Tag Archive | "travel"

I’m back from Adult Summer Camp (ABC Kids Expo)

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I could post a lot of photos of the fabulous new products I saw at ABC Kids Expo but I already did that on Instagram.  Instead, as I adjust once again to my normal life, I’d rather reflect on my week of Summer Camp for Adults (term stolen from Katie Pickles from AppleCheeks).

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Kim, Amity of Green Child Magazine, Jill of Baby Rabies, and Amanda of GCM

Every single year I look forward to this trade show.  Of course I love seeing the products and learning about new things I can share here on the blog or on social media.  I like having answers for your questions even if those questions aren’t cloth diaper related.  I like being “in the know.”  But, I enjoy the quality time I get to spend with my “industry family” even more.

Me and Fletcher with Sara, former owner of Diaper Daisy, in 2009 at our first ABC Kids Expo

Me and Fletcher with Sara, former owner of Diaper Daisy, in 2009 at our first ABC Kids Expo

I started attending this expo back in 2009 after learning I could go as media.  In fact, Jenn Labit was the one who put the idea into my head during a Twitter party.  It stuck, and the following month I packed my things and my 10 month old son and headed for Vegas!   It was CRAZY!  I’m not that type of person to travel so far from home, alone, with a baby in my Ergo, and head to one of the largest juvenile products expos in the world!  My passion and love for cloth diapers overpowered by logical brain.  I still wonder how I did it and why- my blog was a baby then with little traffic and no one knew who I was!

That experience helped push my blog forward.  I connected with brands on a level not possible on the computer.  I MET them, and more importantly, they met ME!  We were real people behind those Twitter handles.  I certainly credit that first trip with the growth of Dirty Diaper Laundry.

This year it was less of a meeting and more of a reunion with my camp friends that I only get to see once a year.  Most of us left our children behind and were able to do grown-up things like have dinner and converse without interruption.  I love my kids but boy was it fun to have a few days away, even if I was missing them and my husband like crazy.

The thing about ABC Kids is that it reinforces the fact that there are real people behind many of the brands/stores I love and recommend here.  I can love a product, but if I love the people and the mission behind it I love it EVEN more.  It makes my job easy to say you should support _____ company because I know them, they are real people working hard to run their company and support their family.  Those “huge” companies in our industry- well those are still mostly family run too.  Many have extended family working together and they support 5 or more families.  Our buying decisions matter, where are dollars go matters.  I get to see this and I hope I’m able to continue to convey this message with my work.

In the cloth diaper business no one goes into it to get rich.  No one (except maybe a certain section that you can guess).  It’s where entrepreneurship and passion intersect.  With the business savvy these brands have they could easily be doing something else, making a lot more, with a lot less hassle.  I’m glad they’re here, helping us lessen the impact our children have on landfills and keep our wallets a little heavier.

I wish I could bring you all along to see just what I mean.  Maybe we should start a real summer camp for adults, with rum soaked marshmallows in our S’mores  and fun, adult only campfire stories.  What fun that would be!

Here are some photos of my summer camp friends, new and old, that I can’t wait to see again next year.

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Kim Ormsby and Kim Rosas

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Calley of DiaperShops and Kim Rosas

Kim and Alicia of Earth Mama

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Kim and Maria of Change-Diapers

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Libby and Jenn of Cotton Babies, Maria, and Kim

 

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The Teen in 10B

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I’m constantly worried that I’m screwing my kids up for life, and not in the good way.  As a child from a dysfunctional home I pride myself in the positives that came from it- like knowing a lot about drug culture (but never trying them because I had the best “say no to drugs” commercial on 24 hours a day at home), understanding how to help a person when they’re having a grand-mal seizure (if anyone drops in front of my at Target I know not to shove a spoon in their mouth), and earning my Chandler Bing style, self-deprecating sense of humor to cope with a miserable home life.

My kids have a completely opposite existence.  They never have to worry about seeing their mom fall asleep in her food (ok, that might be a lie…) or seeing her OD and aspirate on her own vomit.  They won’t have to skip school on a big field trip day because we can’t afford the fee.  Hell, they won’t even have to walk in the rain to a bus because I’m so traumatized by the long, cold morning walks and the bullying I suffered to and from school that I’d never dream of doing anything but being the suburban mom taxi.

I’m aware of the opposite ways I could be screwing up my kids right this very second!  They have it all- the pool, the bikes, the toys, the trips to Legoland, the frozen yogurt or Starbucks dates.  I have a hard time saying no to their requests and I’m no therapist but I can see how growing up without can make a parent bend to a 5 year old’s will in the toy aisle at Target.  I dreamed up this life for my unborn kids amidst my own childhood chaos and it’s here.  Will our good fortune turn my kids into entitled little snots instead?

This past weekend I left my family for a short weekend conference called BlogU in Baltimore.  I promised them a souvenir like always when I travel and kissed them goodbye.  The trip and the conference was amazing- I met new friends, laughed until I cried, and even learned things I will be applying to this blog.  When it was time to leave I was sad to go but excited to hug my family and sleep in my own bed again.

My flight was delayed 20 minutes and when I did the math, it meant I had an extremely tight connection in Atlanta but a gate agent assured me that things would be fine.  I was landing a mere 3 gates from my departure.  It would all work out, I assumed.

We boarded the plane and the gentleman in the aisle seat offered his to me, knowing of my predicament at landing.  I thanked him for being so thoughtful and also observant.  Hopeful but nervous I read my book, one I had just downloaded on my Kindle for this weekend after the NPR interview (I only buy books after I hear about them on NPR) and mentally prepared for the dash ahead.

Then the crackle of the speaker came on and the pilot spoke.  “Ummm…. looks like we are going to be delayed 10 more minutes folks.  I’ve turned off the engines.  Once I get clearance for take-off we will taxi out.”  

The lady directly ahead of me turned her head around.  “Honey, don’t worry, we are going to stay in when we land and let you go ahead so you make your flight.  We have these three rows covered for you.  My son is over there, and my daughter is up ahead.  It’s going to be ok.”

I thanked her- how incredibly thoughtful that she arranged to have three rows ahead sit patiently to let me go by them.  I would have started up a conversation with her but frankly, my mind and body were just too exhausted from the weekend’s events and the late nights.

“Folks, we are going to be here another 5-10 minutes, air traffic control has us waiting.”

