Monday, January 31, 2011

"Snowfall of epic proportions"

That's what the National Weather Service, CNN, our local stations, and every meteorologist under the sun says we can look forward to today through Wednesday morning. 12-14", maybe up to 18" for those a bit farther south than we, and I'll tell you what - I am NOT looking forward to this.

But it hasn't started yet, so for now, I'll let it slide.

The only other thing I have going for me right now is a series I was apparently unaware of until today that aired on Showtime, hosted and written by the lovable and inarguably coarse Penn & Teller. It's called "Bullshit", and I will warn you right now (in case the title doesn't) that there is a lot of inappropriate language being tossed around, but that doesn't really bother me.

Anyway, they did an episode on circumcision. I'm an intactivist, meaning that I believe that RIC (routine infant circumcision) is not only morally wrong but that the vast majority of the claims arguing FOR it are incorrect and, quite simply, false. I don't buy that I should be chopping a functional, healthy, NORMAL part of my infant son's genitalia off because there's a possibility that when he's 80 he won't be able to or will choose not to properly clean himself and will end up with an infection. I don't think that saying my sons should look like their father is a viable reason to circumcise them. I don't believe that incomplete research studies done on ADULTS in AFRICA, where HIV/AIDS is unquestionably a serious problem, should have absolutely any effect on whether or not my son remains intact from birth. I believe that the spread of STDs and other problems can be combated by teaching our sons and daughters that condoms are a good thing and that safe sex is the ultimate best option if you're going to be having sex with someone you aren't committed to. Last, but not least, I believe that male circumcision is akin to female circumcision, which is given the far more frightening and accurate name of "female genital mutilation", and that it's a sad state of affairs when the bodies of our daughters are protected from this travesty while our sons are still at risk.

Anyway, back to the episode.

I ended up watching the third part of it on YouTube, but unfortunately the first two parts had been taken down. Why? Something about inappropriate content, which floored me since in the final part the viewer gets to look at (not without warning, mind you) the restored penis and foreskin of an older gentleman, and a portion of a circumcision video that does indeed show the unblurred genitalia of a newborn boy. Whatever. So I looked up alternate places to watch it, because I think this is a rather good, succinct way of putting how I feel about circumcision, and I've come up with this link that I think works. I hope works. The quality isn't that great, and you'll need to turn your sound up (and push the green "play" button, not either of the "low" or "high" quality buttons), but you don't need to sign up for anything or download any bogus malware codecs, so I think it's a pretty good option. The video's about half an hour long, and I HIGHLY recommend you watch it - at the very least, the screams of a baby boy being strapped down and having part of his penis lopped off will stick with you long enough that if you're on the fence about circumcision, you'll have no problem deciding it's a barbaric process.

I mean, come on. Even a good portion of the Jewish community, the original circumcising group, is beginning to phase out this antiquated, outdated practice of mutilating their baby boys. That should be enough to show the rest of us that this "trend" needs to end.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Welcome to Sunday!

Well, the start of another week is upon us, and we're that much closer to spring. Unfortunately, winter hasn't finished rearing its ugly head, and starting tonight the Midwest is supposed to start getting some pretty brutal weather, my area especially - although only an hour south the accumulation of ice goes up about half an inch, so maybe in all honesty I'm lucky that almost a foot of snow is the ONLY real problem in the forecast for us.

Don't get me wrong, I do love snow. At Christmas and Yule. Otherwise I'm 100% against it. In my mind, there would be no snow after New Year's day and spring would start sometime in February. The winter blahs hit hard around here, and the kids are getting stir crazy. I'd take them outside more often, but A has developed an aversion to snow, mostly because he has difficulty getting his little legs up high enough in boots to properly step over the snow and put his foot down again. He ends up falling a lot, which is admittedly hilarious because he gives in and starts crawling until he realizes that the snow is cold and wet, and he's actually IN it. Then the screaming begins. I'm hoping at some point he figures out how to walk in it, but I don't think that will happen until next winter. By that time he'll be two. Yikes.

