Saturday, July 20, 2013

Love cloud

After I had Desmond, a friend, an artist, told me that her artist friends with children have all said it takes six months to get back into a working groove. It has taken me much longer. And that’s okay. Desmond is just shy of two. It took me nine months to begin to feel of this world again, and I am just now beginning to feel centered again and beyond capable of living and managing and feeling and nourishing every aspect of my life, spiritual, professional, family and home, and personal.

For the first nine months, I was adrift, floating on a lovely pink motherhood, pure-and-raw love, connected-to-my-child Cloud. What a terrific space to occupy. It is a place all it’s own, a realm you never know exists until you have the fortune to occupy that space. It’s a discovery like the secret garden.

I heard a friend say recently that she was surprised that another friend who is a new mom is posting so many pictures of her child to Facebook. She said she didn’t think the friend would be, “that kind of mom.” It’s the thing people say all the time. I’ve made identical statements in the past, and I remembered my statements when I saw myself become "that kind of mom," but I was compelled. I couldn't stop myself, nor could I make reasonable sense of my compulsion. 

Hearing the "that kind of mom" statement recently, I paused and thought about it for the first time in a long time. That posting pictures frame of mind, it’s a wonderful state to be in, it is a place of declaration: “I’m in love and I don’t care who knows it. I’m mucking about in the thickest, most raw love, and I can’t see or feel anything beyond that love.” It's a beautiful place.

I know now, when I hear people say, “It took me six months to get back to myself after having my baby,” or nine months, or a year, that what they’re getting back to is occupying the day-to-day world again. Their other senses are returning, sight, smell, sound, touch, taste; it makes me wonder if love is the sixth and mysterious sense. 

When the love cloud releases you, the day-to-day senses return, and you transition. You are not “of” the cloud any longer; the cloud is of you. It moves inside of you like God or spirit or soul, while you once again occupy the ordinary. You get to remember that space you occupied, wrap the memory like a present, and tuck it inside of your heart, where it helps pump your blood.

So, I made that transition at about nine months. The transition itself is magical, much like waking from a dream and realizing you were just having the dream. You move back into the every day and begin to integrate yourself and your love cloud with all of the other parts of your existence, and it is the first time you recognize that you were away floating on that love cloud.

This is what my love cloud looks like, now that it’s inside of my heart: It is wrapped in a package as weightless as a balloon, as smooth as an egg shell. The package is magenta, tangerine, strawberry red, and every shade in between these. It is secured with ribbons: peacock golds and blues and greens, emerald, turquoise, ocean, midnight, copper, bronze, sapphire. The ribbons fall around the package like long, loose hairs of a girl-child. This package that is the infinite colors of all of love and all of love’s intensity and the shape-shifting pale pink cloud that lives inside of it, this is the most precious and protected part of you. 

Before it was in your heart, there was an empty shelf, awaiting its arrival. You never knew. When it’s there, where it should be, working as it should work, you work again. You write again. You exercise again. You cook again. You clean again. You socialize. You read. You think. Your intellect expands. Your spirit expands. Your capability expands. You find your way back to the day-to-day. Then you are there, with much greater ease than you have ever had before. And you know you are blessed. You can see what your future looks like; it shows itself to you, lives in a clear, glass ornament and hangs in front of your view like a third eye. You know that you are making your way toward that life; but the miracle is that you are enjoying every present moment as you never before knew how to do.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Late blooms, still blooming

Continued from last post (Late Blooms).

Five: Write down your 2013 vision. 
In 2013 I am laying bricks. 

I have longed for financial stability, not just stability, but financial comfort - financial means that are beyond adequate. I have never identified the greater purpose of desiring riches. If materialism had been the stem of my desire, I would have made many different decisions regarding my education, career, and my life's purpose. 

My longing for wealth (and I use the word "wealth" with modesty) has been a base desire that is rooted in the fear of suffering or wanting for anything. That kind of desire is not healthy or productive. I think that kind of desire is actually counter productive; it's what makes a person financially reactive and reckless instead of measured.

I do not desire money for the sake of material riches. In fact, I do not want stability at the expense of being able to practice writing or at the expense of nurturing the woman I saw in my original snapshot image -- the woman who grows herself and her surroundings.

I desire financial stability for the very purpose of providing myself with the opportunities to grow the many gardens that lay dormant in me – writing, familial experiences, and further, intense exploration of the world and its places/lessons.

