Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Cute little Henry.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Sunday, June 06, 2010

10 Reasons to Love Whole Foods

1. Last week, I went to buy Alex some new sunscreen. I'd done some research online and decided that California Baby's Sunscreen with Citronella was the best choice. The price was marked $21.99. Pricey, but from what I'd read, I was convinced it is the best choice for our family. When I got to the register, it rang up $22.49. Only a $.50 difference, but when I mentioned it to the clerk, he offered to go check the price. He came back with the tag that read $21.99 and agreed it was priced incorrectly. He said I should go over to the help desk for my refund. I actually thought, "oh well, it's only $.50. Is it really worth the tiny refund?" But, on principal, I decided to go to the help desk to get my two quarters. You know what? They gave me an ENTIRE refund on the sunscreen and insisted I keep it. Are you serious?! Who does that? Any store that is willing to lose a few bucks to correct their own mistake is worth any extra money it will cost me to shop there in the long run.

2. They have Cedar's Roasted Red Pepper Hummus. I've given up on making my own hummus these days (who has time to roast their own red peppers?!) Cedar's is my new fave.

3. Samples on virtually every aisle, every day of the week. Samples = Happy Toddler Shopper + Happy Shopper Mommy too. Need I say more?

4. They have the most inexpensive Organic Whole Milk I've found in my neighborhood.

5. They have vegetarian and vegan ready-made food items. Even vegan chocolate cake.

6. On another shopping trip this week, I was shopping with Alex. He was riding in the front of the cart and evidently, feeling a little feisty that day. He reached behind him, grabbed my bag of apples and tossed them on to the floor. I whispered a scolding in his ear and (sweetly, of course) told him not to do it again. One of the Whole Foods employees standing nearby picked up the apples and instructed me to go get a new bag of them. I told him no problem, I'm used to eating things that my toddler ruins. Still, he insisted I go get a new bag. "I don't want you to leave this store with bruised apples." So I went and got a new bag to take home. Again, not afraid to lose a few bucks to make sure I get home with good products. Impressive.

7. They will let you taste ANYTHING. Seriously, cheese, bread, prepared foods, fruit, you name it. Probably because they understand that I'm much more willing to take home a $13 block of cheese if I already know I like it.

8. They have the greatest employee health plan I've ever heard of. Companies who take good care of their employees are few and far between these days. Whole Foods is smart to offer good benefits, which equals happy employees, which equals a pleasant shopping experience for everyone.

9. My kid never leaves there empty handed. The cashiers are always ready with some kind of treat for him. Sometimes it's a cereal bar, sometimes it's a sucker. Either way, it's a nice conclusion to our grocery shopping.

10. I can walk there from my house. Not that I'd want to in the Houston summer heat, but it was a nice perk in the winter and spring. =)

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

The Return of the Cloth.

Recently, Erin commented on my blog asking about my experience with cloth diapers. I actually do have a little spare time today, so I thought I'd talk a little bit about it...

First, to answer her question, yes, I am using cloth diapers on Henry. I will be careful not to claim expert status because my experience is probably a little different than other cloth diapering moms. I am using (and used with Alex) a cloth diaper service. I'll explain a little about the logistics of that later.

Second, I must state up front that this post is totally based on MY experience and MY opinions. I would never want anyone to think that I am instructing everyone to use cloth diapers. Sometimes they just aren't practical for everyone or won't work for various reasons and that's fine. There are many perspectives on diapering (like most areas of parenting), so please just consider this my perspective and not a mandate for everyone!

Overall, I LOVE cloth diapers for the following reasons:
1. They are cheap. We are thrifty and disposables are expensive. Hey, let's be honest, the bottom line matters to everyone and I can say with certainty that cloth is WAY cheaper.

2. They are better for baby bottoms. Cotton on your baby's bum is much better than bleached paper. Also disposables are filled with little gel beads made from chemicals. Often, when a diaper is full it bursts and the beads can get all up in your baby's junk. I figure that my baby's tush is one of that last places I'd be willing to expose to unnecessary chemicals.

3. They are better for the environment. We are not enviro-nuts or anything, but we felt like using cloth is a responsible way to reduce the waste we produce in our household. When you consider that 18 billion disposable diapers are thrown into landfills each year, requiring a total of 500 years to decompose, it only makes sense to try to reduce our contribution to the overwhelming amount of waste.

There are a couple of things I DON'T LOVE about cloth:
1. Newborn breastfed baby poo is very runny. Since I use pre-fold diapers and a diaper cover, it sometimes makes a mess. It is rare that my baby's clothing is soiled, but usually the diaper cover gets a good dose of the mess.

2. When Alex got older (around a year old) and was eating a diet of regular foods, the diapers were just plain disgusting. My kid is really regular and poops about 4 times every day. Even though many online articles suggest that the poop can be simply shaken into the toilet, this was never the case for me. At this stage, it was a little too much for me to handle. I was in the early stages of pregnancy and just couldn't do the poop shake with the diapers.

3. Again, when babies are eating more "real" food, the diapers themselves were a little stinky. Breastfed baby poo is odorless, so this is not an issue for the first 6 months or so. But as their diet changes, it requires a little work to keep the dirty bin from stinking. There are deoderizers and other things you can put in the bin to keep it from being too stinky, but to say that the bin never stinks would be a lie.

How it works for me:
As I mentioned earlier, I use a cloth diaper service. This means that the service actually owns the diapers and does the work of cleaning them. Each week, they pick up my dirty diapers - which I leave outside on my front porch - and deliver clean ones. Many might consider this a "halfway" approach to cloth diapering, but it is still cheaper than disposable and allows me all the benefits of "full" cloth diapering. I use Thirsties brand diaper covers and have about 8-10 of them in each size. We knew we would use cloth for each baby so we went ahead and bought a supply of covers knowing we could use them longterm. This is one of the upfront expenses of cloth diapering. I recommend that you buy the covers a size at a time so you can evaluate if you are going to continue with the cloth.

I would venture to say that most cloth diapering moms don't use a service and do their own washing of the diapers. Most of those moms would probably tell you that they are already doing lots of laundry already, so one more load of diapers is not an inconvenience. To get started, they simply buy the pre-fold diapers, covers and a good soap. It is recommended that you start with about 24-36 diapers and a trash can with a lid and a liner (some use plastic trash bags, some more sophisticated diaper hamper bags). There are complete instructions and tips on this website if you are doing your own washing.

Probably many cloth diapering moms use all-in-one diapers. If you sew, you can make them yourself and save tons of money on purchasing them. Otherwise, purchasing the all-in-ones can be a bit pricey. I don't have much experience with these, so that's all I'll say about them. Perhaps some moms will want to comment on their experience with these.

On a side note, I also use cloth wipes (for all the same reasons I use cloth diapers) and I love them. I make a wipe solution to put in a squirt bottle, wet the wipe, use it and toss it into a little trash can with a lid. When it comes time to wash them, I just dump them in a hot wash and then dry them.

I gotta run because my free time is coming to a close, but I'm going to leave the discussion open to others who have used cloth and are willing to share their experience. The web has tons of resources and tips about how to cloth diaper. My best advice is to talk to others who do it and read about the benefits. Then you can decide if it will work for your family.

Hope that helps! Oh, and here's a picture of Alex "helping" me with Henry's diapers. =)