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29 December 2011

Project 52 | Joy | Week 52

Motherhood is


oh, this boy. he's amazing.

he blows me away every single day.

I can not imagine a sweeter, more loving child.

If these babies are even half as wonderful as him, 

things are about to get pretty awesome around here.


Minot finally got some snow, and since it was a super warm 32* outside, we got PLAY in the snow- something that's not easy to do most winters up here. This boy, he loved it.

I honestly could not be more thankful for this child. He's compassionate, loving, intelligent, snuggly (thanks to daddy), an excellent eater and sleeper, and he is such a good little listener. Some of that is just his awesome nature, but it's also a fair amount of hard work on his daddy's and my part.  Once again I say, you get what you put in! This boy turns 2 in a week, and although he has quite a bit of spit and fire, he TRULY wants to please us, and he is happiest making us happy. This makes it relatively easy to create a happy, harmonious environment with consistency and loving boundaries. I could not have asked for a better firstborn!

I can't believe it. My project 52 for 2011 is coming to a close and I am so thankful I participated in it this year. I have grown as a photographer so much, and it has truly made me focus on being a mother and defining that role. I can't wait to create a little book with this years images! I will be participating in Project 52 again, but it will look a little different- check back next week to see it!

Also up this next week- a recap post on our 2011 goals and some goals for 2012!

Happy *almost* New Year!

27 December 2011

Update | Triphalangeal Thumbs

Time for another update on Jarvis' condition- Triphalangeal Thumbs. For more background information, see where we left off 6 months ago.

Last post, we were going to try out the new splints for 6 months and then check back in with the doctor. Basically, the splints were ineffective, for several reasons. Splinting would only really work if it was done 24/7, which just isn't feasible since it renders his hands nearly useless. In addition, he would have to wear them for an extended period of time since his bones are still growing. Add those to the fact that splinting a tiny little thumb is VERY hard, and at least half the time he got one thumb or the other out overnight and that we had rubbing issues- splinting did not work. 

However, both Jace and I felt like the curvature had not gotten worse over the past 6 months, although it had not improved either. We met with the doctor, who initially seemed to think surgery was a definite. He had us take another set of x-rays (in office and super quick!), and once we got the images back, he was actually not as concerned. It appears like Jarvis has a prounouced curve when you look at his hands, but his x-rays showed bones that looked to be forming fairly well, considering.

Basically, Jace and I both feel that surgery for cosmetic reasons is not an option. His hands will look unusual for the rest of his life. I don't even really notice anymore, it's just normal to us, but it will continue to look stranger as his hands get bigger. As long as functionality is not impaired though, we feel like it will not be that big of a concern to have his hands look different. Kids will always find something to tease one another about, and you just can't shield your child from everything, even if you want to. 

The functionality concerns would be the only reason we pursue surgery. The concern would be that if the last joint continued to curve in towards his hand, then he would lose the stability and maneuverability of his thumbs, which is essential for many tasks. At this point in time, the curve is not pronounced enough to cause any functionality issues. He uses both thumbs VERY well, and I am continuing to work on activities that encourage him to isolate and strengthen his thumbs.

Although there is some debate, most doctors recommend that any surgery like this should be done before 2, in the hopes of impairing fine motor development the least possible. Obviously we are already at that point. So right now, the decision comes down to trying to predict how much more (if any) his thumbs will curve and whether to do preventative surgery now, or wait to see if he truly needs it. The surgery would involve cutting the last joint out and fusing the last two bones together. This would make the thumb resemble and operate more like a normal thumb. His hand would still not look completely normal, as the entire make-up of his thumb bones and position on his hands is slightly different. 

At this point, we have decided to wait. We will take another set of x-rays in June and meet with the doctor to evaluate the bone shape and potential rate of curvature. Then, we will make a decision to continue to wait, or schedule a surgery. 

Here are a couple of x-rays. They really are quite fascinating (especially if you go back at look at his older ones, here). As you can see, his thumb basically resembles his pinky, and it is placed a bit higher on the side of his hand than a normal thumb would be. Jace and I were discussing that if they weren't labeled left and right, you might have trouble telling them apart. 

