The Skinny on Cloth Diapering {A Review}

Four score and three kids ago, Hero Hubs and I sat down and discussed whether or not we wanted to use cloth diapers. I was aware of the environmental impact of disposable diapers and leaned a little more in the cloth direction. We lived in Scotland at the time and found that there was a nappy (diaper in many English-speaking countries outside the US) service available, so that we would actually not even have to clean our cloth diapers ourselves. We looked at the figures estimating how much it would cost per nappy to participate in the service and eventually decided if we were barely breaking even it probably wasn’t worth the extra effort, but we could look into it again later. Times were kinda tight.

We moved to South Africa, where the Tank was born two and a half years later, and again thought about cloth but just didn’t think we were up for the extra laundry, the extra effort, and so on. We also got disposables at a discount because of our health insurance company, which helped because they were much more expensive in SA than the UK. It was definitely more convenient. But with each kid, my discomfort about the ginormous amount of trash we were creating grew a little more and a little more.

Finally, when we were back in the States and expecting the Belle, I just didn’t want to do disposables anymore. The trash thing was just too much for me. The Hubs was very concerned about the ick factor of doing cloth diapers, and I eventually just said “I’ll do it and you won’t have to,” because I cared that much about making the switch. I started doing my research about how to get started. Around that time, Quiver Tree Photography was just ramping up, and through a series of events on Facebook, I connected with a Mama who’d finished cloth diapering and had a great stash to sell. We hadn’t been back in the States long and our finances were pretty tight, and jumping into cloth diapering can be expensive at the beginning. So when she suggested trading diapers for a photography session that would help her launch her business, I begged the Hubs to do it for me.

And that is how my cloth diapering journey began.

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So, for the past year and some change, I’ve been meaning to mention to you, lovely readers, something about the fact that I’ve been cloth diapering for a while, and that I’m happy with the experience.

There is a heap of information that I could share about the experience, but since a slew of websites and ebooks have already been devoted to that subject and I don’t consider myself an expert, I’ll give you some main points and share about a specific brand that I recently discovered while looking to add a few new diapers to the collection.

Here are answers to some of the main questions I’d imagine you might have about cloth diapering:

How does it work?

Basically, there are a few different types of diapers on the scene, and I’m sort of oversimplifying things here, but the most popular ones these days are probably all-in-ones or all-in-twos. The former are basically just that — all-in-one reusable diapers the baby wears and you wash. The latter usually have a shell and an insert. The shell is the part the baby wears. The insert either snaps to the shell or slides inside the shell, and it’s the part that absorbs the wetness.

After the baby does his or her business, you usually have a pail set aside with a lid, and you separate the shell from the insert and drop both parts into that pail (it does not have water in it like back in the day). If there’s #2 on the scene, you drop that into the loo. You wash cloth diapers separately from your regular laundry — the recommendation is usually warm rinse, hot wash, double rinse. Often the shells should be hung to dry and the inserts can be tumble dried, but each brand has its own preferences.

It is gross?

Well, maybe a little. But another awesome thing happened when I traded the Hubs’ skills for cloth diapers — I learned about infant potty training. So at four months I started sitting the Belle on the potty, and she started pooping there. She has been pooping on the loo about 80-90% of the time since then, and lately she very rarely has an accident. I have not been as consistent in convincing her to peepee on the potty, but when I am, she also does that. I think it just takes a little longer to learn. If you’re interested in more about that, I’ll write more (leave a comment), but this post might get too long if I keep going. I’ll just mention also that there are these very thin disposable liners that come in rolls like toilet paper, (like these at this affiliate link right here) which can be placed between baby and diaper and they can “catch” the poop and be flushed with the poop because they’re biodegradable. That helps. You can also get a Diaper Sprayer, which can help you spray that poopy right off that diaper and into the loo.

Does it save money?

Yes, it does save money over time. And there are a few ways to help you save more if you’re thinking about switching. Look for used cloth diapers to help you get started. I know that might seem gross, but it’s like used clothing. They’ve been washed, and you can wash them again before you use them. Look for diaper packs like the Basics Pack or the Deluxe Pack by Buttons Diapers, which will allow you to save by going ahead and purchasing a number of diapers and inserts at once. Line dry instead of using the tumble dryer. (This will be a big money saver in the long run.) And if you have more than one kid and use the diapers with multiple kids, the savings really skyrocket.

