the adventures of ernie bufflo

things magical and mundane


cloth diapering update: into toddlerhood

tips for cloth diapering toddlers // the adventures of ernie bufflo

I’ve written about cloth diapering newborns and infants, but I figured now that the girls are 17 months, it’s time for an update on the toddler phase of this operation.

I still LOVE LOVE LOVE my cloth diapers. I still think they’re no grosser or more difficult than disposables. I still think they’re 10 times cuter ;)

One new development: a diaper sprayer is a must in the toddler years. (I’m about to talk about poop. There’s no way around it. You’ve been warned.) While newborn and infant poop is water soluble, once baby is really eating solids, you’re gonna need to get most of that off the diaper before you wash it. For us, this was around 13 months. Of course, you could be lucky and just have a kid like one of ours (not naming names because they’ll be Google-able someday), whose poops are just little turds that easily roll off the diaper into the toilet. No sprayer necessary, pretty much ever, if that’s the case. But for our other kid, her poops are just a sticky mess and must be sprayed off. We have a sprayer from BumGenius, and my husband easily and quickly installed it on the toilet in the girls’ bathroom. It works great, just like the sink sprayer you probably have in the kitchen.

Also, toddlers pee more. Their bladders hold more, so you may find yourself needing to up the absorbency in your diapers. This is one reason why pocket style diapers are my favorite. It’s super easy to add an extra insert, preferably in a natural fiber like cotton, bamboo, or hemp, when you need to add absorbency, like nap time, or when you’ll be out and about. I like bamboo inserts from Alva Baby and hemp from Thirsties.

This also means you might have to find a new system for overnights to keep baby from waking up soaked. Our girls are such heavy wetters that I have yet to find a disposable diaper that doesn’t leak overnight, so even if we’re traveling and using disposable diapers, I put a cloth cover over the disposable to prevent leaks. Meanwhile, through trial and error, I’ve found cloth diaper systems that help them go more than 12 hours leak-free. For our heavier wetter, we use a Flip cover stuffed with one Flip organic overnight insert with a Flip stay dry insert over that. For the other girl, we use either a Thirsties Fab Fitted stuffed with a small Thirsties hemp insert inside a Flip cover or a Green Mountain workhorse fitted with a small Thirsties hemp insert and a fleece liner to keep her feeling dry (I cut up an old sweatshirt) inside a Flip cover.

Another new toddler cloth-diapering development is that Claire goes to pre-school:

Cloth Diapering and Daycare or Pre-School

When considering cloth diapers and daycare/pre-school, remember: it never hurts to ask, and the ask is easier if you Show And Tell. I asked if our pre-school would consider cloth diapering, and they said they were open to the idea. So I took in a few of our pocket diapers for them to check out. Once they saw they were all one piece, just like a disposable diaper, they said they’d give it a shot. And it’s worked out great! Some other things to keep in mind:

  1. Make it as easy on the caregivers as possible. For us, this means I take pre-stuffed pocket diapers all ready to go. I also don’t require them to spray poops or unstuff the diapers. Since their changing table is right next to a toilet, they dump the ploppable poops in the trash, then fold up the diapers and stuff them in a wetbag. I unstuff them when I get them home and throw them in the wash. I also didn’t try to rock the boat with cloth wipes. Just getting them to cloth diaper is enough for me! I also made sure the only diaper cream we provide is CD safe, which isn’t a problem because each kid supplies his own cream.
  2. Ask how many times a day they change kids, and send enough changes plus a couple extras. Our center changes kids every 2 hours, and she’s there from 8:30-3:30. I make sure they have 6 cloth diapers in Claire’s cubby at all times, along with a medium wetbag (we have 2 medium wetbags that get rotated according to which is in the wash).
  3. Make sure you tell them: “Put it on tighter than you think it needs to be.” I have found that putting on diapers too loose is the number one reason non-CDers have leaks when they try cloth diapers. I explained that the key to keeping wetness in was a tight seal around the waist and legs, and while they had a couple of leaks at first, our teachers eventually got it down. I also reassured them that a little redness from the elastic is normal, but we don’t want deep red marks.