Several people have asked about the chances of one of the twins having the same condition, so I thought I would address that as well. As I talked about before, sometimes this condition can be an indicator of several far more serious genetic conditions, however, after testing, we have ruled those out for Jarvis. For now, it seems as though this is just an isolated gene mutation that is NOT passed down genetically. This means that the likelihood of either of the twins having it is the same as any other baby- around 1 out of every 250,000. So we do not expect the twins to have it. But you know it's one of the first things Jace and I will be checking, haha! And if one of them DOES have it, then expect much more genetic testing on Jace, me, and the babies...

I am happy to answer any questions you may have, or family, feel free to call and ask away. There is so much more information I could put in here (like bone shapes and growth patterns), but I don't want to bore you! 

Christmas Recap

Oh my. This boy, he's so very spoiled!! We had a wonderful family Christmas day, and we were able to webcam or talk to most of our family from all over the country- sometimes technology is such a blessing!

Our one big gift to Jarvis was a train table and all the trappings, which he loved! We got the train tracks and all the accessories SUPER on sale about a year and a half ago, and they have been sitting in the closet waiting. I managed to find the train table on base at a garage sale for a STEAL! Love getting a good deal. He also got lots of trucks, vehicles, and oh so much more from family. Thank you to everyone! He enjoyed opening all the presents and getting to show them to everyone on the webcam. Here are just a few pictures to share our day!

A little pre-Christmas bowling- their favorite!

Jarvis' ornament for this year.

Back of Jarvis' ornament.

Merry Christmas!! In our annual mama-made Christmas Eve pajamas!

Daddy bringing the boy in for his first glimpse of the train table...

ummmm, for me??

yay!! it's all blurry because he was SO excited!!

Dog pile!

I hope every one of you had a blessed Christmas with those you love around you!

24 December 2011

Merry Christmas from the McCowns

We have quite a bit of family, and this military lifestyle has afforded us many friends, all over the world. I wish I could send a Christmas card and letter to EACH of you, but my hubby is 'frugal' so my list was limited. However, I am sharing our card digitally with the rest of you!

We hope you have a blessed Christmas Season and a wonderful New Year. This has been a year of hope and waiting for us, and we can't wait to see the fruition of our blessings in the coming year.

Pictures and card by the amazing Stacy VanDyck Photography!

This year, for the 3rd year in a row, circumstances are keeping us in the frozen North, and we are missing this holiday season with all of our families. It's bittersweet, because we truly love spending time with them, but it's wonderful to get to start some Christmas traditions with Jarvis, and to know that we are staying here to wait on two brand new lives. 

The joy and anticipation we once again feel this Christmas season as the birth of our much-awaited children draws near, is nothing compared to the joy, fear, and excitement Mary and Joseph must have felt as they awaited the birth of their child. A child who would change the world. What an overwhelming blessing, to know you carry the Savior of the world, to know you must raise him into the Son that God desired. It's a good reminder to all of us, that our children, although they may be biologically ours, they are not truly ours. They belong to our Lord, and are here with us for such a short time, ultimately, to grow and learn who their Savior is so that they may serve him all their lives.

Thank you, Lord, for the gift of your Son. For your forgiveness and love in the ultimate sacrifice. And thank you for everyday with my family, help me to raise them into Your purpose and goals, not my own.

Merry, Merry Christmas!

Santa Fly In | 2011

Merry Christmas Eve!

One of my favorite traditions associated with helicopter squadrons is the annual Santa Fly In. There's nothing cooler for kids (and adults!) than watching Santa land in a helicopter! This year in particular, Jarvis is so obsessed with helicopter and planes, he LOVED getting to play in the helicopters, even if he didn't love Santa so much!

Watching Santa land...

Santa landing...

Oh yeah, we spotted Santa... see the fear in those eyes?? haha!

We got to pet a bunny rabbit...

and a ferret...

but we did NOT like Santa...

We spent most of the time exploring the choppers with Daddy...

Merry Christmas EVE!!

