Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Diaper Review--Ones&Twos.

Welcome to our newest diaper review here at The Mama Life.

Today  I will be reviewing the Ones&Twos brand AIO cloth diaper.  I received two of these diapers as my freebies with promo code from Kelly's Closet.  I had not heard much about this brand prior to receiving them, but was excited to add 2 new fluffs to my stash.

Before I go into my actual review, I'll talk quickly about what I liked upon first glace:

  • AIO with sewn in soaker--I have 2 BG Freetimes and love them, but I did feel they seemed slightly bulky with the two "flap" style inserts that were attached.  The Ones&Twos has a more streamline appearance and from the looks of it, would seem to be more trim than other AIOs.  
  • Extra soaker included---A small, MF soaker (with soft material on the side that touches baby's bum) is included to adjust the absorbency of the diaper.  
  • Super soft lining-  I loved the super soft inside of the diaper. 
  • Size options- This is an AIO OS diaper, but it is one of the only diapers I have seen that gets so small.  On its smallest setting, with the hook and look to the tightest fit and the rise on the smallest setting, it is SIGNIFICANTLY smaller than any of my others, including Oh Katy, which in my opinion get pretty close.  

Now on to the review.........

Yesterday was day 2 of 24 hour cloth. LJ woke up in his BG 4.0 and I changed him into his Ones&Twos.  We came downstairs and I laid him on his playmat to relax while I made breakfast, let the dog out and other morning chores. These chores took maybe a good 30 minutes.  I ate breakfast and went to pick him up as he was crying, and that's when I saw it.... 

that dreaded telltale leak mark, all up his front and near his legs.  Now, keep in mind that I had adjusted the diaper appropriately, with a snug but not TOO snug fit and the correct rise. When I had dressed him, there wasn't any gap by the tummy or the "bump out" ridge that sometimes happens and drives me nuts trying to avoid.  And for any mamas of boys... everything was pointing in the right direction too! 

When I removed the diaper, I noticed that the front half was totally saturated, especially near the waist. 

Needless to say... I don't think I will be buying any more of these.  To be fair, I will give my other Ones&Twos a go, and then try them again with the additional soaker attached, but considering I do not double stuff any of my pockets and never have leaking issues with the others...this will most likely become my "laundry day" dipe. Keep in mind though, that this is only MY experience so you very well may find them to be perfect for your child! 

Monday, July 30, 2012

Reader Request: The "Bonus" Mama---AKA Step parenthood

I am very fortunate in that I grew up in a family with parents who have stayed together for over 30 years.  My grandparents have been married for over 65 years. I've only ever experienced divorce through television, movies, and the occasional friend along the way through life.

Divorce is often focused around the children and how they deal with the changes in their lives.  But what happens when you are the new member of an "old" family? What happens when a new, bonus mama, comes into play?  How does the family, as a whole, react and how do they, in the words of Tim Gunn, "Make it work"?

I remember being younger, watching Cinderlla and being introduced to the concept of a step parent.  Step parents are notoriously viewed in popular culture as the "evil intruder" into a once happy family.  They are the person who is taking the other parent's place.  You see the movies about the mothers who feel threatened by the new woman in their childrens' lives. The classic cases of Bonus Mama "incorrectly" parenting the children and WWIII ensues.

As I said before, I cannot speak on the subject from any personal experience, but as this blog post was a Reader Request, I wanted to take a stab at the "outsider's" perspective and see what other mamas and Bonus mamas out there have to say on the subject.

I would imagine that some of the biggest struggles for families with Bonus parents would be  fitting in/acceptance and discipline.  I can see two perspectives here:

