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Written by Mama Monday

Blog posts written by mamas on cloth diapering, green living, natural parenting.

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It’s officially Fall!!! While, for a vast majority of us, it’ll take awhile before the leaves start falling, there’s nothing like the visual of deep, rich colors and the crunch of fallen leaves underfoot. It’s practically why pumpkin spice lattes were invented (or so I assume).

To go along with my favorite season, I present Exhibit A – the Thirsties print, Fallen Leaves. While I love the entire Woodland collection, there’s just something whimsical and fun and, well, all the awesome parts of autumn rolled into a diaper style.

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See what I mean? Fun and inspirational and colorful (not to mention absorbent! #teamNAIO).

So, I thought it’d be fun to do a quick round-up as a shout-out to one of the coolest (and most autumnal) prints of all things leaf-related. I fully plan on doing a couple with my kiddos once the leaves actually start drifting to the ground.

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The leaf scavenger hunt at KC Adventures isn’t your usual. It actually adds to the usual “find some leaves” element by using simple math activities. Plus, it offers free printables, so it’s a no-fuss setup.

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We’re all about simple at our house, so this autumn leaf wreath is right up our alley. Plus, it’s awesome that leaves can be used as decor all through the season (unlike, say, jack o’ lanterns and skeletons).

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One of my favorite fall activities at school revolve around the book, Leaf Man. It gets kids thinking about perspective and searching for images within leaf pictures – and extends to a fun activity when you actually have leaves around to create your own pics!

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Meaningful Mama’s leaf prints are fun, messy, and beautiful. What more can any kid ask??

Do you have a favorite fall activity that revolves around leaves? Do you appreciate a good leaf peeping trip? Ours always end in a treat of cider and donuts. Or maybe you turn a chore into a blast by getting the kids involved with raking? We’d love to hear in the comments!

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It’s easy to assume that cloth diapering is a lonely game. While it may be picking up steam in the #makeclothmainstream realm, a lot of us are often the only ones in our families treading the modern cloth diaper path. Maybe you live in a rural area with few other cloth diapering parents around, or simply don’t seem to know anyone else who has made the same choice.

Of course, it may not be like this for everyone. While my immediate family generally doesn’t cloth diaper (well, my mom did, but that was a different time ;-)), I have come to realize that I have at least half a dozen friends and acquaintances whom I can call on if I have any questions or concerns regarding my stash or its use. This alone makes me proud that we really ARE making cloth mainstream – one family at a time!

But, what about when you have a question and you really don’t have any CD friends or family to turn to? It’s easy to fall down a rabbit hole of craziness (y’know, like the sites who say that diaper stripping will solve all your problems 99% of the time) on the Internet. For those of you who feel like you’re overwhelmed or even like a bit of a misfit for your baby’s fluffy bum, we’re sharing our favorite support systems to help lift you up or answer your Thirsties product questions.

Actually, they’re for everyone, support system in place or not. Let us know if you’ve used any of these resources!

The Thirsties website – This one may go without saying since you’re, well, HERE, but there’s a good chance you’ve found a direct link straight to the Thirsties blog. If you click around, you’ll learn more about the company we all love, tons of general information in the Customer Center area (I mean TONS), and some awesome posts in the blog’s archive. Oh, and of course you’ll find the awesome products that are the fabric (no pun intended) of the Thirsties family, including additional baby products beyond diapers.

Let’s just say it’s a fun place to lose yourself for a little while.

Thirsties on Pinterest – Pinterest isn’t just a great place to find recipes for homemade pumpkin spice lattes or fun craft projects (although, let’s just admit that those are the main reasons we click the app). Follow Thirsties Baby and you’ll not only see some incredibly helpful cloth diapering pins, but great green family ideas, baby shower and prep tips, and way more.

Come join in the fun!

Thirsties Groupies – Like minded folks sharing a love of Thirsties dipes in a very positive online setting. (Wait. Do those exist anymore? Yep! They actually do. Even on Facebook.) A quick perusal shows everything from laundering tips to stash shots to sale shout-outs to adorable baby pics with fluff on the bum to…you get the idea. Anything and everything Thirsties dipes (and some cloth chat, in general).

Reader, meet your tribe.

Thirsties Retailers – The folks who sell Thirsties products out in the trenches everyday are truly some of the kindest, most helpful individuals around. So, if you’re lucky enough to have one of our AWESOME retailers in your neck of the woods, check ‘em out! They’d be happy to answer any questions, especially for those times when you just want to speak to someone IN REAL LIFE! You know how that is, right?

While I normally purchase my Thirsties online, I tried out the Retail Locator and officially added a couple of places to my family’s next day trip. They’re closer than I thought! Hopefully the same can be said in your neck of the woods.

Have you discovered any of these gems yet?