This year I am, for the first time, pushing the goal of prosperity to intersect with that lovely snapshot that revealed itself to me in 2006. I see myself building prosperity, and building the opportunity to grow my family’s financial wealth, but simultaneously, creating the time and space to write and to grow my writing endeavors and my family and the experiences they will deserve. I am, thoughtfully, purposefully, laying bricks.

Six: What are you saying NO to in 2013?
1) lack of belief in my ability to be prosperous and successful and authentic to my truest talents and ambitions all at once 
2) lack of focus 
3) lack of discipline

Seven: What are you saying YES to in 2013?
1) continued gratitude
2) finishing projects 
3) another child
4) writing 
5) gardening
6) my health: running and yoga
7) supporting my husband’s business endeavors
8) laying the foundation for long-term financial stability and all that comes with that

Eight: Review what you’ve written and refine.
To be completed.

Nine: Write down your 2013 goals and why you want to make them happen.
Start a savings account that is more than a "back up account" for tightness at the end of the month. Long-term financial stability means planning for the future.

Finish the book I’ve been hired to write. I owe my client a good book, and I owe it to myself to give her what I promised. 

Get pregnant. But not just yet. The year is young.

Install raised garden beds and plant them. 

Create and stick to a schedule for work, writing, family, and self. Discipline and focus don’t happen on their own.

Stay out of credit card debt and repay standing loans. Long-term financial stability means not relying on loans.

Ten: Create an inspiration board. 
Underway on Pinterest.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Late Blooms

I came across a ten-step goal setting roadmap; I’ve changed the order of the steps, which I think is a good thing. I hope it’s indicative that I am already seeing more clearly in 2013 how to make my own path toward the life I am meant to lead.

Most people do this sort of thing at the start of a new year, but it really does suit me best to do all things late. For now, I’m sharing my responses to numbers one through four. I’m still working on the rest of my roadmap.

One: Write down what DID work in 2012.
Practicing gratitude worked. Instead of bemoaning what I did not have – financial stability at the age of thirty-seven – I focused on what I did have in my life to be grateful for: a brand new human being to love and to learn from, a husband who is unafraid of hard work and who is equally true to himself and willing to take risks, like having started a new job outside the field of architecture, and who, everyday, shows himself to be a great dad. Sisters who were willing, in 2011, to set aside busy, complicated, important families and lives to guide me into motherhood. I was grateful in 2011 when they came to stay with me, but in 2012, that gratitude felt so big and completely unbreakable. 

One: Write down three lessons you learned from what DID work.
What came of practicing gratitude? I learned that gratitude is more fulfilling than desire.
For the first half of the year, I was seeking employment so desperately that I’m sure prospective employers could smell the desperation. I wasn’t getting hired. I came to a point at which I just stopped feeling disappointed and instead, felt entirely blessed to have mornings watching Desmond develop. Early in the morning, I used to sit in bed drinking coffee and watching him; we cooed at each other, smiled, discovered one another's personalities. There were so many moments of simple joy; I heard him laugh out loud for the very first time in his life. That sound and all of the sheer pleasure it communicated remains so distinct. I had a full nine months with him. Watching a new person learn the world kept me so near to the most exciting, breathtaking, and basic of human experiences. Financial stability or not, I began to see myself as the luckiest girl. 

I learned that faith is more powerful than doubt.
It was in the midst of recognizing and embracing how lucky I was that I stumbled into work and a long-awaited return to financial stability. Within days of each other, I was hired for a part-time job with the university and hired by an individual to co-write a book. When these jobs came about, I went on the hunt for daycares. They either did not have openings or did not feel like a right fit. Two weeks before my start dates (also within days of each other), we found a nanny for Desmond

I learned that the introduction of new people into your life who help you grow is immeasurably valuable. In 2012, two new people, Des's nanny and my book client came into my life. I don’t think there is any coincidence that I see parts of myself in each of them. In some small way, I think they learn from who I am and how I approach life, and I know that I learn from each of them. 

The overarching lesson I learned in 2012, be it out of practicing gratitude, or not, is that my mother is still looking out for and taking care of me in this world. It’s becomes more challenging, in the years after her passing, to really feel her presence in my life, but I was reminded repeatedly in 2012.

Three: Write down what DID NOT work in 2012.
Fixating on the negative, on what my life lacked, did not work.  

