Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Über n00b

My son is a Geek.
I mean that in a good way.

It's an hereditary condition. His parents are both Geeks.  His paternal grandfather is a Geek.  It was bound to be passed on.

I met my husband, Rick, online.  Usually when I tell people that the response is, "Oh, Match dot com? EHarmony? Some other dating site?".


Neverwinter Nights.

That's right, we met playing a MMORPG.  (If you don't know what that is you are not a Geek and will probably be lost throughout the entirety of this post.)  We were both Dungeon Masters on a world called Amon.  He had a hot avatar and I appear quite witty in game chat.

We hit it off immediately.

We eventually met IRL and the rest is history.  Eventually we moved on to a little game called World of Warcraft.  Some of you may have heard of it.  I realized that our relationship was going to last when Rick moved his computer to my apartment.  Now we could raid Molten Core side by side.  My druid kept his rogue alive through all the boss fights.  He backstabbed any trash mobs that tried to squash me.  It was so romantic!

4 years later we were married and I was pregnant.  (Despite popular belief, my son was not conceived during server maintenance.) Throughout my pregnancy I continued to play WoW.  Our guild was progressing nicely, we had regularly scheduled raids and we had a great group of friends that we played with.  We spent most evenings on Ventrilo chatting with our guildies as we raided Naxxramas, Ulduar and ToC.  It was all very social and a hell of a lot of fun.  The baby seemed particularly fond of Naxx.  He usually got very active and squirmy and kicked my bladder a lot when we did Heigan the Unclean and The Four Horsemen.  I can't imagine how annoying it was to the rest of our party when I had to take a bio after practically every pull.

Good times.

My husband and I debated whether it was in bad form to take the laptop to the hospital so he could do dailies while I was in labor.  I was all for it; labor can be a very long, boring time for the dad, but in the end he decided against it. We did, of course, have the iPhones at the hospital so keeping friends and family updated on the "babby" status was easy.  As soon as Tripp entered the world phone calls were made to immediate family.  Close friends received text messages (it was 2 in the morning, we didn't want to call). We took pictures and instantly emailed them to everyone and posted them to Facebook.

A few weeks after my son was born I realized that it would probably be a while before I had time to devote to WoW, so I eventually canceled my account.  Not so for my husband.  In the first few weeks of being parents we settled into that crazy non-schedule schedule of caring for a newborn.  It seemed I was constantly either feeding the baby, changing the baby, comforting the baby or trying to get a little sleep in.  Since I was breastfeeding there was very little for my husband to do.  He played a lot of WoW.  But, he also was great at soothing the baby when he was fussy.  How did he do it?  He held the baby on his lap while he played WoW.  (I highly recommend a Boppy if you are going to try this.  It makes it a lot easier.) Tripp seemed mesmerized by the colors and movement on the computer screen.  Even at his most fussy he would calm down immediately.  He would sleep for hours like this.  When he did wake up he would look around, watch Daddy PWNing some n00b and then contentedly fall back to sleep. This was quality bonding time.

Fast forward about 3 months.

Perhaps some of you remember the hype around Easter when the new iPad was released.  For months it seemed just about the only thing my Geek friends talked about.  Being fairly Geeky myself, I was intrigued, but not convinced that we needed this new technology.  After all, I have an iPhone, I have a desktop, I have a laptop...why would I need an iPad?  What purpose would an oversized iPhone-without-a-phone serve? Everyone was in the pre-order craze.  People were following every move Steve Jobs made,  reading blogs, following techie news sources and salivating at any mention of the iPad.  I still remained skeptical.

I mentioned earlier that Tripp's paternal Grandpa is also a Geek. He was one of the people who pre-ordered an iPad.  (Believe it or not, my husband was not a pre-orderer.  He wasn't convinced we needed one either.) We were visiting Rick's parents on Easter and happened to be there when UPS delivered his Dad's new toy.  I thought it seemed pretty cool, but still just a large iPhone without the phone part. Sure, it was easier to read web pages on the larger screen, and the games looked great, but you can't put it in your pocket, and it doesn't even have a camera.  What's the point?

Everyone had a turn playing with the iPad.  Even Great Grandma was playing Solitaire on it.  Of course,  Grandpa had to show the new toy to his first grandson.  Tripp was mesmerized.  Here were all of the lights and sounds of his dad's computer, but in a more accessible package! All he had to do was reach out his chubby little fingers and touch the screen and look at what happened!  He could turn pages in digital books!  He could draw on virtual chalkboards!  He could play a virtual piano!

