Thursday, December 22, 2011

And the winners are...

Thanks everyone for entering to win some great loot from PinStripes and PolkaDots!  The winners have been drawn and the names/profile names are below...

The following 3 cloth diaper fans win a wet bag from GroVia!
Jamie Fifarek
Allie
Talia

The following 4 mamas win a cloth changing pad from KangaCare, makers of Rumparooz!
Karen
Lisa Gesterling
Reyna Smith
Jamie Howe

Winner of a BumGenius Elemental AIO
Christine W.

And I added another...winner of a GroVia AIO
Beth O.

If your name was selected, please contact me with either shipping information/local pick-up arrangements.  Also send me the sex of the baby the diaper or accessory is for as I'll do my best to send you gender appropriate colors/patterns.

Congratulations to everyone and thank you to all of you who are now following my blog!  Check the sidebar (on the side) to see if your name is up there--if not then click "follow" on the blog so that you can be entered in to future giveaway--oh yes, there will be future giveaways!!

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Holiday Giveaway

For my blog followers, I'm giving away some nice stuff!  A BumGenius Organic Elemental AIO, cloth changing pad from Kangacare and GroVia wet bags...

Extra entries if you post any comment in the below blog entries...

And just in time for the holidays...remaining stock of all artist series BumGenius diapers are on sale and remaining stock of my GroVia shells and AIO in Cosmos and Ice.

And...a special coupon just for you.  Save 10% off your order of $50 or more by using coupon code BLOG10OFF at checkout.  Coupon expires on December 31st.

Winners announced on Friday!  Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from PinStripes and Polkadots, LLC!!!

Cloth Diapering on Vacation

So, have you done it?  Or are you afraid to do it?  I'll admit, I haven't been on a long trip where there wasn't immediate access to a washer/dryer so I cannot attest to cloth diapering on a long vacation but, I've done the long weekends, short weeks, etc. and I have to say---I love it.  It's so easy.

This past weekend we went to Chicago.  I brought the appropriate amount of diapers and stuck them into a large Planet Wise Wet Bag.  The handy-loop on the bag attached nicely to our overnight bag.  Once in the hotel, we stacked the diapers on the dresser of the hotel for easy access and then again, that loop on the Planet Wise bag came in handy as we hung it on the door of the closet.  Amazingly, even after a couple of days, the wet bag did not stink at all.  When I unzipped the bag to put a dirty diaper in it, of course it stunk to high-heaven but the zippered closure kept all smells at bay.

For a day out on the town when I didn't want to mess with any leaks, I stuffed a layer of Blueberry One-Size Bamboo Insert into my daughter's BumGenius 4.0 Pocket Diaper.  This is the same bamboo so many of my clients use at night.  Because the bamboo is so trim, it didn't make the bulky look or feel bulky.  My daughter drinks a lot of water in the morning and she pees a lot throughout the day.  We went nearly 5 hours and had no leaks.

Obviously for the diaper bag I had a Planet Wise medium wet bag, a small wet bag for cloth wipes and a cloth changing pad.  Next time, I'll probably grab my Planet Wise wet/dry hanging bag just so that I can keep all of her diapers, clean and dirty, together in one place.

So, comment below if you've used cloth on vacations and how it's gone for you!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Stripping

Yikes...keep your clothes on!  This is a family-friendly post about stripping our diapers of mineral build-up!

I receive so many emails from moms who tell me that their diapers are STINKY!  The minute baby pees in them, the ammonia smell is so strong that it makes everyone's eyes burn.  Yikes.  I've been there.  And I'm sure it's caused more than one mom to throw the cloth in and move to disposables.

There are a lot of, shall I write, opinions on how to best get rid of stink.  Enzyme cleaner, Dawn detergent, more detergent, less detergent, hot water, bleach, soak diapers in their diaper pail, vinegar...I could go on.  And if you tried all of the above at least once, you may find that your diapers smell better for maybe one wear and then the dreaded stink returns.

