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Written by Mama Monday

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

I haven’t seen a movie in an actual movie theater in awhile. When I say “awhile” I actually mean a super long time. Like, before our son was born…and he’s going into kindergarten in the fall. Pretty sure it was Toy Story 3 (and, man, did I bawl!).

But this doesn’t mean that our family doesn’t watch movies. Our older son (and, now, our daughter, who insists on doing EVER-Y-THING he does and more) sees old Disney movies at his grandparents’ houses and we have a handful of family-friendly fare we keep on hand.

By far our kids’ new favorites (and, in turn, our new favorite) are usually high quality (no scary stuff), just the right length, super inexpensive, and fit into our schedule wonderfully. We just pop some popcorn, pull up some blankets and pillows, and dive into PBS Kids Family Night every Friday on the PBS Kids channel. (You don’t even need fancy schmancy cable for it – just the super basic version, which is what we have. ;-))

You may think anything PBS is kinda lame, and if you’re not into their kids’ shows yet, it might not be for you. But our kiddos each have their favorites – our daughter Harper LOVES Daniel Tiger (and don’t tell him we know, but our son Hadley still does, too!), he prefers Wild Kratts, they both love Arthur and Sesame Street, and we all love Odd Squad (especially my husband, to be honest).

So, each Friday at 7pm we know that they’ll be offering an hour-long movie (which is the PERFECT length for their attention spans and bedtime) that’s essentially a super long version of an episode of one of our favorites. Now, if we happen not to be excited about the offering for that week, we’ll either do a family activity together outside the house that evening or watch an old movie that our kids enjoy. Either way, we’re putting in some solid, relatively relaxed family time.

My favorite moment so far came the Monday after we’d had our first “Family Movie Night.” Hadley was getting ready to go to pre-K that morning and said excitedly, “I can’t wait to ask Connor* what he did for Family Night!!!” as if it was a holiday and EVERYONE celebrated it. It was definitely a teachable moment but also showed how important our Friday night ritual became to him pretty quickly. It really has been a way to relax and come together as a family at the end of a hard week.

It’s so cool to see the love of PBS programming that my husband and I appreciated as children (and now as adults when we enjoy programs like Sherlock and Downton Abbey – may it rest in peace – or American Experience and Antiques Roadshow) being loved and embraced by our own kiddos now.  

Is there something that you do as a family – whether it’s a game night, a “no devices allowed” policy, or a super simple movie night – that helps you all unwind and appreciate each other on a regular basis? We’d LOVE to hear your ideas in the comments!

*Not his real name.  

We’ve been talking a lot about summer fun (can you blame us?!) lately. Today I thought I’d share my favorite uses for our Thirsties wet bags during summertime. Of course they’re ideal for and sold as dirty diaper containment on-the-go – which they’re AMAZING at. You’d be surprised at how little stinkiness sneaks out!

I’m so proud that my husband is the one who came up with the idea for this blog post. I know we use our wet bags for a bunch of uses, but he’s the one who reminded me how much easier it is to use them when we travel or make a trip to the beach. So, a shout-out to him for reminding me of all the cool ways we’ve used our Thirsties bags!

* In these examples, the wet bags have been cleaned to high heaven (and I often give the insides an additional wipe with a natural cleaning solution). They come clean really well and I’m honestly not concerned that there’s any huge germ/grossness factor since we roll up our cloth diapers pretty tightly and dump out as much poop as possible into the toilet, anyway. Just a little PSA. 😉

Swimsuit storage – The #1 alternative use for wet bags is to still use them for a “wet” purpose – namely, to contain swimsuits after some fun in a lake, pool, or water park. I’ll often pack the swimsuits dry into the wet bag (sometimes even splitting them up – one with my husband’s trunks and towel, one with my suit and towel, etc so that we just hand out the bag to each person to make changing easy) then we’ll toss the wet stuff back in when we’re done.

I pop this stuff right in the wash when we get home to avoid any mildewing or anything. Easy peasy!

Side note: Did you guys KNOW that Thirsties is releasing their own adorable swim diapers this week?!?! Check out their Facebook page for more details!!!

Compartmentalizing packing – Kind of like how I separate everyone’s swim stuff into a bag, I’ll use the wet bags to organize our luggage and car packing a bit. I’m not a crazy organizer, but I’ve found that putting things together – often times in a sturdy, space-saving wet bag – helps me put a hand on what we need way quicker and not have loose items rolling around the car.

So, this could be a bag for beach toys, a bag for fruit and other snacks. Any of those sticky, spillable things – the lotions, sunscreens, baby wash, toothpaste – often get their own bag. However it works for your needs, go for it.  