Losing sight of my vision for the future, for what my life is intended to be, did not work. After my mom died in 2006, I started to see this image of my life, a tiny snapshot that was so clearly focused. It showed me, "This is who you are supposed to be. This is what your life is supposed to be." I was outside in my backyard gardening, growing. There was bounty. I could see a window into my home. On the other side of that window was a writer's desk, and it was clear that the work on the desk was my writing in progress. I gardened. I wrote. I grew a family and a craft. And when I looked at myself inside of that snapshot, I was content, happy. It was as if the sun shone within me. I was full of warmth. It was a rather simple image, but so vivid and crisp, and yet nothing I had ever consciously intended for myself. Literally, one day in the midst of grieving, the image showed itself to me, and I wanted nothing more than to quit my job, write, and teach myself to garden. I forced myself to wait out the urge, to move past the immediacy of my grief, and to reevaluate later. After six months, the image and the knowing within had not subsided. 

I had the fortitude to recognize my truest ambitions and to guide myself in the direction toward those ambitions. At thirty-three, I shifted gears and walked away from a secure job and income. At thirty-four, I entered into an MFA program that I completed at thirty-seven. That was an honest and brave shift to have made.

But in 2012, eight months out of graduate school and newly a parent, I could not decipher how to continue to guide myself to the image. The path no longer revealed itself to me so easily. Instead of making a clearing for myself, which would be hard work, I wallowed in the ramble of weeds and allowed the image to become blurry.

Four: Write down three lessons you learned from what DID NOT work.
Be willing to take risks.
Do not lose sight of the larger purpose of those risks.
Living my most authentic life not up to chance; it is up to me.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Out of Muddy Waters

Last year I decided to practice gratitude at every turn, high or low. And I did. Every few nights I paused to remind myself of what I was grateful for -- small acts of kindness, ordinary pleasures, supportive people, miracles, my son, my husband. In low points, this intentional gratitude lifted me. I did not pray to have anything. I prayed prayers of gratitude for what I actually possessed. As months progressed, I began to grasp, deeply, how very blessed I am. And blessings seemed to multiply.

Now it is 2013. I have just turned thirty-eight (38!?). I realized recently that I have a hard time believing success and prosperity are a real possibility in my life. I am, like some small, shy child standing painfully stiff and big-eyed in a corner watching all of the other fresh-faced, happy children play, afraid to believe that these are possible. Success and prosperity are what other people experience and what I admire from afar. Who planted this nonsense belief inside of me? Who watered this stubborn weed?

It's time for this thirty-eight year old woman, who has much to be grateful for, to believe that success and prosperity are states she is capable of nourishing, achieving, and maintaining.

Gratitude. Growth. Prosperity. These words return to me lately in the brief moments when my mind is still. Some kind of linguistic roadmap, a mantra. The fact that I have so much to be grateful for is its own success, its own prosperity; I know this much.

The rest is muddy. That is to say, I'm dwelling in muddy water, but my intention is to bring my head above, open my eyes to clean, dry air, and to see soaring trees rooted in fertile earth, above them all, the clearest sky.

I reminded myself today that out of muddy waters grow prehistoric cypress trees and trillions of graceful irises.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Learning how to dress, or, how dogs are better than babies.

I am trying to remember when, if ever, I possessed a sense of style. And was it any good? How did I develop this long-forgotten style? Did I have time to notice anything beyond whether an item of clothing had a stain on it?

It is nearly impossible to dress and end up looking "put together" when there is a one-year-old tugging at your legs. Dogs allow you to dress yourself.

Forget ironing, unless it's a quick pass over on the front, and only the front, of a blouse. Forget accessories, unless it's a five-year-old wrinkled scarf that has magically surfaced at the top of your dresser. Forget mascara all together.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Small Accomplishments

It is hard to know what to reflect on lately. I am working a part time job at the university, and I’m working on a book project for a client. So far this has mostly involved reading background material, interviews, transcribing interviews, doing writing exercises with the client to get images, memories, reflection in her own words, and a lot of sleep-thinking about how the book will be organized, what topics I need to explore more deeply with the client, and how to honor her story, how to write it authentically, how to write in first person as if I am her. Sleep-thinking is so important to my writing process. 

I’m also being a mom.

That means laundry. A lot of laundry. Mine. Chris's. Desmond's. And bath towels and bed sheets and kitchen towels. Endless.

Groceries. How did I become a person who goes to the grocery store regularly? I’ve always hated the grocery store. Now I look forward to it just a little bit, because when I have Desmond in tow, he gets excited about the helium balloon that gets tied to the shopping cart. There is a small bit of magic that I feel, a little jolt in my heart, when I see him taking in the world, absorbing the existence of a helium balloon, a wonder to behold.