The woman ahead turned around with visible concern.  “Are you going to make your connection?”

“Maybe, but it isn’t looking good.  I might have 5 minutes when we land.  Thankfully the gate is very close so if I can hurry I might catch the plane.  And maybe they will wait if we aren’t too late. “

“We have all of the rows ahead [5 rows in coach] waiting for you to let you by.”

Hot tears sprung up.  I already knew my chances were slim, but having the support of even more rows who were willing to let me speed by was a sign that not everyone in the world is out for themselves.  Sometimes delayed planes have a way of bringing out the best in passengers.  I’ve seen it before, and here it was happening for me.  I thanked her again and this time we exchanged a few more words about my home destination of Tampa.

“So, do you have any children?” she asked.  That was of course when I lost it.  I crumpled into a pile of poorly contained tears as I choked out my “Yes, I have two boys at home.”  ”How old?”  ”5 and 3.”  ”These are my babies up here.  They’re both teens.  It happens so fast.”  ”I know.  I was really hoping to see my babies tonight but I don’t know if I will now.”

I went straight to self-pity and questioned every decision I had made that afternoon.  Through a very unfortunate mistake, I had booked the wrong set of flights to and from Baltimore.  I fixed my first flights but wound up leaving hours later than planned for my return trip.  I arrived at the airport at 3 PM for my 8:22 PM flight because I was riding with my roommate and her flight left at 5:45 PM.  This wasn’t as bad as I anticipated because we were able to watch another episode of Orange is the New Black together.  I had called in advance hoping to make stand-by for a 5:45 PM flight and I got it!  I was summoned to the gate and offered a seat on that flight to Atlanta.  Their flight was behind 30 minutes and a seat on the earlier connection was doubtful based on their stand-by list and the fact that I would have just 10 minutes to be added before the flight was scheduled to leave.  I thought “Wait here or wait in Atlanta for my later flight and spend $50, plus take a seat from someone who may need it more….?”  I chose to give up my seat.  At the time, it seemed like a better choice.  Had I taken that seat, paid $50, I would have made my connection.  I tortured myself for that decision as the minutes ticked by and we were still on the ground.

“Ummmmm…. this is the pilot speaking…. we won’t be leaving until 9:40 PM.”

Again, the nice lady turned around with even more concern and now with a hint of pity on her face.  She said nothing, but I knew her question.

“No… I won’t make it.  My flight leaves at 11:00.  Looks like I’ll be spending the night in Atlanta.”

I was mentally absent.  My brain was running on no sleep and my body was tired from dancing the night away Saturday night, thanks to the social lubrication of an open bar and Kim friendly drinks.  I had been texting updates to my husband.  He, the eternal optimist, was checking Flight Status to see if maybe my connection would be delayed, and it was by 10 minutes, but that wasn’t even close to what I needed.  Soon, we were in the clouds for a very uneasy and turbulent flight.  I closed my comfortable hoodie over my eyes and tried to sleep but it was useless.

When the cabin lights turned on at landing the lady and her two teens all turned around.  Their faces were all breaking my heart because they knew as well as I did that I would be stuck there all night, unable to sleep in my own bed and see my husband and kids.  My thoughts were consumed with the blame I was placing on everyone else.  Why didn’t that gate attendant tell me that our plane was the same one coming back from Atlanta?  That piece of information would have been helpful because it would have made known the fact that my own flight would definitely be delayed.  It was all her fault, she is the reason I’m going to be away from my babies one more night.  I had hateful thoughts that took the blame from my own decision (how could I have known the outcome then?  I couldn’t have) and put them onto someone else.  It made me feel better, as it always does.  I was so consumed by my self-pity, exhaustion, and anger that I hardly spoke to those kind people who had done so much to help me and who were clearly, very genuinely concerned about what happened to me.

As we all stood up and gathered our things to de-plane the teenager in 10B whose mother had been so kind to me, held out a Starbucks card across the row between us.

“Here, take this and grab something to eat and some coffee.”

It took me a minute to register what she was doing.  I responded back. “Thank you, that’s so sweet.  I’ll be ok.  I actually have a gold star reward for a free coffee waiting for me on my own card.”  ”No really,” she replied back, “I got a million of these for my graduation.  You should use it since you will be stuck here.”  I again thanked her and assured her I would be fine.  We all shuffled off the plane and I sat in a chair, crying my eyes out while figuring out what I should do next.  The airline offered me a voucher for a hotel and a flight the next day.

That morning I woke up feeling much better after 7 hours of rest and hopeful that I would be seeing my babies soon.  Then I went back over the previous day’s events and the teenager in 10B.  I cried once again, but that time out of happiness.  I had the privilege of meeting three people who left a lifetime imprint on me.  I regret not asking the mother her secret to raising empathetic children.  I cried because I wasn’t sure if one day my own children would do the same, would have the heart to make the same gesture of kindness to someone who clearly needed it.  It wasn’t the card I needed- I would have never gone hungry- it was the act.  Their concern made me feel less alone; I felt like they laid a security blanket on top of me in that airplane.  I don’t know if I could even register how much it meant to me until the following day when my head was cleared of the negativity and regret.  That family gave me hope that even a “normal” family can result in children who are good-hearted, even if they had never experienced the hardships that I’ve always felt shaped me into the person I am today.  Whatever that family was doing, it was right.  I’ll never know their secret and they’ll never know how much their gestures meant to me.   One day, when my boys are adventuring with us, I can only hope they turn out just like the teen in 10B.

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…and a Kim update too! Family, Fitness, Home, and BlogU

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No, I’m not making a pregnancy announcement like Lara did yesterday.  However, I realized I haven’t given a good “random stuff” update in a while about my family and our happenings.

 

FletcherupdateThe biggest update is that my oldest son is just about to graduate from Pre-K this month and will start Kindergarten at a charter school in the Fall.  This is the same kid that was testing diapers when I started Dirty Diaper Laundry 5 years ago.  Fletcher is at the age where he is really fun to be around, not because he is a baby and cute to look at, but because he says interesting things and can hold a conversation with you.  He has learned to read with ease, something I’m thankful for, and will even read a book to his brother at night.  I’m looking forward to this summer when his brother will be at school and he is home so that we have time for just us.  He is a competent bike rider and we can go about 3 miles total together on our rides.  He has even started jogging with me… more on that later.