In other news, today I'd like to bring to your attention this lovely article over at Spoonfed: it's about food dyes, and I seriously think that anyone worth their salt should check it out. It's "The color of trouble" and it's rather insightful, if I do say so myself.

Why do I bring this up?

I have two nephews and a niece, and they have issues with red 40. I don't remember if it's just one of them or all of them, but in all honesty, a sensitivity is a sensitivity, and it's easier on everyone involved to cut something like that for the whole family than try to limit it simply for one child. Granted, they're all old enough now to be able to tell whether or not a product has red 40 in it, or to read the label to find out if they aren't sure. But my kids aren't. Neither one can read yet (although G can spell out the words he sees and ask what they are), so it's up to Hubby and I to keep a watch out for what they're eating.

Unfortunately, food dyes are still an elusive additive that's hard to avoid when you don't have the spending ability to get the more expensive (and innately more healthy) organic/additive-free foods. Of course there are things like fresh fruits and veggies that don't (or at least SHOULDN'T) get clouded by massive amounts of dyes, but anything boxed or packaged today is almost guaranteed to be touched by a dye here or there, regardless of its eventual color. Bread, biscuit mixes, fruit drinks - even things that tote the label of "100% juice" - all have a dye here or there. And, as Spoonfed mentions, even things like mouthwashes and toothpastes and lotions and soaps are typically filled with dyes. And we use them on our bodies, and on our kids' bodies, and don't usually bat an eye.

So where does that leave those of us who can't always shell out the extra few bucks necessary to keep the dyes out?

Well, it leaves us inconvenienced, to a degree. Prepackaged foods are meant to make life easier and mealtimes faster. They're supposed to help us de-clutter our lives, but are the effects really worth it? Maybe. But probably not. A vast majority of the things that children eat that are riddled with food dye are things that aren't necessarily healthy for them in the first place - easier on parents, for sure, but not really healthy, no matter how many servings of fruits or veggies a serving of them supposedly replace. I'd go look through our cabinets right now to see how many things have food dye in them, but I worry that I would be completely disgusted but what I would see.

How do we get around this?

Well, first and most obviously by cooking homemade. Yes, it means more dishes and more effort and parents spending more time in the kitchen than they would probably like to. I know around here that Hubby is the main chef; I don't often cook, and when I do, it usually isn't anything like the admittedly awesome meals he makes (homemade chicken pot pie in heart shapes with actual hand-made dough?!) even if it's still at least edible. It means spending a little more at the store, maybe pre-planning meals for a week or two to make sure that when you go grocery shopping, you know that you're going to actually use the fresh ingredients you're buying there. It means doing things a little differently, but really, how much of a pain is it in the long run to do something that helps you AND your kids?

I think I'm excited about learning more about food dyes and just how bad they are for us, and then working harder to phase out the ones my kids still ingest on a daily basis. This should be fun.

Monday, January 24, 2011

My boys

Here is the small, sad, sick A:

 And the not-sick, big, rambunctious G:

Poor, poor baby

Yesterday everything was fine - but last night, A started spiking a pretty high fever and lost all interest in food. After doing all of the typical "bring down the fever" things I know how to do, and including infant off-brand Tylenol in the mix, he hit 103.9F - and we headed to the ER at 2AM. While we were there, he hit his highest fever yet of 104.9F. They did a chest x-ray, decided that he has very early pneumonia, and sent us home with azythromiacin and instructions to keep up the Tylenol. The poor kid has had a rough time of it, but so far the rest of us are still physically doing all right, and he's not dehydrated, even if he still isn't eating. He's still pretty lethargic, but at least now he's doing well enough that between naps and bottles and sad, sad faces, he's talking again and actually getting up occasionally and walking between Daddy and I.