  • Birth Mama: 
    • I would imagine, if ever placed in this circumstance, that I would feel very uncomfortable having someone else parent LJ.  Especially if this began to take place when he was older as opposed to a young baby, I can see where birth mothers might feel that the Bonus mama is undermining what they have been doing for years.  
    • What happens if Bonus Mama and Mama disagree about the severity of a punishment? Say, for instance the little one fails a big test because he was watching too much television? If Mama says he is grounded from TV for a week, does this punishment stay at Dad's house? Or what if Bonus Mama feels that this rule can be broken for a special circumstance? Does Bonus Mama, as a third parent, have an equal say in what happens with the little one? I can see being rather upset if I found out that a Bonus Mama had decided my little guy could watch television if I had already ruled that he could not.  I can also see myself being upset if Bonus Mama punished my child for something I did not feel was punishable.  I think it is a very sticky situation.  
    • Being replaced: I'm sure every kid at one point or another wishes they could get a "cool new mom/dad".  With divorce and remarriage, this in a way becomes reality.  Suddenly there isn't just Mom and Dad, but cool new Bonus Mama (or Dad).  As a parent, I would immediately feel concerned that my children would prefer Bonus Mama, particularly if she played no role in discipline.  I would fear that LJ would resent me and wish he could live with Bonus Mama or that somehow, he would love me less.  
  • Bonus Mama: 
    • Becoming part of the family: This would intimidate me immensely.  I would be the "newbie", the intruder, coming into a family that has already been through the hardship of divorce. Would the children like me? Would they respect me? Would I be able to love them as my own? Would the mother accept me and trust me with her children? Would we get along and be able to parent together, or will she try to make me simply a "babysitter" of sorts, without any parenting rights? 
    • Discipline: As I mentioned above, I would feel that a Bonus Mama would be placed in between a rock and a hard place when it comes to discipline.  On the one hand, I would feel that I need to respect the parenting decisions of the mother, as the children are "hers". But, on the other hand, by marrying and accepting my role as step parent, I would feel that I should be able to discipline the children when I feel necessary.  I would not want to feel that I cannot set rules in my own home simply because they did not coincide with their other home's rules.  
    • Replacing Mom: This is another area in which I feel it would be just as hard on the step parent as it is on the mother.  While mom is worrying about being replaced, the step parent is faced with attempting to become accepted by a whole new family.  Instead of having to become accustomed to a new person in your life, the step parent needs to gain acceptance from the children, the other parent, the grandparents etc. How incredibly overwhelming! 

Now, as I said before, I have ZERO personal experience with this. But to me, I feel like in order for a mixed family situation to work, both parties must be willing to accept one another and work together for the betterment of the children.  The way I see it, the ideal bonus parent would love and care for the step children as their own. They would consider these new additions to their lives as family and view themselves as just as much of a parent as the birth parent.  It would, however, be important to have a discussion with mom, dad and bonus parent in order to assure that all three are on the same page as to what is appropriate behavior for the children, and what discipline will be made if necessary and by whom.  Maybe there are some areas that mom feels should be decided between herself and dad... talk that through so that when that problem arises, it won't be an issue.  

Now, that is all easier said than done, but again, I was stating this as  an "ideal" situation.  

Bottom line: As long as the step parent loves the children as her own and wishes to be an active participant (note: not dominating) in parenting, the children will benefit from this and truly gain a "bonus" parent :) 

In the coming weeks, I actually have lined up a guest Bonus Mama to graciously write an opinion piece from the Bonus Mama's perspective for us here at The Mama Life.  

I would love to also feature the perspective of a mom who must share her children with a Bonus Mama. What are YOUR struggles? How have you made it work? Please feel free to  comment or email me at themommalife@gmail.com if you are interested in writing a featured piece for our blog! 

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Diaper Review--- Flip Diapers

Ok here it is... the first review of my many new additions to my stash!

Back in the beginning of July, I decided to take my remaining diapers.com gift card and purchase one of each of a few different cloth diaper brands, including: Flip, Oh Katy, Fuzzibunz, BumGenius 4.0 pocket and Freetime.  I did a "cloth diaper day" to see which ones I liked best.  To be entirely honest, I loved all of them except for the Fuzzibunz. Maybe it was just my son, but even on the suggested setting, and even on a smaller one, the leg openings still were too big. Plus, he soaked the soaker with one pee.  They're cute, but I liked others better.

Flip system appealed to me for a variety of reasons:

  • Diaper bag friendly---Because I'm the type mama who likes to always be prepared, I tend to over pack.  This is/was one of my major concerns with cloth diapering, as they definitely take up more space than your typical sposie.  I never leave my house without 5 diapers (disposable), so how on Earth could I do that with cloth?  The answer is Flip.  The covers are reusable (if poop gets on a cover, though, you will want to change it) so 2 in the bag is usually a safe bet. They're rather thin and you probably could carry 4 or more in one pocket of a diaper bag if you wanted.  As for the inserts, I have both the stay dry micro fiber ones and some of the organic cotton ones.  The organics might be a bit bulkier, as they are more of a typical prefold look, so I chose to travel with my stay dries.  I was able to fit three in the bag, but could have fit more if I wanted.  
  • Flaps to keep the insert down:   There is both a front and a back flap to help secure the insert. It doesn't snap in, which might have been nice making it more of an AI2, but I have yet to have bunching or moving issues with the insert.   My little guy is starting to be a big wiggler, and the inserts stay in place just fine! :) 
  • The fit:  For those who are BumGenius fans, these have the same design as other Cottonbabies brand diapers, including, my personal favorite...the stretchy tabs.  Other fluff out there have crossover tabs, but the actual tabs don't have much stretch making it difficult to get a "just right" fit. With Cottonbabies, both the hook and look and snap dipes feature a slight stretch to the tab, allowing for a more customized fit.  With my little guy, this means I can prevent leaking through the leg openings, while also getting a snug and comfy fit at the waist.  
After using the one Flip I had purchased, I knew I would want to buy more when I went on my fluff spree.  I decided to buy a Day Pack from Kellyscloset.com which features a build your own pack including 2 covers and 6 inserts. The base price, with 6 Stay-Dry inserts, is $49.95, but you have the option of selecting the organic inserts instead for an additional $1.66 per insert. 

I purchased mine in Mirror (LOVE this color!) and Moonbeam.  

Today, LJ has worn his BG 4.0, his Oh Katy, and his Flip. We actually took him to go see a movie and I decided to take the Flip for a second test run. This time, he wore it for almost 4 hours (yes, bad mama.) without even the slightest complaint. He will almost ALWAYS scream as soon as he feels wet, so I take this as a great sign that the Flip Stay-Dry inserts do a good job wicking away moisture.  With all of our errands, I did not get to find a place to change him until we got back home. When I did, the insert was saturated, but did not leak in the slightest.  My little guy is a heavy wetter too most of the time.  

All in all, while I love pockets, I would definitely say that the Flip diaper system is going to become a staple in my diaper bag and will definitely become my new "on the go" cloth solution! 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

A Mama Memory

LJ is almost 4 months old.  I sit here, watching him sleep, and think to myself how quickly the time has passed. My little monkey, the squishy bundle of cuddles and nuzzles is growing so quickly before my eyes.  Sometimes I just stare at him, in awe of this little person that M and I created.  Those dimples? Those are mine. Those long, elegant eyelashes scream daddy's boy. And that smile...oh that smile...it's a smile all his own, with the crooked little grin and the flash of his prominent brow.

So often we get lost in the day to day, the rushing and comings and goings of life as a parent.  What do I need to pick up at the store? What's next on my list to clean and when will I ever get to that pile of pinterest projects? But right now... all I want to do is soak up the love and glow that is my son, embracing every minute of his precious life and the gift he brings into mine.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

It's here!

Reviews and more to follow but check out my BEAUTIFUL new additions to my stash!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

I Heart Cottonbabies.com

As you may recall from my super fluff shopping spree this past weekend, I excitedly ordered some new BumGenius fluff from Cottonbabies.com.  I have ordered from them in the past, ordering my very first cloth items back in February and it had been a great experience.

I must say I was not disappointed the second time around.  I have had experience buying cloth now from 4 different retailers: Cottonbabies.com, Kellyscloset.com, Nickisdiapers.com, and Diapers.com (as well as Alva Baby and lovelypocket.com, but they only sell their brand so I am not counting them as part of this review.) I have had great experiences with each retailer thus far, but I must say Cottonbabies is one of my favorites for a few reasons:

  1. FREE shipping. Completely free. As in, no minimum purchase ever. This is great when you may want to buy one diaper, try out some new toys, or just need a refill on your inserts, and don't want to have to  make the minimum $49 or more order in order to get free shipping. 
  2. QUICK shipping. Not only do they ship their items for free, they also ship SUPER quickly! I placed my order Sunday and received my new fluff in the mail today (Wednesday).  I have to say that out of the 3 orders placed (plus a replacement order placed through Nicki's diapers that same day), they are the winners. My other items from Kelly's Closet, which I had paid extra to have UPS ship out sooner, won't be here until tomorrow.  Now, UPS means the shipment is insured which is definitely a plus when  shipping fluff, but hey, fast and free shipping is awesome in my book! 
  3. HUGE selection.  Not all mamas are crunchy. Not all mamas like fluff. But pretty much ANY mama can find something she needs (and wants!) at Cottonbabies.com.  They sell practically everything today's mama could need, from cloth (obviously) and accessories, baby toys, feeding supplies and gear such as carriers, strollers and car seats, to nursing clothing and pregnancy/postpartum supplies! 
And now, here you have it my beautiful fluff!:

Wishlist Wednesday

It's Wednesday, which means it is WISHLIST day! Each week, I will put together a wishlist of 3-5 items that I'm currently drooling over. If when I end up buying these products, there will be a link to the review :)

First up:

1) Blueberry Wet/Dry Tote Bag (in "dino)

I might have a little obsession with dinosaurs. Sure, this may stem from how adorable LJ looked in his newborn onesie with the dino feet that I miss dearly, or it may just be because, well, dinos rock. I have a diaper bag that I love (the JJ Cole Satchel, review to follow) and keep my Planet Wise "Owl" medium wet bag inside, but now that we are transitioning over to all cloth, and mostly pockets or AIOs, I think this would be a neat addition for longer day trips.  Plus, with the dino pattern, I can see Hubby actually being OK with holding this bag :)

While you can find these bags on Amazon with Prime shipping (which I LOVE!), I also found it at Nicki's Diapers for $28.95. Find yours here.

2) Aden & Anais Muslin Sleeping Bag (in "elephant")

My little guy is a sweatball.  When we first brought him home from the hospital, like every new mama, we would put him in his stretchy at night and then swaddle him nice and tight before bed. By the time the first feeding rolled around, however, we would wake to a baby with his hair plastered to his head and an actual wet spot on his clothing from his sweating in his sleep (nope, it wasn't pee!).  We switched him to just a swaddler and a diaper, since he still needed the secure swaddled feeling to stay asleep.

Recently, though, he's developed his most recent trick.... rolling onto his tummy during the night.  He has great head control and props himself up all of the time on his belly, but he has yet to master the roll BACK over. Considering I cannot be up all night to flip him back over, I want to be sure he has use of his arms during the night now. I have the A&A receiving blankets and love them, so I am sure these would be great too!

Nicki's Diapers has them on sale for another hour for 10% off the normal price of $32, making them only $28.80. Find yours here.

3) Bummis Bio-Soft Flushable Liners

LJ isn't on solids yet, but will be starting soon. Since I exclusively breast feed now, it's been wonderful just being able to toss any dirties straight in the wash.  I'm already dreading the day when this changes, but have heard great things about flushable liners.  I'm sure these would also be great for when LJ starts daycare in the fall, so that I won't be sent home with a bag of super stinky poop (well, at least not AS stinky!).

They're the deal of the day at Kelly's Closet today for only $6.96. Find yours here.

Well folks, while there are about a million other things on my wishlist... that will have to do for now. Until next time!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Erin Condren Life Planner!

Now, I know this blog is to be primarily dedicated to all things mama, but quite frankly, I believe that every good mama needs a good planner.  To me, a planner is not just a notebook that keeps track of my  schedule, but serves several other roles, such as: financial adviser, lesson planner, secretary, dietitian, personal trainer, and sanity keeper.  I use my planner for EVERYTHING.  

I discovered the wonders of Erin Condren Life Planners in January, and immediately ordered mine, falling in love with it at first sight.  I used it religiously during the remainder of the school year and throughout the end of my pregnancy, helping my mama brain keep track of everything from work topics and family gatherings to prenatal and pediatrician appointments, bills to pay, and meal plans for the week.  At work, people would stop me to ask where got my beautiful, custom designed planner and I proudly exclaimed "Erin Condren!"

One glorious day this summer, I happened to go to the EC facebook page and saw that EC had announced the new, 2012-2013 edition of the Life Planners. While the old one was fantastic, the new one had amazing features that made me giddy like a kid in a candy store... laminated tabs? 2 page month views? a slightly thinner feel? Sure, I had 6 months left on my current LP, but especially now having gorgeous pictures of my sweet LJ, I couldn't resist, and set out to order the new one immediately! My husband, who usually thinks I am crazy about "silly" things and that spending $60 on a planner is outrageous, didn't even bat an eye this time, knowing how much I used my 2011-2012 edition.

I chose to have mine start in August, so that a) it will go along with the school year and, more importantly, b) when they come out with the 2013-2014 edition, I won't feel guilty buying one right away in July :)

I did buy the EC pens, but personally, I would recommend using the ever popular Flair pens or Sharpie pens, as the EC pens were really, not all that great. I can never have too many pens, so they'll still be put to use, but for me, they did not really do the job or seem worth the price.

Great customer service makes all the difference!