 

bikeev copyEverett is also growing up quickly, too quickly, though to me his is still my baby.  He still wakes at night and crawls into bed with me and sleeps right in the crook of my arm which never ceases to fill my heart with joy.  Co-sleeping is the last bit of babyhood I have left so until he is done, I am content having him join for middle of the night cuddles.  Once that is gone, I fear all the baby from him will be gone and I’ll be looking at a real pre-schooler.  Last month he started at his brother’s “school” for 2 days a week, giving me a much needed break to either work or run errands without any children.   We have no family here so getting any breaks is few and far between and it definitely takes a toll on my sanity.  Even though Everett is very attached he took to school right away with no tears, much to my surprise.  He is also riding a bike with no training wheels (thank you balance bike for the early training) and we are stopped at least once a week by a passing car on our street to tell us how amazing it is to see such a young “baby” riding a real bike.  I think it is pretty amazing too, and together we take short rides  or he rides just on our cul-de-sac.

And now to type out something for the sake of putting it in the public sphere to hold myself accountable and feel an obligation to keep up with it.  I’ve actually started to exercise!  I was inspired by another blogger, The Feminist Breeder, who started her own group for Lazyass Runners, and I downloaded the Couch to 5k app.  I even bought new sneakers, the first pair I’ve purchased in about 8 years.  I bought an armband to hold my iPhone so I can listen to music and the app, and I’ve asked for a FitBit for Mother’s Day.  I was asking my husband for the adult Aden+Anais daydream blanket for Mother’s Day but that would probably just keep me on the couch even more than I already am, and since I’m trying to get off it that is probably a bad gift idea!  I’m just as surprised as anyone else about this development.  I’ve been extremely lucky in the metabolism department for the bulk of my life until about last year.  Once the breastfeeding and constant bouncing stopped, the weight creeped back up.  I’m a short gal so even a few pounds extra can mean my stomach is farther out than the DD’s that I kept after both pregnancies (seriously,where the HELL did those come from?!  I just bought two new bras and sure enough, that is my real size).

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So when it comes to fitness and being healthy I have no clue how to start.  I’ve never counted calories, I did count carbs during both pregnancies thanks to being a gestational diabetic, but I haven’t the first clue about what to eat and when.  I can’t give up coffee but I have given up the frappucinos, for now.  Realistically, I will be doing the three days a week of the Couch to 5k, and the rest will be bike rides or walks in between when possible.  Besides losing a bit of extra weight I’m looking forward to being less sedentary.  Blogging doesn’t exactly equate to a vigorous work day!  I may post some updates on my Instagram with the #couchto5k and #lazyassbloggers tag but I don’t have plans to incorporate this journey into regular blog updates.

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Our home updates have slowed down considerably.  We are still anxiously waiting for my Great Aunt’s 60′s era sectional to come back from the upholsterers (It has been there since February!).  We are having it recovered in a rich, deep teal that my husband and I both fell in love with.  I should definitely blog about that journey, reupholstery is not for the faint of heart, especially when having someone else do it! (Maybe I need to re-think getting that A+A blanket, doesn’t it match the couch?!)  In order to pay for this I have picked up quite a few videography gigs, filming and editing videos for companies and brands.  It is something I really enjoy doing and it combines my love of cloth diapers and reusable products with the skills I’ve picked up these 5 years.  I will be posting some updated interior shots but I want my couch first!  If you missed the year of DIY and home improvements you can catch up on those older posts.  Our entire home has been re-painted and remodeled, mostly by my husband and I, and now we are finally getting to just enjoy the home!  This July will mark 2 years living here in this home, and in Florida.

blogu14photoOther than the blogging and the video editing, much of my time has been spent helping the cloth diaper charity, Giving Diapers, Giving Hope.  It is an amazing thing to be apart of and I’m so proud of the work we are doing.  I’m also getting ready to speak at ABC Kids Spring  (a baby industry only conference) on a panel with bloggers way out of my league (I can admit that!) on social media in 2 weeks.  Jill from Baby Rabies, Charlie Chapen from How to be a Dad, and Jamie Grayson (we are not related, that was a real rumor!) who is THEBabyGuyNYC will be on the panel.  In June I’m off to BlogU, a blogging conference in Baltimore, MD.  I chose this particular blogging conference because of the lack of extras.  As fun and helpful as the BlogHer conferences have been in years past, I really wanted to try a smaller conference with less outside parties and events.  Not only is the cost significantly lower, but I’m looking forward to meeting others in that intimate setting.  I’ve been blogging for 5 years and there is still so much to learn!  If you stop teaching yourself and attending conferences you can be left in the dust.  New social media platforms pop-up (Pinterest and Instagram were not around when I started in 2009!) and algorithms change.  Blogging styles have changed- when I began having photos were not required, but now posts are so much more visual that not adding a photo is unheard of!  As much as I’d like to tune out the noise and just be one with my content, the world of self promotion and social media cannot be ignored.  There will also be sessions about the business side of blogging and many other topics I am happy to learn more about.  Plus, I get to hang with my roommate Amanda from The Eco-Friendly Family so that is always a bonus for work trips!

The summer will have an influence on my work schedule.  Things will slow as I spend time at the pool with the boys and with my new desire and commitment to exercise.  There are plenty of projects in the works though, so don’t count me out yet!  Can you believe my boy is going to school in the Fall?!

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Babies in Bloom Baby Fest Recap

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This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending and speaking at the Babies in Bloom Baby Fest in Northern California, about an hour from San Diego.  The entire experience was wonderful and I was having so much fun and living in the moment so intensely that I found myself forgetting to use my camera or my phone to take any pictures!  I’m so thankful that Rochelle, the owner of Babies in Bloom, thought enough of me and the work I do here on Dirty Diaper Laundry to invite me.  It was a very fast weekend but I squeezed in a ton!  Baby Fest was a huge success and raised a lot of money for March of Dimes so it was great to play a tiny part in that.

On Saturday my first hour in California was spent chatting with the owner of a local diaper service at the airport!  Next I met January of Birth Without Fear for the first time, though I’ve been a fan of the blog for many years.  We rode together to our hotel and I discovered what everyone else already knew- she is the nicest person on Earth.  At one point this weekend I had to tell her to stop being so January, and if you’ve ever met her or seen her speak you would know what I mean.  We had a Starbucks moment together, one we needed after both traveling much of the day.