Do you cloth diaper a toddler? Have any tips to share? Any questions?



cloth diapering: four new reviews

I’ve written before about cloth diapering newborns and infants, but since my last post on the topic was when the girls were 5 months old, now that they’re 18 months, I figured it was time for an update now that we are well into toddlerhood.

Today, I’m sharing some reviews of brands/styles we’ve tried since I last wrote about our cloth diapering methods. Tomorrow, check back for a post with tips about cloth diapering toddlers and cloth diapering at preschool or daycare.

Charlie Bananas OS pocket cloth diaper review:

I picked up two Charlie Bananas OS cloth diapers at Target during a clearance sale, for $5 each. Regular price is around $20 per diaper. I’m definitely glad I picked these up. Structurally, they’re like a hybrid between my Alva Baby diapers and my BumGenius 4.0 snaps. They have snaps more similar to the Alva, with double snaps on the tabs and hip snaps to prevent wing sagging, but there’s a flap over the pocket like the 4.0s. They also stuff from the front rather than the back, which is different from most diapers, but doesn’t seem to affect the operation much. I will say, the inners are fleece where the 4.0s are suedecloth, and the fleece is much softer to the touch. Since some babies have sensitivities to suedecloth, these might be a better alternative for folks with that issue. They came with two microfiber inserts, one small and one large, and recommend using both for babies of 4 months or older. Since I usually just use one MF insert in my pockets during the daytime, I have only been using the large insert, and it’s been just as absorbent as my other MF inserts that I use on their own. I see no reason to use both unless you have a heavy wetter, or for overnights or naps.

One thing that isn’t really an issue for me, but might be for some people is that instead of snapping to adjust the rise, the elastic is accessed on the inside and can be taken in or let out using a sliding buckle similar to a bra strap. I hated (HATED) the elastic adjustment on FuzziBunz (which, I hate FuzziBunz diapers in general), largely because the buttons are exposed and dig into my babies’ skin, and would probably not enjoy trying to adjust Charlie Bananas up and down either, but since we’ve got the rise completely let out on all our OS diapers these days, I don’t have to deal with it at all. Overall, these are a nice pocket, just as absorbent as any others I’ve tried, and the fleece inside is nice and soft. I definitely recommend them.

Here’s some photos comparing the Charlie Banana Pocket to some 2011 FuzziBunz One Size diapers.








Alva Baby diapers vs. BumGenius, FuzziBunz, and Charlie Banana

Another thing I’ve wanted to post about is how “Cheapy China” diapers from Alva Baby stack up to the more popular brands.

At less than $5 per diaper, Alvas are absolutely a great way to get a stash of pockets for very little investment. Sure, the website looks like it came straight from 1998, and free shipping from China seems sketchy, but they take PayPal, the shipping is slow but truly free, and they’re worth a try, whether you’re just filling out a stash, looking for a diaper to send to daycare, or buying all of your diapers.

I will say, they seem lower-quality than BumGenius or Charlie Banana, with flimsier fabrics, snaps that don’t match the fabric, and no flap over the pocket, but they’re perfectly serviceable, and none of those features are dealbreakers when you’re talking 1/5-1/4 the price of the “name brand” diapers. They only come with one insert, but they’re not leakier than others, and I recommend buying a few of their bamboo inserts, because those are super absorbent. Another thing: they seem to run a little bigger, particularly in the legs, than the others. This is great news for Claire and her luscious thighs, but this might be a problem on a skinny baby (though Etta is in the 5th percentile, and they work fine for her). And despite the flimsier feel of the material, these have held up just fine for us, unlike my Fuzzibunz, two of which have lost snaps.

Bottom line: Alvas are a great, cheap diaper and a great way to get the ease of pocket diapers on a budget.




BumGenius Freetime AIO OS diaper review:

Recently, BumGenius introduced the Freetime, an all-in-one diaper that essentially marries their suedecloth-topped stay-dry Flip inserts with their 4.0s to create a stay-dry microfiber diaper with sewn in flaps that eliminate the need for stuffing. I bought two on sale, and I like them just fine.

Pros: they’re a little trimmer than the pockets, and they’re a little more absorbent. You don’t have to stuff them, so they’re always ready to go.