Playtime. Watching Desmond take apart Legos, try to walk, climb into the Radio Flyer and then struggle to figure out how to climb out. Reading books to him at night. 

Sometimes being a mother feels so easy and so natural that I feel stunned, like there is a stranger inside of my skin. I feel as if the real me, the person I used to know myself to be, has drifted away and is floating above watching the stranger who has entered my body. The real me is trying to figure out how to get back in that body. Most of the time I just feel like I'm two selves now instead of one. 

It has been just over a year. Ever so slowly, I am working to come back together as a unified person – someone who can do these things above, still find a way to work out (I really want to do another triathlon or try a half-marathon), still find the time and energy to write -- not just for a client, but to write fiction and revise it and submit it, and still have some semblance of a social life -- which means being able to listen to my friends when they are talking, to really listen; that is so hard right now. And it means being able to have fun in the company of others, maybe throwing a small dinner party, or going to a movie or to see a band play. The greatest challenges thus far, what I have yet to even attempt, are working out and writing. I’m inching toward them. Turtle that I am. 

Most of the time I still don’t feel capable of writing a coherent sentence, let alone a coherent paragraph that will be affecting and meaningful. I am very in the moment these days. A body swimming but not really able to focus on what's in the distance when I come up for air. Trying to be reflective while in the moment, those don’t go together, do they?

So I won’t reflect just now. I will just be thankful for small accomplishments, for moving through a day successfully. Most nights, we come home from work, have some time with Des, get him fed while we cheer on his eating habits, then once he is bathed and asleep we move on to cooking for ourselves, and end up doing dishes and finishing up late. Or we are too exhausted to do dishes and leave them for the morning.

But yesterday and today I worked a full day at the university. I drove home. I spent some time playing with Des before I set him down to play on his own. Tonight, he got a wooden spoon and big steel mixing bowl so he could cook while I cooked. I made dinner quickly. Set the table. Me, Chris, and Des all ate dinner together. Then we did his bath/play/book/bottle routine. After he was down, I did dishes. By 7:30 p.m. the day was done. Last night I got to watch the debate, then read a book. Tonight, here I am typing away on my keyboard. They are not the strongest words to emerge from my brain and on through my fingertips. But here they are.

Just wait a while. I might say something dangerous. Or true. Or both.

Friday, June 15, 2012


This is my son. I cannot believe how much I love him. That may seem crazy to some people -- that sense of disbelief about one's love for a child -- but it's true; I simply cannot believe the amount of love I feel for him. There's so much love that I cannot imagine how it is contained in my body. I have been caring for Desmond for 9 months now, and a lot is about to change. 

After a grueling job search, I've got a contract for a freelance project that's going to require a lot of time and concentration. That means someone else needs to be with him during the days. I'm also being considered for a part time position, and I'm trying not to jump the gun, but I think the job is mine.

I am going to miss that little face during the days. 

Friday, March 23, 2012


It's March, and I am in the full swing of job-searching. In January I could not fathom doing anything except caring for Desmond and watching him grow. But spring can make a wilty, haggard mom burst out of the ground and just stretch to the sky. I feel like a human being capable of taking on every ambition and interest I possess. So now Desmond and I will watch each other grow, is what I'm feeling.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

How to use cloth diapers

I committed to using cloth diapers while I was pregnant, in my head. But I was intimidated about actualizing that commitment. Would it be a hassle? Would it be gross? I wanted a clear "how to" so I'd know what to expect, what to do, etc. Here's my own version of what I was looking for. Hopefully some new mom who's considering cloth diapering will stumble across it.

SUPPLIES (These are further explained at the end, including cost considerations.)
In your diapering area
12-18 FuzziBunz cloth diaper inserts and covers (sold together)
4-6 doublers
Box/roll of diaper liners
1-2 large wet bags
15-30 cloth wipes

In your laundry area
Bac-Out Cleaner
Charlie's Soap

Months 0, 1 and 2
I used a diaper service for the first 2 months of Desmond's life and disposables for his third month  Why?

1. Cloth diaper companies will promise you can fit them onto tiny babies, and you can, technically. But with the diaper service, which provided traditional cloth diapers (that often are used as burp cloths) called "tri-folds" I could get a much better fit.

2. Using the tri-folds, I was never in danger of letting Desmond sit in his own pee. Disposables and fancy cloth diapers of today are very absorbent. Contemporary cloth diapers have micro-suede lining that sits against baby's skin and seems fairly dry after a couple of pees, so it can be easy to not realize the diaper is wet.