Activity bags – Like I just mentioned, having bags for certain tasks or items is super helpful. Well, putting kids’ favorite activities into their own bag (maybe assign each kid a different print or color) is another strategy we use to keep things not only contained but less stressful on trips.

An example would include favorite action figures for our older son, a mess-free marker coloring book (you know about those, right?? Lifesavers) and some extra paper for the imagination, a favorite book, and I usually grab a cheap “extra” toy or travel activity that’s brand new to them that adds an element of surprise (and gives us some extra quiet time from the backseat).

Dirty clothes – When I’m packing, I always make sure that we’ll have an extra wet bag (whether we pack it individually or we empty one along the way) that can contain dirty clothes. Now, I don’t normally do ALL the dirty clothes this way, but super stinky or gross items get their own bag – and by the end of the trip, any extra clean clothes tend to end up in their own CLEAN wet bag to avoid getting mixed in with the used stuff.

A quick picnic bag – Picnic baskets are such a sweet idea, but they’re not always a practical choice. If it’s a last-minute lunch at a park, we’ll often grab some items from the fridge (especially if we’ve got a kitchenette while traveling) that we can all split and just go. While it doesn’t work exactly like a cooler, it contains any moisture (like from a water bottle) and makes for a super portable meal.

I’ve also tossed frozen water bottles in a bag along with a couple of cool ones and they’ve stayed nice and cold all day (and recycled the plastic later – I prefer zero waste when possible, but sometimes we have to improvise when traveling).

There are seriously SO many ways you can use these things. An added bonus is that sometimes another parent will admire the print of my wet bag and it starts up a nice conversation about cloth diapers. 😉

We’d LOVE to hear your favorite uses for wet bags in the comments!


My husband and I used to visit local farmers’ markets more frequently before we had kids. (We all used to do a LOT more things before kids, didn’t we?) As much as we said life wouldn’t change when kids came along, they did. Of course.

But, while we don’t go as frequently or to as many markets as we used to, we still make it a point to go. Usually when things warm up (we usually make one concerted effort during winter, but it’s mostly meat and root vegetables – or brought in from out-of-state), we scope out the weather for the weekend and, if it looks good, put off the weekly grocery shopping until after our favorite local farmers’ market on Saturday morning. And off on a family adventure we go.

Here are just a handful of my favorite reasons we bring our family to the farmers’ market:


– Way more fun than grocery shopping. Depending on how you feel about grocery shopping, a trip to the farmers’ market usually rates higher on the “fun” scale. It’s assumed you’ll socialize with the farmers, and oftentimes this congeniality spills over to the other patrons.

Oh, and so many people bring their friendly dogs and kids. What’s more fun for kids? (Aside from free samples…)

Doubles as a play date. It’s a great place to meet another family and casually peruse the offerings. There’s usually enough space for kids to play (some of our markets are in parks but our “main” one is in a large paved area – still enough breathing space for kids to goof around), and usually a kid-friendly food truck for snacks or beverages.

And I can’t count how many people we know that we run into anyway! It kind of turns into an impromptu play date, regardless (for parents AND kids).

– Doubles as mealtime. Speaking of kid-friendly fare, ours usually has at least two food trucks and one beverage truck in addition to the amazing fresh goodies available. So, if we don’t feel like having breakfast beforehand, we can buy a baked good at one of the vendors or a “breakfast bowl” from a food truck. Or, if we want to grab a quick lunch at the end of our shopping, we’ll split a brick oven pizza (seriously, we’re spoiled) or natural hotdog or quesadilla. And the fresh-squeezed lemonade is even more amazing since they also serve local coffee (for the parents who need it to, y’know, keep going).


As fruit becomes more and more plentiful (I’m talking to you, berries!), our kids will down a carton in one sitting, so that alone works for a quick snack. Add some freshly baked bread and grass fed cheese and you’re picnicking like the best of ‘em.

– Broadens the family’s culinary scope. Last weekend, our son picked out these greenish purple heirloom tomatoes instead of regular cherry ones, spinach (which normally he’s not into), and devoured a pizza with whole pieces of basil without flinching. That wouldn’t have happened at home.

Let’s just say that between being able to talk to the farmers about their food and simply making these foods available to them, our kids are becoming braver about their food choices. (The fact that there aren’t a million processed food aisles surrounding us helps, too.)

– Teaches children about the food system and sustainability. It takes baby steps to live sustainably, doesn’t it? From using cloth diapers to choosing reusable grocery bags to picking foods that nourish our bodies more sustainably, it’s those small choices that eventually add up to an overall philosophy – we want to treat the world and ourselves with kindness.

