Category Archives: Eco Thrifty Baby

A Picture and 1,000 Words

Today we printed out the final draft of our family profile book for one last edit before we submit it on Monday. This is what birth parents and social workers will look at to determine if we are a good match for their child. They don’t get to meet us or talk to us. Just. This. One. Book. Can you say nerve-wracking?
Screen shot 2014-01-17 at 9.07.00 PM
I seriously spent about 5 hours deciding on fonts. Don’t even get me started on pictures. And the words??

Honest, but not too honest. Selling ourselves, but not fake. Greenies but not too hippie (nah who are we kidding, we could never cover that up). I mean should we tell them that one time we composted a goat? Probably not.

Screen shot 2014-01-17 at 9.13.12 PM

And now its done. All 40+ pages of it. All 150+ pictures. I can’t post all of it because they ask some pretty darn personal questions (fair enough). But I’ll post a few pages so you can get a feel for it.

Text is based on a list of about 50 questions we were given by the social worker. It was very difficult trying to pare down everything we wanted to say to birth parents into concise paragraphs. Because really what we wanted to say was “We will love this child so much, and are so appreciative, and look how cool we are, and we are really nice people.” But we felt like that wasn’t quite grown up enough.

Screen shot 2014-01-17 at 9.11.17 PM

In the end this step in the process, like every other step so far, was a blessing. Allowing us a chance to reflect and learn as a family, that we otherwise wouldn’t have had. I mean how many times do you, as a couple, get to sit down and really think about the fibers that make up the fabric of your marriage? How many opportunities do you get to articulate your parenting philosophy? Or the goals you have for your children and family? To sit and really define what your important events and traditions are? To pinpoint who you are as a family?

So, if you have about 100 free hours on your hands, I highly recommend sitting and making a family profile book for yourself. It won’t disappoint.

Screen shot 2014-01-17 at 9.15.19 PM

PS- for all you font-ophiles – in the end I went with KG Secondchance Sketch for the Headings, That’s All Folks for the Subheadings, and Tin Birdhouse for the text.

Screen shot 2014-01-17 at 9.15.07 PM

Something about 1,000 miles and one step

We took the first step our adoption journey on May 7, 2013 with a phone call and then a visit to Child Youth and Family Services NZ. 249 days later and although we have taken many steps towards our goal, it feels like we are still 1,000 miles away.

Why does the Tao Te Ching have to be so gosh darn right all the time?

For us adoption has always been something we have thought about, for reasons I may explore in another post. But when our daughter turned 6 months old we (I) decided it was time to take some concrete steps towards making it happen. So then we (I) did some calling around and signed us up for an upcoming information session about adopting in New Zealand. Maybe it was infant-induced sleep deprivation, the appeal of talking to other grown ups about something other than poop, or the lure of free cookies but we (yes, we!) were actually really excited about it.

IMG_9365Mother’s Day Hike May 2014

So on the actual night of the presentation we may have been a few minutes late. And we may have forgot to mention that we’d be bringing a 6 month old with us. And Eco-Thrifty Hubs may have had to pee like 15 times during the 90 minute presentation. And then he may have had to leave to entertain and soothe our screaming infant. Nothing like making a good first impression on the people who are going to scrutinize EVERY SINGLE DETAIL of your life to determine whether or not they will assist you to make you dream come true.

But they must have thought we had potential because we walked away with an application form and the dates of the two mandatory parenting seminars that all prospective adopting and fostering families must complete. The social worker did offer a bit of advice on our way out the door – “You might want to find a babysitter for the next session”.

We left that first session with so many questions, but I couldn’t stop smiling. The following Sunday, on Mother’s day, I wrote a   note to our child. “I have so many questions right now, but mostly I am just so happy. Happy that we have so much love in our family. Happy that we have a beautiful daughter. Happy that somewhere, somehow, out in the world, things are starting to happen that will bring you to us”.

That was 249 days ago. The first step of thousands. I’ve been dealt a reality check over the past 7 months about the excruciatingly slow pace of this process. I am still happy. I am still optimistic. But it is hard to stay patient and positive through a process filled with so many unknowns.

Eco Thrifty Kid #2


Happy New Year!

2014 looks like it will be a big year for us, because….We’re adopting!

We are so excited to grow our family, to become parents again, to give Verti a sibling (or two?!?). We invite you to follow along our journey as navigate the adoption process. Adoption posts will be in Eco Thrifty Baby with the label “adoption”.

Much love and happiness for your new year.

