Sunday, November 28, 2010

Vegan Cheese, The Odyssey

My daughter K was diagnosed with having severe allergies to all dairy & eggs by the time she was 1 year old. At first, finding things for her to eat seemed impossible - almost everything out there has some form of milk or egg in it! Her allergist gave us lists of ingredients that she needs to avoid at least until she is 2, and that list is quite extensive.

Failing to find foods other than fruit & vegetables, I enlisted the help of my vegan friends. I figured that if anybody knew how to avoid milk & eggs, it would be them. Once I learned a few key tricks to substitution, cooking for K became much easier. But some staple foods of life were still out of reach for K. She couldn't have those kid favorites like mac & cheese or pizza. And then I heard about vegan cheese....If this stuff was any good, it would open up a whole new world of foods for K! So I asked around & got some recommendations from friends.

The first brand I tried was called "Have A Heart". I bought a block of mozzarella so that I could take a stab at making pizza for K at home. Eating it uncooked wasn't so bad! It tasted very similar to regular mozzarella cheese & the consistency, although "spongier" than regular cheese, wasn't gag-worthy. And then we tried the pizza & it was awesome! If I hadn't known it wasn't real cheese, I might not have guessed anything was different!! Except for the fact that it did not melt very well, it only partially melted. But taste-wise, we give it a thumbs-up, as did K!

The second brand I tried was called "Daiya", and this came highly recommended by a friend mostly because it actually melts. This time I got 2 bags - one of already shredded cheddar, and one of the mozzarella. We tried the cheddar first while making quesadillas. When trying it uncooked I couldn't even get it down - I had to spit it out. The texture was atrocious, and the taste was not even close to any kind of cheese I have ever had. But I cooked with it anyway. Not only did it not melt, but it did not taste any better when cooked either. K didn't seem too happy with it either as she would not eat her quesadilla after tasting it! Oh no! When I talked to my friend who recommended it, she said there wasn't really much of a difference between the taste of the cheddar & the mozzarella, so this left me doubtful that the mozzarella would be any better.

But I tried it anyway, just in case it worked out. I made another pizza, and uncooked the mozzarella tasted exactly like the cheddar did - awful! Again, I had to spit it out. But I continued with the pizza anyway. This time the cheese melted a little bit better, but not entirely. The pizza ended up tasting OK - not as good as the first with "Have A Heart", but I didn't gag, LOL. I think it was saved because of the flavor of the sauce & veggies that I used as well, so I'm still not happy with the "Daiya" cheese & don't plan on buying it again!

There are a few more vegan cheeses out there that we have yet to try, and I have to admit that I'm a little scared of what we're in for! But for now, we're happy with the "Have A Heart" brand & will stick to that for pizza. Do you have a favorite vegan cheese?

K enjoying her first piece of pizza :)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Our First Snafoo....A Bit Too Soon

So remember that wonderful explosion that happened yesterday? Well, it seems to have had a very negative effect on poor K!! She has the WORST rash she has ever had! I'm hoping that it's just a reaction to her super poop & not a reaction to the cloth! I doubt that it is, but I have to wonder a bit....We have been very lucky that she has only had a handful of rashes her entire life with the disposables, and none of them have really been that bad. Just a little redness and we put some rash cream on it & it's gone in about a day or two at the most. But with cloth diapers, you can't use any old rash cream - and what we have is definitely out of the question. So I'm doing some research now to find a cloth-safe diaper rash cream. Do any of you have suggestions? Another thing to add to the list of, "What You Should Really Buy Before Trying Out Cloth Diapers"! LOL. Maybe I'll post my official list in another few weeks! So we have been switching to disposables a bit more so that we can get her covered in cream at least some of the time. It's looking a little bit better now that we're doing that, but if it's not gone in another day or so I might just have to stay on 'sposies until the rash is gone completely. Oy vey!

Hope you all have a wonderful turkey day tomorrow! Gobble gobble!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

It Happened.

My biggest fears with cloth diapering were realized today when K had an old school, upset stomach, ass explosion poop. First one so far. The other poops were easy to deal with. It was like throwing rocks in the toilet and everything else came out in the washer. But this time.....there wasn't much I could get into the toilet. And I couldn't bring myself to put the diaper in the pail the way that it was, though I have read that you can. So I rinsed the crap out of it (literally!) in the sink.