23 December 2011

Project 52 | Traditions | Week 51

Motherhood is


Traditions that honor our values and goals.

Traditions that will be the cornerstones of our lives the next 18+ years. 

Christmas is such a wonderful time to celebrate and teach those traditions.

I can't wait to continue to grow them and teach them to the rest of our children.

And right now... I can't wait to see his little face on Christmas morning!

We started Christmas this morning with some of our family, and there is no doubt he now understands that those packages have presents for him. He kept asking for 'more trucks, more trucks!' 

styleberry blog |cyan baby bliss | fitori | phreckle face photography | {rik-see } photography | the vandyck family

22 December 2011

32 weeks | The Fishies

Well, tomorrow we hit 32 weeks with the twins. So far everything is going just fine with the babies. 

We had another ultrasound this past week, it had been 3 weeks since our last one. Both the babies put on a good amount of weight and looked very good. The ultrasounds are getting more and more difficult as the babies have pretty much maxed out their space and are crammed in together. 

Baby Girl A weighed in at 2lbs and 12ozs, and Baby Boy B weighed in at 3lbs 5 ozs. 

Baby Boy is still measuring in right about on time, and Baby Girl is about a week and a half behind. However, she is growing just fine on her growth curve so no concerns!

Baby Girl is still low and transverse (across) and Baby Boy is oh-so-high and transverse as well. She is curled into a little ball with her arms and legs crammed in the center of my belly, and his head is under one rib cage, with his hips in front of the other rib cage, and his legs and arms in the center. They both get hiccups frequently and make each other angry when they do. I would say right now, that Baby Girl is much calmer and low key, where as Baby Boy seems to be a bundle of energy like his brother. 

Basically, I am in pain all the time. And not from little baby kicks and jabs (although those do hurt). Physically, I am just about maxed out, everything is squished and rearranged and I'm not comfortable sitting, laying, or standing. 

Based on their size difference, my doctor is not willing to let me deliver naturally (due to the fact that Baby Boy, who would be second, is larger than Baby Girl), so we will have a scheduled c-section around 37 weeks.

However most twins come by 35 weeks... sometime in the next 3 weeks.... looks like it's time to pack the hospital bag!!

Snow or no snow??

I have SEVERAL blog posts to write, and a couple more I need to take pictures for. Hubby gets a 3 day weekend this weekend, and then is off for a week starting Wednesday, so hopefully I will have some more blogging time to catch up (since I now nap during Jarvis' nap every day!)

Everyone's been asking how the weather is up here... and let's just say, it's unseasonable warm, and we have yucky mud everywhere... It's not feeling very Christmas-y... So for fun, I compared the past 3 years....

Looks like no white Christmas for us this year!!

19 December 2011

Big Boy Movie | Firsts

In the past month, the 'mommy' guilt over adding two new siblings to Jarvis' life has slowly crept up on me... There's no denying things will be different around here. From here on out, my attention during the day will be divided among 3 children. 3 children's needs and wants and emotions. Don't get me wrong, we are thrilled, and I KNOW we will adjust, but it makes me a bit sad for Jarvis, because he's had the benefit of my undivided attention for 2 years now, and I love our relationship. He will learn and adjust. I'm sure we will have some rough patches, but I know eventually he will love having the playmates (since he tries to play with an uncooperative puppy and kitty all day long!)

But on that note, I have been thinking about how much harder it will be to DO anything or GO anywhere, at least for a while. We get out of the house at least 3 mornings during the week, and then a couple of times on the weekend, and Jarvis is at the age where he needs that. I can tell that my inability to easily take him places alone lately affects his energy level. So we will have to be intentional about getting him out and interacting with other kids, even after the twins come.

And we will have to be very intentional about giving him 'big boy' time with each of us. Time where HE gets to do something special as the big brother, something the babies can't do.

So to start that out, we took him to his first in-theater movie two weekends ago! Normally, he will watch one  20-30 minute educational show a day, but he's only really seen one movie at home. We decided to take him to an afternoon showing of Puss in Boots. We paid an absurd amount for tickets and popcorn (although he got in free!) and decided to take a chance!