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The next adventure was to play tourists!  Rochelle and the most amazing team from a retail store ever invited us to dinner at a tourist destination that was situated on the pier.  The scenery was beautiful.  Mrs. and Mr. Spray-Pal joined us so yes, it was a fun filled evening!  After a night cap I returned to the hotel.  It had been a 20 hour day for me so even though I was turning in “early” by PST time, I was exhausted and possibly delirious.

After what I will just say was a “fun” night related to my body hating me for traveling and a not so restful sleep, it was the big day!  January and I met with Rochelle that morning to see the venue and it was stunning and so thoughtfully laid out.  There were over 50 vendors relating to pregnancy, birth, cloth diapering, breastfeeding, breastfeeding, and natural parenting for the day!  The schedule was packed full of information sessions and panels on birth, cloth diapering (me!), babywearing, and more.  I was lucky enough to attend the Birth Without Fear VIP Meet-UP early in the day.  If BWF comes to your town you have to make it; it was almost making me cry to be with these amazing women and listening to January’s birth stories.   Due to time, the other moms weren’t able to share their own stories but at her meet-ups they are and I’m sure it is a healing experience for women who’ve gone through traumatic births and inspiring to those hoping to heal with VBACs or HBACS.

I made these pretty cards for the first sessions and left them at home.

I made these pretty cards for the first sessions and left them at home.

Soon I was on, I did a condensed cloth diapering informational session and 30 minutes isn’t quite enough to cover this topic (I’ve been blogging for 5 years and I still haven’t covered each topic!) but I stayed after to answer specific questions from attendees.  I loved watching the looks on everyone’s faces when I described how easily you could DIY a t-shirt flat for .25, it may be my favorite moment of the show.  Cloth diapering doesn’t have to be expensive, see?!  Soon enough I’ll post these cards above in another post since so many of you loved them the preview on Instagram.

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I was able to get around to a few booths during the day, not all of them though, and chatted with Spray-Pal, Moraki, and the San Diego RDA.

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Standing room only for BWF’s session

The parking lot had food trucks, which is what I believe is the smartest move the Baby Fest organizers made!  I grabbed a burrito for lunch and made it in time to hear January’s open session.  It was a full house, standing room only, and women around me remarked over and over at how much they loved January and Birth Without Fear.  My next session was a bit different, and I was totally afraid no butts would be in the seats after January brought the house down.

Image via SprayPal

Image via SprayPal

The “Cloth Diapering in Depth” session was more about how DDL began and my perspective watching the industry grow rapidly in the last 5 years.  I also went over the evolution of the cloth diaper and the history, touching on the disposable diaper’s role in how we now consume and market cloth, and how they marketed their own products to compete with cloth in the 70′s up to now.  This is the stuff that I live for, that I research often (History major, remember?) and find so interesting.  I enjoyed sharing some information that most people have never heard, especially since a few of the items shared are not found or shared on any other websites (not even mine, yet).  I even brought along some of the treasures I’ve collected, included vintage 1950′s era covers.

Image via Babies in Bloom

Image via Babies in Bloom

Once the expo wrapped the amazing staff of Babies in Bloom plus January and I posed for a group photo.  Someone thought putting me in front was a good idea, then they decided squatting was also a good idea.  My face says otherwise.

After the long day at the expo I had the BEST Pad See Ew of my life with friends from Moraki.  Upon returning to my hotel, I promptly removed the gorgeous shoes I’d been wearing all day and crawled under the covers to call my husband.  I don’t leave my family very often, so I was missing them quite a bit already!

Monday I spent 11 hours either in a hotel or an airplane before reuniting with the family and devouring a late night Gyro on the ride home.

I met so many people that I will never forget last weekend that radiate kindness and positive energy.  Not only that, but I got the chance to connect with several DDL readers and parents who weren’t readers yet but who hopefully will be as they continue their cloth diaper research.  The next big event I’m attending will be right here in the Tampa area on April 26th- the Pinellas County Great Cloth Diaper Change!

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The Faces Behind the Brands- Photos from ABC Kids Expo

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This post is purely my excuse to share the photos I took at ABC Kids Expo.  Plus, photo posts are the easiest, it is like a bloggy vacation!  Being that I was filming the majority of the trip, I didn’t take as many real photos with my real camera but I have plenty that were taken using my iPhone!  Every year that I attend this event I come home thinking “I should have taken more photos with people.” but I’m usually too darn shy to ask.  I don’t like coming off as a weird “fan-girl” for anyone either!  I did a better job this year than in previous years and will share my super fun photos with all of you.  You may notice that everyone looks like they have gigantic heads.  It is just an illusion caused by my THS (Tiny Head Syndrome.)  I’ve been suffering from this chronic disease since childhood.

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This is by far my favorite photo from the expo because, look at it! Have you ever seen a happier baby? The back story is that, while Annie from AMP Diapers and I spoke, her baby nursed and then fell asleep. Maybe 20 minutes later she woke up THIS HAPPY. I don’t think I’ve ever been that happy after just waking up.

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This photo is to prove that she had just woken up. Such a peaceful, sweet baby girl!
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Want to know who else was happy? Amy from Applecheeks! This hilarious lady had a good enough sense of humor to let me sit on her lap… then Sadler from Thirsties came by to take the other vacant leg. I won’t confirm or deny that the shirts were planned.
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I could have stayed all day with Shirley and Besty from Bummis. Even after over 25 years in this industry they still have a palpable drive to advocate for cloth diapers. They’ve been true to their brand’s mission and ethics to keep manufacturing in Canada. I felt re-energized and inspired just being around them.

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Back when I lived in Syracuse, NY there was a little cloth diaper store. At first they sold online and met their customers, then they opened a store in their home. Then a store in the Mall. Then a BIGGER store in the mall. This all happened in less than 2 years! This is Colleen, the wife from the Husband/Wife team of Basic Baby. These guys have worked night and day for the last few years building an amazing store and resource for their local community. It’s been awe-inspiring to watch unfold.
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Meet Malena of BALM! Baby- makers of my favorite natural deodorant. They are based in Hawaii and run a family business making natural body products and more. Malena “forced” me to take her chocolate spread and a banana, yummy!
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I didn’t grab a photo with Charlie from Moraki (boo) but I did make Amanda from Green Child Magazine and The Eco Friendly Family eat a fake cupcake made from a wipe at their booth.
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Even though it was all work (well, mostly work) during the 9-6 hours at the expo I still managed to squeeze in some fun time! This photo is (Left to right) Amity of Green Child Magazine, Mona from Eco Nuts, Kim, and Amanda from Green Child Magazine.
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The folks from Super Undies had a photo “booth” with props. That whole gang was a blast and I found myself running by just to say hi or sit for a spell during the crazy tired times.
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Last but certainly not least… it was required that I get a photo with Angry Baby. Jamie? I guess he can be in the photo too. In case you don’t know, Jamie is TheBabyGuyNYC and is the best resource out there for baby gear (strollers, car seats, etc). Angry Baby is his sidekick and happens to be modeling a Sloomb cloth diaper!

