Why I Choose to Use Cloth Diapers

Product Reviews

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Monday, June 27, 2011

Bilingual Babies by Whistlefritz.com

 So, I'm a Spanish teacher--most of you knew that, I think--and I'm pretty passionate about pushing foreign language teaching at a young age.  I'm so passionate, in fact, that when I did student teaching, I opted out of the high school/middle school level and focused completely on learning how to teach Spanish to elementary students.  I worked with kids in 2nd-5th grades.  My cooperating teacher was amazing and I learned how to teach kids Spanish using ONLY SPANISH and eliciting responses completely in Spanish from them.  What I discovered through this amazing semester of trial-by-fire teaching was that it is hard work but it's completely possible to never use English in the classroom and for your students to successfully learn that way.  And successful doesn't begin to describe how well kids learn when taught this way...they excel at a foreign language through the immersion method.  I know, I know, you think that's crazy.  I get that all the time from parents.  "How do you expect my kids to understand you if you won't speak English?" so I've taken to giving them a demonstration so that they'll experience what their kids go through in my class for themselves.  I introduce myself and some random facts about me only using Spanish and when I quiz the parents afterwards, they understood the important parts of what I was trying to communicate.  After three years of teaching elementary Spanish and teaching kids in all grades except 1st and 6th, I switched to MS/HS for a year and now I teach high school. 

So why immersion?  The thing is, no one translated your first language for you.  You learned it through the special way people talked to you as a baby (the official term for which is "motherese"--it's the exaggerated tones, simple speech, and the repetition we use with our babies before they can speak), through context, through visual aids, through repetition.  You also learned it by necessity.  Mama, Dada, No, milk, etc. were all words that helped streamline your life and make things easier for you.  So, why not mimic this scenario in as much as possible when learning/teaching a second language?  Why do people stick stalwartly to archaic methods of translation and even rote memorization?  Why not just use the language, focusing on communication rather than grammar and vocabulary lists?  I mean, God created us to learn our first language this way, and He obviously knew what He was doing.  

So, anyway, I'm passionate about Spanish and I'm passionate about teaching it to young children (although, I'm currently a high school teacher--which I also love), and I'm also passionate about using immersion as the best practice for teaching the target language.   All this and I haven't really taken the time to teach Bunny Spanish.  Well, that's not true.  I did work on Spanish before she knew English.  Maybe 10% of my first speech to her was in Spanish, especially when I started really working hard on teaching her English.  But then she started speaking English and I didn't want to confuse her.  I was so excited at hearing the English that Spanish was put aside and then I felt I'd lost our momentum and I didn't know how to pick it back up and put it in our conversations--especially once she became so fluent in English.  I think that part of the reasons that my home-school Spanish lessons fizzle out quickly is because I spend all morning teaching Spanish at work and sometimes I just don't feel like taking my work home with me.  Sometimes, I just want to relax and use my first language--English--with my daughter because, though I'm fluent in Spanish, I'm so much more comfortable with English and I can communicate best in my mother-tongue.

But then, I discovered Whistlefritz.com.  (cue the Hallelujah chorus)

 I read on their website that they offer immersion DVDs for teaching children Spanish, I had to see it for myself.  I was skeptical, I must admit, because many times places say that they teach Spanish, but they do so with translation--English to Spanish--which really just teaches kids to take an extra step rather than actually thinking in the target language (the target language being Spanish in this case).  So, I asked them to send me one of their DVDs, and after watching it only once, I was sold.  The DVD is amazing! It uses all the best practices for teaching a foreign language in a fun, interactive, and colorful presentation of vocabulary in context.  The kids do not learn isolated words one by one, they simply listen to the story and conversation as the narrator introduces them to different animals through puppetry and animation.  Just because I was hooked, though, didn't mean my daughter would like it.  The proof would be in how she reacted to the DVD.  I was afraid she would hear language that she wasn't familiar with and lose interest, but I was wrong.  She was glued to the set, smiling and laughing at the appropriate times and frowning when the narrator asked things like "El perro dice cuac?" (Does the dog say quack?).  She GOT it! So, I proceeded to let her watch it FOUR TIMES that day.  I know, I know, that's a lot of TV and I try not to let her watch too much TV but in order for the Spanish to compete with the English, you've got to bring the ratio up a bit, you know? 
 (Bunny watching her Los Animales DVD  from Whistlefritz in the car)

Anyway, in our play time the next day I watched her as she talked with her dollies and stuffed animals and I heard her saying something I couldn't quite make out.  I listened for awhile and to my amazement she was was saying, "¡Hola, niños!"  So, encouraged by the success of the DVD, I took the bull by the horns and started speaking to her bilingually as well.  We  talked about all the fruits and veggies in her toy refrigerator, and we talked about animals, and body parts.  I guess the mental block about teaching her Spanish was really just that, mental, because it was so easy! Things that I'd worked with her on before she started speaking English fluently came back to her and she started counting to cinco in Spanish and since she's currently a parrot anyway, it was so easy for her to repeat the words that I was teaching her.