 3. I changed A LOT of diapers, but never had to wash with the service. We went through 50-70 in any given week (this amount decreases later on). Baby's bladder doesn't hold much at the newborn stage, so the 12-18 diapers I recommend having will only give you a day's use.

4. Using a service helped me ease into cloth diapering. If there's no service available to you, I think using disposables for these months is the way to go.

Month 3
Around 3 months of age, the cloth diapers seemed to fit. This is when I discovered that FuzziBunz had the best fit for Desmond. The FB Medium size are specified for babies who are 14-30 lbs. Desmond started wearing his at about 12 lbs. and I did not have leaking problems. Also, by this point, he needed fewer diaper changes, I was less frazzled and started being able to manage my time and responsibilities better, and Desmond was developing sleep and feeding patterns, so a schedule was emerging.

I was terrified I was getting into something that would be a hassle. But after two weeks of use I had it down and have never felt like I am adding more work to my mom-load.

Load the inserts into the diaper covers ahead of time so that when it's time for a diaper change you can grab one and snap it on. I put the diaper liners in as I diaper because I don't use a liner for each diaper. Some people may find it helpful to line each diaper ahead of time. If your child will attend daycare, you'll likely need to send the diapers ready to go. At night, right before I'm about to put him down, I'll change him and add a doubler into his diaper cover so that the diaper is more absorbent. During a change, I take the dirty diapers off and toss them into my wet bag along with the fabric wipe I used to clean him. In a nutshell, the process isn't much different from grabbing a disposable, wiping clean and then throwing away your wipe and diaper (except here you thow them into a wet bag).

These are the instructions that come along with most cloth diapers I found.
1. Pre-wash or soak in cold water. Add a capful of Bac-Out to this water.
2. Dump the entire contents of your wet bag and the wet bag itself into the water and Bac-Out.
3. After the pre-wash or soak, add Charlie's Soap and wash in hot water, rinse in cold water.

I wash every other day. If I had 24 diapers, I could probably wash every 3rd day. If you wait more than that, you probably will encounter issues with your wet bag starting to smell. 

12-18 FuzziBunz cloth diaper inserts and covers (sold together)
I have 13 and plan to purchase 3 more. Right now I need to use disposables at night. When I have 16-18, I can eliminate disposables all together. At first I thought it would be easier to use disposables at night, but I'm finding that, regardless of whether he's in cloth or disposables at night, there's no real difference in leakage or his sleep patterns. And changing diapers in the middle of the night is the same with both. You're bleary-eyed and slower no matter what.
I use both Perfect Fit, sz. Medium FuzziBunz and a few Elite One Size FuzziBunz. I tried Flips, Bum Genius 4.0 All-in-ones and FuzziBunz. I wanted to use BG b/c they were slightly cheaper and looked so much like FB in construction. The reality is that the FB fit my son with less bulk and less uncomfortable squeezing. The Flips seemed like a good way to spend less money and wash less, but once the baby gets more wiggly, the inserts (i.e. the actual piss-absorbing diaper) move around too much. And you'll have to wash the inserts no matter what, so why not just get one cover per one diaper insert (which is what you get when you purchase a FuzziBunz diaper) and wash them together?

Every baby's different, but three people highly recommended FuzziBunz to me. I still tried less expensive diapers first. If you feel like you want to try some different kinds out, it might be good to purchase one diaper of three or four different brands before you commit. I ended up selling my Flips and FuzziBunz online and got for not much less than they originally cost because they were so new and in such great shape. 

The Cost: If you buy 12 FuzziBunz, you'll spend about $180. You'll spend about $270 on 18. If I use only disposables (which I did for a couple of months), I spend $80/month. I could get them in bulk online and spend $70-75/month. But add that up and by month 4, you've already spent $280. You will be able to use your cloth diapers for the span of your child's diapering days, and if you care for them properly you'll have them for baby #2, if that's in your cards.

4-6 Doublers
What the hell are doublers? This is what I wondered. Essentially, they are smaller diaper inserts that you put in the diaper cover with a regular insert to "double up" the absorbancy for heavy/nighttime wetting.
Fuzzibunz charges about $4 for doublers, so you're looking at $16-20. 

Diaper Liners
These are super thin sheets (thinner than fabric softener sheets and softer) that you place on top of the diaper cover and next to baby's skin. When baby poops, he generally doesn't ooze outside of the liner. I can lift the liner and flush it. Occasionally, he oozes out, but it's not hard to rinse of the edges before throwing the soiled diaper into the wet bag. If your baby does have problems with rashes, liners are important. Petroleum products in diaper creams remove absorbancy from diaper covers, so the liners protect the diaper cream from getting onto the diapers. You can also find diaper creams that don't contain petroleum products.