I just have to stop in to write a quick little shout out to Kelly's Closet and Diapershops.com for their awesome customer service.  I really haven't had any problems with any diaper or baby product purchases in the past, but I had a great experience yesterday with Kelly's Closet and felt they deserve the recognition.

During my fluff spree (see today's earlier post), I was giddy like a schoolgirl to find the promo code for a free AIO diaper from KC with any $69 purchase.  After sitting there like a mathematician, analyzing the different options and best way to combine my dipes, I made two separate purchases so as to take advantage of the promo code twice (2 time use per customer limit).  As it was a Sunday, I had to wait for the shipping confirmation, but by early Monday morning, I was greeted with those two glorious emails confirming my shipping.

Then, I looked... one of the shipments was sending to the billing address and not the shipping address! I had already gotten the UPS confirmation etc, and immediately feared having to chase down my package later this week, and therefore delay my fluff mail joy! I sent a contact request through kelly's closet's website, but being the super anxious mama I am, I chose to call to try to reach them first.

I was greeted by a very cheery customer service rep, who actually knew who I was (thank you Caller ID!) and told me that she had already caught the package before it went out and changed the label.  Talk about fast, friendly service!

I most definitely would recommend buying through KC or diapershops.com. They have the "Mama" seal of approval :)

A spree of the fluff variety!

The other day I went on a fluff spending spree. It was a spree of the best kind...using gift money we had received from LJ's birth.  Now that the little guy is big enough to really wear his OS dipes, I decided it time to finally build my stash.

When I was still pregnant with LJ, the mamas in my birth board on BBC introduced me to the wondrous world of cloth diapering.  Of course, my family all thought I was think I am  crazy, but I loved the idea and spent hours stalking cottonbabies.com, kellyscloset.com, nickisdiapers.com and several others.  I started my stash with Thirsties Duo Wraps in Size 1 with Indian prefolds, and was super glad I had done so, as little man ended up being a tiny guy compared to what I had been expecting.  Being that I nurse, I love that I can just put the dipes into the wet bag and not have to worry about any other prep work prior to washing.  Prefolds and covers were nice, but ultimately I knew I would want to invest in pockets and AIO OS dipes, as a large part of my reasoning to go cloth was to save money and I liked that I could buy diapers that would fit him from birth through potty training.

I started by buying a few Alva and Lovely Pocket diapers, as I did not want to spend a lot upfront.  I found that they both did a good job at keeping everything in, with no leaks after an average of 2.5 hours of wear.  The Lovely Pockets did fit larger than the Alvas, and I found myself wishing for a bit of a snugger fit in the waist, but overall I liked them.  When LJ officially fit well into the Alvas, I took the remainder of our gift card  and bought a variety of individual fluff to try out before building my stash. I bought:

  • Fuzzibunz Elite
  • BG 4.0
  • BG Freetime
  • Kawaii
  • Oh Katy
  • Flip
  • Imagine AIO 
  • Imagine pocket
I'll make a post reviewing each of these brands later, but overall my favorites were cottonbabies brand (BG and Flip) and Oh Katy.  I LOVED the stretchy tabs on BG and Flip, they allowed me to get a more secure and custom fit for LJ. I also loved Oh Katys, with their inside hip snap, allowing for a better leg opening fit.  

Ok, enough about my preferences... what did I end up buying????

Being a couponing mama, I wanted to get the best bang for my buck.  I found Kelly's Closet, and saw they were offering a promo for a free AIO OS diper with a $69 purchase.  They also had the Oh Katy promo going, for Buy 4 get 1 free for about $72.  I immediately jumped on this! 6 diapers for $72?! Yay!  

The promo code (FREEAIO), is still available through today, and you are able to use it twice (in separate orders).  I ended up doing this with a FLIP day pack and wet bag purchase too, spending $98 (with shipping)  for 2 Flip covers, 6 inserts, a large hanging wet bag and the free AIO dipe.  You also get free shipping for orders over $49, but I chose to pay for the UPS shipping.  

I also found a great deal on BG 4.0 through Cottonbabies.com... they ran the $86.90 special of buy 5 get 1 free, but also had a promo code for a free BG 4.0 with a $75 purchase :) 

I feel quite accomplished! :) 

Hello world!

Hi and thanks for stopping by!

  After months of blog stalking, I've finally decided to start my own mama blog.  The goal: feature daily (if possible!) posts about all things mama---from breast feeding to cloth diapering, to all things baby and even some mama-sanity breaks here and there.  I hope to help by offering yet another viewpoint of the new mama!