He had to have one.

So, a few weeks later Tripp, our 4 month old son, got his very own iPad.

Of course he isn't spoiled. This is a learning aid.

Tripp has his own games on the iPad.  He loves Smiles, Learning Pad, Chalkboard and Air Hockey, but by far his favorite is Magic Piano.  Ironic note- this video requires FLASH so you can't watch it on your iPad. Who knew that my little dude was a piano virtuoso?  He's never even had one lesson.  Clearly he's a natural.

Now, in the months that we have had the iPad Tripp has allowed me to use it as well.  I have to say, I am an iPad convert.  I love this thing!  I can't live without it! I really think that every new mom should have one.  I wish I could have had one when Tripp was a newborn.  All of those middle of the night feedings would have been much more bearable with an iPad at my side.  With a baby on one arm and an iPad in my other hand I could have easily kept myself awake and occupied by checking my email, playing a game or even watching an episode of Firefly on Netflix (yeah, yet another plus to owning an iPad:  Streaming video from Netflix looks incredible!) I know these are things you can do with a laptop, but seriously, this is much easier.  Not only is the iPad super lightweight and conveniently sized, it also has an incredible battery life. It took me a little while to get used to the touch screen, but now I love it.  I actually have accidentally tried to touch the screen on my laptop several times now.  You laugh, but you'll do it too.

When I'm home with Tripp the iPad is never far from my side.  As I mentioned earlier, I can nurse the baby while I check my email- unless he realizes I have his toy and he tries to reclaim it.  Besides keeping up with all of my cloth diaper blogs and Facebook, it's great for recipes.  When I'm making dinner of baking cookies I just have the FoodNetwork website up on the iPad and bring it into the kitchen with me.  If I accidentally get a little spaghetti sauce on the screen (not that it has ever happened, in case Rick is reading this) it just wipes right off.  Try doing that with your fancy Logitech G15 gaming keyboard.  You're never getting that Prego out from between your "Alt" and "Z" keys.

The iPad has a nice reader called iBooks.  If you need to read the latest Terry Brooks novel you don't have to run to Borders, you can just download it and read it on the iPad.  Of course, you can also read children's books with it.  Tripp likes to help turn the pages. I also like to have it handy when we are watching a movie and you have to know what other movie you have seen that actor in.  IMDB is just a couple of taps away.  I also tend to use Shazam quite a bit.  If you haven't ever used this app, you must get it.  Let's say you hear a song on the radio and you have to buy it but don't know what it is.  Shazam will "listen" to several seconds of a song and then report back who the artist is, what the song is and what album it is off of.  It's an amazing thing!  Rick and I have tried to stump Shazam on several occasions with bizarre or obscure songs and it always knows what they are.  Incredible.

My iPad even fits in the diaper bag!  So if Tripp and I are out and about and he gets fussy I can just entertain him (and impress strangers) with his Magic Piano expertise.  Or I can read him a story without having to actually carry a bunch of books with me.

I recently got the new iPhone 4 for my birthday.  Another incredible toy but Tripp can't be trusted with phones, so he doesn't get to play with this one.  The screen resolution is fantastic on this new phone.  The camera is better quality and has a flash and it takes really nice video.  All necessary when you want to post tons of photos and videos of your future concert pianist on Facebook for your friends and family who don't live in the state.  It also has a video phone feature called Face Time that I haven't tried yet since none of my "phone friends" have an iPhone 4 yet- not even Rick because he is waiting to get a white phone.  So, for now, I am slightly more geeky than he is.

Now that Tripp is a bit older and sleeping through the night I am thinking about going back to playing WoW.  After all, there is an expansion coming out soon and I miss the long discussions with Rick about talent trees and 1337 DPS.  I'm not sure if I want to give up any of my much-loved sleep in order to get back on a raiding schedule, but I do miss playing with my gamer friends. We have even joked about setting up a WoW account for Tripp.  Yeah, he's only 6 months old, but surely he could successfully level a hunter.  Go n00b!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Cloth Diapers: What The Heck Am I Doing?

My son was born when I was 36 years old. Believe it or not, after all of those years, 5 nieces and nephews and numerous babysitting jobs over the years I had never changed a diaper. Actually, the first diaper I ever changed was the dreaded meconium diaper in the hospital when my son was a new baby (my hospital used cloth diapers). It's safe to say that I went into motherhood (and the part-time job that is diapering a baby) with no clue about diapers.