A couple days later, after continued and repeated use of the DVD from Whistlefritz.com, she made a joke--a joke she keeps repeating over and over to us because it was greeted with such excitement from Mommy and Daddy.  "Gato di 'woof'." she said. 
     "No, honey, el gato dice 'miau'."
      "Gato say 'woof'." she says again, laughing this time. 

And she's started counting in Spanish too! Out of the blue, today, she looked at me with a twinkle in her eye and said, "Uno, dos, tres..." and I smiled and finished for her and then she jumped in, "...ocho, nueve..."

So, I will be putting up a more official review of Whistlefritz.com very soon in more simple terms, but today, I just wanted to share with you my personal story and some background history of why foreign language learning in the elementary years is so important to me.  In the meantime, you can check them out at their website, or their facebook page and see some of the magic for yourself!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

An Amazing Dad

He's patient, gentle, kind, hard working, compassionate, understanding, and so much more.  My daughter is more blessed because he's her dad, and I'm more blessed because he's my husband.  If there were a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records for best father, his picture would be there.  He's just that great!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Time Flying...or is it Dragging

Today is my last day of school.  My students finished on Wednesday but yesterday and today were/are teacher work days.  Let me just say how much I anticipate being home ALL SUMMER LONG! I would be a stay at home mom if I could, but I can't, so working part time is the next best thing.  But I'm so tired of making my poor little Bunny cry for me as I leave every morning to go to work.  It just rips my heart out! She's such a Mommy's girl, and I think my having to work five mornings a week makes that worse in that she clings to me when I'm here because she's always afraid I'm going to leave her.  And the mornings are the worst! She watches me make the coffee and shower, and dress, and she knows what's happening so she begs for a snuggle and tries to nurse all morning.  I indulge her as much as I can but then crunch time hits--the time when I should have been out the door five minutes ago and I haven't combed my hair or found my shoes yet--and I literally have to peel her off of me and give her to her Daddy kicking and screaming.  It's heart breaking.  I hate it.  And today, is the last day for three months that I'll have to do it.

This summer, we have minimal plans and I'm so relieved! Last summer, we went on six, yes SIX, long trips so we were only home like three weeks total.  EW!  This summer, it's down to three trips.  We're taking my husband's youth group to Creation, we're going on a low key, relaxing vacation for five days at a retreat center, and then our church denomination has a 10 day long camp meeting that is equally relaxing, and also less than an hour from our house.  We're actually going to stay at the camp all week long because my husband is the young adult coordinator for it, but it's nice to know that if I need to be home for one reason for another, I can just drive home. (And yes, I'll be taking and handwashing flats to all three of those events!)  Other than that, we're home.  Home! That's only 3 of 8-10 weeks of vacation (I haven't counted) that we're away.  I'm so happy!  If it were up to me, we might never leave the house at all!

And with that said, I have to go and get ready for work now--for my last day of work! And it's going to be a short one too--breakfast with the faculty at a local restaurant for some fun activities and I'm home free!!! *Sighs happily*

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Using Flats Already!

Three days hadn't passed since the flats challenge before my daughter had a severe diaper rash.  It was most pitiful because she's able to verbalize her pain now.  I brought her home from church on Wednesday evening and as I pulled her out of the car and she started whining-- "It hurts.  Mommy, diaper hurts!"  I rushed into the house and took the diaper off as fast as I could, quickly holding a cool, baby wipe over the area for a couple of seconds and then applying Grovia's Magic Stick (which hurt her even more as it was being applied.  Then, because she hadn't had a rash during the entire flats week (well, she had a little irritation at one point that disappeared in an hour), I pulled out the flats.  I used my tried and true night-diapering flat solution--a kite fold with a trifold--and then added a wool cover.  The rash had all but disappeared by morning, which was a blessing because it meant I could send Bunny to daycare with pockets and not flats. 

Flats Challenge week has also helped me realize that I like line drying even without the clothesline I so crave.  I haven't sunned my diapers once since cloth diapering--not until the flats challenge when I dragged my drying rack outside because I didn't want to wait the extra time it would take them to dry downstairs.  Once I realized that dragging the rack from the basement to the patio wasn't that bad, I was encouraged to try it again.  So, I dried my pockets--inserts and all--on the rack in the sun yesterday and let me tell you, those inserts never dried so fast! My basement is a pretty dry place because we have a dehumidifier, but it would still take them over 24 hours to be line dried down there.  Outside, with strong sun and some wind, it took about 2.  I was shocked and delightfully surprised.  Now, we are planning on putting up a clothesline soon, but in the meantime, I'm not waiting to sun my diapers until that happens. 

Friday, June 3, 2011

New Skill: Crocheted flower.

It took me weeks to learn--because I'm no crocheter--but I finally perfected this beautiful crocheted flower, thanks to the patience of a friend.  I had to put it to good use so I made two, put one on top of the other, and added it to these shorties I made for Sunflowerradiantlove

Aren't they adorable?   I love them! I might have to add some crocheted flowers to one of Bunny's wool soakers now. 