Cons: again, this is less of an issue for us because we just use the diaper as-is without having to size down in the rise, but having to fold the flaps over could be annoying. They’re also harder to get on right, because the two overlapping flaps try to slide out the sides, and because if you don’t get the flaps laid down right, baby can be lying on the flap, preventing you from pulling the front up all the way– so they’re just tricky. My husband expressly avoids using them, because he doesn’t want to fiddle with making sure the flaps aren’t peeking out the leg holes. Also, if kiddo poops in the diaper and you’re trying to spray it out into the toilet, the flaps flop around and have been known to make the process difficult.

Overall: I like these diapers fine, and not stuffing is nice, but I still prefer the pocket style of the 4.0 because there are no flaps to fuss with, and because it’s easy to customize the absorbency with added inserts.

Cloth Swim Diapers:

First of all, if you have toddlers in warm weather, you MUST have a kiddie pool. Mine were a little young/unsteady as walkers to enjoy splash parks this summer, and we don’t have consistent access to a real pool, but the girls have LOVED their kiddie pool. Not sure why it took me so long to get one.

Now, you can use an unstuffed pocket or just a diaper cover as a swim diaper, because all a swim diaper does is contain poop. Yep, even your disposable swim diapers which immediately become waterlogged when you get in the pool aren’t absorbing any pee. At first I was just using Flip covers, but those are kind of clingy, and I don’t think wet PUL clinging to my skin would be very comfy. Then, at the same Target clearance sale I mentioned above, I found Charlie Banana swim diaper/training pants on sale for $3.50. So nice. They look more like little swim bottoms, and have a cotton liner and a drawstring at the waist. Also, they pull double duty as waterproof training pants when potty training time arrives. I highly recommend them. I’m even thinking about starting to stock up on them to use as training pants when the time comes, because I like them better than any other trainers I’ve seen.

The pink diapers on the right are the swim/trainers.

The pink diapers on the right are the swim/trainers.


two years ago, there were TWO

On this day in history, Jon and I went to my first prenatal appointment. 8 weeks pregnant, and so excited to hear our baby’s heartbeat and get the official confirmation that we were indeed having a baby.

Because the doctor was a friend, she gave us a quick ultrasound so we could peek at the baby. She jiggled the wand a bit and showed us a little blob inside a bigger blob on the screen. “There’s your baby,” she said. We heard the thump thump thump of the heartbeat. We watched the blob for a bit, tears in our eyes, and then she jiggled the wand again and said the words that I will never forget:

“And now we’re going to take a look over here at baby number two.”

I said: “SAY WHAT?”

And sure enough, there was another little blob inside a bigger blob, thump thump thumping away.

My sweet husband, who had suspected he saw another blob before the doctor showed me, well, his first words on the subject were, “You’re going to get soooooo big,” squeezing my hand.

I just kept saying “WHAT?!”

Twins had not even been on my radar. It never even occurred to me to think or fear the possibility. On the way out of the doc’s office, we started calling friends and family, and to a person, they all thought we were joking. I kinda felt like the universe was joking.

To anyone newly pregnant with twins out there, let me tell you, the shock is normal. I think we just kept saying “Holy shit,” to each other for a couple of months. And let me also say, it’s normal, I’ve learned, to have many complicated feelings about the whole twins thing. I really think I had to mourn the loss of a normal pregnancy, of the images I had in my mind of one newborn and a lot of snuggling and gazing into each other’s eyes. I only ever typed or thought of the word as “TWINS?!” for months. And some days I still can’t believe that I have two babies.

Mostly, though, I can’t imagine not having twins. There has never been one without the other, from the minute I saw them on that ultrasound screen. There is no Claire without Etta and no Etta without Claire. While I can honestly say that there is much of the exhausting early days I barely remember because of the mind-numbing sleepless HARD of it all, this twin gig keeps getting better. They ask for each other. They wake up talking to each other in the mornings. They tickle each other and hug each other and kiss each other, and yes, bop each other on the heads and steal each other’s toys and pull each other’s hair.

It’s been a crazy ride from blobs to baby buddies, but it’s also been a beautiful one. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

twins ultrasound 8 weeks






“Just ask Cinderella; the right pair of shoes can change your life!”

I once gave my fashionista sister a card that said that, but I think my Etta baby would agree. Girl is shoe OBSESSED.