Morning Song


Our morning ritual starts with this song that we learned at our Steiner playgroup. Rise and Shine!

Morning has come,
Night is away.
Rise with the sun
and welcome the day.
Good morning dear earth,
Good morning dear sun,
Good morning dear stones,
And flowers everyone.
Good morning dear bees,
And the birds in the trees.
Good morning to you,
Good morning to me.


She’s Crafty: Driftwood Frame Playgym

This is one of the first projects we made for EcoThrifty Baby. We wanted a play gym for her, but were (and still are) trying to avoid plastic as much as possible. Ironic, since tupperware is her ultimate favorite toy at the moment.

Screen shot 2013-06-22 at 9.39.08 PM

ETB chillaxin on her sheep skin under her handcrafted playgym – lifestyles of the rich and famous.

I made the hanging pieces for this playgym from scrapbook paper glued onto cardboard. I tried to pick natural themes and shapes, but also wanted her to have high contrast and bright colors for her little developing eyes.

playgymThe pieces of ETB’s play gym were scrap book paper glued onto thin cardboard.

ETH scoured the beach near our house for a few days before he found the perfect pieces of driftwood to form the base and hanging frame. He then drilled a hole into the base just slightly smaller than the diameter of the piece that he wanted to use for the frame, and sanded it down to make a perfect fit. The base is heavy enough that ETB can’t pull it over if she tugs on the shapes.

Screen shot 2013-06-22 at 9.38.48 PM

Driftwood frame with no glue, no nails.

When ETB was a tiny infant we hung the shapes over her carseat and bassinet. When she transitioned into her bouncy chair, they were her favorite entertainment. Now that she is a crawler, this still sits in the corner of her play area. Every once in a while she still bats around the shapes, but I think her days of really enjoying the play gym might be over (sniff, sniff).

Screen shot 2013-06-22 at 9.37.49 PM

ETB as a tiny bub with her play gym pieces hanging above her.

Screen shot 2013-06-22 at 9.45.16 PMETB is a big girl now and her play gym still sits in the corner of her play space.

Baby Wearing for Beginners

I kind of always knew I’d be into baby wearing. I’m a pretty snuggly gal. But when Eco-Thrifty Baby was born I really had no clue what kinds of slings and wraps were out there, no less how to use them. Luckily we were gifted about 6 or 7 hand-me-down baby wearing devices to try out. Here’s a summary of the ones we tried and kept or ditched.

Screen shot 2013-06-19 at 9.31.33 PM

Screen shot 2013-06-19 at 9.29.23 PM

ETB fully endorses napping on mom.

Fixed length slingFAIL

We were gifted several of these. The most highly recommended was my brother in law’s  self-named “duderus”, a stretchy cotton fixed-length sling which he lovingly passed on to my husband. Passing the torch in an act of brotherly love. Unfortunately the duderus didn’t do it for either of us. It felt too loose, too floppy, and like she might get lost in there. Its possible that it was the wrong size.

Screen shot 2013-06-19 at 9.30.38 PM

 We try out a fixed length sling. Strawberries were good, sling not so much. But it was pretty.

We also tried a non-stretchy fixed-length sling. I think this one was definitely the wrong size. I think I used it twice, but always kind of felt like I had to keep one hand under it or she might fall out. It also kind of hurt my shoulder/neck on one side. Even my little peanut of a babe felt like too much weight just to have hanging off of one shoulder. I wanted to love this, I did. But it just wasn’t for me.

Adjustable sling – Eco-Thrifty Mama: FAIL   Eco-Thrifty Papa: WIN

Eco-thrifty Papa loved a sling that we called “The PeaPod”. It was an adjustable sling that clipped at the top and has drawstrings on both sides so you could cinch them closed. It was easy to get her in and out, even when asleep and he found it really comfortable. I, however, just could never quite shake the feeling that if I took my hand away, she wouldn’t just fall down. So, I ended up walking around with one hand always under the sling. Not very effective.

Screen shot 2013-06-19 at 9.23.56 PM

ETB asleep in “The Peapod”, taking a break from harvesting that cauliflower no doubt.

The Improvised Sling- Obviously a Massive life WIN.

Sometimes we just didn’t have our act together in those early days. And since our baby does her best (read: only) sleeping on me, having some kind of baby-wearing device was totally necessary. When she was little a muslin blanket  with the corners tied over my shoulder worked really well.

Screen shot 2013-06-19 at 10.15.48 PM

Shooting hoops at a work event. ETB slept through the whole thing.