 

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A Wedding + A New Camera

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Last week the family and I packed our bags and drove from our new home in Florida back to North Carolina.  This time it was for my sister-in-law’s wedding.  The timing could have been better and her wedding conflicted with my plans to once again attend the ABC Kids Expo but it is a happy occasion that only happens once.  Obviously I picked attending over a work trip.

Weddings are always a great excuse to see family.  This week a close family friend from Germany met my two boys for the first time.  I don’t think I even realized that she hadn’t met Fletcher until she said it.  She also came with delicious german chocolate candies for them and I may have snuck a few for myself.

The wedding ceremony was a record ten minutes long.  Afterwards photos were taken and I brought my new camera along to play with and get a few of my own.  My Father-in-Law gifted me his Nikon D90 to replace my D80.  The D90 is a newer version of the D80 but it is still a decent upgrade and I’m having a lot of fun with the new gear.  The best thing about having the camera with me was that I was there to capture photos of our family all dressed up while the bride and bridal party had their photos done.  The photographer was there to take photos of them, not us, so I’m really happy to have taken some family pictures that I’m already cherishing.  The lighting was perfection as well.  I’m never actually in photos but I did force a family member to take a picture of my husband and I together, which is a rare occasion indeed.  Being a stickler for not shooting in Auto mode anymore (I’ve been learning how to use my DSLR for almost a year now) I made sure to set the camera up then hand it over.  I’m definitely going to frame this picture.

 

Some of my other favorite photos from that day…

 

And now for a little story about the last photo.  At the reception I hear the DJ shout out a dedication for the upcoming song “To Kim from Steven.”  Then I hear the song “The Final Countdown” by Europe.  I start laughing and crying all at once and of course only my husband knows why.  He walks over and we hug and I cry.  To everyone else we must look crazy, but over 5 years ago that was the song that I chose to play after our wedding for when we walked down the aisle.  Sadly, my husband left the cd I had custom made and edited to match the timing I was looking for and it was never played.  I was upset about it but I’ve since made my peace with it.  I couldn’t believe he remembered and requested the song.  I believe my Father-in-Law grabbed the camera and took a few photos of us during that song and this was one of them. I embedded the video for the song because if you haven’t heard it you must watch.

We left for home again on Monday and we are already unpacked and settled back to regular life.  The boys really love living here in Florida and missed it.  As much as I’d like to just kick back and relax it is back to working on the home renovations and preparing for Everett’s second birthday this Saturday.

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Coping Without The Rocker- Traveling with Baby and Conquering Sleep

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Having survived dozens of trips, both short and long, with babies who are dependent on some form of repetitive motion to fall asleep, I feel like I have a lot of advice to give to other parents in similar situations.  Traveling with children is already a challenge but when you also have a child who depends on rocking in a chair or glider or another form of motion that involves a specific piece of furniture then things get really interesting.  Unless you can strap your rocking chair to the top of your car you are faced with a major issue.  How the **** am I going to get my kid to sleep without _______? (you fill in the blank).

I’ve had to get creative (sometimes very creative) to handle this very real threat to an otherwise fun vacation.  I’m going to list the various rocking chair/yoga ball substitutes for travel and some other helpful tips for conquering even the most motion dependent sleeper.

First keep in mind a few general tips that will make all of these substitute sleep methods go easier no matter where you are.  

-Children sleep best when they aren’t overtired.  Vacations usually mean that you’ve spent the day doing fun things, often walking and playing.  Naturally your baby is exhausted and may have even skipped their nap(s).  Now here you are without your sleep crutch and trying a new tactic.  I feel for you, I really do, and I have been there.  If AT ALL possible avoid getting to the overtired part of the day.  Schedule activities around a nap or get back to your hotel/room before it is too late.  Overtired babies will fight your best attempts at helping them sleep.  Sometimes they will tire themselves out from the crying but no one really enjoys that and if you have been rocking your baby to sleep every night you are probably not going to be OK with that.

-Avoid an overtired baby but a tired baby is a GOOD thing!  When I can I try to make sure my baby has had a nice walk before his nap and before bed when we are traveling.  Sitting in a stroller or baby carrier while seeing the sights does a lot to make you tired but not your baby.  If they are old enough to walk/play a nice 30 minute bit of exercise might make the motion routine for their nap or bed shorter than if they had not tired themselves out.

-Be as consistent as you can and replicate your home routine while traveling.  If you read books before bed, do it in the hotel.  If you always sing or hum a song while rocking your baby to sleep, sing or hum the same song while trying a different technique.  I like choosing a portable and easy “crutch” so that every bedtime routine has a little something the same no matter where we are.  For some babies that is a lovey.  For my Fletcher it was reading “The Tiny Seed” and singing “You Are My Sunshine.”  For my Everett it is singing “Lullaby and Goodnight” and patting him.

-Remember that traveling with children is about survival!  As much as I hate to say it I will: Some trips will **** up your routine.  For us travel often reverts my babies back to being rocked or bounced or cuddled or nursed to sleep even after I have progressed to not doing these things at home.  I have never had “easy” sleepers and if you are reading this you probably don’t either.  Do your best to have a fun trip even if it means taking a step back or “spoiling” your child by going that extra mile to help them fall asleep without having to make them cry themselves to sleep.

All of the following tips come from my personal experience with two very needy sleepers.  I’ve tried and done just about everything you can think of and we have traveled a lot for work, fun, and family.  I tried to list these in order of most effective and highest recommended to the last resort or least effective methods.

