Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Cloth Diapering on the Road

Thank you for joining me again. This is the second of a travel with children series written by experts as guest bloggers. A new topic and expert will be posted every Tuesday for the next 5 weeks. From making food part of your child’s travel experience to how to use music as a travel & language prep tool we’ll cover topics that will enrich and enhance your travel experience. I’ll be featuring experts & parents sharing their best tips and advice with you. Please come back every week and if you like the info share it on your social media and with friends. If you missed last weeks blog you can see it here. Happy Travels!

When my daughter was two months old I started to notice she had very sensitive skin and after some research on detergent I found that a local store carried a laundry detergent I wanted to try for my wash to see if it helped her. That's how I first met Brooke and came to Eden's Baby. When I walked into the boutique I notice they had a large selection of cloth diapers and my fascination with cloth diapering began. I didn't take the plunge at that time because I was convinced that our schedules and care arrangements were too hectic for cloth diapering… I mean you have to be a stay at home mom for that, right? (WRONG) So I dismissed it and continued to use disposables. I kept researching and kept thinking these would be great if only….

Well, my daughter is now two and I am now using cloth to potty train her. From pull-ups with snaps or pull-up style pocket diapers to cotton trainers we have stocked our drawers and are giving it a real go. Should we be blessed with a second child we will be cloth diapering them for sure but in the meantime as I have blogged about how to best travel with kids I have been asked on more than one occasion about my suggestions for traveling with cloth. Of course since I haven't walked in those shoes myself I didn't want to offer my assumed advice so I went back to Brooke. I attended a diaper class and was that more convinced that traveling with cloth is no harder than making it fit into my kind of schedule… it's all about preparation! Please read on to see Brooke's tips and feel free to contribute more of your own.

Cloth Diapering on the Road

When I was asked to write about traveling and cloth diapering it occurred to me, my cloth diaper adventure began while traveling.  My husband was deployed so my 7 month old son, two 95 pound German Shepherds and I set off for a cross country adventure.  It was in my first stop that I met some Moms who introduced me to cloth diapering.  After months of horrible diaper rash and countless doctor visits I decided to give it a try.  Happily for me and for Tristan's poor heiny within one week of our switch his rash had cleared.  
I have learned a lot in these past few years of cloth diapering at home and on the road.  We typically travel by car, but have made half a dozen plane trips as well.  If you are planning a trip this summer or anytime there are a few important steps to take to ensure that your vacation and cloth diapering goes easily.  First, you really need to study your child's diaper routine for a few days.  Right everything down.  You will want to figure out how often you change your child, how many wipes you use and what type of diapering accessories you can't live without.  Once you figure out your daily needs you will need to decide if you want to wash while on vacation or wait until you return home.  Now is the time you need to decide if you will cloth diaper full time or use a hybrid system like g Diapers or Flip
I don't have set diapers I take while traveling.  I plan my diapers around our travel plans.  If we are going to be visiting friends or family then I would take my normal home diapers (for me an assortment of pocket and all-in-one diapers).  You may want to make sure who ever you are visiting is OK with you using their washing machine or that your hotel has access to a machine.  However, if we will be traveling by air and paying ridiculous fees per bag, then I would opt for a flat diaper and covers.  Flat diapers take up very little room and can be folded differently to fit both a newborn and a toddler.  Another good option is a one size diaper.  I really like these diapers for families that have more than one child in cloth at a time.  If your vacation plans call for a lot of activities you may prefer to use one of the hybrid systems during the day and your usual night time diaper.  In general you will want 2-3 days worth of diapers, a dozen or so wipes, a wet bag for day use and a pail liner or large wet bag for the hotel.  Plus, your detergent, any diaper creams or ointments and a wipe solution and perhaps the most important, a flushable liner to aid in clean-up. 
My favorite tips:
  • Wash out your diapers and air dry until you are able to wash.  This will prevent any unwanted smells lingering in your hotel room.
  • Pack a separate suitcase for all your diaper needs.  It helps keeping them all together.  If traveling by car you may prefer to use a basket for easy access.
  • Don't try a new system on the road.  My first plane trip in cloth ended with both of us being soaked because I didn't know the new diaper I bought required a cover.
  • Check to see if there is a diaper service in the area.  For a nominal fee you will have everything you need without any extra work.
Whatever you decide don't be afraid to try cloth on vacation.  It is surprisingly easier than you would think.  Your baby will feel better and you will be helping the environment.  For more inspiring travel diapering tips (including one mom's rain forest adventure) visit the Real Diaper Association for stories and advice from Real Moms using Real Diapers on Real Babies.  