While many parents battle toddlers to get shoes on and kept on, mine is constantly bringing me shoes, holding up her tiny foot, and demanding I put it on. Sometimes her shoes, sometimes mine. Today, she took the silver patent leather Birkenstocks right off my feet. And she’s not too concerned with matching shoes, either– one shoe, two different shoes, these are valid options.

I’m not kidding about the tiny feet, either. She’s 17 months old, and she wears size 2 shoes, or a 6-12 month size. We’ve hung out with other kids her age, and their feet are no joke, twice the size of hers. This means occasionally, shoes fall right off her feet. Just the other day, I had to go back out to some steps, where little Cinderetta had lost a silver slipper.

Wearing one red sparkle shoe, wielding a toothbrush, fleeing a very giggly speed-crawling Claire. Just a typical afternoon in the Bufflo home.

Wearing one red sparkle shoe, wielding a toothbrush, fleeing a very giggly speed-crawling Claire. Just a typical afternoon in the Bufflo home.


the bufflogals’ new room

We’ve been in our new place a few months now, and it’s finally getting into a state where I’d be willing to show you guys what it looks like. I figured I’d start with the cutest room: Etta’s and Claire’s.

Here’s the before:

The walls and ceilings of every single room in the new house were beige. We had all of them painted!

And here’s the after:


If you’ve seen the girls’ room in our old house, there’s not a lot different in terms of actual stuff, but with light purple walls, the whole space feels so much lighter and more fun than the dark blue floral wallpaper in our old rental.



Here you see a prime example of my half-assed gallery wall methods. Some blogs will give you a tutorial for measuring and laying out a mathematically perfect gallery wall. I am not that girl. I just sort of eyeballed it. I think it turned out OK. The Vonnegut quote canvas is up a little high, but it has to be to keep little hands from grabbing at it when changing babies on the changing table.


My husband built the toy shelf, and the changing table was a dresser found by the curb in our neighborhood.



I made this origami lampshade, and it’s one of my favorite things in the room.


does it get easier?

The title of this post is something I’ve been asked by twin parents a little behind us in the journey. It’s something I asked other twin moms when I was lost in the sleepless fog of new twin babyville.

And oh how I want to hug all new parents, but especially twin parents, and just say, yes, it gets easier. Because sometimes you just desperately need to believe it will.

But really, the thing I keep thinking, about life, about parenthood, is not that it gets easier, but that it gets different. And each time it gets different, you get different too: you learn, and adapt, and find strategies, and just as you master whatever it is, it gets different again. But the thing is, through all the changes, you get stronger, tougher, better, and you’re able to more confidently deal with all the change.

A friend reminded me on Facebook recently of a phase I did not love. It’s that point where your baby figures out how to pull up to stand, but still can’t get down. And baby is SO EXCITED about this new standing skill that she wakes up in the middle of the night just thinking about standing. So she stands in her crib. And then she realizes she is stuck and freaks the freak out. Which means lots of midnight wakeups for dear old mom and dad. And so, for a few weeks, we had to keep lying her back down, patting her back, singing her songs, while she struggled to get up and stand again, over and over, until she finally crashed. It was really frustrating.

But here’s the thing: that never happens anymore. Now we’re just getting middle of the night wakeups because Etta’s too busy cutting teeth and thinking about walking to sleep, and Claire’s been sick, and, well, see what I mean? It got different. It’s still hard.

I think the key, the thing that I can tell new parents, singleton and multiples, though, is that the rewards get greater through all the change and all the hard. In the very beginning, you’re just living for the point when they finally finally just smile at you. And that smile is amazing. It’s like the payout for 2 months of sleeplessness and spit up and practicing all those 5 S’s.

And it only gets more rewarding from there. They, your favorite little humans, just keep becoming more fascinating, more capable, and more interesting, more like actual people. The biggest thing for me as a twin mom is, my kids are becoming actual siblings who talk to each other and play together, and that bond forming is just a joy to behold. Sure, there’s lots of hair pulling and fighting over toys, but that stuff is far outweighed by the heart-melting awesome that is watching my two kids pass food back and forth in their high chairs, babbling to each other. Or when Claire actually asks for Etta by name, and Etta turns to her, and they laugh and laugh.