Stretchy Wrap – Eco-Thrifty Mama: WIN     Eco-Thrifty Papa: FAIL

We had “The Ultimate Baby Wrap” and I seriously adored it. So comfortable. So secure. ETB loved being in there and I could do anything in it. See ETB’s first game of tag, below. Really, ETP also loved wearing the stretchy wrap, he just couldn’t be bothered wrapping it. So, as long as I wrapped him up in it, it was a win for him too. And to be honest, it was kind of a pain to wrap, but after a few days I was super speedy and could even take her in and out without re-wrapping.

Screen shot 2013-06-19 at 9.32.34 PM
ETB’s first game of tag. 9 weeks old.

The only problem with our stretchy wrap was that it was really stretchy. So by the time she got to about 3-4 months it seemed like she was too heavy for it, because it would stretch so much. But, it was good timing, because by then she had fairly good neck control so we upgraded to the Ergo. I think I would really love a non-stretchy wrap for ETB now that she is bigger, but haven’t been able to find one in New Zealand. It is definitely on my wishlist for our upcoming trip to America.

Screen shot 2013-06-19 at 9.22.14 PM

Our first time ever baby wearing. ETB about 1 week old. Sooooo little. 

Screen shot 2013-06-19 at 9.25.01 PM

We do the dishes. Doesn’t happen often, definitely worth taking a picture of.


Our Ergo was handed down to us by my sister and brother-in-law, so I already had lots of practice carrying around the ETNeices in it during my many summers of nannying them. We love the Ergo. We started using it fairly early, although I preferred the stretchy wrap until she outgrew it. We used it as a front pack until about 7 or 8 months, and now use it both front and back. Getting in on with her on my back was a superhuman one-person job at first, but is getting easier as she gets better at standing. I don’t know where we’d be without our ergo, it is where ETB does most of her napping and hence is where I do most of my working.

Screen shot 2013-06-19 at 9.25.45 PM

ETB tucked into the ergo at about 3 months.

 Screen shot 2013-06-19 at 9.39.41 PM

Right: Baby belay. ETB is my anchor in the ergo.

Frame pack – Eco-Thrifty Papa: WIN  Eco-Thrifty Mama: 3/4 WIN

We really love our frame pack, and ETB seems to too. We started using it at about 6 months, and had to rig the straps up to make them small enough so she wouldn’t fall out the sides. We like it because it is cooler on our backs, seems to take the weight off our shoulders, and ETB gets to look around more. I still tend to use the Ergo more than the frame pack, but ETP definitely prefers the pack.

Screen shot 2013-06-19 at 9.41.33 PM

Left: We need to invent some kind of holster for the frame pack so ETB can nap in there without me wearing it. Screen shot 2013-06-19 at 9.36.31 PM Right: ETB learning on the job. Laziest apprentice ever.

I hope that was a little helpful to anyone thinking about buying a carrier. I’d love to hear any recommendations from other baby wearers, especially anyone who uses a wrap for their older baby or toddler.

Screen shot 2013-06-19 at 9.44.28 PM

Here is ETB at the farmer’s market with her Aunt Molly selling the world’s best garlic.

Styley Maternity Clothes That won’t Break the Bank

So when I say I’m eco-thrifty, I mostly mean I’m cheap. Bonus- being cheap can often have the upside of being eco-friendly (buying second-hand = no new junk coming onto the planet). But just because I’m “eco-thrifty” doesn’t mean a girl don’t wanna look fine.

Screen shot 2013-06-16 at 9.34.55 PM

23 Weeks. I thought my belly was big. Ha! Wrap skirt from thrift store, tank top from pre-preg.

So, I was kind of hell-bent on not buying maternity clothes. I just didn’t see the point in spending tons of money on sweat-shop made garments that I would wear for just a few months. So, I didn’t. I was gifted a bunch of maternity clothes from my sister and some friends, but to be honest the clothes I wore most weren’t maternity. I just felt more comfortable in clothes that were things I would normally wear, things that I could find at second-hand stores. Things that were more me.

So here are my tips for dressing styley (if I do say so myself) while your body goes through the most dramatic changes possible in a span of 40 weeks.


25 weeks. Stretchy mini-dress over leggings = happiness. Mini-dress from thrift store. Pink sash and mardi gras beads courtesy of my 5 year-old neice. Sick dance moves courtesy of me.

