The DIY that started it all

John asked me to move in with him at IKEA. It probably doesn’t sound very romantic to anyone but me, but we were there picking up a few items that any functioning human being should have in their home which, of course, Bachelor John did not have. I don’t remember if he said he’d ever been there or not.  Possibly not. We were walking around the showroom when he casually mentioned that since my lease was about to expire and I didn’t want to renew at my current apartment, Ellie and I could move in with him– y’know, if we wanted to. To me, this nonchalant suggestion in the midst of all of those reasonably priced, stylish yet functional housewares was aptly romantic. My daughter and I spent a considerable amount of time at his house anyway. He and I were spending pretty much all of our free time together. It was practical and yet romantic because it meant he wanted me around all the time and he was okay with the fact that my daughter was part of the package deal. I was totally okay with waking up to his face every morning.

Glidden “Extra Virgin Olive Oil” from Home Depot something like $25 per gallon

We moved into his three bedroom, two bathroom house. In true bachelor pad fashion, he had the two areas where he did his living burrowed out and the rest of the house was essentially a big storage unit. After clearing out one of the two spare bedrooms, I started setting up a nursery for Ellie, my then-18 month old daughter. I used a color called “Extra Virgin Olive Oil” for the walls that I had used in the living room of my old apartment, which had a bamboo tree in front of the windows that kept the room shaded and made the wall color look like a gorgeous jewel-toned chartreuse. I loved that color so much in my old apartment, but thanks to the big window that let lots of natural light into her new nursery, it looked like a bright banana yellow and drove me insane. It didn’t help that the accent wall I painted that looked like a nice shade of tan while wet in the can dried into the ugliest, weird shade of light brown that I’ve ever seen. Her nursery reminded me of a soft pretzel with mustard on it. The jungle safari-themed decor she had from her last nursery went with it, though, so I just went along with it. (Mainly because I didn’t want to buy paint and start over right after moving in and doing all that.) So, yellow and brown the nursery remained. (Because apparently I’m Yoda now.)

Ellie lived in the yellow and brown nursery for about six months before I decided to redo it. By that time, I was pregnant with her little brother and getting into nesting mode. John and I had decided to combine both kids into one nursery, turn the den into a nice, spacious dining room, and turn the small dining room into a playroom so we could keep the third bedroom for guests and his drum set. That meant that I got to design and decorate these new rooms completely from scratch, which is more than fine with me. I set about making the nursery first. As an avid lover follower of Apartment Therapy, I went there first for inspiration. I love looking at the nurseries and playrooms that readers have shared and found what ended up influencing the direction of our nursery’s decor. I wanted this chest of drawers. I loved contrast of the dark wood and the white, the clean lines, and the way it all looked against the light tan wallpaper. It would be the perfect opportunity to makeover a “Rast” from IKEA. Those things are $35, real pine, and begging to be someone’s next DIY project. They’re so easily customizable that I’m surprised I haven’t hacked one for every room of the house. As it is, I’m already planning to do another in the exact same style so each of the kids can have their own.

So, I bought my “Rast,” a gallon of white paint, and a quart of walnut stain, cleared out space in my garage, and got to work. I painted the outer frame crisp, ultra white. It was a flat paint, which wasn’t the best idea. Whenever I make the second one, I plan on doing them both with a semi-gloss to make it easier to wipe down for the inevitable tiny fingerprints that will end up all over them. I painted the insides of the drawers with orange paint as a little surprise when you open them. I stained the drawers with walnut Minwax, front and back. It was a pretty simple project. I think the most difficult part was waiting for it to dry so I could get it in the room. I was so excited to have a project to work on that brought the room one step closer to being the fun space I had envisioned.

I added bigger wood knobs than the ones that came with it, which I spray painted silver. I’m still not completely in love with the knobs, but I haven’t found anything that I like better. Once the chest had a place in the room, I got so inspired. I really started to figure out exactly how I was going to piece together the nursery and it jumpstarted a ton of projects that I am really proud of. I’ve always liked DIY projects. My mom spent the first five years of her marriage to my pop renovating and decorating the house we moved into, so I grew up watching her roll up her sleeves and create an amazing, well decorated, well loved home on her own. She really instilled that same spirit in me. Having an amazing living space is as simple as figuring out how to make what you want and doing it. The toughest part for me is reigning myself in when I start working on twenty projects at once. I’d love to hear about some reader DIY projects in the comments!

Confessions of a crazy mama

I have a confession to make.

When I told my mom, she thought I was joking at first. She told me that if I want to do it, she won’t try to stop me but she won’t have anything to do with it when I come visit.

When I told my best friends and my sister, they all looked at me like I was crazy. It was such a foreign concept to them. I got a lot of raised eyebrows and skeptical “Okaaaayyy..” responses.