So maybe it does get better. Still not sold on the easier, though ;)

Teamwork: working together to open the drawer and remove all the diapers inside. Sibling love!

Teamwork: working together to open the drawer and remove all the diapers inside. Sibling love!


bufflogals in toyland


The picture of the girls playing that inspired this post. Etta is playing with a Janod pounding toy, and Claire is playing with a Plan Toys shape sorter.

A friend asked on Instagram if I’d consider doing a post about the bufflogals’ toys, and her wish is my command.

She noticed that the gals’ toys are generally wooden and rather atypical from what is generally on the market for babies and toddlers. This is by design. I want our home to be peaceful and happy, stimulating but not overstimulating, full but not cluttered. And if it’s not too much to ask, I want the stuff we bring into it to look good! This extends to the choices we make for our girls’ toys. While I have only begun to educate myself on things like Montessori and Waldorf, my general inclination and instinct is that their toys should be about them using objects to educate and enjoy themselves, not just being entertained by lights and music and bells and whistles. For us, this means nothing that lights up or makes sounds, pretty much nothing battery operated, and very little plastic. Again, this isn’t because of any particular ideology, but just the result of me following what feels right for me and my kids. I’m not in any way saying other sorts of toys are bad, but this is just where we’re at and what we want for our home.

Etta and Claire have two main play spaces, their room and our den. In each space, it was important to me that the toys be arranged where they could get them out themselves (and eventually, put them up themselves), and to have things displayed and accessible rather than buried in a bin under a million other things. Things they can see actually get used, whereas things in a giant pile get forgotten.


Here you see the girls’ play space in our den. The shelf and tent are both from Ikea, and my mom found the chairs at a flea market. They have a little white table that goes with them, but it’s being used as a side table until we find an actual side table to go next to the couch. Also pictured is the Little Wheely Bug, which I found for a steal at a local consignment sale. Etta’s just now able to really start to use it at 15 months, and it’s the smaller size. The green-sided walker was a Christmas gift, but I have to say, I’m not as crazy about it as I thought I’d be, as it seems more prone to tipping, though they still sit in front of it and play with it. I REALLY love the walker wagon Claire’s kneeling with, which is a brand called Janod from, which along with Amazon is one of our main toy sources.


Here’s a closer view of the toy shelf. You can see the small Plan Toys shape sorter, a Janod puzzle, a couple of Melissa and Doug sorters, some Ikea pots and pans, and our collection of musical instruments. Etta demonstrates one of her favorite activities, taking all the books off the shelf.

This is the contents of the musical instrument box. Most are Hape, purchased via Amazon. The shaker eggs aren’t actually toys but legit musical instruments, but the girls love them.


I really love these alphabet blocks from Janod.


The Janod walker wagon in action. As you can see, it can support Claire’s weight, and even without anything in it, is super stable for kids just starting to walk, not prone to tipping.


We’re big fans of this collapsible tunnel, a gift, which folds nicely when we’re not playing with it.


Here the girls are playing with our one and only noisy toy, the flowers, which are Lamaze brand. You can see the Hape shape sorter and some Melissa and Doug food. Our Ikea baby gym, now useful as an object to pull up on, is in the background.


Little Wheely Bug in action, with a push from sister.

A rare exception to my no-plastic rule: this Little Tykes rocking horse. It's perfect for little toddlers because it's low enough that they can get on and off themselves, and the seat has a back, which keeps them on it. And I think it's not bad looking.

A rare exception to my no-plastic rule: this Little Tykes rocking horse. It’s perfect for little toddlers because it’s low enough that they can get on and off themselves, and the seat has a back, which keeps them on it. And I think it’s not bad looking.


Here you can see the girls’ very messy room, and the toy shelf their daddy built for them. In the bin on the bottom left are wooden blocks that belonged to me as a child, and in the bottom right are little things we’ve collected along the way, like Ikea stacking cups, a Melissa and Doug pull toy, their Kathe Kruse dolls, and their Taggies toys. You can also see some soft books, a Melissa and Doug bead maze, a Skip Hop stacker pull toy, and an Ikea stacker toy. (Also, please note that Claire has pulled herself into a kneel, a big deal, which is why this picture was snapped in the first place.)