1. Stretchy is your friend.
When else in your life will people tell you how great your belly looks And I swear, the bigger you get, the more the compliments will roll in. So, flaunt it girlfriend. Strethcy will not only show off that bump, but will also give you lots of room for lungs and bladder to expand when baby shifts positions.Image

27 weeks. Ignore my ridiculous face here, and focus on the cute stretch mini dress. Dress from Valley Girl pre-preg. I wore this over leggings all the time (you’d think I’d have a better pic) into my third trimester, and still wear it now. 

2. If you buy something, make it something useful for after baby.

I think I bought a total of 3 actual maternity items. One of them was this cross-front shirt. It was super cosy during pregnancy and is now one of my favorite nursing shirts. The material is super stretchy so it wasn’t awkward or baggy after baby was born, and fit me nicely as my belly went from big firm to  big squishy to (hopefully kind of sort of) medium firm again.Image

30 weeks. Top from Pumpkin Patch, jeggings see below. Me and belly protesting fracking, deep sea drilling, and asset sales. 

3. Jeggings. (Seriously)

This may be the only time in your life where it is ok to wear jeggings. Why? because they are stretchy (anyone sense a theme here?), and you are a beautiful gaia mama. Honestly a friend gave me a pair pre pregnancy and I swore I’d never wear them, but damn if I didn’t live in those things. Even once the waist stopped fitting I did the hair-tie trick, then the bella band, and then just left those suckers open. I’m wearing them in the picture above and below. I don’t wear them anymore… somehow they don’t look as cute without the giant belly.


26 weeks. Rocking the jeggings while I belay my 4 year-old neice. Girl can climb.

4. Buy this skirt (from a second hand shop that sells H&M stuff… or ebay?).

OK, if you can’t find this one, buy any stretchy mini skirt. But really, the texture and super-stretchyness of this one, made it my ultimate favorite. I actually can’t believe I don’t have a picture of me in it, because I seriously lived in this my third trimester, when I had to dress up a bit for work. I would wear it over leggings and pair it with a nice top. Image

5. Emphasize that belly.

Gone are the days of big blousy maternity wear that tented over you and baby, making you into some sort of family-sized camping accessory. Your belly is your best accessory. I know you might not believe me, but you look gorgeous. People are envious of your glow. You don’t look big, you look perfect. Rock that goddess body!


40 weeks. Sari skirt tied over belly with t-shirt tucked in.

Other than the jeggings I still wear all of these clothes now, which is more than I can say for most maternity purchases people make. So be bold, go stretchy and embrace that belly!

Our cloth diaper cleaning routine

Cloth diapers were one of the few parenting choices we were 100% sure of from the start. Of course, when we started we really had no idea just how much pee and pooh could come out of one little human. So it took us a little while to get into a routine that works well for us. And to be honest, now that we are in the swing of it, it really isn’t that hard. Honest.

I’m not saying that this is the best routine, but here is what we do these days to keep from getting buried under a mountain of cute little nappies:

Step 1: Change bum. If it is a pee diaper go straight to step 4. If it is a pooh diaper, there are a few more steps.

Step 2: Wipe that butt. We use cloth wipes made from cut up chucks cloths and car cleaning shammies, and only use water to clean with.

Screen shot 2013-06-09 at 9.32.02 AM

Step 3: Scrape. This is kind of the grossest part (but really isn’t so bad). We use a firm plastic spatula that we got from a second-hand store. My husband wrote “POOH” in giant letters just in case, but since it lives in our bathroom, on a string hanging from the tap in our laundry sink, there is really no chance that it could even get mixed up anywhere. We scrape poohs directly into the toilet as soon as possible and flush them away.

Step 4: Store & Soak. We bought this camping washing machine at the auction for like 15 bucks.It has been awesome! Best 15 bucks we ever spent. We separate the inners and outers, toss them in, and seal it up. Then just leave them. Once we have a full tumbler we then fill it with warm water and an eco-whitener and let them soak for at least an hour.

If we are out and about we just put the diaper and wipes in a dry bag until we get home and toss them in the tumbler. No biggie, really. A lot of my friends use disposables when out and about, but we’ve never had a problem with the dry bags.

It usually takes us 2-3 days to fill the tumbler. We have found that keeping the diapers “dry” during this wait time is MUCH less stinky that letting them soak.


Step 5: Wash. We wash our diapers on a long cycle in hot water with Eco-Store brand soap. Since they have already soaked, one wash almost always does the trick. If there are any stains, I do a quick rub with Sunlight soap and put back in the tumbler. My husband doesn’t worry about stains (“They’re diapers for goodness sake!”).