Why do our baby's diapers get liked that?  For the vast majority of us in the U.S., we have very hard water coming out of our faucets.  Rockin Green has a great map here that shows how much of the country lives with hard water.  It's what makes our skin, hair and even clothes look dull.  For our diapers, hard water is their nemesis.  The hard water, over time, causes little itty-bitty mineral deposits to cling to the fibers in the fabric of the diaper.  Those mineral deposits lead to detergent build-up thus causing stinky, eye-watering ammonia smell, possible repellency issues (meaning diapers don't absorb moisture well) and even really bad diaper rash (open sores, burns, etc.).

The best way to take care of these mineral deposits is to strip them away from the diapers.  Dawn won't work.  I don't recommend enzyme cleaners either.  I recommend a product made specifically to remove hard water minerals from your clothing.  Calgon Water Softener, RLR and Funk Rock are just a couple that I've had great success with.  Calgon can be purchased at most major grocery stores.  Funk Rock can be found at PinStripes and PolkaDots and RLR can be found on Amazon.

To use, simply load your washer up with hot, hot, hot water, (this is after an initial cold rinse on dirty diapers) add all of your diapering items and add ~1/2 the amount recommended on the label (use full amount recommended on Funk Rock).  Let those diapers soak for as long as your machine will allow.  Some of my customers soak overnight.  My washing machine will only allow for a 3-hour soak.  After soaking, let the machine spin the clothes.  Follow the soak with your regular wash routine.  I always throw at least one additional rinse at the end of my wash routine to make sure all of the water softener has been rinsed away.

That's it.  No bleach.  No enzymes.  No wet pail.  Easy as pie.  And what's great about having a water softener laying around is you can add it to your wash routine for your clothing and it will help brighten colors.  In general, my daughters diapers can probably use a mineral stripping every 1-2 months.  I've gone as long as 6 months.  I just know it's time when that really nasty ammonia smell is back.

Now I write all of this with the caveat that you can strip your diapers a million times but if your wash routine is off or your not using a good detergent, you will have stink issues more often and your kiddo may have some dreadful diaper rash.  Email me if you'd like to talk about a good wash routine or check out my website here.

Happy stripping!!

UPDATE**  The aforementioned methods of stripping works great!  But, as you probably know by now if you've practiced any of these methods, it takes a lot of time.  Since I wrote this blog post, a great new product arrived on my shelves from Grovia, Grovia Mighty Bubbles.  It takes the hassle out of stripping and works GREAT!


Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Ugly Side of Baby Care

Just last week, an article came out regarding the nasty carcinogens that Johnson & Johnson puts in their baby shampoo.  Read Article Here  In 2009, The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics released a report stating that Johnson & Johnson's baby shampoo still contained a formaldehyde releasing preservative as well as another known carcinogen.  So, after pressure from several groups, J&J removed the carcinogens from its shampoo in several countries.  But, if you want the carcinogen-free product here in the U.S, you must purchase their "Natural" brand of baby shampoo--the one that typically costs more.  If you like carcinogens, buy the cheaper yellow stuff.  Yeah, that stuff they give you at the hospital and bathe your baby in moments after he/she is born.

But wait!  J&J stated that they're working on getting rid of these nasty chemicals from their products worldwide.  Working on it?  Why was it there to begin with?  And why is it that the ingredient was in products sold in the U.S., China and Canada?  This is the same company that was just ranked as one of the most trusted brands in America.  The same company that plays sweet lullaby music while showing pictures of moms holding their newborns on their t.v. commercials.  The brand that is smacked all over every parenting magazine and newborn how-to-guides.  Their products are handed out at doctors offices and hospitals.  And they contain known cancer-causing carcinogens.  Nice.

So my thought is this--is J&J the only one?  Are they the only company in the U.S. selling baby products that include ingredients that are known carcinogens?  So I'm in the cloth diaper business.  What about my main competition--the disposable diaper companies?  How many of you have had the "gel" from a well-known disposable diaper company on your baby's bottom?  I just find it hard to believe that the major diaper companies are testing every single chemical and layer of synthetic fabric contained in their products for known cancer causing ingredients.  And perhaps, they know that some of the ingredients in their products are not safe for anyone, much less a baby, but that ingredient is cheaper, easy to produce and helps their bottom line.  Plus, people are buying it en masse.  A diaper that can contain 12 hours of urine??  Sure!!  It's convenient and cheap!  Let's buy it until we're blue in the face!!