Can I have a quick play-by-play for how it works?

For sure. I’d love to walk you through the process of diapering, and in this example I’ll use a specific type of diapers — Buttons diapers. Perhaps it will give you a good idea of what the process is like and you’ll consider it for yourself!!

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Buttons diapers are in the “all-in-two” category I mentioned earlier. The have a really simple system that I really liked when I decided to try them. They have inserts, the part that is adjacent to baby’s skin, which snap into the shells, which have snaps on the outside to close, and other snaps to make them adjustable for smaller or bigger babies.

There is a fleece lining on one side of their liners, which wicks moisture away from baby’s skin. For nighttime diapering, they have “doublers” which snap to the regular liners and then snap into the shell. I usually go ahead and get the diapers ready for use by stuffing liners into the pocket in the pocket-style all-in-twos, or by snapping them into place with the Buttons diapers. The snapping is faster than the stuffing. And the Hubs cannot do the stuffing (yes, he does help after all!) because his hands are too big to fit inside a pocket diaper to slide a liner in. {So, although I still predominantly handle the diapering around here, I’d vote for snaps over stuffing, both because it’s faster and because it is easier for other people to do. We have babysitters kind of often around here, and I think snapping is a more obvious thing to figure out, too.}

So, to get the Belle ready to “go” in the daytime, I simply snap a liner into a diaper, and then snap the diaper around her waist. When she has worn it for a while and I think it’s time for a new diaper, I unsnap the liner from the diaper and drop them both into a pedal bin trash can and there they stay until washing time. They get washed, (I pretty much use the routine mentioned above, but I often soak first) and I try to line dry them as much as I can, and then they go back in the pile to be used again.

A year and some change into cloth diapering, I am really happy with the decision. Did we switch back to disposables when we were traveling in South Africa for a month? youbettabelieveit. Did the amount of trash we were creating make me uncomfortable all over again? yup. Do I hope cloth diapering continues to become more and more mainstream? Yes. I. Do.

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If you are considering jumping on the diaper bandwagon, I’d make a few recommendations:

First, find a friend in the area who’s already doing it and ask her to walk you through the process. (If you don’t already feel comfortable after I’ve walked you through it! 😉 )

Second, don’t get overwhelmed with the options. Take your time, read some reviews, stalk some good sales on ebay if you feel like it.

Third, a personal preference — stay away from Velcro. The Velcro diapers I have (by Bumgenius) are still in good condition, but the Velcro has worn out. It is easy for the Belle to rip her diaper off and run free, they sometimes come loose at night, and they create trains in the washing machine by getting connected to each other.

The thing for me, really, is a personal conviction about stewardship… and doing what I can not to ruin the planet for my children’s children.

Have you tried cloth diapering? Would you consider it? Got some other parenting-related green movement thoughts to share? Leave a word!



Disclosure! Buttons Diapers gave me a few diapers to try. But would I spend our hard-earned cash on ’em? Yes, I would! The thoughts and opinions above are my honest response to trying them out! Love ’em.


Coming Up for Air

I know friends, I know! It’s been over a month since I’ve had the joy of sharing words with you. Now here’s the thing. I would like to make excuses based on the following list of tasks I’m handling:

  1. My awesome three small children
  2. My first ever garden
  3. Laundry
  4. I’m still (!) continuing to settle my Dad’s estate a year and three months after his departure
  5. The necessity that meals be made three times a day
  6. My joyful contribution to Quiver Tree Photography (I promise this list is not a complaint list! I love working alongside the Hubs!)
  7. Laundry

But really? Those excuses are not valid. It’s been on my heart to share a number of things here recently, but sadly, I haven’t been taking (making?) the time to do it. I’m excited to discuss my cloth diapering experience with you guys, to share photos from the last trip to SA, and to mostly just talk about God’s goodness — a topic I still haven’t gotten tired of.

But today, I’m coming up for air (because I feel a bit like I’ve been swimming under water and I need to see which way I’m headed…perhaps you can relate?) to ask you an important question. Which starts with an observation.  {And the reason why my list isn’t exactly valid.}

Writing is the thing that makes me come alive inside. I love to write. LOVE. And the way Eric Liddell spoke about how he loved to run, that when he ran “He felt the Lord’s pleasure” with him, I get that sense about writing. I sense that the Lord says write and speaks to me and through me when I do.