Initially, he was terrified. The previews were very loud and the screen was huge. He clung to daddy and I wasn't sure if he would enjoy it at all. But about 30 minutes in, he started following the story line and actually watching and relaxing. He got 'treats' (M&Ms) and popcorn and loved watching the 'meow.' It actually turned out to be a good movie to take him to, because he is obsessed with puppies and kitties, so he loved watching the adventures of the cat.

Here's a (very dark) photo of him and Daddy after the movie ended... sorry for the poor quality!

He sat in daddy's lap the whole time and never asked to get down. The last 10 minutes or so he started getting a little bit restless, but really he did SO well. He talked a bit, but it was always related to the story line, and there were very few people there, so it didn't really matter.

Overall, I say the movie was a success and I think the 'big show' will be a wonderful special treat for him after the twins come! SUCH a big boy!!

this much [23 months]

Oh my.... this is VERY late.... However, I am going to put part of the blame on the fact that my (year and a half old) laptop up and died on me... boo.... Hubby bought me a new one though, so we are up and running, I have quite a few catch up posts for this week, so check back!

23 months... when did that happen?? I can not believe that my little baby boy is about to turn two... wow.

This is from the Santa Fly In up at the squadron (more pictures later)... and it pretty much sums up this age... he has begun to understand fear, and apparently, Santa is SCARY... Poor thing...

linking up with styleberryblog for her *this much* project...

16 December 2011

Project 52 | Organized | Week 50

Motherhood is


To each their own, but for me, sanity come in making things simple.

And since my body can't keep up with my brain right now,

I am focusing on any simplifying I can do while sitting.

Starting with my weak point- cooking.

Welcome to my new lifesavers...

(Ummmm, first off- WEEK 50???? When did that happen??? I can not believe it is almost Christmas and this year is almost over. wow.)

If you know me well, you know I have never really enjoyed cooking. I adore baking, because you follow exact recipes. But cooking? Nope. I don't like finding recipes, planning meals, grocery shopping, and least of all, actually standing in the kitchen and cooking.

I have no idea why I hate the whole process. When it comes down to it, cooking is creative, but it's not a form of creativity I am good at (which is probably why I dislike it so much- I AM a perfectionist over here!). So I made excuses and hubby and I ate horribly the first couple of years we were married. Then my child started eating baby food. And I discovered a simple, organized, rewarding way to make homemade baby food. And I knew when he started on table food, that I would have to get better about cooking. 

So I did. I cooked more, and he eats pretty much whatever I make. It got easier, more enjoyable, when I viewed it as a labor of love for my family.

But still. I wasn't organized. I need recipes. I'm not at the stage where I can throw things together or come up with substitutes on my own. I still need to follow directions. But I had recipes in 10 different cookbooks, online, and on cards all over. Meal planning took several hours and I dreaded it, but if I didn't plan, I hated cooking the next week.

So I decided to look back into a recommendation that my friend Shawna over at styleberryblog made a while ago. I uploaded all my recipes into a program called Evernote (see Shawna's blog for more detailed info- she did a wonderful tutorial on it!), and installed it on my Nook, iphone, and computer. I can access them anywhere! I can tag them by frequency of use, whats in them, or cookbook. I prop my Nook up in the kitchen and cook right off of it. It's super easy to sort and pick out recipes. It took me less than 10 minutes to meal plan 5 meals and sides for next week. SCORE!

 I went around and scanned all our normal grocery items into my iphone app called Grocery IQ (once again- check out Shawna's post!) so making our list is quick and easy. Plus it has the exact description and brand, so anyone grocery shopping for us after the babies come can tell exactly what we want.

Ahhhh. I can breathe better. And I hope I can cook better now!

How do you meal plan and organize your recipes?

15 December 2011

Cloth Diapering | *Questions

You guys came up with several VERY good questions on my cloth diapering system post, so I decided to answer them on a new post- keep the questions coming, I love helping people cloth diaper!

1. The diapers say don't use any sort of diaper rash cream because it causes gunk. What do you do when little man got diaper rash?