I guess this is what led me to using cloth diapers and, in general, for choosing to use organic products on my daughter.  Sure, one less diaper in our landfill is much better for our earth but I had a hard time believing that the major disposable diaper companies truly had my daughter's best interest in mind when manufacturing their product.

Nearly all of the companies represented at PinStripes and PolkaDots are companies with a conscience. Most were started by moms who wanted a better solution for cloth diapering their child.  Most of the companies are small and genuinely care about the health and well-being of your little one.

Shame on Johnson and Johnson and any other company out there who care more about their bottom line than the health and well-being of our kiddos.

And if you want to read more about what's in most disposable diapers, read this.  Then call me and and we can talk cloth.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

A half-load or more!

So I've received many emails lately and customers are concerned with their diapers stinking, detergent perhaps not working, child mysteriously developing irritation...and it brought me back to a time not too long ago when I was in a similar boat.  Mariella's diapers stunk to high-heaven.  And it wasn't just when they were dirty.  They were stinky after a full wash.  Ah!  How frustrating!!  Well, by following a simple step, at least in my case, my problem was solved...

I actually started washing no less than 1/2 load of diapers.

Wow.  Really?  It's that simple?  In my case, yes.  And in quite a few cases, like the aforementioned emailed concerns, washing no less than 1/2 load of diapers at a time solved the problem.  Why?  There are a couple of reasons.  First, if you wash less than 1/2 load, there's not enough space in the washing machine for the diapers to weave in-and-out of other fabrics (or agitate) to get clean.  Second, there's usually not enough water either.  And third, typically we will use the same amount of detergent when washing 6-7 diapers as we would when washing 20-24 diapers.  In other words, WAY TOO MUCH!  And because there's too little water in the machine because we're washing too few items, the diapers aren't being completely rinsed of the detergent.  And that detergent build-up can cause stinky diapers, can actually ruin your diapers and can give your baby an irritated tush.

If you throw all of your diapers into the washing machine and there's no way that you'll make that 1/2 load marker, throw some towels in to the machine.  Or daddy's stinky sweat clothes.  Either one works fine.

For a far more complete guide to washing your diapers, including a very handy detergent chart, click here.  And the next time your diapers are stinky out of the wash or your baby's bottom is irritated, email me and we'll troubleshoot together.  But if I happen to be on holiday in Maldives for 2 weeks (hint-hint husband) and unable to check email, try washing a full 1/2 load.

The All Baby and Kids Expo...the aftermath

At the end of September, my mother (the babysitter), my daughter and I took a little road trip down to Louisville, Kentucky for the ABC Kids Expo.  This is a tradeshow dedicated to--you guessed it--all baby and kids products.  It was absolutely shocking to see how many products there are made specifically for our little kiddos.  From toys to strollers, nursing bras to apparel for children and yes, even diapers.  In fact, the Expo was held at the Louisville Exposition Center which provided ONE MILLION square feet of space.  And yes, all one million square feet were consumed by children's products.

I had a chance to see, touch and feel all of the new products by many of my vendors that I carry at PinStripes and PolkaDots including Blueberry/Swaddlebees, BumGenius, PlanetWise, Best Bottoms, WeeHuggers and many more.

So, because of this little trip, I've added many new products to the shop and we also have newer prints/colors in many of the products that you know and love.  Below is a list, with links, because to paste all of this on Facebook would be a bit extreme and take up much of your newsfeed :-)

*BumGenius 4.0 One-Size Pocket Diaper in Dazzle, Mirror and Sassy .  These have been added to the Bum Genius 4.0 "Buy 5 get 1 Free Sale" which goes until the end of October.

*New prints from Blueberry and Swaddlebees including Dinos, Tweets, Swirls, Monkeys and Butterfly, preview here

*New products from Thirsties including Booty Love, and new colors/prints for their diaper covers.  Also just in, the Thirsties Duo Diaper in Snaps.

*We all love bamboo--now bamboo 6r inserts specifically for your Rumparooz!

And should I mention companies new to PinStripes and PolkaDots?

*Pink Daisy mama cloths in stay-dry and organic cotton

*Pink Daisy Nursing Pads in organic cotton and bamboo

and last but certainly not least...

