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Written by Mama Monday

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

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Family get-togethers can be awkward. Relationships that have evolved from childhood can have weird dynamics. People say things they wouldn’t normally say to a friend, colleague, or stranger right off the street. The differences between family members show clear rifts.

Then, the dreaded topic is brought up.

That’s right. Cloth diapers. (Why? What did you think I was going to say? ;-))

Obviously, people are dealing with some high emotions this year more than any other as the holiday season enters the radar. I thought I’d share some humorous and/or downright blunt talking points to use when a family member judges your choice to cloth diaper. They’re meant in all kindness and with humor – since we know that many families and friends are very supportive of cloth diapering – but may give you a good chuckle to consider using any for any of those eyebrow-raising aunts who’ve argued with you over your choice to cloth diaper.

The trick? USE HUMOR TO DEFLECT…AND JUST A TOUCH OF SNARK:

“You mean they make ones you can THROW OUT these days?! Mind. Blown.”

“Thanks for your thoughts. It’s so neat that my child’s excrement makes for such interesting dinner conversation!”

(To aunts/uncles/parents/grandparents, after listening to all their thoughts.) “Thank you so much for your advice. Now, what did your parents use to diaper you?”

“You think this is crazy? You should see our co-sleeping, breastfeeding, baby-led weaning, babywearing house! Cloth diapers are no big. Now, have you tried my my homemade kimchi?”

“Between you and me, they’re really more for me than for the baby. I’m addicted to the adorable styles!” (Hey. Sometimes brutal honesty is a unifier!)

“I appreciate your thoughts on the diapers, but we appreciate them for their cost savings/eco-friendliness/cuteness…” (Fill in the blank with your favorite, honest to goodness cloth diapering reasoning.)

(To someone who’s already a parent who brings up the “poop issue.”) “Wait…don’t all parents have to deal with poop regardless of the diaper they choose? Or is your Johnny’s poop somehow less gross? This is fascinating…”


And only to be used when encountering an extreme staunch cloth diaper detractor and you’re experiencing a “break glass in case of emergency” moment:

“So…who’d everyone vote for?”

(Just kidding. That’s never acceptable.)

 

Hopefully you won’t have to use any of these (but if you do, be sure to say it with a smile) and that your holidays are fun, low-key, and completely devoid of all those keep-it-to-yourself awkward (or downright infuriating) topics!

We’d love to hear your best comeback to anyone who has questioned your cloth diapers! Share your favorite for others who truly understand your pain.

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With one child, you immediately see how quickly the passage of time happens. You can’t believe that, in what feels like a mere second, your little immobile, helpless bundle of softness turns into your favorite, funniest, wisest, silliest real-life person. I’m still blown away with the level of awareness that a 4-year-old can possess at times while maintaining a pure innocence that I protect and cherish at all costs.

After your second (or third or…) child, however, this passage of time is magnified tenfold. You don’t have the time to contemplate all the changes as they’re happening. By the time you appreciate the rolling over your little one has mastered, she’s cruising along the coffee table. Before you know it, she’s pushing away pouches in favor of REAL food when you can remember that she – recently – stuck her nose up at baby-led weaning. You see your kids interacting and snuggling and sharing toys without being told to and in those brief moments, amid your exhaustion and frantic pace-keeping, your heart simply couldn’t be more full.

This is my current state of existence in motherhood. Our little daughter, Harper, is officially a year old this past weekend.

That’s the sound of my mind exploding.

So, I thought I’d share exactly how we go about planning a simple birthday party that will be just as special and fun as her brother’s first (y’know, when I had more time to, like, make everything – including decorations – from scratch) while still juggling life. Because in the middle of these kids growing up, we’re also closing on a house this week, trying to get ahead of the holidays (since life will = moving boxes for quite some time), and work and life in general don’t slow down for anything.

Here are my best tips after doing this rodeo a few times now:

Pick a theme. Believe me. A theme is your bestie. I get the eye roll sometimes for picking a theme, and I understand why. A theme makes it seem like you’re going overboard. But, actually, a theme helps me to mentally organize and NOT let things get out of control.

For example, for Harper’s first, we’re doing A Very Hungry Caterpillar shindig. This gives me a super clear direction for the food (everything except the pizza is listed off on every page! Not that we’re doing ALL that food, but it helps), a color scheme, and invitations.

Keep it simple. After picking a theme, brainstorm some ideas that go along with it. Then, pick your favorite, say, two or maaaaaybe three.