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I’m writing to you, family who cloth diapers your child(ren) part of the time, to say I understand. I know you’re there, seeing pictures of humongous cloth diaper stashes. Watching those folks who #buyallthediapers. Hearing the somewhat competitive conversations between fellow cloth diaperers about their hand sewn cloth wipes and homemade wipe solutions. Thinking that you can’t participate in the #makeclothmainstream challenge because your child only sports cloth at certain times of the day or week.

I get it…100%. Because, y’know what? I’m with you. I’m a part-timer.

I never ended up taking the extra steps to ask my mother-in-law to deal with our cloth diapers when she babysits during the week. There are a few reasons (a huge one being that she washes the kids’ clothes every time they get changed rather than sending them home and I hated to get nitpicky about the wash routine), but overall it just wasn’t something I wanted to bother her over. She buys the diapers for her house and I pick my battles, and she does so much for us that I weighed my options. It just wasn’t worth it.

And y’know what? I still consider myself a cloth diapering mama. I love my Thirsties (and a couple other brands), LOVE that I’ve found an awesome nighttime solution for my daughter, and particularly appreciate how it cuts back on our waste and cost. I still feel just as empowered as the other mamas, and you should, too.

Awhile ago, a dear friend with a daughter the same age as ours came back to town for a visit. The topic of cloth diapering came up and she, rather humorously, said that all of her friends and acquaintances down in her big, bustling new city were into cloth diapering. “Ugh, I could never do it. They are all SOOO gung-ho. Nothing you ever do is good enough, so why even try?”

It bummed me out. I explained to her that every little bit counts and, no, it’s really not as hard as people think. I’m not sure I got very far with her, but it definitely got my gears turning.

What about all the other moms out there who feel the same way? Like they’re not doing enough because they’re not doing 100%?

So much of parenthood these days has become a competition. The perfect first day of school post along with the adorably filled-out chalkboard sign. The healthiest, most delicious, most beautiful (really?!) bento box lunches. The list goes on and on.

My family’s far from perfect, but I’m trying to embrace it and enjoy the quirky fun that it brings with it. We try to implement green practices but for the life of me I can’t find a reusable water bottle that doesn’t weigh, like, 80 pounds so I keep refilling a plastic one; horrible option, but at least I’m not trashing it. We try to eat organically but aren’t above sharing a homemade meal made by one of our parents – most definitely NOT organic – because the experience and kindness behind it is more important to us than our ideals. We wish that we could be gentle parents and try our best to be, but we lose our tempers (and later apologize) just like anyone else.

“Strive for continuous improvement, instead of perfection,” Kim Collins has been quoted saying. While we moms and dads should continue to do our very best and, yes, even strive to improve our parenting for the sake of our children, perfection is far too daunting to burden ourselves with. Just keep going. Just keep going.

I see you there, whether you’re a full-time or part-time cloth diapering family. I know you’re doing your best for your family. I salute you for all you do.

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simplified-fall-family-fun

Happy Labor Day, guys!

I’ll admit it – I’m pretty excited for autumn. It’s my family’s favorite season by far. But, it’s all too easy to fall into the stressful “do all the fall activities” craziness, especially with the other chaos that occurs – for us, that means sending our older son to preschool, getting back to a routine with Mama heading back to school (which is a whole new ballgame this year since I’m starting at a new school – ahh!), and a hundred other smaller tasks.

So, what’s a fall lovin’ family to do? Simplify.

I’m not saying busy families need to suck it up and not have any fun because things are so crazy. I AM saying that it’s okay to drop the things that aren’t even close to fun or aren’t even kinda fun.

How will I do this? Talk to the boys (our daughter is less than a year, so she just goes along for the ride) and find out what they’re looking forward to this fall. Including the whole family helps ensure that absolutely everyone will enjoy it (hopefully) and we won’t waste our time doing something that only one of us thought might be cool.

Another tip is to overlap whenever possible. My mom was great at this raising 4 kids on her own. Every Columbus Day, we’d hit our favorite cider mill, country store, and costume shop (we usually got ideas there to make our own Halloween costumes or maybe buy a small prop). I’m pretty sure we usually came home with our pumpkins, too. Talk about a fun fall day!

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After a chat or two, here’s my family’s list for 2016:

Apple/pumpkin picking – With the types of orchards we encounter in our area, it’s fully possible to hit up both of these at the same time. The number of apples we pick totally depends on how beat the new schedule has us. And we’ll probably get two pumpkins for carving (one we’ll do for/with Harper and one that Hadley can design on his own), plus a couple smaller ones to put out for some easy peasy decor.

A Fall Trip – Depending on cost and exhaustion levels, this could be an overnight trip or a day trip to check out leaves. Normally I’d cut this out (or keep it to under an hour away), but my husband is super excited and it’s hard not to get on board with that level of excitement!

One Fall Craft – Oh, Pinterest. So full of inspiration. So full of too-high expectations. While I love doing fun activities with my son, there’s just not enough time or fairy magic to make it a regular thing. Plus, I foresee an onslaught of pre-K projects coming. So, one SIMPLE, fall (not holiday-themed) craft to display during the whole season will do just fine.