This brought me waaaayyy back to the early days when I would have to wash out all of K's clothes every time she pooped. Standing at the sink for what seemed like half an hour, digging my hands in & pretending it was just finger paint I was washing off. And at first I got upset because I didn't want to have to go back to that every time this happened - it would just be too much, and I would have to consider giving up cloth diapering. But I am going to keep a positive attitude and try to figure out how I can make things easier on myself. So now I am convinced that we need a diaper sprayer because I didn't like how long it took to rinse everything in the sink & then I had to completely disinfect the sink afterwords as well. Hopefully that will make it at least somewhat easier. I have to wait until the next paycheck comes in before I can buy it, but that happens tomorrow!! So hopefully we can place an order then :)

I don't know, maybe I rinsed it more than I needed to? I was literally scrubbing the diaper against itself & the wipe to try to get all of the tint out of it & there was still a lot of color left when I was finished. Some of it would just not come out! Not sure how it will turn out after it is washed, but I am interested to see...if it is clean, maybe I won't work so hard next time! If it is stained, I will pray the weather holds out so I can leave it in the sun for a while & not have it freeze. I don't like the thought of putting heavily stained diapers on my daughter, even if I know that they are clean.

Everything was pretty smooth sailing up until this point. I was ready to start trying out a bunch of other types of diapers but I knew I should hold off for just a while longer. And now this has shaken things up a bit & left me not so sure anymore. But tomorrow is wash day & we will see what the aftermath is. I can only keep my fingers crossed & hope for the best. Wish me luck!!!


So I just finished the wash now & EVERYTHING came out!! The diaper she was wearing looks like brand new, you never would have known it was so gross just 1 day ago! So maybe this means I don't have to rinse so much?.....or maybe it's so clean because I did? I guess trial & error will have to give me the answer!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Pleasant Surprises

I wasn't sure how the people around me would take my cloth diapering K. I know that some friends & family have made comments against cloth diapering in the past, mostly because they were under the same impressions that I originally was as well (being messy & stinky & a big hassle). But I'm finding that now that we have tried it more people are actually asking questions about it. My mom actually wanted to change K's diaper while we were at her house and did so with no problems, once I showed her how the snaps worked. She also just bought us 3 Thirsties Duo Wraps & a stack of prefolds for Christmas! I was shocked that she was so on-board for this! Pleasant surprises can come from some of the most unexpected places sometimes :)

So Far, So Good

So it's been 2 days now & I already have a lot of thoughts. Some good, some neutral, some bad. I promised that I would give my honest opinion about everything & I don't intend to stop now.

So here's the good: It's nowhere near as bad as I was afraid it would be! Of course, we have yet to deal with a major, messy poop, but I'm sure that's just a matter of time. And my opinion might change then, but I'll let you know. But for everyday use, not much different than disposable diapers. I had this fear that they wouldn't be anywhere near as absorbent as the disposables and that I would have leaks all the time. Not true. Well, I'm sure that the disposables ARE more absorbent, in that you can probably leave them on your child for much longer, but I'm not so sure that's the best idea anyway. When we traveled to Vegas back in December, there was a fiasco at the airport & at the hotels, and poor K ended up staying in the same disposable diaper for about 5 hours!! I felt awful! To my surprise, there were absolutely no leaks. I'm not so sure that would be the case with cloth, unless you were prepared enough & stuffed the hell out of it. I did not anticipate the 5 hours to begin with, so we probably would have had leaks. But now I'm totally off topic....

For the most part, I stuck to the regular insert alone in the BG's, and I let K go about 2-3 hours before I would change her and we were fine. That's usually about the length of time I would go with disposables anyway, so that's totally the same as usual for us. Part of me wants to try to push the limits to see what I can get away with so that I can be more comfortable in the future, but I'm sure that will come with time, and I don't really want K sitting in the same diaper for too long anyway.

We also ended up taking a day trip to my mom's house (which is about an hour away) so I got a brief insight into what cloth is like on the go. Of course, I completely forgot to buy a wetbag for travelling, so I ended up using a large freezer bag instead. Worked just as well though I don't recommend for long-term use, lol.