Brooke Matherne is the co-owner and founder of Eden's Baby in San Antonio, TX.  She has been full time cloth diapering her two children since August of 2007.  She is currently training to become a RDA Diaper Circle Leader.  She teaches monthly cloth diaper classes in San Antonio and around Texas.

Green Acre Designs (GAD) Snap Pocket Cloth Diapers (Medium, Kiwi & Butter)

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Travel, Kids, and the Best Photos You’ve Taken

Summer is approaching and many of us are starting to think about (or actually plan) travel with our families. With that in mind I will be featuring an “expert” travel series on this blog. A new topic and expert will be posted every Tuesday for the next 5 or 6 weeks. From making food part of your child’s travel experience to how to use music as a travel & language prep tool we’ll cover topics that will enrich and enhance your travel experience. I’ll be featuring experts & parents sharing their best tips and advice with you. Please come back every week and if you like the info share it on your social media and with friends. Happy Travels!

Social media, contrary to popular belief, does not alienate us but instead unites us. Recently a friend on Facebook introduced me to Lauren Aycock a fabulous area photographer who specializes in children's portraits. You have to visit her site and see for yourself. She also does high school senior portraits visit her Facebook page for more detail. I liked Lauren's work so much that I contacted her about sharing her expertise on this blog and was happy to find a new friend through social media.

Realistically, great (I mean truly great) pictures come not just from someone with technical knowledge but also with artistic talent. It takes a special eye and a little je ne sais quoi to frame the world through the camera lens not much different than that needed to frame it in a canvas. However, for the rest of us mortals who can't invent talent having a little technical knowledge can drastically improve our images. Read Lauren's tips and incorporate her suggestions next time you're on vacation or simply in the back yard with the kids.

"Photograph Your Child Like a Pro"
By Lauren Aycock

Do you want your vacation as well as everyday life photos of your children to be memories to last a lifetime? There are many tips that will help in that endeavor. Here are some of the most common questions put forth to me by inquiring parent photographers:

How do I avoid a fake, cheesy smile from my child?
Sit them down and amuse them. Ask questions, blow bubbles, or simply have another person entertain them while you snap away. Distractions from the photography process helps in creating an unforgettable look.

What about portrait angles?
A side angle combined with children's natural personalities makes for great photos. Let them play and just be themselves! Get up close and snap away while they're looking up at you. Whether far away or close try putting them in the first or last third of the frame; it makes a much more interesting picture.

What about that all important lighting?
It's always best to shoot in full shade. Keep the light behind and slightly off to the side of you. If you're lucky enough to have a second adult along as an entertainer, keep the sun behind them so that your child is facing the light. Use a flash to soften the blur of moving children.

How can I capture a landscape along with the subject?
This can be quite tricky. I recommend taking this type of portrait as early or as late in the day as possible when lighting is best. If the sun is behind the view with your child in the forefront make sure your flash is set to "on" instead of "auto". This ensures proper lighting on their face.

What if I only have a simple point and shoot camera?
These can be difficult to use with playing, running children because of the delay. You may want to take the big step of investing in camera equipment that guarantees better results. Invest in a digital SLR, such as a Canon Rebel, that lessens the delay. In order to allow you to follow your child with the lens instead of moving around with your child I recommend at least a 50 mm lens with a zoom up to 200mm. Purchase from a good camera shop with pro salesmen who are willing to answer any and all questions and give one-on-one instruction on the camera's use.

Now you're ready to capture your growing children both at home and on vacation. Act like a pro, and get great results! Have fun with your camera, creating memories that will be priceless heirlooms for you and your children. Most importantly just enjoy the process!

Lauren Aycock is the owner of Lauren Portrait Art based in Austin, Corpus Christi, and San Antonio, Texas. She specializes in whimsical and custom children's portraiture. A graduate of the University of Texas at Austin in Studio Art, her photography has been published in multiple national magazines. You can find Lauren at www.laurenportraitart.com, 512-436-9200, and Lauren Portrait Art on Facebook.