I know that my mom used cloth diapers on my brother and me, but I don't know if that had any bearing on my decision to use cloth either. After all, Mom told me that her mother in law couldn't believe that she would choose to use cloth diapers when the new disposable ones were available. I don't think her decision was based on any great concern for the environment. My mom says she couldn't afford to buy diapers just to throw them away. I can see that reasoning.

When I found out I was pregnant I knew that I would be using cloth diapers. It didn't even require any thought. I was going to use cloth and my poor husband (who had never changed a diaper either) was going to be dragged along for the ride.

I had absolutely no idea what I was getting into.

Now, I consider myself a fairly "green" person. I try to be environmentally responsible, I recycle, I drive a hybrid; but I am not perfect. I still use plastic grocery bags and I don't always buy recycled. Why? Well, I re-use those shopping bags and I prefer the really soft toilet paper. I'll admit, sometimes convenience wins out over environmental responsibility. So why would I choose to go the route of washing and folding cloth diapers instead of just tossing paper ones in the garbage?

As I mentioned earlier, I had never changed a diaper before. I knew nothing about them, but it seemed to me that if there was a more environmentally responsible option available, and a chance to save some money, then why not go that route? So, I decided to add cloth diapers to my baby registry.

Again, I had no idea what I was getting into. has a nice online baby registry. As does Babies'R'Us. I had no idea what I needed. I went to the registry and entered "Cloth Diapers". What came back was a page of Gerber prefolds, Gerber flatfolds, Kushies diaper wraps, Bumkins all in ones and inserts and a lot of other things that left me completely in the dark. I just needed cloth diapers. Don't you just get diapers, rubber pants and some pins? How did this get so confusing?

I decided to ask a friend. One of my friends was a mom-to-be and was planning on using cloth diapers. She was registered at a local baby boutique called Happy Bambino. I decided to go to their online registry and see what I could find out about cloth diapers. (Yes, I could have asked her some important cloth diapering questions, but I really thought that this was something simple enough that I could figure out on my own. I didn't want to be embarrassed by my lack of knowledge on what should be such a simple subject as putting a diaper on a baby!).

Happy Bambino has a nice online registry as well. I went to their site and clicked on "Diapers". Prefolds, inserts, pockets, liners, all in ones...still all Greek to me. However, they also offered Diaper Packages! Everything you need to get started in one convenient package! Finally, everything I need without admitting I knew nothing about wrapping a baby's butt! All for the low price of $600!



I thought cloth was supposed to be a money saving option. This was a lot of money to spend, and I really had no idea what I was even getting. Prefolds, Proraps, Bummis, Snappis, Stuffers...what the heck is all this stuff?
I was just as lost as ever.

But then, salvation.

When I was about 6 months pregnant I saw an article about a new diaper store opening in Madison. It was called Nicki's Diapers. Of course I had to check it out. I went to their website.

This is what I had been looking for! At first it seemed just as overwhelming as everything else but Nicki's had something else: descriptions of what all of the different kinds of diapers were and how they were used. Prefolds, Pockets, AIOs, Fitted, One Size, Inserts, Doublers, Liners, Snappis, Minkies! All the info I needed was RIGHT THERE! I bookmarked the site. I read everything I could. I watched tutorials on how to fold diapers. I started a registry and chose one of everything! Thirsties, Prorap, Bumkins, Happy Heinys, FuzziBunz. The colors! The prints! Cloth wipes! Special Diaper Detergent! Wet/Dry Bags!

OK, so, I went a little crazy.

In reality, I didn't need all of the items that I registered for. In the next few weeks I probably re-did my registry 20 times as I learned more and more about cloth diapering a newborn. In the end I settled on one of Nicki's Newborn Package Deals. It ended up being exactly what I needed. Nicki's put together a nice mix of prefolds, covers and all in ones. It was perfect for someone new to cloth diapering who wasn't really sure what she needed. I won't even get into all the research I did just on folding prefolds: angel wings, jelly roll, bikini twist, newspaper fold...