But then, hold up — you might say — why isn’t writing on that list up there, ya cottonheadedninnymuggins?

Isn’t that a funny thing? One important thing I absolutely believe I was created to do isn’t on my to-do list?

Here’s my diagnosis: The world does not always give us permission to do the things we love. Sometimes we even begin to feel guilty about taking time to do the things we love. Here are some reasons you might have for not going after something you love:

  1. It doesn’t make any money. (Often a major one these days among us capitalists, I think).
  2. It requires time that you don’t feel you ought to give it.
  3. It might require some monetary investment… and you feel like you just can’t do that.
  4. You’re afraid of trying to do it and failing.

That list could go on and on, but you get the point. We often feel like we need some sort of “permission” from the world around us to go after something we love. To take a risk and dive in to something new.

I once read a story (tell me if you can remember where) about a young man who was on a trip with his Dad and his brothers, and they were going to go hike up Mt. Rainier together. The views along the hike are breathtaking, and Seattle spreads out like a blanket in front of this beautiful peak.

When they arrived at the National Park’s Visitor Center, he got scared. There were (a few) interesting things to see around the visitor center, so, really out of fear, he excused himself from the hike and stayed at the visitor center. His Dad and brothers went on the hike, but he stayed behind and waited for them to return. He learned a lot about Mount Rainier at that Visitor Center, but fear kept him from truly experiencing Mount Rainier, and afterwards, he regretted the choice he made.

Is there anything in your life, right now, that you think, in five or ten years’ time, you’ll look back on and think, “Gosh, I wish I’d just made some time to ____________ back then”?

Trying to do something you love in a world that is telling you to just get on with being productive can feel a bit like hiking up a mountain. Scary for some, exciting for others. 

Know that the thing you love to do does not need to make money for you in order for it to be valid.

Lots of people enjoy photography as a hobby. They eventually decide to begin working as photographers, charging for photo sessions. They feel that they are validating their hobby, by turning it into a paycheck. But the truth is, they aren’t really doing what they love. They don’t necessarily enjoy working with people they’ve never met before or children or dogs. They find paid photo sessions incredibly stressful. They don’t want to quit their full time job to pursue photography, and they’re in this sort of limbo, where they’ve started turning something they passionately enjoyed into something to help pay bills, which has turned it something they no longer enjoy.

The truth is, sometimes photography can be a profession and still be a passion (we know this personally), but sometimes a person needs to have a 9 to 5 doing something else, to allow photography the space to be something they enjoy as a creative outlet when they’re not working.

For me, writing isn’t paying any bills (yet) but it makes me come alive inside, and I love it. So I should stop waiting for the world to give me permission to do something I love and believe I was created to do.

What is that thing for you? Is it screaming inside your head as you’re reading these words? Shouting “stop ignoring me, please!” perhaps?

Here’s an important truth:



via the awesome Jon Acuff

The world might neither give you permission nor encouragement to follow your dreams and do what you love. And it is likely it will give you resistance.

But the first step is acknowledging there is something you’re not doing that you’d really love to do. And the next step is to figure out how, even by tiny measures, you can actively work toward making that dream a reality.

So ask yourself: what’s it going to take to get me off the sidelines and onto the field?

Let me be one voice today giving you permission to give some of your time, your heart, your self to doing something you love.


Zero to Seven in 27 Photos

Zero to Seven in 27 Photos

One wildly surprising thing about the journey of grief is the raw emotions you find yourself experiencing that show up out of nowhere. Don’t worry, this is actually a very happy post — I’m just starting with a sidenote/forenote of sorts. A few days ago, I had Arabella strapped in on her changing table and I was on my knees on the floor getting something from one of the lower shelves, or sorting laundry, I don’t remember. She flipped over to her belly {she was strapped in and I was right beside the table, so don’t get worried} and her teency little baby bum was in the air, and she had a gorgeous smile on her face. The thought occurred to me, though it had many times before that moment, that it will still be several months before we have the joy of introducing this little person to our family on the far side of the pond. The thought put me into tears on the nursery floor, and I was surprised by how “close to the surface” they were.