We did have a minor poop incident, which again wasn't much different than diapering as usual. We have been accustomed to flushing K's poop already, so that was nothing out of the ordinary. But I had my concerns about just tossing a dirty diaper into the laundry. But I did it and was amazed that it came back out clean as a whistle! I didn't really believe that would happen, I thought there would be a residual stain or something, but there was nothing!! And what surprised me even more was that usually when K poops, we can smell it 3 rooms away, lol. This time we had no idea it happened! So I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing!

And so far there has not been a bad diaper pail type smell in K's room. We had a problem with the disposables stinking up her whole room & ended up getting rid of that diaper pail completely. So we were nervous about storing dirty diapers in there again, but I don't think there was enough time for them to sit there to stink! We'll see if that changes in the future.

But there are still some things I am not so sure of. Since we only have 7 diapers in total, we still have to use a combination of cloth & disposable and probably will have to for a while until we can build our stash up. That being said, we did end up with a big messy poop in a disposable that I wasn't sure how I would handle with cloth. I'm considering buying a diaper sprayer for this type of situation, but I'm not sure if they are worth the money or not, and even if we buy one we won't have it for some time yet. We will see what happens when it happens I guess.....

The other thing I'm not thrilled with was the Flip Stay-Dry system. We only have one of them so it has only been used once, and I'm not sure if it's the cover or the insert that I don't like. But when the insert got wet, it bunched up in-between K's legs and got really skinny & I felt that left room for some pretty bad leakage. We did not actually have a leak, so maybe it is fine, I don't know. And also, if there were to be a poop incident, it wouldn't be the easiest to clean off into the toilet. I would be afraid that the insert would fall in there as well since there really wasn't much holding it into the cover to begin with. On the plus side, there was no reaching into a pocket to grab out a wet liner either. My mom has purchased some prefolds for us that we will try out later on this month, so maybe the covers will be different with those. But for right now it's not my favorite.

Another negative is that the diapers take up A LOT of room in the diaper bag & I actually ended up having to switch back to a bigger bag. I was annoyed by this because we had finally moved down to a large purse-type bag that I could fit all of mine & K's stuff into, and now we had to go back to a big diaper bag.

None of these negatives are majorly earth-shattering and are not enough to deter me from moving forward with cloth diapering. I am interested to see what else unfolds over the next few weeks! Any suggestions you may have for the issues we are facing so far?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

They're Here!!

So our cloth diaper order finally arrived today!! I had them for about 5 minutes before I started washing them, lol. It took a few minutes to figure out how the diapers themselves worked, but it was pretty easy. We bought a few of the BumGenius 4.0's and one Flip Stay Dry System. In total we have 7 diapers which should get us through one full day. K is wearing her first cloth diaper right now & we're about to find out how we like them :) I started with the BumGenius because I ordered a pink one of those & thought it would look super cute. I tried to stay with gender-neutral colors in case Baby #2 is a boy, but I figured I had to get one pink one for K. I also got one blue one as well to balance it out, lol. And let's face it - they're diapers. Colors shouldn't really matter. I'm sure I'll have more to report in a few days, but for now K seems to like them. As soon as I put it on her she giggled & did a little dance :) I think she thinks she's not wearing a diaper! Ha!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

On The Verge Of Cloth Diapering

One of the reasons I started this blog was to share my experience with cloth diapering as it was happening. When some of my friends heard that I was starting the cloth adventure they asked me to let them know how it went, so this is partly for them.

When my daughter was born I didn't really consider anything other than disposable diapers for her. At that time, cloth seemed so old-fashioned, stinky, and inconvenient. Who wanted to deal with storing dirty diapers when it was so easy to throw them out? And the thought of putting poop in the washing machine....eww.

And then the breastfed baby poop started.

Every time my daughter pooped, it was a total ass explosion all over the place. It leaked out the back, down the sides, everywhere. One time, the poop even managed to make its way down my shorts & into my underwear. No I'm not kidding. Every time she pooped I had to wash out her outfits & completely change her and sometimes even myself. It was a nightmare. Yet I stayed with disposables because it's what I knew, it's what I was comfortable with, and it's what was around me. I did not know anyone who had ever used cloth diapers & no one around me was using them either, so I had no idea that I could avoid such a mess with cloth!