Babywearing:

For the first few months of my sons’ lives I relied heavily on a baby carrier to help bounce them to sleep when we were traveling.  A carrier is compact and can fit in any suitcase or diaper bag, even when flying.  The motion of walking, or for the more particular babies, bouncing while standing/walking, inside of a carrier will usually lull your little one to sleep.  Even at home when times were tough I used to bounce Fletcher to sleep while he laid against my chest in a wrap.  Babywearing naps are the best for traveling since you are often out and about.  You can attend tours (I’ve ridden in two different Duck Boat Tours with a napping baby on my chest) and sight see and baby catches a snooze.  If you need to you can only use the carrier to get the baby to sleep, then carefully transfer them to their bed for the nap or night.

 

 

 

Strolling:

I’ve used the stroller method more for my youngest baby Everett to help him fall asleep.  Strollers can turn into instant travel beds for babies who are susceptible to the smooth ride.  Unlike a baby carrier, once the baby is asleep after a nice little walk (or a push back and forth in a hotel room), the stroller can be stopped and parked with the brake on in a safe place for the duration of the nap.  I don’t suggest allowing a baby to sleep in the stroller all night however.  If you have a baby who relies on more vigorous motion (bouncing) for sleeping, try using a stroller with good suspension, like a jogger, and gently push down the handle.  This will let you bounce them up and down to sleep.  When Everett attended a conference with me last year this was the ONLY way he would nap during this loud event.  A bonus of using the stroller method- if your baby will ONLY fall asleep for you or your spouse the stroller can trick a baby to fall asleep for a babysitter or family member.  I don’t usually leave him with anyone when a nap or bedtime is involved but on the two occasions I have I made the babysitter push the stroller in the house.  It worked.

Office Chairs:

Virtually every single hotel room has a desk and a swiveling rocking chair.  Moms are nothing is not creative.  Substitute the office chair for your at home glider or rocker!  Some office chairs have enough give or even rock so you can get enough back and forth to rock your little one to sleep.  If you can’t, either swivel side to side or skip to the next method.

Rock in a Stationary Chair:

Sometimes you can fool your baby into thinking they are rocking in a glider when in fact you are seated on a couch or in a chair and just rocking your body back and forth.  It might kill your back (ok, it will kill your back), but it can be effective and you won’t be on your feet waiting for them to fall asleep.

Use those Muscles- Standing Bounce/Rock:

My husband used to have this maneuver I coined the “magic daddy thing” because when my oldest refused all of my best tricks he would still go to sleep for his Dad.  Unfortunately this “magic daddy thing” isn’t exactly fun or comfortable.  In our case my husband had to stand upright and cradle our son in his arms then bounce fairly quickly up and down using his knees.  Our son would fight it (remember, he was usually already upset and fighting sleep to begin with, this was the emergency weapon in our arsenal) and it could take up to an hour some nights.  When we had no other option to get him to sleep when traveling this was how he was put to sleep.  I could never make this work for me (mainly because he saw me as someone who put him to sleep in a different way.  He just pushed his body off) and for my husband it was physically exhausting.  The biggest drawback of this method is that it relies on your strength.  In our case, if he didn’t keep up the momentum or pattern it could reset the clock.  Still, when you are desperate something has to give.

The Yoga Ball:

Have Giant Ball- Will Travel.  That was my motto for 20 months with Everett.  After battling what we later learned was a dairy intolerance, my son was addicted to being bounced to sleep on a Yoga Ball.  Even if your baby isn’t used to being bounced on a yoga ball specifically (although this is more common than I realized before we started this 2 years ago) they do pack up easily when traveling by car!  Deflate it and pack your pump if you must.  Although having a compressor at your destination will make your life much easier.  Once your ball is inflated it is like being back at home.  If you usually rely on a rocker/glider or a baby swing a ball might still work for you.  Rather than bouncing you can sit on an under inflated ball and rock back and forth on the ball and create a “faux” rocking chair.  Almost all hotels with fitness centers will have a yoga ball.  I’ve borrowed them by asking the hotel staff and bounced Ev to sleep in my room too.

Das Boobie:

Boobs are very powerful for most babies when it comes to sleep.  I have no problems utilizing their awesome power to induce sleep for my children.  I realize many parents avoid “nursing to sleep” and don’t want to start that habit.  Well, that is OK for home and if you subscribe to this philosophy that is your prerogative.  If you are OK with nursing your baby to sleep then this will aid you greatly when traveling.  Your boob is always with you and requires no extra space in your luggage or additional baggage fees.  If your baby still needs motion in addition to breastfeeding you can add the boob into any of the above methods (except possibly just standing and bouncing without babywearing).

 

 

Beds Are Bouncy:

Like I said before, I’ve tried every method out there while traveling.  My children have never really slept in cribs and moved from our bed and co-sleeping to their own Twin Size bed.  When we traveled they also slept in our bed or their own large bed.  If your baby is used to a crib or you fear they will fall out of bed then this might not be for you.  However, when my husband and I were completely exhausted after a long day of traveling or sight seeing sometimes we couldn’t move a muscle to physically rock our son to sleep.  Cue the lazy parent’s bouncer- the bed.  Sit or lay next to your baby and gently push the bed down next to them so that they feel the bouncing.  Memory foam or extra thick pillow tops won’t work as well but the fold out couches are great for this maneuver. You can even kneel next to them for bigger bounces if you need them.  Typically I also “shhhh” them or lay next to them and nurse while using my hand to bounce the bed.  Awkward but effective.

Patting:

Instinctively many parents already pat their babies on the backs while they soothe them.  While patting isn’t exactly a motion it has worked for both of my children as a substitute for rocking/bouncing when we have traveled.  It isn’t nearly as effective or fast as the real thing or the above mentioned substitutes.  It is a method that only worked when the baby was a. Exhausted and too tired to fight and b. they were a bit older.  I have always “shhhhed” while patting.  I’ve also been able to bounce the baby by lighting patting their back on a springy bed.

Go For a Drive:

I listed this last but when you are desperate sometimes you just need to put the baby in the carseat and take a drive.  I’ve done it.  You’ve done it too.  When your sanity and the happiness of your baby is at stake then by all means, drive them to sleep.  If you can transfer them from the seat back to a crib or bed then that is even better.  Even a 15 minute cat nap might make the rest of your day more enjoyable and help make bed time routine easier without an overtired mess on your hands.