- First off, one of the benefits of cloth is reduced instance of diaper rashes, which is wonderful! But unlike some other cloth moms I know who NEVER had rashes, we have dealt with a few. You are right, you should not use any diaper cream up against the cloth diapers as it will cause repelling and lack of absorption. For little red irritations or rubbed spots, there are lots of natural creams that you can use directly against the cloth. I happen to use CJ's BUTTer because it was on sale! But the stuff lasts FOREVER and I don't think we will ever use it up! Just check to see if it's cloth friendly.

For more pronounced rashes (from teething or yeast), we would occasionally use Destin. When using those creams, we used fleece liners. Ours are on off brand and were bought used, but the Bummis Fleece Liners are exactly the same.You use them just like the flushable liners I had talked about in the last post, except the BIG thing is, these do NOT get washed with the diapers. These get put in with the regular laundry so that the diaper cream doesn't get on the diapers. I have one pack of 5 and have never needed any more.

2. Also, sizing can be tricky especially with skinny little legs so how do you know how to size appropriately?

-Honestly, sizing is a trial process. With cloth, it's not unusual to have some indentation in the skin around the waist and legs from the bunched up cloth. As long as your child isn't getting red or rashy or irritated by it, then it's not too tight. In general, I used whatever elastic setting in the waist allowed me to use the snaps the furthest outside of the diaper (this was easiest to explain to babysitters, etc). For the legs, when they are on their back with the diaper on, you should be able to lift up one leg and see no visible gaps between the diaper and their legs. Here is a chart from the Fuzzibunz website which has some recommendations to start with. If you are getting lots of leaking, determine where the leaking is coming from (back of leg when sitting up, front of thigh when laying down, etc) and problem solve the elastic settings from there. One of my big recommendations is that the front and back leg elastics do NOT have to be at the same setting. We started using FB around 5/6 months and I have only changed the elastic maybe 3 times. It's not something you will do often.

3. Do you do the Funk Rock rinse in addition to the regular Rockin' Green or instead of it?

- When I do use Funk Rock (every week or two) I do it in addition to the the regular Rockin' Green.

4. There are a few different kinds of the rockin green detergent. Which one do you use? Also how much detergent do you put into each load?

- The type of Rockin' Green you need to use is dependent on the type of water you have. Up here in Minot, we have very hard water, so I use the Hard Rock Wash. If you have very soft water, use Soft Rock; if your water is in between, use Classic Rock. Here's a chart to use as a reference. 

-The amount you use depends on your washer. Top-loaders use more water (which is better for diapers!), so they require a bit more detergent, 1.5T-2T. Front Loaders use less water and require less detergent. We have a front loader and I use about 1T. For a while we used more, and I had stink issues because it wasn't getting all washed out. 

5. Do you know if it's okay to use homemade laundry detergent on them? (Detergent = baking soda, washing soda, borax, & grated castile soap. And then I usually add distilled vinegar to the load as a fabric softener.

-First off, I have never used homemade detergent on my diapers, so I don't know from personal use, however the research/results I have seen from others would suggest no, not to use homemade. At least not that recipe. The problem lies in the grated soap. No matter what kind you use, soap by nature is intended to leave behind softening agents that can cause buildup/stink issues. From what I have seen, using baking soda, washing soda, and borax alone is fine because they are all non-sudsing agents, as long as you leave out the grated soap. And it's not recommended to use vinegar on diapers, nor do they need a fabric softener if they are washed without sudsing detergent. I've noticed that people with front-loaders have alot more trouble with homemade detergents than those with top-loaders, since they use more water.

My suggestion would to give whatever you would like a try, and see! If you start having stink or repelling issues, do a Rockin' Green soak to get everything out, and then try again with a different recipe. 

Any other questions? Hope that helped some!! :)

11 December 2011

Huey Flying Adventure

**This blog was started primarily for the family to stay in touch with us while we live so far away. It's evolved into a bit more than that, but hubby has decided to start 'guest' posting every once in a while on his projects and work life, to keep everyone informed. So here's his first post!**

Not our Huey, but cool!
Hey everyone! First post by Jace, hopefully I’ll start doing some more of these, and maybe we can change the name of the blog? Anyway, I am writing this post because of a crazy event in the helicopter the other day. 