In our case, I’m printing off a few small signs out of cardstock that will go with the food (On Monday, he ate one apple…), creating a simple green and red caterpillar to hang on the wall, and giving the handful of kids that will be there goodie bags with a wind-up green caterpillar, crayons, and maybe some candy. Super simple.

Use colors more than trademarked stuff. Have you ever noticed how expensive all the character party stuff is?! It’s crazy town. And the worst part is that when you’re done with it, it’s hard to reuse (unless you keep a stash of mismatched stuff for pizza nights…which is a great idea).

For our theme, we’re using two tones of green (a lighter and a darker) along with red. I got one tablecloth for a super long table that’ll be green, some red plates that were leftover from my son’s Dr. Seuss birthday (you can tell I’m a librarian)…you get the idea. We’ve reused some of our decorations for years, from handmade poufs to a cheap chalkboard sign, because they’re generic enough to work in many ways. Oh, and we skip the balloons and request that our guests do so, as well – they’re horrible for the planet.

Accept help when offered. This year, I’ve been lucky enough to have my mother, mother-in-law, sister, and brother/sister-in-law all offer to bring something. It’s crazy how helpful that is. I used to get a little, um, controlling about things (I’ll admit it) but I’ve learned to go with the flow. I still made her smash cake and did some ordering of the pizzas and some cupcakes (see? I used to make EVERYTHING – organic and “real food” – myself…not that there’s anything wrong with that. Her smash cake is organic, at least. ;-)) and little odds and ends, but it’s such a strain off my mind to have it equally disbursed.  

So, make a list of your menu and divvy it up. Even if you only have one family member or friend offer to help, it’s still a little less you have to do. Or if you have a crafty friend, go ahead and ask if they can hook you up with some simple decorations.

Let the kids be kids. I’ve learned that maybe one or two really simple activities are all kids need and the rest can be left up to them. Whether it’s a game you already own that fits the theme or just a quick print-off of a coloring sheet, that’s really all you need. Kids are great at making their own fun, so don’t overthink it too much.

Whatever it takes to make it a special, memorable, but low-stress event, great!

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What tips do you guys have to add that make your family’s birthday parties easier?

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Don’t get me wrong. I love all of the fabulous colors and prints that Thirsties has given the world. Alice Brights? The Woodland Collection? The Ocean Collection? The modern watercolor perfection that is Cactus Garden and Melon Party? All amazing.


But, without any requests to say this from the powers that be, I’m particularly psyched about this new fare.
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If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out a recent post about the Outdoor Adventure Collection. It does a great job of laying out the prints, colors, and style availability, in case you haven’t seen already.


Maybe it’s the connection to camping – which everyone at Thirsties seems to be passionate about. (Personally, I live in the foothills of the Adirondacks. Needless to say, these prints remind me of summer and my favorite smell EVER – a campfire.)

Maybe it’s the fact that the prints are so incredibly unique yet cohesive in their use of corresponding colors. And, speaking of colors, hooray for Midnight Blue! Navy is one of my favorite fashion colors (like, for my own wardrobe), so of course it’s a go-to for my daughter, too. I like to think of it as a “moody neutral” – it goes with everything but without being “blah.” So, needless to say, I was equally impressed with Midnight Blue as I was the fun prints.

Speaking of prints, what do I love about them?

Well, Happy Camper is pure whimsy. The doodled style is casual and fun. I’m all about all things old school, so I love timelessness of the vintage camper, canoe, campfire, and picnic table. Plus, details like the banner of triangle pennants make this my #1 fave.

Adventure Trail is more stylized and nature-informed. Our family is full of animal lovers, so these bears, hedgehogs(!), and raccoons mixed with clover, trees, canoes, and wandering man’s bag, speaks to us. You can just picture all the scenery and experiences this solo adventurer must be having, y’know?

Mountain Bike is the most geometric of the bunch, but totally keeping with the theme. It literally give the sense of upward motion, sending the wearer to the top of a mountain along with the birds and clouds. So. Fun.

Speaking of fun, Birdie is cheerful and intricate without taking itself too seriously. That adorable yellow birdie nesting amongst the flowers, leaves, and branches is just heartwarming. It almost reminds me of a peace dove and olive branches – or maybe that’s just me. Either way, it makes me feel happy and at peace. Isn’t it cool when a diaper can do all that?

 

Thirsties Outdoor Adventure Collection

Isn’t that the cutest gif ever, BTW?

I’d love to hear what all of your favorites are, too! Feel free to drop a line in the comments.

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One of the best things about Thirsties organic wipes is their versatility. Needless to say, a regular, disposable wipe has a one-time use – and then gets tossed away. Cloth wipes, on the other hand, have a multitude of uses, and we’re sharing some of our favorites today!