Basically, what I look for in a toy is this:

  • Is it kid powered? If it requires batteries, I don’t want it. (I took the batteries out of these toy keys before I ever gave them to the girls. They still love them.)
  • Is it used BY the kid, or does the kid just watch it go?
  • Does it help hone skills or encourage creativity or imaginative play?
  • Does it make noise? I’m fine with instruments the girls use to generate noise, but I don’t want to hear bad midi files of classical music. I’d rather put on my old iPod, which I’ve loaded up with tunes for the kiddos.
  • Is it possible to find this made of wood or other natural materials?
  • And, generally, is it fairly gender neutral? I’m fine with the girls playing with dolls, etc, as they get older and ask for such things, but in the meantime, I see no reason to push them toward gendered objects.

Some brands we like: Hape, Manhattan Toy, KidKraft, Plan Toys, Janod, Melissa and Doug, Haba.

A few people who have visited our house have asked how we got all the grandparents and other relatives on board with this plan. The truth is, I grew up with these sorts of toys, so my parents were all about it from the start, and everyone else has been pretty happy to shop from the Amazon wish list I keep constantly updated for Christmas and their first birthday.

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Claire CRAWLS!

20130703-114050.jpgIf you’re following me on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram, you’ve already seen the bragging, but I have to share this with my blog friends too: Claire crawls now.

She’s been trying for a long time, months, and working on her skills in PT, but all she was really doing was lunging forward, ending up on her belly, scooting backward when she meant to go forward, and barrel rolling. She managed to combine those skills to get pretty much everywhere she wanted to be, but she watches Etta, and she knew crawling was the way to go. (Etta’s not walking yet at 15 months, though she cruises like a champ and could let go and walk right this minute if the thought actually seemed to occur to her.)

Then we got the shunt exactly a week ago, which removed a lot of pressure from her head/spine, and her neurosurgeon told us to fully expect faster progress in the mobility department. Which, I’m not saying correlation equals causation, but it sure seems to have worked. Yesterday was the first day her PT noticed her using her hip flexors, and yesterday she finally got her legs into the crawling equation and took off. She’s got forward motion and is also pulling up to her knees using the furniture.

Yesterday with her braces on and her therapist holding her arms, she also took actual steps, demonstrating she has all the components necessary to walk someday. Which just makes me want to say “HA!” to a certain rehab doctor who, about a year ago, after a VERY short exam, and ignoring our statements that Claire moved her legs intentionally, declared she would never walk. (Meanwhile her orthopedists have long said that she would, so we chose to believe them.)

I’m confident that Claire has had these abilities all along. It just took her a while to make the connections and figure it out, and while she may need a little extra help, she gets there. And she’ll keep getting there.


Got it!


Claire is doing great

Just woke up from as good of a sleep as one can hope for in a hospital, cuddling my Claire Bear all night. She came through surgery like a champ, waking up happy after anesthesia, and generally being the most chilled out kid who just had brain surgery anyone has ever seen. Her surgeons say everything went great, and judging by the pressure her cerebral spinal fluid was under, it really was time for us to do this VP shunt. She probably has been having a headache from the pressure lately and we didn’t even know it. Now, her head should stop growing so quickly and the rest of her should catch up.

We’re super grateful for the excellent care we’ve been getting, as well as all the love and support from folks like you. It looks like we will go home this evening.





surgery for Claire tomorrow

I’m back from an amazing weekend in NYC helping my sweet sister Jessica shop for a wedding dress. Now it’s back to reality in a big way because Claire the Bear is having surgery tomorrow. She’s having a shunt placed to help treat her hydrocephalus (the fluid that builds up in her head because of her spina bifida), which has gotten to the point of causing fluid to build up in her spine. This is called a syrinx, and because it could compromise her mobility, we have to finally do the surgery this time, almost exactly a year after we first thought we’d be getting it done.

I’m glad we could wait this long. Since she’s older, the procedure is much less risky than it would have been on a tiny baby, and that’s always good news. We trust our surgeon completely and know she will be in the best hands. All you lovely folks: please be praying for or sending positive thoughts her way, whichever you do. Thank you for always cheering Claire on. She will be in the hospital overnight, but it should be a fairly quick recovery, so let’s hope that’s true!



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