For background info, my job flying consists of many things, but one of our primary missions is to escort convoys around the missile complex here at Minot AFB, ND. These convoys are carrying nuclear warheads to or from a missile silo coming from or going to be repaired. We fly these escort missions carrying specially trained Security Forces personnel (cops) who carry a variety of specialty weapons and equipment. 

While flying one of these escort missions on Friday, 2 December one of the more senior cops riding in the back started to complain about feeling airsick, which he had never gotten before. So as usual when someone starts getting airsick, we start an impromptu airshow… Ha, just kidding, no we start to fly really tame. Then he starts to explain that he had been having pretty strong headaches for the past 10 days or so. Thinking he was dehydrated, he had been drinking lots of water, to no avail, and that he had also been having weird pains in his chest the previous few days. One of the other cops on the helicopter with us just happened to be an EMT, so he started to assess the sick guy (cop #1) based on the things he had divulged. At this point in the flight I had just taken the controls from the co-pilot because, as is customary, he had just flown the previous thirty minutes and so it was my turn to fly. As the Aircraft Commander (AC) on this particular flight it was my job to make decisions for the aircraft, regardless of whether I was on the controls or not, so when cop #1 started to hyperventilate, I suggested we find someplace to set down and let him get out of the helicopter and get some air. So the co-pilot found a missile site for us to go land at since we don’t have landing rights just anywhere unless it’s an emergency, which at this point we didn’t think it was. The site had had chosen was far in front of the convoy route so that we could allow the convoy to catch up to us as we sat down, because we still had to provide support for the mission. Enroute to the landing site cop #1 had started to calm down gain control of his breathing again while the co-pilot, flight engineer, and I (the aircrew) were wrapping up our pre-landing procedures. But about two minutes out from the landing site cop #1 started to hyperventilate again. I initially made a turn to take us back to base but the crew decided it would be better to get him on the ground and assess him since we were close. We executed the landing at the missile site, and got cop #1 out of the helicopter, but he had to be supported by two other cops, because he was unable to stand. Seeing this, the crew and I started talking about the possibility of taking him directly to the emergency room at Trinity hospital in Minot. When the EMT who was helping hold up cop #1 came back up on the intercom I asked him if he also thought we should go to the ER, and he agreed saying that cop #1 appeared at that point to be going in and out of consciousness.  

With the decision made to take the cop to the ER we got the cops in and took off with all speed, coordinating with the other helicopter flying the convoy to take over full support of the mission and with the base to coordinate our arrival at the hospital. What would normally be a 30 minute flight passed in about 17 minutes as I pushed the speed of the helicopter to beyond the maximum speed indicated on the charts for our current conditions, knowing that the charted “max speed” is actually based on the flight controls at a full deflection, and that by leaving the controls roughly neutral I could exceed that speed by a fair bit, and that the helicopter would give me a warning if I pushed it too far by shaking much more than normal. We sped into the airspace surrounding Minot International, without a hitch, she knew we were coming and had cleared the way for us (if anyone was there at all.) Trinity Hospital has its own helipad on top of the main building, but the winds where such that the pad was on the downwind side of a taller part of the building meaning there would be lots of turbulent swirling wind right over the pad. But I had done a few landings at the helipad on the hospital before, and the winds were almost always like that, so I was mentally prepared for it. With the help of the flight engineer and the co-pilot we made the landing to the pad, quick, safe, and a little scary. Cop #1 was taken on a stretcher and cop #2 followed and disappeared down the tunnel into the hospital while the aircrew celebrated the first medevac the 54th helicopter squad had accomplished in over 15 years. 

Cop #1 we later found out had several things going wrong for him that day; #1: he had been an avid consumer of high caffeine energy drinks until about 3 weeks prior to that flight when he had gone cold turkey on them, until that morning when he had had nothing for breakfast, but an energy drink. #2: the day before he had slipped and fell on the ice and smacked himself in the head with his rifle (see facepalm) and so had some issues with that. But in the end, the hospital never found anything they could definitely point to as the cause of his situation. The moral of the story is, if you are going to get unexplainable sick, do it on a helicopter, with an EMT on board!