Step 6: Hang. We don’t own a clothes dryer. However, after visiting my parents and sister, I had some serious clothes dryer envy. Cuts down the total cleaning time by HOURS! But clothesline drying is possible, we just take advantage of every single sunny day to get a load of diapers out there.

Screen shot 2013-06-09 at 9.30.37 AM

So that’s it. We are 9 months in and the routine is working well so far. Verti has transitioned onto solids, and our system perseveres. I have noticed that lately some of her pee diapers have been kind of stinky. Not when they come out of the wash, only after she pees. I wonder if that’s due to her new found love of brussel sprouts, or if I need to run the diapers through a special cycle to de-stink them a little. Any tips? I’m wondering if a vinegar soak would help, or running them through once with a non-eco detergent might freshen them up.

Screen shot 2013-06-09 at 9.36.37 AM

Any tips out there from other cloth diapering mamas? Anyone else have stinky pee diapers?

Baby Led Weaning at 9 months

So if you’ve never heard of baby-led-weaning (or BLW for those in the know), don’t worry, I hadn’t either until about 9 months ago. Then a baby came out of me and all of a sudden I had to feed it (well it was fairly straight-forward for the first few months).

Eco Thrifty Papa and I don’t take a very strict approach to our eating habits, but we like to think we eat fairly well. We buy local, ethical (free range, etc.), organic, in that order of importance. We eat about 90% vegetarian… used to be about 99% until I got pregnant, but that’s a whole ‘nother post. But we also have a slight tendency to indulge in reduced price baked goods (I blame him) and chocolate (he blames me). In any case, we try to eat well. And we want to instill that value in Eco Thrifty Baby. This is especially important for me, since I was a kid who HATED veggies growing up and never tried anything new.

So, when it came time to introduce ETB to food other than breastmilk, we (I) did a lot of research and then we (I) decided that baby led weaning seemed to make sense for us and our lifestyle. I promise I will write a post about the start of BLW some other time.

But for now, here’s how it is working a few months down the track:


Age: 9 months

Eating schedule:

  • 3 meals a day (8:30am, 1pm-ish, and 6 pm),
  • breast feeding on demand during the day (big feed right when she gets up, big feed before bed, and 3-4 in between),
  • trying to reduce the number of breast feeds during the night, but currently anywhere between 2 and 6 (!!yikes!!)

Favorite foods: toast fingers with butter, beans, broccoli, steak, peas, cheese, yoghurt, pears, pesto pasta, brussel sprouts, tomatoes, feijoa, apples, pumpkin, grapes


Meals: Generally ETB eats what we eat when we eat. Porridge or yoghurt and fruit in the morning, leftovers or a random mix for lunch, and a hearty dinner. If our dinner is too spicy, We will separate out some for her before we spice it. There are still a few things she hasn’t had yet for worry of allergies (nuts, berries) or diaper rash (citrus, kiwi), but those are becoming less and less.

Food size: Over the past month ETB has been working on her pincer grip. It is really cute to watch her try to pick up little beans, peas, and pieces of rice. So I have been trying to give her some smaller items, and she seems goes for them first. What an over-acheiver. We still try to giver her things in long strips, so that she can bite off an appropriate bite (rather than in chunks, that might get caught in her little throat).

Routines: We have found that eating routine is very important. Verti knows that her high chair is a place for eating. When we put her in there she is expecting food (and we better have some ready for her). In an effort to instill in her the notion that when we are at the table together, we eat, we don’t put her in the high chair unless it is time to eat. She is also learning other routines, she will put her hands out now so we can wash them after eating (although getting the face clean is still a struggle), and she responds to the signs for “milk” and “all done”. We have also learned that if her meal times stay consistent then very little food ends up on the floor (on her face and hands, yes, but floor no)… but if they get a bit out of whack, and she’s less hungry, whoah. Food explosion.

You’d never believe that my baby eats: palak paneer (indian spinach), tamarillo, brussel sprouts, persimmon


So the short story is: eating is really easy for us right now. Any place we go we can find things for her to eat, and she is loving experimenting with different textures and flavors. She can eat almost anything by herself even though she still doesn’t have any teeth at all.

So, is anyone out there doing BLW? How has your experience been? Any good ideas for breakfasts (we seem to do the same things all the time)? What’s the weirdest food your kid eats? And, most importantly, am I the only one whose 9 month old still wakes up about a million times a night?