learned and grown so much as a photographer. I find it funny that finding my style has helped me identify different aspects of my personality as well. I’ve always seen photography as an art therapy of sorts, and through that therapy I am constantly learning about myself.

But that’s a different, more lengthy post for another day!


There were always photos that I was drawn to, but I could never quite put my finger on what aspects really drew me in. Over the years I began figuring out how to best capture my photos in camera, because I’m lazy and don’t like editing for hours! As I got better at that, I got better at editing because it was a seamless workflow.

I started out with high contrast, highly saturated, warm “glowy” images. I thought I loved that look. I saw it everywhere. It’s a beautiful look, but it always felt off to me. I couldn’t figure out why. I even distinctly remember once going to a craft convention with a friend and her mom. We passed a photography booth and I pointed out an adorable photo of a little girl. My friend’s mom agreed, but mentioned that she wasn’t a big fan of the high contrast/saturated look. I realized that I agreed, but couldn’t think what would “fix” that issue. I had always been a high contrast photo kind of girl…but I had mainly done black and white darkroom work…which translated really well in high contrast. I realized I hadn’t found my “digital style.”


Stacy Neuerburg 48         Jessica Zenitsky 85

 

[notice the highly saturated colors. Beautiful in their own right, but just not what I was truly wanting]

 


 

 

As I looked through the photos of others (I enjoy looking at portfolios and identifying what I like), I started noticing that I would prefer certain types of edits. I still didn’t know how to achieve it, or what even to call it.

Fast forward a few years and I was learning lots, shooting tons, and still not quite hitting the mark on my photography. I stumbled upon a free webinar from Click it Up a Notch and Bethadilly Photography. (That’s what happens when you peruse photography sites and profiles for fun). It was the 5 common photography style mistakes. In the webinar they discussed honing your style down to three simple words, then always thinking of those words when shooting.

Simple, Bright, Soft

It took me a bit to figure these words out for myself, as well as what they meant to me, but it make shooting, composing, and editing so much easier! I knew what I wanted in a photo and my images were beginning to not only look way more cohesive no matter the subject, but they were also making me want to spend a fortune on prints!


SIMPLE:

I have always enjoyed uncluttered, minimalistic images. I don’t want a lot of distractions, I enjoy tight crops, shallow depth of field, and just a general feeling of, “hey, here it is.”

BRIGHT:

I LOVE bright photos. Bright WHITE photos. I love the way a sunset glow can make things look, but a clean, clear, well white balanced photo takes my breath away. It ties into the “simple” for me.

SOFT:

I love soft, muted colors. In photography, and in life. I still like contrast, but I don’t want over the top saturation. It’s too heavy for me. I had had THE hardest time pinpointing this part of my desire for my photos. I couldn’t come up with the term, “matte.” Surprisingly, my experience working in an Optometrists office with a full glasses dispensary, opened me up to the “new” craze of all things matte. I was loving the matte frames coming in all the time. I realized it was the perfect term for what I was seeing in photos that I loved. I quickly did the research to figure out how to best accomplish that look.


So now I had the tools and knowledge that I needed. I began applying it to my own work. Part of that style includes shooting brighter than my meter tells me, so I have to watch that I don’t over expose. I quickly found how to easily create that simple, bright, and soft look on my photos with minimal time spent editing. I love it.

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We all have our own styles, weather it is fashion, hair, photography, socialization, etc. Different photographers will have different styles, and therefore cater to people who also enjoy that style of photography. Do what you love, and work with those that love what you do!

What’s your style?

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What’s In My [Diaper] Bag | Baby Gear

Oh the dreaded diaper bag.

As a photographer, I am no stranger to the large bag. I love my Kelly Moore bags that allow me to carry way too much gear at once.

As a first time mom, I needed a large bag. I had no clue what I needed at first and didn’t want to be out in public without a solution to my problem, whatever it might be at the time. Fast forward a year and, like many other moms out there know, I’ve discovered you can survive with a lot less than you think.

Despite that, you still need things for the baby. I guess. Hmpf.

Side note: I love those days here and there where I can just take my wallet/purse with a phone tucked in it and keys hooked to it. It’s so light and freeing!

Again, when I first started out, I was toting around everything in my house. Honestly, back then I wasn’t even carrying THAT much, but as a baby-wearer, I always had a wrap or two in there…and those things take up some room.

As time passed, my “diaper” bag changed multiple times. My current one is a simple drawstring gym style backpack that I shove everything into. With the help of some wet bags, I do somewhat organize things.

What's in my diaper bag

What’s in my Diaper Bag:

  • New Balance drawstring backpack
  • scissors for cutting up food on the go
  • extra pair of clothes
  • extra socks (he’s not usually wearing socks, or maybe even pants, so I keep some in case of hot surfaces!)
  • wallet
  • keys
  • wet bag with baby wrap in it (to keep it clean)
  • wet/dry bag with changing pad, wipes, and extra diapers
  • Extra wet/dry bag because I’m addicted to them
  • not pictured: ez-pz mini mat for eating out

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Next bag? I hope to actually sew my own with spaces for everything. Why? Because I like to dream up things that take too much time and effort when I don’t have the time or energy to do them! heh. Let’s see when that happens.

 

What’s in your diaper bag?