***These uses are only for after thoroughly washing your wipes. Just so we’re clear. ;-)***


“Family” cloth – I don’t use them this way, personally, but many families looking to reduce their waste swear by “family cloth” as a replacement to toilet paper. Just look at it as using the baby’s wipes as your own, I guess. 😉

Washcloths – This may be a no-brainer but Thirsties wipes are also perfect washcloths. Like, you could go buy a set (or several) for your bathroom just for this purpose. Knowing that they’re an organic option with two buttery soft layers means that they beat the heck out of the rough store brands AND come in super fun colors. What’s not to love?

DIY Reusable Cleaning Wipes – After potty training, your wipes aren’t done working for you. (Make sure you’re definitely done because some cleaners will void your Thirsties warranty.) Try making DIY reusable cleaning wipes to help cut back on your family’s waste. We keep a container of these under the sink in the bathroom (because while our older son is potty-trained, things can still get a tad messy) and just mix a variation of the solution to re-moisten once in awhile. Plus, it smells WAY better than store-bought.

Rags – Hand-in-hand with the cleaning wipe idea, Thirsties wipes make great cleaning rags when they’re done wiping bums. (Did I just go there? Yup, I did!) So, again, give them a good cleaning and toss them wherever you need rags for wiping things up. The two layers – one a super soft organic cotton, the other a super absorbent terry cloth – give you options when wiping up spills or needing some more “grab” when scrubbing something.

Plus, they’re not too thick, not too thin. Essentially, they’re the Goldilocks cloth.

Dusting/cleaning floors – A lot of people swear by microfiber cleaning cloths for cleaning wood surfaces, but for some reason they always seem to snag the skin on my hands (and my hands really aren’t dry, which is perplexing). I’ve heard I need to put them through the wash a few times to amend this, but it hasn’t worked.

Y’know what does work? Cotton and terry cloth. Bam, problem solved.

Washing/drying the car – This goes for reaching all those cracks and crevices inside your car, too! But, if you’re hoping to avoid leaving streaks, give these a try.

DIY Makeup Removers – Another way to cut back on waste is to try out this DIY makeup remover wipe “recipe”, which includes natural alternatives to the many nasty chemicals often found in the store-bought versions. I’m pretty bad at remembering to take off my makeup at the end of the day (or I shower in the evening so it’s a non-issue), but I could’ve used these wipes during my community theater days! Oh, the cakiness!

These are just a few ideas to get you started! We’d love to hear any of your own uses for cloth wipes aside from wiping tushies in the comments. Share and share alike!

 

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Maybe it’s just us, but we’re not really into the scary side of Halloween. I’ve read that it’s a lot better than it was back in the early 20th century (mayhem and super creepy homemade costumes!), but watching terrifying movies and putting out gruesome decorations that freak the neighborhood kids out just isn’t my idea of fun. I don’t know; maybe I’m just getting boring in my old age. 😉

But, you’d be surprised how many kids are brought up watching these things – and from an early age. I’ve already had a kindergartener tell me that his parents dressed his little sister up as Chuckie last year – and he totally knew who the character was. I’m still hoping he didn’t watch the movie, but ya never know.

So, just in case you’re like me (and if you do like the scary stuff, no offense meant! Everyone celebrates holidays in their own way), I’m sharing some of my family’s favorite not-so-scary Halloween books and movies/shows to watch this time of year.

***For the record, we have a 4-year-old son and an 11-month-old daughter (who’s not supposed to watch TV and doesn’t for the most part, but you know how that goes).***

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Movies/Shows

Curious George: A Halloween Boo Fest – When I say that Curious George (namely, the TV show version) is our family’s favorite, it’s an understatement. My husband and I probably prefer Curious George more than our kids, who do, indeed, like the show; we even prefer it to grown-up fare, if you can believe that. The Man in the Yellow Hat is my husband’s spirit animal (I wish I was kidding) and I’ve sat analyzing the show from every angle (The Man character = Ross from Friends, I swear).

So, when they released Boo Fest, we were ecstatic. The whole thing takes place at their country house (which my husband considers his dream home…again, not kidding) and revolves around an old tall tale about a scarecrow called “No Noggin” who kicks off the hats of unsuspecting trick-or-treaters. The music and humor make this juuuuust scary enough for the littles to enjoy while injecting some great autumn fun. The secondary characters are just as timeless as George and the Man, too.