Months later I discovered that one of our friends was using cloth diapers. She happens to live quite a distance away from us so I did not get to actually see them or what her experience was, and honestly my first reaction was "How can she do that?". And then I heard that it is actually much different than I was picturing. I was stuck on the thought that it was all white rags & pins & leaks & misery. So I did some research & found that while aspects of it were close to what I saw in my head, a lot of it had changed & didn't seem so bad. So I did more research. And more & more & more. It became a bit of an obsession for a while which was strange because I didn't realize that I was looking into this for myself; I thought I was just getting information on it to have it. So to be constantly thinking about it & reading blogs & tips seemed strange to me at the time. Finally at some point I realized that I was definitely "cloth curious".

OK, but to just try it out seemed like such a waste! These things weren't exactly cheap & you needed more than just 1 or 2 to see if you really could do this! Also, we were lucky enough to not have to pay for our disposable diapers at all. My Aunt was kind enough to provide them for us, and it seemed selfish to ask her to supply us with cloth as well, especially if I wasn't sure it would stick! And my wife wasn't exactly on board with this either....she has a hard enough time dealing with disposables & is more than pensive about dealing with cloth, even now that our shipment is about to arrive! But that is another story for another time...

So what changed?

Potty training & expecting another child. My daughter will be 2 in February and we have already begun the early stages of potty training. I decided a while back that I wasn't a fan of the disposable pull-ups because they are too much like regular diapers & I think it would be too confusing for someone trying to learn that she is wet if she cannot feel it. So early on I knew I was going to switch to some kind of cloth training pants when the time came, I just wasn't sure what to get. Oddly enough the universe seems to know what you need & when you need it, and I got invited to a cloth diapering discussion hosted by the Holistic Mom's Network. On top of learning tons more about using cloth, they also discussed potty training & what to use. It was suggested that to save money you did not have to get separate training pants & to use a diaper or cover with snaps & adjust it to a larger size so that the child can use it as a pull-up.

Hmm.....So now my mind started wondering....if I got a one-size diaper with snaps, I could use it to potty train my daughter, K, and then use it to diaper Baby #2, right up to potty training....and my experience with K will help prepare me for cloth diapering with the new baby. This could work. This could really work! I could ease myself into it as well. So I had a discussion with my Aunt who provides us with disposable diapers & she was on-board for us trying it out!! We placed our first order this week & are expecting it to arrive any day now!! I can't wait! Of course, I am a little worried that it may be a bit much to handle. I absolutely LOATHE doing laundry, and the idea of having to do a load every other or every 3 days makes me cringe a little bit, but I think I am committed enough to make it work. We'll see what happens!! Wish me luck!

Monday, November 15, 2010

What Started It All

I guess if I go back & think about it, my first major change on the path to greener living was when I decided to quit smoking. When I was 26 I realized that I had been smoking for 13 years - exactly half of my life. This scared the crap out of me. And then a family friend was diagnosed with Stage 4 brain & lung cancer and I realized that I had to stop. I tried everything to stop before - The patch, cold turkey, lozenges, gum, you name it. It never worked. But now, losing a friend coupled with the talk of wanting to have a baby within the next few years, I had the motivation to make the change. So I guess that deciding to have a baby was what changed it all and I didn't really know it! Funny how one decision set off a chain-reaction of events that got me from point A to point B. If you had told me even 5 years ago that I would be a smoke-free, anti-medication, baby-wearing, breastfeeding, experimenting with cloth, stay-at-home-mom, I would have said that you were nuts! But here I am.

Deciding to have a baby changed my life in so many unexpected ways and I am so thankful for that. Once I quit smoking, I felt unstoppable. It was the hardest thing I had done up until that point and if I got through that, I could get through anything. So when my doctor presented me with a list of "do's & don't's" of pregnancy, I happily accepted the challenge. It was then that I started to question things. Why were nitrates bad? What was so toxic about face wash? What do you mean I can't take Advil? And once the questions started that was it. If these things were so bad for my baby, why was I willing to expose myself to them? Once I knew what they were & what the dangers were, I wasn't willing to destroy my body anymore. The thing of it is that once you have the knowledge, there is no going back. Even after pregnancy. At least not for me.

What about you? How did you start your journey to greener living?