Cost: I've been using Bumkins, spending about $8.00 for a box of 100. It took me a month and a half to use one box. So, at $80/year, this is my most constant expense with cloth diapering. I don't use a liner for every diaper. After Desmond poops, I don't use a liner for the next 3 or 4 diapers because I'm fairly sure he won't poop again that soon. So far this has mostly worked, and the occasional clean up when I was wrong hasn't been terrible.

For me, the Bum Genius sprayer/bidet thing that hooks to your toilet is more of a mess than a help. It's hard to control the water pressure, so it just sprays the water out too fast and furiously. 

1-2 large wet bags
These bags have a waterproof lining and zip closed. When you change a diaper, you put the soiled diaper in the bag and zip it. I have one large Planet Wise bag because they come in good patterns/colors. It would be nice to have two so when one is being washed the other is available, but I haven't had any problems using only one. I also only wash my bag with every other load of diapers and find that I don't have problems with odor. I feel like washing the bag every other load will help maintain the water-proof material inside the bag. I could probably even get away with washing it every third load/once a week.

Cost: These are pricier than they should be in my opinion. But you only need to buy them once. A large Planet Wise bag runs about $20 if you buy directly from their website. You can find them for less on Amazon, but watch out, because sometimes they are more on Amazon.

15-30 cloth wipes
Like the diapers, disposable wipes cost more money over a relatively short span of time. You're already washing diapers if you use cloth, so why not use cloth wipes and toss them in your wet bag to wash with the diapers as you go? I do keep disposable wipes in my diaper bag and to use for poopy diapers, but other than that, I have a wipe warmer where I keep fabric wipes moistened with water. Water is all the baby needs, and Desmond has never had a diaper rash, which is possibly because of less chemicals on his skin. His only rashes seem to be a result of skin chafing.

Cost: A set of 12 BumGenius will cost about $12 on Again, if you add up what you'd spend over a few months on wipes, using disposables, you'll see you get your money back pretty quickly.

Some people recommend cutting up flannel receiving blankets. I did this because at first I was afraid my 28 cloth wipes would not be enough. In the end, the homemade ones are less soft and the edges fray. I think the $20 bucks was worthwhile, as they're holding up nicely.

Bac-Out Cleaner
People's advice on how they use this in the cleaning process varies slightly, but at the end of the day it's the same: pre-treat your dirty diapers with Bac-Out to remove stains and odor. This product has enzymes that eat away bacteria and thus, odor.

Cost: $8.00 for 32 oz. I use one capful per load, less than one oz for sure. I think a bottle will last for appx. 3 months. If you buy directly from their website it's cheaper than from other sites and stores, and they reduce the price if you buy in bulk.

Charlie's Soap
I did a lot of internet searching and tried a few types of laundry detergent, including Seventh Generation and an herbal detergent. People kept recommending Charlie's. I was hesitant at first, but am convinced it's all I want to use on all of my laundry. The gloopy stuff that thickens detergent is something used in glue. It creates residue in your machine and on your clothes over time (you may have noticed your towels stiffen after a while). There's none of the gloop in Charlie's (this is noticeable). For a small load (i.e. 12-18 diapers), you need only 3 tsp./1 tbsp. of soap. For a large load, you need only 6 tsp./2 tbsp (1oz.).

Cost: Appx. $28 for 128 oz. bottle, which is 128 large loads of laundry. If you are only using this for diapers, you'll wash small loads appx. 3 times/week. This comes out to 144 times/year - but remember, these are small loads, not large loads. That is to say, one 128 oz. bottle will last you over a year if you are paying attention to how much soap you use per load.

If you use 18 diapers, 6 doublers, 2 wet bags and 30 cloth wipes, you're looking at about $350. Throw in the Charlie's soap, and you're up to $380. Add in a year's supply of liners, and you're up to $460. That sounds crazy, right? But if you use disposables, at $70/month, you'll spend $840 in 1 year for the diapers alone. You'll also spend a significant amount of money on disposable wipes. So the first year, you save half the money. The second year you're spending pretty much nothing on diapering. With a second child, you're spending nothing for both years of diapering.

Do you spend more in water bills? Probably. But you do a lot of laundry having a baby regardless of whether you use cloth diapers. And honestly, for a while I just combined my diaper loads with baby clothes because the clothes were/are full of piss, spit up, drool and poop leaks anyway.