09 December 2011

Project 52 | Reciprocal | Week 49

Motherhood is


You get back exactly what you put in.

And in his sweet hand rubbing, hugs, and kisses, I can see his daddy and I.

Every time he goes down for nap or bed and daddy is there,

He snuggles and wraps his little arms around his daddy's neck.

Just perfect.

This photo isn't the best by far... it was dark, so it's grainy and fuzzy... but I love it. I love those snuggles.

I am so thankful for a loving, interactive husband and a sweet-hearted son. I can't wait to see both of them with our new additions...

07 December 2011

Cloth Diapering | My system

I've been meaning to write this post for at least a year... I'm finally getting around to it! 

I was first introduced to cloth diapering while stationed in Del Rio, TX. We had been married less than a year and I had a good friend with a 2 year old who cloth diapered. I remember looking at her system and filing it away for later.... fast forward another year and we were finally expecting our first bundle of joy. I knew I wanted to cloth diaper, but I was having trouble wrapping my brain around how it would work and I had very little access to any place that sold cloth diapers to try them out. So I dove in, bought several of one of the major brands (BumGenius) and tried to figure it out on my own. 

When Jarvis was about 4 weeks old, we started using the BumGenius. At that time, I was using a diaper genie for storage (talk about STINK) and washing with All Free and Clear. Needless to say, a couple of months later I was not so happy with how things were going and tried to find more resources and ideas. Luckily, a fellow Academy girlfriend-now-wife was also cloth diapering- plus she was a wonderful photographer, and overall creative genius. I've mentioned her before, but go check out her blog! She answered TONS of questions, and then just a few months later wrote this amazing post! Shawna was a huge resource for me, and seeing her system work so well helped me adapt my own. Since then, I have switched diaper brands (more on why later) and have a flawless system down!

I have people ask me about cloth diapering all the time and I LOVE talking about! I could go on for days! However, this blog post will not be to convince you why to cloth diaper, this is simply a snapshot of what my system looks like and how cloth fits into our lives. 

This is *my* personal cloth diapering system in the form of the questions I get asked the most:

What diaper do you use?
We use Fuzzibunz one size cloth diapers exclusively. They are not the only brand out there, and I've tried a few, but FB are my favorite. They are very adjustable and fit tiny newborns to giant 2 year olds. They are all solids and sometimes I wish I had more cute prints, but my choice of diapers is more practical. I need diapers that will hold up to NUMEROUS children, and these do!! I just sized down all of Jarvis' old diapers for the twins, and while I had to use the replacement elastic they come with, they are all still in awesome, stain free shape. 

How many do I need?
That depends on how many kids you have in diaper and how often you want to wash. Early on, they need to be changed  more often, so 12-15 diapers will get you about a day and a half. This means you wash daily. 18-22 will allow you to wash every other day. It's up to you!

Where can you get them the cheapest?
Without access to someplace local that sells them (check around you!), Ebay always has awesome deals on large packages of brand new diapers that bring the price down to $15-$17 each. Plus, Fuzzibunz just came out with a new 'elite' line of diapers, so the older style are going on sale all over! (I'm still undecided on whether the 'elite' are worth the money or not...)

How do you store clean diapers?
With Jarvis, I have always stored the diapers pre-stuffed and lying flat in a drawer. Here's his drawer right now, he only goes through about 12 diapers every 2 days now and I wash every 3rd day or so. (What looks like toilet paper in the back are flushable liners that someone got into during room time- more on them later!) I also keep my extra hanging pail and extra travel tote in the drawer.

With the twins, I have limited drawer space, so I am now storing them all in baskets on the wall. They each pull out individually without pulling the others out too. I have 32 diapers for them right now, and I expect that to be enough for a day and a half initially and to be washing every day.