 

 

 

The most important thing while traveling with your baby is to keep everyone sane and happy.  I can recall many nights of holding back tears and I, exhausted and ready for bed myself, tried everything on the list and still had a crying baby in my arms.  Being away from home is just HARD sometimes and we all miss those comforts we are accustomed to.  Your baby misses their swing or you miss that reliable rocking chair.  While I think I should start a petition to have all hotels keep a loaner glider for moms for now we have to learn other ways to get our children to sleep when they aren’t self sufficient and can’t fall asleep without that motion.

One day your baby WON’T need you to jump through these crazy hoops and will let you lay next to them, or simply hold their hand.  With my 4 year old he is completely fine going to bed with a kiss (after I rocked him to sleep for the first 20 months of his life) but when traveling we still sometimes have to lay next to him or keep a firm hand on his back just so he knows we are there.  Until then take solace in the fact that there are others out there doing the same things, looking just as nuts, being just as exhausted and stressed, and we are all secretly quoting lines from “Go the F*** To Sleep” while swearing to the almighty that next week we start working on this whole sleep thing….

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What BlogHer ’12 Really Looked Like: Crowds, Sights, Parties, and Friends

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This year I decided I would push myself to film video footage of my time in NYC at BlogHer.  I’m learning more and more about video editing and wanted the excuse to edit a video not related to cloth diapering.  NYC has all the excitement and views a videographer could want.  Add to that the mega-conference known as BlogHer and the parties and friends…..  I knew I would leave with some good footage.

In no particular order you will see in this film:

Jenny from Conscientious Confusion
Real Posh Mom
Punky and the City
Calley and hubby from The Eco Chic
Julie from The Cloth Diaper Geek
Diana from Onya Baby
Mona from Eco Nuts
The President of the United States
Martha Stewart
Amanda from Eco Friendly Family
Giant Banana
Giant Bowling Pin
Handome Booth “Babe” beckoning me
Amalah (eating the unicorn butt)

My first day in town I was studious and filmed every few minutes.  The next day I was hungover…. and the next…. and the next….  each day was filmed a little less.  I didn’t even film my last day in town when my roomie Julie (Cloth Diaper Geek) and I wandered about NYC sightseeing.  We visited the WTC Memorial, a  random part of town when he got lost and wound up under a Kmart from the subway (no joke), the American Indian Museum, Battery Park, SoHo, Canal Street, Chinatown, Little Italy, Broadway, and Times Square.  I also didn’t film during any of the sessions, during most of the parties I attended (how can one hold a video camera, a wine glass, a purse, and grope strangers all at the same time?), and during many keynotes and lunches/dinners.

I’m sad that there isn’t a shred of evidence that we hung out with Anna and Jen from Hahas for HooHas.  I bet you don’t even believe me but we did hang out and I did fold a napkin into the Jo Fold.  Or that there is no footage of the late night bar hangout after Queerosphere with Amanda from Eco Friendly Family, Annie from PhD in Parenting, Diana from Onya Baby, and @Palinode.  I am glad there is no evidence that I danced or that I kept rubbing Jamie from The Grumble‘s dress and telling her how much she looked like a mermaid.  The camera missed me ooooing and awwwing over photos of Think Feminist‘s adorable daughter and ogling the TDF shoulders of Jenny from Conscientious Confusion.  I really saw so many people and regret that I didn’t have a camera crew around to follow me so that I could remember them all.

The shots I do have will show you, I think, that BlogHer is more than sessions and Geek Bars.  It is more than special celebrity speakers and swag.  To me BlogHer is the only place where you can feel at home with people just like you.  These are MY people!  They know what I mean when I say “Google Juice” and they know how important what I do is to me because what they do is that important to them.  Being that much of my social life involves the internet it is nice to feel normal once a year.

If you are a blogger thinking of attending BlogHer and you haven’t yet I would urge you to go at least once.  See what the fuss is all about.  Forget about scheduling and swag and private events.  I had more fun while wandering the hotel and bumping into old friends and meeting new ones.  Grabbing an unexpected dinner and chatting for hours, crying my eyes out with friends about how much our lives used to suck and then laughing together, and searching for water at 2:30 am because THERE WAS NO WATER IN THE HILTON IT WAS LIKE THE SAHARA.  I still don’t know if I will go back next year but after watching my own video I kind of want to go back right now!

My trip wouldn’t have been possible without my sponsor- Rockin’ Green Soap.  If you are still trying to find that perfect detergent to wash your cloth diapers you should give them a try!   Especially because they have a formula for every water type!

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The Curse of Blogher 2012- #BlogHerTarmac

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Boarding my plane mere hours ago I was suffering from that American Mentality of “It can’t happen to me.”  The previous day dozens of departing BlogHer 2012 attendees all simulaneously participated in what was coined #BlogHerTarmac due to so many planes being delayed or grounded.  That day while I hoofed it all over NYC sight seeing I checked every few hours on the chaos via Twitter and the #BlogHerTarmac hasthtag and was sympathetic but also grateful that by staying an extra day I avoided that nightmare.

Several bloggers began a second leg of BlogHer with sessions on “How To Tweet from Grounded Plane Like a Boss” a panel moderated by @Schmutzie.  Other invaluable events included a Q&A with @HowtobeaDad and a #swagcandy fest where lucky attendees raided their conference bags and swag bags for anything edible.  Others huddled together for warmth around crowded electrical outlets in the airports to charge their gadgets according to @AureliaCotta.

“Thank God that won’t happen to me” was the sentence uttered in my head while I happily handed over my ticket to be scanned by a JetBlue employee at JFK this afternoon at 2 PM.  The skies were clear and blue.  I had already downed four advil- two this morning and two right before taking off- because a wisdom tooth has decided to come out and play.

I slept for the first hour on and off and once I woke up I pulled out my fresh new copy of “Plastic Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and You Can Too” by Beth Terry.  I was thoroughly enjoying the useful information I was reading about plastics in our lives.  Then it started.  Turbulence.  The seatbelt sign beeped and the pilot delivered the news.  Read it to yourself as Quagmire:

“Ummmmmm….. This is your captain speaking.  We are encountering a bit of weather and have been instructed to ummmm…. go into a holding pattern for half an hour or so until a storm over Tampa passes.  Ummm…. we’ll keep you updated as we learn more.”

I imagined my babies and husband waiting for me at the airport and their frustration as my plane doesn’t land on time.  But 30 minutes wasn’t too bad.