Well, the farmers’ market is a great, hands-on way to not only tell our children but SHOW them how our choices impact the world. I explain to my son why we go for the organic fruits and veggies, or why we care about grass fed and free-range eggs, meat, and cheeses. If we just bought these things without involving our kids, it wouldn’t pass the meaningful decision-making along to them. They feel invested and I hear our almost 5-year-old making decisions with reason now. It’s a valuable lesson all around.

– Shows kids what a community is – and the importance of supporting it. So many of our farmers and vendors know and remember our family – and it’s not just because my husband and I have been visiting them for years. They talk directly to our son and daughter and call them by name. They care that he’s excited about starting kindergarten and comment on how tall she’s getting. They remember our favorite foods and point out whether they’re available. It’s heart-warming.

Watching as people meet each other and socialize (and are able to ask questions about their food), it reminds me of what communities truly are. We may see friends when we’re there, but everyone feels connected whether a stranger or not. Seeing the huge range of people alone makes you feel like you’re a part of something bigger.

And sometimes forking over a little more money knowing that you’re getting a quality product that will nourish your family on a higher level, and that the money will be going directly to a family working hard to produce that item, is way easier and more fulfilling than a trip to the market (although we do budget accordingly).     


So, do you have a local farmers’ market you like to frequent with your family? What’s your favorite thing to do there? Are you all about the produce? The crafty vendors? Or do you like it to double as a social event as much as we do? I’d love to hear in the comments!


Happy Memorial Day, everyone! Whether you’re poolside, camping, or just enjoying some family time, I know we’re all thinking about the brave men and women who gave their lives fighting for our freedoms – as well as those who put their lives on the line everyday keeping us safe.


As the “unofficial” start of summer, this holiday has me dreaming about how we’ll be spending OUR summer as a family. (I’m an educator and summer doesn’t really start in our neck of the woods until the end of June or so.)

Since we moved last fall, I’ve realized how much S-T-U-F-F we have accumulated – some of it of our own accord, but a vast majority of it as well-meaning gifts from loved ones. I’ve observed that our 18-month-old daughter almost never plays with toys (unless she pilfered one from her big brother) and our almost 5-year-old son doesn’t play with a vast majority of his toys because they’re constantly in disarray; he simply doesn’t even know/see what he even has.

So, aside from doing some purging and selling at a family garage sale, I’m hoping to build our summertime fun on experiences rather than more stuff, stuff, stuff.

Can anyone else relate? If so, maybe my go-to summer fun ideas for families will help you break from  And if you’re looking for some more simple summer fun activities, check out my post from last Memorial Day!

 

Get wet! There’s nothing quite as fun as a good, old-fashioned kiddie pool, is there? Both of our kids could stay in the bathtub all night if we let them. Well, that concept transfers great to the fresh air of our backyard. We keep a Dollar Store bin of old bath toys in our garage to toss in (or use with my next tip) and let them have at it.

But your family’s water fun doesn’t have to stop there. An inexpensive water table can bring kids HOURS of fun. You’d be surprised at how long kids can stand in one place and splash, pour, scoop, and giggle. (Even my super active 4-year-old son, if you can believe that!) Oh, and the occasional hose-related sprinkler never gets old!

A final “get wet” go-to is our favorite amusement park, which has both wet and dry rides and is a family tradition going way back. We can make it to our favorite spots by lunchtime then hit the rest of the town in the afternoon, so this is an annual trek we love to make.

Cook (and eat) outside. Who is it who first said that food tastes better when eaten outside? It’s totally true, isn’t it? We’ll often cook most of the meal inside (boiling corn on the cob, chopping salad), but as long as some aspect is grilled – the meat, some veggies, or even my “famous” grilled pizza – that’s all that matters. Pour some lemonade and enjoy!

There are also those days where we’ve had too much time inside and find ourselves climbing the walls that I surprise the kids with a picnic. It may just be a blanket in the yard with simple finger foods, but you’d think they’d never eaten before with how excitedly they devour the food!

Oh, and wasn’t summer just MADE for popsicles? And weren’t popsicles MADE for outside eating? (For those of us who hate a mess, you totally get what I’m saying.) Side note: This is a great site for frozen treat recipes!

Get that “camping” experience…anywhere. You don’t have to rent a camp or cabin and shlep hours away to have the same fun as you would while camping. (Side note: I’m actually still considering renting a campsite, so I clearly have NOTHING against this at all.)

Use the proper precautions, but set up a campfire to roast some hotdogs and, of course, s’mores in your own backyard. I’m ecstatic that we were gifted a fire pit and that my husband’s equally excited to light that baby up soon. It’s one of those times I won’t sweat whether what we’re eating is natural or organic – a s’more is a s’more.