With heaps of excitement and anticipation, we are looking forward to visiting SA in March of next year for a big, important birthday. In the midst of the to-do lists involving moving, laundry, estate-settling and getting food on the table, I’m going to make extra efforts to share photos and stories in the meantime. {We miss you heaps, Goo-Goo & Gammy & Auntie Lyn!}

We are a little bit behind on baby photos. The good news is, we have been taking them each month. The downloading, editing, and posting of them is a bit of a different story. We left off at about three months…and we’re at eight now… so I’ve decided just to pull out a few highlights from each month and then hopefully I can get a full post for eight months up… before the Belle is nine months.

Since there’s already been plenty of ado, I’ll spare you further and jump in.

It all started with this tiny gift of a creature arriving in perfect timing…

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And then her first month flew by…

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Did you know every time a baby sneezes an angel gets its wings? 😉

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At two months, she seemed rather unimpressed with the whole photo-taking idea. Or maybe she found it a bit… overwhelming?

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At three months, she decided she loved it!

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Just before four months, I lost my Dad, and discovered this little girl was a gift I never knew I needed. We took these pictures the day before his funeral, counting gifts in this life, even in the midst of loss.

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At five months, it seemed the Belle decided she was not only cool with this whole monthly photo thing, she was ready to ROCK it.ZerotoSevenArabella 072 ZerotoSevenArabella 075 ZerotoSevenArabella 083 ZerotoSevenArabella 086

At six months, we decided it was high time we got outside (HH’s favorite place to shoot!) and added some color to the mix.

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I also decided an outfit change was in order. {Thanks Kathryn!!}

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Getting outside = great decision!

ZerotoSevenArabella 087Finally, at seven months, the Belle seemed as comfortable around the camera as she is around Cheerios : very comfortable.

ZerotoSevenArabella 080This thoughtful little face gives me a heartache…

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LastTwo 002And since the boys arrived as the session was wrapping up, we decided to do something special…

ZerotoSevenArabella 085And grab a new image of the whole gang! I’m so proud of these kiddos… so grateful they are in my life… and so serious when I say that as crazy as things might get when you have three sweet peas and the oldest is four, they give me daily reasons to say Thank You, Jesus. And I trust they always will.

So for one and all, near and far… but especially for the folks we miss so much way down South… that’s Zero to Seven Months in 27 photos.

With hopes I’ll grab a chance to write again soon,

With Love,





Local Love: Valentine’s Plans

Hi guys & gals! The Hubs is away this week, so I am looking forward to getting some take-out with my Mama this Valentine’s Day, but my brain was a’storming with ideas for those of you who might need some last minute creativity for doing something special with your lerve this weekend. You don’t necessarily have to spend a wad of cash to have a great evening with your  sweetheart or even just hanging with some friends – here are some of my favourite ideas for enjoying a moment together.


{This is a little something I doodled up with a picture I liked from our first Valentine’s photo session. Do you like it?}

I decided to make this list locally oriented but universally applicable — here’s hoping more of you dear readers and friends will come visit so we can meet in real life!! Some of these do have more of a married couple-leaning, but I kind of think married couples don’t always make it a priority to celebrate staying in love... so I think that’s a good thing!

{If you ladies want to forward this to your hero hubses…just try to do so nicely…}