*FuzziBunz One-Size Elite

More new colors/prints to come from Planet Wise, Best Bottoms, BumGenius and Grovia!  Stay-tuned!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

A Note from Krista...

Hello!!  Let's get a couple of things out of the way.  A super brief introduction of who I am.

I'm a mom to Mariella Jane (MJ) who will turn 2 in October.  I'm a wife to Alex who (surprise!) works at State Farm.  Prior to mommyhood, I worked at Illinois Wesleyan as a recruiter and more immediately, as the head coach for the women's tennis team.  Before recruiting and coaching, I worked at State Farm as a public policy analyst and before analyzing, I worked on political campaigns for the Illinois House of Representatives.  Before politicking, I was a student at Illinois Wesleyan, Bloomington High School, Bloomington Junior High School, Oakland School and 2nd Presbyterian Preschool.  Yes, I'm a life-long Bloomingtonian, a "townie" and I love this community.  I've worn many hats, none as tough and rewarding as being a mom.  This new venture of owning a business is very exciting.

When I talk to moms who have relied on Sarah and Pinstripes and Polkadots for all of their cloth diapering needs, I hear the same word: accessible.  Sarah has made herself and her store accessible to so many moms with the sometimes overwhelming, but often fun "task" of cloth diapering their children.  She's answered these questions late at night after all four of her children are fast asleep and in the mid-afternoon when all four of her children are vying for her attention.  She's answered your emails and shipped packages overnight because your sanity depends on that hemp insert which will prevent you from changing sheets for the 5th time that week. To say the least, Sarah is someone that so many of us have looked to for guidance, expertise and patience--including myself.  I've had my share of stinks, leaks and a couple of rashes but every issue came with an answer and a resolution.

So the owner has changed and the address of the showroom has changed,  but I can assure you that the same level of service that you expect when shopping at Pinstripes and Polkadots has not.  I think I heard that on a t.v. commercial once--so perhaps a bit cliche but the truth!  It will take a lot of reading and more of my own children to know as much as Sarah does but I'm eager to learn from you and share the wonderful world of cloth diapering!   

In the coming months, look for some new and exciting things for you as a customer at Pinstripes and Polkadots including some new products from some of our favorite brands.  We'll launch a rewards program where you can earn points in the program by writing reviews of products on the website, by referring your friends to the shop and by purchasing products.  With these posts we have officially started our cloth diapering blog and will be looking for cloth diapering moms to be guest bloggers.  We'll also have great customer specials leading up to the Holidays and in the New Year.  

You can still contact me last minute if you need to stop by the showroom or call with an order and expect that order to be on my front porch for local pickup.  I'm an easy-going mom and am so excited to meet so many of you and share this passion of keeping our kiddos' behinds healthy and happy!

Krista Cardona

A Note From Sarah...

PinStripes and PolkaDots LLC can be found at a new location in Bloomington, IL. A local mom, Krista Cardona, purchased the business on 9-1-11.  I am excited about all that Krista will add to the business.  She is a wonderful mother who is excited to share her love of cloth diapering with others.  Stay-tuned as she has some fun ideas for the shop.  The PinStripes and PolkaDots Showroom can now be found at 9697 Windgate Dr, Bloomington, IL 61705.


After 6+ years managing the cloth diaper shop, I have met some of the most fabulous parents here in Bloomington-Normal and across the globe.  I have enjoyed hearing all about who was expecting, how the births went, meeting each little one as he/she came along, and how adjusting to parenting was going.  I will miss you all.  Some of you have become dear friends; some are now homeschooling like we are and totally understand that I don't have enough hours in a day to do it all. 


I started the business when I had a 2.5 year old and a 6 month old.  I now have 4 children 9, 7, 3, and 1 and find I am quite busy these days.  I will be working with Krista over the next 3 months to make the transition as smooth as possible.  She is a fabulous mother of 1 little girl but I should wait and let her introduce herself.


I can not express to you how happy I am to see PinStripes and PolkaDots LLC continue here in B-N with Krista.  I am sure that I will miss the shop, but I know I will miss you all more.  I feel my life has been enriched greatly by interacting with yours.

All the best,
Sarah Gesiakowski