Mickey’s Monster Musical – If your little ones love Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, they’ll love Mickey’s Monster Musical. While it uses typical Halloween monster characters – Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster, ghosts – they get a mild Mickey makeover when they’re played by the Disney characters, themselves. As adults, my husband and I give each other the side eye and a smirk – the premise is blatantly based on some old horror films, but we recognize it most closely resembles The Rocky Horror Picture Show; even some of the organization of songs and general tunes seem too close to be random, hee hee – but our little boy loves it, and that’s all that matters to us. Plus, the songs ARE kinda catchy.

If you buy the double DVD (which we ended up doing when we found ourselves fed up with a lack of kid-friendly Halloween fare), there’s another MMC Halloween-themed show, Mickey’s Treat.

Mickey’s House of Villains – Found on Netflix (woohoo!), this winds a storyline of Disney villains taking over the “House of Mouse” (Mickey Mouse’s more grown-up “club” from the 90s TV show) through a handful of old and new Halloween Disney shorts. Honestly, my favorite part is the shorts, but our son seems to enjoy the whole thing, even if he has to convince us that “I won’t be scared, guys.”

The ending with essentially a battle between Mickey and friends vs. the villains could be construed as a teeny bit scary, but it’s a happy ending and you can also always end it after the shorts if you think your little one won’t like it. (I still consider it low on the scare-o-meter, but .)

Bedknobs and Broomsticks – Speaking of the scare-o-meter, this one’s more on the high end, so depending on the age of your little one, take this into consideration. For the most part, the film takes place in the sleepy WWII-era England countryside and revolves around a sweet but no-nonsense witch-in-training (Angela Lansbury) taking in three kids who have been orphaned by the war. While searching for a magic spell, they take mystical journeys (particularly cartoon-based ones) that give it a more Halloween-ish air of Mary Poppins, before things get darker when some Nazis infiltrate the scene.

The ending may be scary for some (I answered plenty of questions about Nazis and the suits of armor that kind of creepily fought them off – genuine questions, not fearful questions, but still), so enter at your own risk. This is by far the scariest suggestion on the list, so skip it for the younger set. It’s one that my husband adored as a child so we’ve added it to our annual “must see” list, but we’re quirky; we’ll be adding Arsenic and Old Lace when the kiddos are older, if that tells you anything.

Room on the Broom – You can either read this story or watch the half-hour-length movie/show (also available on Netflix), totally up to you, but I actually prefer the celebrity voice overs of the Oscar-nominated short movie. Either way, it’s about a kind-hearted, generous witch who makes “room on her broom” for several animals before encountering a problem that’s solved with the help of cooperation and friendship. (From the makers of The Gruffalo, also an awesome not-too-scary monster book.) This has become one of my personal favorites.

Books

Creepy Carrots – A Caldecott Honor book for its awesome illustrations, this book is full of some creep – but no real scares – making it great for the younger set. Jasper is a carrot-lovin’ rabbit who is terrified that he’s being followed by some creepy carrots. This is a fun, excellent read for those who are too young for monster and ghouls. (My students and kids all love it and get the giggles while reading it, so hopefully yours will, too!)

The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything – A classic Halloween tale with rhythmic repetition that gets the kiddos hooked, it tells of a little old lady who encounters all sorts of spooky things – a pumpkin head, a wiggly shirt, pants with no body, stomping boots – and walks faster and faster to her home. (Is she REALLY not afraid of anything, I wonder?) When they all catch up to her, she’s brave enough to answer the knock on her door, show them how unafraid she is, and even offer them a way to scare somebody. See if your little ones can guess what the solution is at the end!

Pumpkin Trouble – Adorably silly, this is a cute story about a duck who wants to make his own jack o’lantern but encounters some, um, trouble. (Spoiler alert: He falls in while scooping out seeds.) Even more giggle-inducing trouble ensues when he encounters his friends, who don’t realize it’s their friend, Duck. Little. Ones. Love. This. Book. It may seem super simple, but it’s totally worth buying. Kids of all ages love to reread it (or have it read to them) over and over again.

Apples and Pumpkins – If fall is your family’s favorite, like ours, this book is perfect. It captures the fun of picking apples and pumpkins, making a jack o’lantern, and going trick-or-treating without all the scary stuff. This is one of four books in Anne and Lizzy Rockwell’s series of seasonal books. The illustrations are sweet and classic, as is the story.

These are just a handful of our family’s favorites; hopefully you don’t think they’re too spooky!

We’d love to hear your own favorite family-friendly Halloween books and movies in the comments to share ideas with all! End let me know if you like this type of round-up. As a librarian by trade, I’d love to share more holiday-themed lists if you guys like them.