1. Spend an Evening at Her Service :: If the sweetheart in your life spends a lot of time in the kitchen or the laundry room, you can bless her heart (and perhaps her hands and feet) without breaking the bank this Valentine’s. Set the table, light the candles, make (or order in) a dinner she’s sure to like, pour her a drink and let her relax. Make sure you finish strong by doing the dishes! You won’t spend much, but you’ll earn big points in the process.
2. Treat her to a spa day :: if you’re looking for a great gift idea, this is a great way to impress. She’ll be proud of you for darkening the door of a ladies’ salon or spa just to buy a gift certificate. A facial… a manicure… a massage… there are heaps of great choices to make her feel fabulous. Drop by Oasis Hair Salon & Spa in downtown Washington and she’ll be able to enjoy that getaway without leaving town!
3. Hit a local gem like The Bank for a slice of culinary delight — their set menu for Valentine’s Day includes Ahi Tuna, Prime Rib or Rich Chicken, Creme Brûlée and a wine perfectly paired with your choices! (Apologies to you out-of-towners… but this is one more good reason to come visit!)
4. The humble picnic basket is far-too-often neglected when it comes to a romantic outing. Grab extra blankets in case the weather’s still chilly, plan a walk at Goose Creek or perhaps a bike ride downtown, grab an easy-to-eat dinner and the perfect cheese and wine accompaniments and you can enjoy some time just the two of you, just about anywhere.
5. If your sweetheart enjoys a fine wine or two, why not create an at-home wine tasting experience? Pull out extra glasses, create a peaceful ambience with music and candles, and make a sweet memory. The folks at Wine & Words (downtown Washington) can coach you on great wine choices to pair with dinner or hors d’oeuvres — take notes of the descriptions of your selections and you’ll impress with your skills as a sommelier!
6. Add in just a little something out of the ordinary. Before dinner, stroll through the Estuarium or go for a dig at the Aurora Fossil Museum. (Be sure to check their opening times before you make plans!)
7. Sometimes the best way to spell love is T-I-M-E. Stretch out your time together just doing a little strolling or shopping. Stop by the Inner Banks Artisans Center downtown and check out the Quiver Tree Gallery! 🙂
8. Turn into an American Picker! Go thrifting for a special piece that can grace a perfect spot in your home. Remember to look for potential, even if you don’t have the inclination to handle a paint brush. If you’re in Washington, the gals at Cottage Junkies can refurbish or paint that special find for you! Every time you see it, it’ll be a sweet memory.
9. Go all-out for an all-inclusive experience. Quiver Tree Photography is offering a Sweetheart Package this February for just $299. Combining a sunset photo session in downtown Washington and a three course dinner for two with a bottle of wine at a great new local restaurant {Have you tried Zaitona yet?} is sure to create a Valentine’s to remember. We’re even taking care of the roses.

Do you have any special plans this week? While you’re enjoying them, say a prayer for la casa de Collie! It might get a little wild around here before HH gets back!


Just for Valentine’s

Can you guess what I’m doing for Valentine’s this year? Me neither. But it will probably involve diapers and laundry instead of flowers and chocolate. The Hubs will be away on a much-deserved snowboarding adventure (which I am totally cool with and very happy about) and hopefully one of my friends in town will come hang out for a few days while he’s gone so that I can still remember how to speak in full sentences by the time he gets back.

{I also know I can always count on my Mama to come hold the baby. Thank heavens.}

However — I have an idea that might make your Valentine’s one to remember this year. And if you’re in this neck of the woods, I hope you’ll check it out!


Zaitona – the restaurant where the yummy dinner will take place – is a new one here in wee Washington that I’ve been meaning to tell you about. I wrote something about it for the local paper right here {if you click that link don’t be surprised when my gigantic face comes up at the top of the page — I don’t know why it does that}. And I think the heaps of you that know how much I love bacon and Bojangles will be proud of me for trying new things — and liking them!

You can find out more about the Sweetheart Package over on the Quiver Tree blog. And back in this neck of the woods, you can look forward to some belated one-month photos of our precious wee girl coming up soon, along with a book review of a book that is absolutely giving me hope for 2013! It might not be what you’re expecting, either!

Love y’all.



The Latest Quiver Tree Wedding

Hi guys and gals! I forgot to give you a little update on the latest Quiver Tree wedding — the first right here in Eastern North Carolina (yes, you have to capitalize that “E” because we’ll probably become our own state eventually). {wink} The Hero Hubs had the delightful privilege of shooting the wedding of a childhood friend of mine just two weekends ago and the results were really stunning!

At about 37 weeks along, I didn’t feel up to the role of second shooting, but I did head to the reception, download the memory cards, pick my favourite fifty images {are you noticing that picking favourites is kind of a favourite for me?}, and we loaded the top 50 from the day onto an iPad that was passed around at the reception. That was a lot of fun, and I think people really enjoyed seeing some highlights from the day as the magical event was coming to a close.

This was the hands-down favourite of just about everybody (including me!) ::

{Do you LOVE this shot?}

But there are heaps of lovely runner-ups! I thought I’d let you guys and gals know since you’ve been following the Quiver Tree story since we launched earlier this year! I am encouraged to say that even in a tough economy, it feels like we’re picking up momentum, and that’s exciting!

I’d love for you to have a gander at some more highlights from the day and let us know what you think! You can check them out right here on the Quiver Tree Blog, or you can view them on Facebook right here.

Thank you for being such an encouragement to us along this journey!! Love you!


P.S. No contractions yet… although there have been a couple of moments where I anxiously wondered if things were getting started. I’m starting to actually feel ready…I’ll keep you posted! {Say a prayer I have a little bit more time to prepare and get to the hospital this time, would ya?}