“Ummmm.  We are going to have to land in our back up airport in West Palm Beach.  We can’t cirle any longer and need to re-fuel.”  And so we journeyed about 30 minutes farther by plane from Tampa skies to West Palm Beach.  The turbelence was pretty frightening and I was white knuckling my seat and holding in a lot of pee.  Then we landed.

Ummm…….. “We won’t know when we can get back in the air for another 30-45 minutes.  Umm…… seat belt fasten sign has been turned off.”

Soon enough they did allow us to de-plane and I called my husband with the bad news.  No one had informed them of our re-route, only that we were waiting for the skies to clear.

My "stuck in the airport" sad face.

As I sit in the West Palm Beach airport and contemplate hand expressing breastmilk before the pain gets much worse and what kind of food I can eat because my tooth makes it hard to open my mouth/paintful to chew all the while my husband is playing it by ear and entertaining my two boys in Tampa who are currently trotting around the Tampa Airtport waiting for mommy I’m holding back my tears and wondering why BlogHer 12 was cursed.  {This is your run on sentence for the day.  You are welcome.}

Little food or water.  Ill prepared accomodations in the Session Halls and eating areas.  And then dozens of people were either stranded on planes on the tarmac living off of free Expo Hall Swag for sustenance or seeking food in airports.  Some bloggers had to leave the airports and stay in hotels another night.  I was so sad to hear of moms with babies stuck in airports or moms missing their babies at home while playing the waiting game.

I’m so ready to hug my boys I can’t stand it.  My husband is sending me photos of my smiling boys who should be in my arms right now and that makes it that much harder.

 

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BlogHer 2012. It all goes back to diapers.

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My title isn’t great but forgive me because I am starved and exhausted.  In case you haven’t been following along- I spent the last few days in NYC attending the largest women’s blogging conference in. the. world.  There were around 5,000 women and only 5 muffins at BlogHer.  I kid.  Sort of.

Rockin Green Soap Love in NYC!

I am still in NYC so I haven’t even returned home to process the experience.  Let’s just write a few blurbs about the whole weekend and I’ll add more on the entire estrogen fest later.  I wouldn’t have been able to attend if it weren’t for Rockin’ Green Soap.  My trip rocked and so does their cloth diaper detergent!

Women everywhere!  Familiar faces, famous faces, nervous faces, angry faces, tired faces, and even sad faces.

Hugs.  Lots of them.  I hugged more people than I can count.  Calley from The Eco Chic, Julie from The Cloth Diaper Geek, Amanda from Eco Friendly Family, Jenny from Conscientious Confusion, Jenna from MommaWords, Jill from Baby Rabies, Gina from The Feminist Breeder, Suzanne from Behbehblog, Diana from Onya Baby, and so many more that I tired of typing.  All of the hugs were important so if your name wasn’t mentioned don’t be offended!

BlogHerpartiesandpeople

Top left: @EFFBLog, Middle Left: @OnyaBaby, Bottom Left: @ClothDiaperGeek, Right: Beth Terry

Diet.  I’m pretty sure I lost 15 pounds while attending.  The conference had a food shortage.  Last year they were shoving food down our throats but this year the food was few and far between.  When I did locate food someone came to chat and I forgot to eat.  Between walking around NYC and sweating in the humidity and the heat I know I lost weight.

Nice people.  Despite the fear that the “swag” crazy bloggers would trample me down I actually connected with dozens of amazing bloggers from many categories.  The conversation flowed faster than the alcohol.

Swag.  I didn’t bring much home so I either did it wrong or did it right.  The best swag I got included 3 eye masks (I can only sleep while wearing them) and chocolate.

Sessions?  This year I focused more on the networking aspect of BlogHer.  I attended Geek Bars, Keynotes, and Panels.  Just talking with other bloggers about the technical stuff in small groups and individually taught me so much!  This year BlogHer oversold the tickets because everything I attended was packed to the gills and had to be closed up.

Pain.  My back, my feet, and throat are sore and my tooth is throbbing!  My wisdom teeth have been threatening me for a while but I wanted to try and keep them.  I’ve either been nursing or pregnant for so long that I have avoided the issue.  Right now I can hardly open my mouth to eat and I get to meet with a dentist tomorrow to hear what will happen.  I’m afraid of the news and what this might mean for continuing to breastfeed since my 5 day absence is already going to be an issue as is.

Laughs.  Like- pee in my pants kind of laughing.  Between the hilarious posts that were read outloud during the Voices of the Year keynote (a major highlight for me), meeting hilarious women who are as funy in person as they are online (HaHas for HooHas, visit them now please and laugh your butt off), and just being goofy with the many friends in attendance I probably laughed harder than I have in years.

Cloth Diapers!  It all goes full circle to diapers.  After seeing my blog name or my “I Love Cloth Diapers” button I was able to have real conversations with real people about my passion.  I spent half an hour laying on an adjustable bed in the Expo Hall talking to two handsome men with pregnant wives about why they should switch.  As always I calculated my approach since one man came out of the gate declaring a “never ever ever” but he is looking into GroVia Hybrids now at least.  Another evening I was out to dinner with Cloth Diaper Geek and our new friends Jen and Anna from HaHas for HooHas and we talked diapers, homebirth, breastfeeding, vaccines, and more diapers.  My party trick is always to fold a cloth napkin into a diaper.  Every conversation ended up going to diapers and it was usually not even my suggestion.  But hey…. I’m totally cool with it!

The networking was by far the best part of my experience and I am walking away knowing so many people I want to build a connection with for the blog and beyond.  The parties, the sight seeing, the sessions, the celebrities, the swag…..  these don’t even compare to having real world interactions with people you admire.  At times you can start to doubt yourself when you are in the company of such intelligent and influential women (I’m looking at you Annie from PhD in Parenting and Gina from The Feminist Breeder) but BlogHer has inspired me to sit down and take a hard look at what DDL will become when my life moves out of the diaper phase.  And no, I’m not just going to have another baby to keep reviewing diapers!

I’ll have many more topics coming soon from BlogHer because I’m filled with people, ideas, products, stories, and photos I need to share.  Did you know Dirty Diaper Laundry is mentioned in another book?  Yeah!  I met with the author and got a signed copy!  I’m going to start reading Plastic-Free by Beth Terry on the plane home.  I’m hoping when we get settled I’ll be back to more consistent blogging and reviews so please, if you are waiting on reviews or cloth diaper information subscribe to me by email and be notified right when I post!

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