How do you store dirty diapers?
FB hanging diaper pails are absolutely wonderful! They are waterproof and have an elastic opening at the top with two handles, and a zipper opening at the bottom. They are intended to hang on door knobs, but I found that every time I opened or closed the door the diaper smell seemed to waft around. We have always stored ours in laundry hampers. With the lid down on the hamper, I NEVER smell the diapers in the room or in the house, even after 3 days. I promise! If you want to come over and smell check you can! 

When I change a diaper, I hold the front and shake the diaper lightly over the diaper bag until the insert slips out the back and into the diaper bag, then I drop in the cover. I never touch yuckiness. When it's time to wash the diapers, I carry the whole diaper bag to the washer and unzip the bottom straight into the washer. Then the bag gets tossed in with the diapers. Once again, I never touch yuckiness!! I have 2 hanging bags for each room so I always have a clean one while the other is washing. Here is Jarvis' current laundry hamper and the twins-

What about poopy diapers?
When babies are exclusively breast or formula fed, their poop is completely water soluble and can be tossed in the washer as is. It will dissolve away completely during a rinse cycle. Once they start eating any solids, then I use small Bummis flush-able liners. You can either use them when you know baby will poop, or with every single diaper. They are very thin liners that catch most or all the poop, then you just turn the diaper over the toilet and it falls off and gets flushed away, no dunking or rinsing. 

What do you use for wipes?
For poopy diapers, we use regular wipes, and they get tossed in a small sealed trashcan in the room. For everything else, we used handmade cloth wipes. I made about 32 of these, and we wet them and keep them in a diaper warmer. We use about 1 cup of water, a couple of drops of essential oil, and about 12 wipes at a time in the warmer. They stay moist, but don't mold. If you try to put too many in, they will dry out or mold before you use them. Too few and they will stay too wet. There are lots of cloth wipes solutions out there, but really, I think water works just fine! The essential oil helps the wipes clean and makes them smell nicer, plus it can prevent molding. The extra dry wipes go in a drawer when not being used, and I drop the dirty cloth wipes in with the diapers and wash them with the diapers.

What is your wash cycle? What detergent do you use?
This is one area that I do.not.budge. If you are cloth diapering, you can use whatever brands/styles you want, but I HIGHLY recommend that you only use Rockin Green Cloth Diaper Detergent. I have tried lots of brands of free and clear detergents and ones claiming to be cloth-friendly, and every.single.time I have had stink and leaking issues. You want a detergent that will clean the diapers, but will not leave ANY residue. It needs to wash completely clean. Let behind residue will cause your diapers to stink like ammonia as soon as they are peed on, and will cause your inserts to stop absorbing as well. I promise, you will not want to cloth with any other detergent. You can get RNG online or in a cloth diaper friendly store. 

Your wash cycle will depend on your washer, but I have a front loader (which uses less water) so I make sure to do extra rinses. The buttons on my machine are listed by each step)

1. Rinse (cold rinse only, extra rinse)
2. Funk Rock Rinse (every week/two weeks I run the diapers on a rinse with RNG Funk Rock, to fight ammonia)
3. Hard Rock Wash (Normal wash, extra rinse, hot water)
4. Rinse (cold rinse only, extra rinse)

I even cut it out with my Silhouette and put it on the washer so that whoever starts/washes the diapers can mark where they are, that way either one of us know what needs to happen next on the diapers! I also store my RNG in these pop-top storage containers so I don't have to mess with a bag.

What do you do when you are out somewhere?
I always keep at least one cloth diaper in my bag, and take more if needed. I also use the FB Travel Tote. It's a completely waterproof wet bag with a zipper. After changing him, I put the diaper in the bag, zip it up, and stuff it back in my diaper bag. I have tried several brands of wet bags, and I feel like FB's holds in the stink the best. I once left a poopy diaper in the wet bag in my diaper bag for a week on accident, and I still couldn't smell a thing until I opened it. They are amazing! I have two, which is more than enough even if you travel daily. Here's what they look like in my bag:

Hmmmm, so that's it for now... hopefully that answers some questions! I will probably do a part 2 as I think of more! 

Any questions???? 

**** UPDATE: I answered some of your questions HERE!****

Happy cloth diapering!