I'm thinking I might put up a video tutorial for the flower...but I don't know the name of any of the stitches I'm doing.  I mean, I was told, but that means nothing.  Maybe it will be a silent video...but most likely it will never materialize.  I'm just too, darn busy!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Flats Challenge: All done!

I'm sorry I'm so late on this post.  If you were keeping up with my posts on the Flats Challenge at the Cloth Diaper Blog, you'll realize that the flats challenge week also happened to be one of the busiest weeks my house has seen in a long time! We had a record amount of visitors and my husband was tearing up the back yard to make a patio so I had extra food to cook, dishes to wash, and laundry to clean, plus I spent more time  sweeping, mopping, and straightening the house up, plus I was hand washing the flats and then spending 1-2 hours every evening writing about it for Diaper Junction.  Remember, I'm not a Stay at home Mom, so I did this all when I got home from work every day at 12:30PM.
Bunny felt the pressure and the stress, and also noticed that she wasn't getting as much one on one time with Mommy (and Daddy) that she wanted, and became very winy and clingy.  I can't blame her.  Of course, I wanted to spend more time with her, but because I was taking care of so many people.  There were some days I just wanted to collapse and give up and cry.  I was thankful that even though the visitors meant more work, they also meant more people to help out if necessary so at least I was allowed a moment of peace here and there while someone else took the load. 

When everyone finally left on Monday (Memorial Day) evening, I just lay in the back yard in a hammock with my daughter and we watched the birds go by and it was the most blissful 15 minutes I'd spent all week.  Bunny's mood change was almost immediate.  She suddenly relaxed and became more like her typical self, and ever since I've been reveling in the uninterrupted moments I get to spend with her as has she. 
So, I'm not sure that my view on flat diapers is not unbiased by how difficult the week was.  Currently, I just don't want to touch them or look at them and I'm happy to stick to all my pockets and AIOs.  But I think if I could separate the flats challenge from the rest of the week--like if it had happened at a different time--my views on using them would tilt more to the positive side. 

I wrote a list of pros and cons I discovered about flats and I forgot two of them (well, two that I can think of at the moment). Another pro would be that flat diapers are so very trim that Bunny was able to wear some pants that never went over her little fluffy butt before.  Another con would be that I didn't feel that I was able to win people over to cloth diapers by changing her diaper in public when using flats.  Flat diapers seem to scare people off more than the diapers I typically use. 

If I were to put myself in the financial position that such a lifestyle would be necessary in order to buy other necessities that my child/ren needed, I would definitely use flat diapers and hand wash them all the time.  It was hard, hard work, but I'll do anything for my  little one/s.  (I use the plural not because I'm expecting, but because I hope to have more kids one day).  But I'm from a specific culture/class of people that has that mindset and that perspective on life.   I don't know much about the different classes, but I've heard a little bit from Ruby Payne's studies while being educated as a teacher.  She summarized the three classes with three sentences based on food.  The poverty/lower class (I hate to use lower with a people group!) uses the phrase, "Did you get enough?" in regards to food.  The middle class will say, "Did it taste good?" and the upper class will say, "Does it look good?" She also told the story of a group of teachers who pooled their money together to buy a refrigerator for a family who was known not to have one.  The kids in that family were subsequently absent for the next few weeks.  When they came back, the teachers were worried and asked, "Where were you?" They answered, "Oh, we sold the refrigerator and went to Disney World!"    So, based on the little I know of Ruby Payne's studies, I don't know that the lower class would consider cloth diapers an option.  But, I don't consider myself an expert.  I personally have an acquaintance who has two children, and a boyfriend in and out of work and who has already been evicted from her apartment and is in dire straits financially, but when a friend suggested cloth diapers to her she said, "I'm not that desperate!" So, I'm just not sure that the culture of people in our country who need to use and hand wash flat diapers would consider it an option.  And I'm not trying to judge at all.  I'm just trying to put myself in someone else's shoes. 

So, conclusions: If it were me, I'd do it.  I would hand wash flat diapers all the time to keep food on my children's plate.  But I just don't know that it's something people who are turned off by cloth would consider.  I hope I'm wrong. 

Once the dust settles at my house, I think I'll be using flat diapers more often than I ever did before considering the challenge.  I've certainly learned a lot and found lots of trick that have made me more successful at using flat diapers.  I can fold them and fasten them so that they are pretty snug, and I've learned little tricks to add to the tried and true folding methods that allow them to fit my daughter better.  I like them.  I really do.  But I think it will be a couple of weeks before I voluntarily use them again!

On a side note, having all my other diapers washed and waiting allowed me to do something I've never gotten to do since starting to cloth diaper--take a photo of my entire cloth stash! Actually, the stash is so large that I took three photos of four of the different groups of diapers I have (pockets/aios/ai2s, prefolds, wool covers, fitteds), and once they're clean, I'll take a photo of my flats and my PUL covers as well.  Soon, I'll post them for those of you who are interested.  Also, I'll need to start organizing and categorizing all my dipes for the Fluff Stash app I recently got for my iPhone from Diaper Junction.  I purchased it already but have yet to transfer it from the computer to my phone.  We'll see if my hubby has time to do that for me today when I get home from work.  :-D