Go to a Fall Farmers’ Market – This could also get tied in with our aforementioned fall trip, but there’s also a local market we like to hit up, as well. We used to go several times a season but have slowed down with the kids in tow. I’m hoping, for my own sake, to do some make-ahead meals and would love to use locally grown butternut squash for some soup and get some of those other fall flavors into our ingredient list. Sometimes a simple Sunday afternoon with a bowl of soup, family movie, blankets, and our little ones is all we need.

Make Homemade Pumpkin Spice “Creamer” – This is for Mama. Enough said, I think.

Halloween Stuff:

Pumpkin Carving – As I mentioned, we’re keeping it basic and minimal this year. I love my husband for a lot of reasons, but the fact that he doesn’t mind scraping the guts out of the pumpkin makes the Top 5 list. I kid you not.

Costume Making – For some strange reason, I’m super against store-bought costumes. Or, rather, those cheapy, thin fabric things with weird masks. I DO hit thrift and discount stores (oh, and our dress-up box, which is ever-evolving) to find what will help our son become the awesomest “Charlie Brown/Apple/Spooooky Ghost” (those were the past 3 years; his ghost was amazing) he can be. This year, it’s either Kid Flash or, as per my husband’s request, the entire Tiger family. It is pretty appropriate since our little girl came along – Daniel Tiger, Mom, Dad, and Margaret. We’ll see, though!

Could I possibly make life way easier by just buying one at the store? Of course. But, it’s kind of become our thing and Hadley is always SO appreciative…plus, I actually enjoy doing it.

Watch a Halloween movie – This will probably involve Mickey Mouse Clubhouse or some such thing, but in the midst of chaos, a night to just relax (and let our son pick what we’re watching) almost forces us to remember the important things. Family. Enjoying both the work and fun of life. And Mickey Mouse. (Just kidding on that last part.)

We’re going to try to get back to our old traditions (possibly) this Thanksgiving, so I’m not planning that far ahead yet – either doing the back-and-forth, eating the meal at one family’s house and the dessert at another, or hosting the whole shebang ourselves, ack! Plus, with Harper’s 1st birthday, I’d say that our best bet is to exclude November from the “fall fun” list. It’s kind of built-in at our house, ha!

So, what are you MOST looking forward to this autumn? What things can your family totally cut off the list? Are you into the pumpkins and apples but not so much the leaf peeping? We’d love to hear!

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There are obviously certain necessities when it comes to taking care of a baby. The whole “food, shelter, love” (and of course a car seat and diapers – preferably cloth) is pretty clear.

But, when you’re getting ready for your little bundle of joy to join your family and you’re trying to prepare as much as possible, it’s easy to fall prey to the “buy all the things” syndrome. Or, for some of us, fall prey to the “a particular someone likes to ‘buy all the things’ for me whether I wanted them or not” syndrome…which is a whole other topic for our therapists.

Back to baby prep. It gets tricky because one item that works great for one child may not work for another, or what one family used for all its kids may not be what you’d like to use. Then, you also have the advice and products that fall out of favor (or now pose a safety hazard even though your parents thought they were “perfectly safe” when you were a child).

In our case, one of the biggest things I’ve prepped for (TWICE, knowing full well that we didn’t use it with our first child and going ahead with the idea anyway) but didn’t use was our changing table. In earnest, our son’s was his dresser with a changing pad attached; our daughter’s is a 6-square storage unit with the same changing pad secured.

And neither got any use.

Oh, sure, we’re using the insides of the dresser and storage unit for clothes and blankets and sheets and…well, useful stuff. The changing table idea, though? Not so useful. What is useful for this purpose? An old blanket or our travel changing mat on the floor or in the pack ‘n play. Just as quick and easy (possibly more so), really.

What else do we not use that we were super excited to get? Our Bumbo. With Child #1, he was just huge for his age, so the one time we tried it it got super stuck on his legs. With Child #2, she’s a perfectly-sized little sweetheart…except for her thighs. Back to the drawing board. #babythunderthighs #sosquishable Oh, and while it’s nice to have for a few very particular purposes, the double stroller we asked for when we were expecting our daughter has been used less than a handful of times. Hooray for co-sleeping; not so much for hauling a humongous monstrosity around and praying that you can make it fit the ONE AND ONLY ONE WAY that it’ll fit in our wayback.

Like I said, though, what works for one family doesn’t always work for another. You may love your changing area set-up and think we’re barbarians for the way we change our little one.  You may swear by your Bumbo. Heck, we’ve JUST recently started using our hand-me-down crib with our 9-month-old.

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That said, we’d love to hear from you. Did you ever use a changing table set-up? What was your biggest “I totally didn’t need that” baby item? Wipe warmer? About 3x the number of actually necessary baby clothes? Do tell!  

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