And who says you have to go camping to pitch a tent?? My sister put up a large tent for the kids to hang out in at a family event and I thought it was genius. They ate their meal in there, they played in there, and it offered them a good amount of shade on a super hot, sunny day. So, if your kids are too young to camp out in the backyard (as are mine), you can still have fun with a tent during the day!

For a real nature experience, look for nature trails in your area to “hike” with your littles this summer, too. With my own growing belly, I find that my energy isn’t quite high enough for a real hike, but a nature trail is just the right speed for our family. And you might be surprised at how much you end up seeing and how much fun your little ones has with the experience.

Keep things hands-on. Our son had his first year of pre-K this past year (only 3 half days a week, but it was a good routine and just the right educational start for him) and he learned a ton. I don’t want this learning to stop (especially with kindergarten on its way), but I don’t want to force it on him, either. So while I have some simple letter/number books to keep practicing his writing, I’m hoping to do some super simple art projects with him.
play quote
And, of course, our daughter (who’s 18 months going on 18 years and wants to do EVERYTHING her brother does) will also get in on the action. Whether it’s finger painting, coloring simple coloring pages with markers and crayons, or squishy clay, I hope to keep things loose but still educational.

My favorite way to keep the kids learning without the boredom is through zoos and museums. We have the perfect-sized zoo very close by, so we’ll be getting season tickets there. We already were gifted a generous family membership to an art museum, as well, and there’s a science museum less than an hour away that I took students to for a field trip. Needless to say, we’ll be heading there AT LEAST once this summer. Then throw in our usual trip to visit friends in Western Massachusetts and we’ll definitely be hitting up the Eric Carle Museum (if you haven’t been, it’s a MUST!).  

 


What are some ways that you incorporate some fun into your family’s summers? We’d love to hear more ideas!

 

 


Last year, I wrote about our tips and experiences with
cloth diapering on the road. With many of us planning road trips or vacations, I thought folks may appreciate a few more ideas for using cloth diapers while traveling – this time a combination of my own tips and those from readers who were kind enough to give us their own great advice.

Can you tell I can’t wait for vacation this year? 😉 I can’t be the only one.

First, I’ll add a few thoughts to my suggestions from last year.

Embrace the washer. We now find ourselves searching out vacation spots that allow us access to a washer, whether it’s a hotel that provides one or a rental property. Lately, we find that rental properties actually afford us lots more flexibility than a hotel (although the pool trade-off is sometimes worth it) thanks to a kitchen or kitchenette in addition to the diaper- and clothes-washing opportunities.

It’s so much easier when naptime rolls around or everyone’s reached their over-stimulated-by-crowds point to head back to our own personal space where we can feel more at home, put up our feet, and provide our own quick snack options or have the flexibility to wash our diapers. And you might be surprised that most renters don’t bat an eye when you ask whether they have hard or soft water (which helps you plan for washing methods).

Break your own routine. Sometimes it’s best to go with the flow when it comes to vacations. You may have to completely change your wash or general cloth diapering routine – just go with the flow. Some people actually enjoy and embrace this aspect of travel most.

For example, if you’ll be camping, you may want to bring some rope to hang the diapers to dry and perhaps a bucket and plunger for a camp washer (using purified water and dumping waste water in a toilet facility or properly-spaced hole far enough from your camp and a clean water source). If this isn’t a break from normal thinking, I don’t know what is.

See this #ThirstiesLive about washing off the grid!

Oh, and by far a break in my own routine would be to rely on flats/FSTs – a suggestion from some readers but also several camping in cloth web sites – since they’re so forgiving when it comes to washing and weight concerns.  

Speaking of ideas from our readers, here are our favorites.


“I actually prefer to use disposable wipes so I don’t have to spray off poopy wipes along with the poopy diapers. My daughter is 17 months, so not EBF anymore. I wish her poop was still washing machine friendly!” – Mary

“I like using disposable liners when we travel.” – Sarah

 

“If you are staying with someone, ask before the trip about using their washer. Ask the make and model number. Be kind when borrowing a friend’s our family member’s machine, always bring your own detergent AND bring machine cleaner so you can clean their machine after. It isn’t gross to us but it may be gross to some people using a machine after washing cloth diapers.” – Heather

 

Awesome ideas, guys! We’d LOVE to hear if you have any additional ideas or tips that work well for you when it comes to traveling with cloth. And if not, let us know what your vacation plans will be this summer! I’ll be sharing my own family’s summer fun plans next week. 🙂