When I told my grandma, she said “Good for you. I did it when I was younger, too.”

Well, I don’t care what they all say and I’m not ashamed to admit it. I confess..

I am a cloth diapering mama.

Not only am I a cloth diapering mama, but I’m excited about being a cloth diapering mama.

I have never pictured myself navigating my way around safety pins and big sheets of fabric. I’m not trying to learn any complicated folds or master the art of wrangling a baby into a piece of cloth. When I say I’m a cloth diapering mama, I am not talking about your grandma’s cloth diapers. I’m talking about some fancy ass, very modern cloth diapering.

Today’s cloth diapering involves all sorts of different types of diapers, methods, and materials, but I have built a modest stash of what are called pocket diapers. Pocket diapers resemble a fluffier, cuter version of a disposable. They wrap around the baby’s bottom the same way, but have velcro or snaps that hold them in place the same way a disposable functions. The inside is lined with fabric (mine are fleece) and have pockets that you stuff various absorbant materials into depending on how heavy of a wetter your kiddo is. Some inserts are microfiber, some are cotton or bamboo. There are actually quite a few different materials. The outer layer of the diapers are usually laminated fabric or polyurethane so they’re waterproof. There’s really such a wide variety of options available that it’s difficult to generalize, which is one of the many things that are so freaking awesome about CDing (as it’s called by us super cool people in the know).

I love that a cloth diaper is totally customizable from the inside out. You can control exactly how absorbant the diaper is, you have complete control over the material that is up against your baby’s most private of areas. You can choose the fabric the diaper is made of and choose any cute design you can find, you can choose the closures. If your baby has chubby legs or skinny little chicken legs like my little man, you can adjust the rise of the leg holes. You choose what you wash them in so you know exactly what chemicals your diapers are treated with before you put them on your baby’s tush. And as if all of that isn’t enough, cloth diapers are something like a bajillion times cheaper over the long run than disposable diapers. [Editor’s note: I did not use scientific methods to arrive at that figure. It’s an estimate.] Also, there’s the wonderful bonus of knowing that you aren’t responsible for dumping thousands of disposable diapers into your local landfill.

My personal decision was fueled by my partner’s terrible case of very severe eczema. After reading that babies with a parent who has eczema are much more likely to be affected, I decided that it might be best to cloth diaper Grayson and avoid the additives and potential irritants in most disposable diapers. I didn’t use cloth for Ellie and everything was fine, but I was interested in cloth even back then. I’ve read articles citing the potential carcinogenic additives in disposables and it’s horrifying that this self-regulating industry would be so interested in profit that they’d risk the health of babies. Maybe these things won’t take effect until all of these babies are well into their adulthood, but it’s just disgusting that for many people, the toxins, carcinogens, plastics, glues, and other junk that diapermakers put in their products are unavoidable.

I’m still very new to cloth diapering and don’t purport to know everything about the practice, but I have researched the topic at great length and feel very confident in my decision. We’re using pocket diapers (Charlie Bananas, BumGenius 4.0s, and Alvas), but we also have half a dozen Flip diaper covers, which I haven’t slapped on Grayson’s bottom yet. I have about sixty microfiber inserts to go inside the 30 pocket diapers, 10 bamboo inserts, and maybe two dozen prefolds, so I only have to wash every two or three days. The Charle Banana one sizes actually fit my tiny little man when the elastic inside is on the x-small setting, but I can’t wait to use the covers once Grayson adds a couple pounds to his tiny frame and his delicious little chicken legs actually fit into them. Surprisingly enough since most of the women in the cloth diaper groups I’m in on Facebook frequently post about their husbands not being entirely on board, John hasn’t complained yet and actually supports this endeavor completely. When the Charlie Banana brand went on clearance at Target for around $44 for a six pack (usually $120, which I refused to pay), he gave me money to go take advantage of the sale. He’s really into eco-friendly things and, of course, saving money. He’s so much more green (and frugal) than I am. I really want to adopt more of this good habits when it comes to money and being environmentally conscious, but I could probably write a dozen posts about how great he is and how he makes me a better person. I’ll save that mush for another time, maybe.

My mom doesn’t understand why anyone would elect to wash poopy diapers rather than just toss a disposable in the trash, but I did my first load of diaper laundry and it didn’t bother me in the slightest. I actually preferred it to regular laundry, which usually piles up until John finally gets frustrated and takes care of it. Maybe I’ll get tired of it. Maybe I’ll last until he potty trains and maybe I won’t, but so far, it’s working out well for my little family. Grayson seems to like them just fine and his Nana even changed his cloth diaper the other day without instruction from me, although she was awestruck at how “fancy” the cloth diapers are these days.

Mama likes them, Daddy likes them, Grayson likes them.

That’s all  you can really ask for, right?