My little guy is 6 months old now and I am proud to say he has only gone through 2 small packages of disposable diapers. Mostly these were used when we were on vacation, but a few were used for trips to the gym childcare and the rest by my husband. The reason? Well, there are a couple. When traveling it's just a lot more convenient for us to use disposables than it is to worry about diaper laundry. Particularly if we are gone for several days. Also, until recently I have mostly used prefolds with covers. I love them, but it's a little more work for my husband to fold and cover than it is to just throw on a disposable. I have now expanded my Fluff Stash to include some All in Ones (AIOs) and Pockets and it's a lot easier for my hubby. I also put the little dude in an AIO when I take him to the childcare at the gym. So far they haven't needed to change him, since he's usually only there an hour or 2, but I want it to be simple in the event he needs a fresh nappy at the gym.

Cloth diapers are not only easy and environmentally responsible, they are FUN! Ask any modern day cloth diapering momma and you will hear about how addictive cloth diapers are. Which is also the drawback.
Any time you read about the benefits of cloth diapers you will see the statistics stating how much money you will save over disposables. This is only partly true. Why? Because they are SO DAMNED CUTE!!! It's nearly impossible to keep yourself from buying tons of diapers to go with all of your baby's outfits, or just because you couldn't resist the diaper with the Space Invaders print.

When I started out with my Chinese prefolds and solid color Thirsties covers I was all geared up to save money. After all, I just needed a couple dozen prefolds (cheap) and half a dozen pul (polyurethane laminated fabric) covers. These would get me through a few months and then I would buy then next largest size. The smaller ones go into storage for the next baby to use. So we were looking at only having to spend money on diapers every 3 months. Maybe $50 for some covers and another $50 for some new prefolds. No problem. Think of the savings!

And then, out of nowhere, I was blindsided by the infinite cuteness that is the Blueberry Coveralls Cow Print Diaper Cover.

It seemed innocent enough. Tripp was outgrowing his diaper covers and I needed the next size up. I also needed to get some AIOs and Pockets for the above reasons. I went back online and started looking for new diapers and planned a shopping trip to Nicki's. I am always looking to try new things, and I hadn't tried the Blueberry Coveralls yet. I clicked on the link and saw the cow print cover. I had to have it! So Cute! My little dude would look so awesome in that! I mean, we live in Wisconsin, he has to have a cow print diaper, right?

Well, it turns out that THERE ARE HUNDREDS OF CUTE PRINT DIAPERS OUT THERE!!! Cows, hearts, guitars, trains, skulls, camo, flowers, plaid, animals (giraffes!), name it, someone puts it on a diaper. And don't even get me started on Minkies!

Soon I was completely obsessed. I spent hours on my beloved iPad surfing online diaper shops and bookmarking the good sites so I could go back and buy some new, super cute diapers as soon as I had a little extra cash. Side note: iPads are awesome for new moms. Get one!

I have found a lot of great sites and tons of awesome new diapers. (Most of them I haven't had a chance to try yet, but when I do I will post reviews here. ) Diapers for every occasion. Diapers in every style and color imaginable, to match any outfit or to just look awesome by themselves. Who cares if most people will never see them, right?

So, that is the drawback of cloth diapers. Yes, they can be a very inexpensive, frugal way to diaper your baby. Unless you decide you need to "feed your stash" every other week with a dozen or so new, cute diapers. Some can cost up to $35, so it can be very pricey. I'm doing OK though. I have a diaper budget and I'm limiting myself to only buying a couple new diapers a month. I am, however, entering every online diaper giveaway contest I find (there are tons out there) so I can try some new stuff too.

6 months into The Great Cloth Diapering Adventure I have become cloth savvy. I know the lingo, I know the folds, I know the tricks, thanks to some great online resources and a bit of trial and error. I'm feeling good about my choice to use cloth not just because of the environmental impact, but also because Tripp never has diaper rash. Plus, believe it or not, I think cloth diapering is fun. Are we saving any money by using cloth? Well, maybe not as much as we would be if I could stick to the basics and not have to have every cute diaper out there, but at least these diapers will be re-used by any future babies. There are also great places like DiaperSwappers where you can sell your gently used cloth diapers.

I've come a long way from the uninformed, naive mom-to-be who thought it would be neat to use cloth diapers that I was a year ago. I've learned a lot and despite all of the infinitely cute, hi tech or just neat diapers I have found so far, I still prefer my old standby of a good, DSQ Chinese prefold in a Thirsties cover; double angel wing fold with jelly roll and a Snappi.

If you want to learn more about cloth diapering, both Nicki's Diapers and Happy Bambino offer classes in cloth diapering which, of course, I never took.