So today's post will be short, and basically a big pat on the back for the Kawaii overnight dipes, because they are amazing and I am addicted.

I'm also in the midst of some pretty serious absorbency/stink issues that are making me insane. A has been in disposables the last couple of days as I power-wash and retest almost all our cloth to see if I've fixed the problem. It's a slow battle, one that is going to soon involve bleach in small amounts, as I feel I've tried everything else.

I'm also looking for fun ideas for G's fourth birthday party at the end of March. I need suggestions! Last year was the Wonder Pets. :D

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Attachment parenting: My wake-up call

When we first found out we were expecting G, I was 20 and in college. He was a "happy accident"; we had been preventing because we weren't prepared for a child, but obviously fate had other plans. We amassed all the typical baby-things, thanks to gifts from friends, like strollers and a crib and a walker and all sorts of things. We intended to share our bedroom because we had no choice, but we were solidly of the belief that babies slept in cribs away from their parents. I was all for a natural, intervention-free birth (which unfortunately ended up not being the case), and was happy to try breastfeeding, but I was sure that if neither worked out it wouldn't be a big deal. I wasn't even against c-sections necessarily because of the health benefits of a drug-free labor and birth for mom and baby, but because I was (and am) afraid of major surgery and its after-effects. The only even remotely "crunchy" thing that we intended on doing was keeping our son intact. Otherwise, we were pretty sure that we would be playing it by ear, and that we had made our solid parenting decisions, and that nobody had a right to tell me that I would more than likely change my mind once our child had arrived.

Oh, how naive I was.

I was less than a month short of 21 years old when G arrived on March 29, about two weeks before his estimated due date of April 16th, 2007. His birth was odd; my water spontaneously broke at about 2 AM on the 27th, and Hubby and I panicked and ran to the hospital after I spent a good half hour standing in the shower, leaking like nobody's business while he threw together bags and made a few phone calls. After that, we waited for 18 long hours to see if I would have any contractions on my own, and despite a number of positions tried and a lot of walking, we got nowhere. Without the help of any knowledgeable birth assistants, only the well-meaning hospital staff, and with the urging of my mother, we gave in and started the pitocin. Who knows if things would have been different if I would've had access to a doula. 36 hours after my water broke, G was born. His cord was wrapped once around his neck, his APGAR scores were great, and after being home less than 24 hours after being released we were called back in because he was heavily jaundiced. A lack of education and a lot of problems led to him being exclusively formula-fed before two months of age.

The strangest part came when we brought him home and all he wanted was to be held, hugged, and in constant contact with us. We tried keeping him in his crib at night, and were greeted by hours of high-pitched screaming from a baby who slept so much better when he was in our bed. He loved being in a carrier, loved being cradled and talked to, and generally messed up every preconceived notion we had about how a baby should be carried and where a baby should sleep. When he was in his crib he was miserable, angry, and never stopped crying. On more than one occasion of our attempt at getting him to sleep alone, he vomited on himself and his crib. I looked all of this up online after "giving up" one more time and bringing G into our bed again, expecting to be told to ignore my instinct to bring him back to our bed and to sleep with him safely beside me, sure that I would find page after page of parents who had experienced the same thing and had found some secret. I had no idea whether or not I was doing the right thing by calming my baby and myself by bringing him into our bed with us - I was just sure that it was somehow wrong. Babies belonged in cribs, right?

Except everything I found referenced my parenting preferences as "attachment parenting". I saw pages telling me I was right, and that I was following my parental instincts when I brought my son in to sleep with us. I learned about parents who had been in my shoes, who had been so sure of what should be done, only to find that things were completely different. I learned about parents who used the cry it out method of teaching newborns to sleep alone in separate rooms and cribs, about parents who left their babies alone to cry for hours on end and who offered no solace, no comfort when they went about cleaning up the vomit and tears that ensued. I began to feel as though leaving my baby alone in his crib to cry and scream was abandonment, that I was showing him he would never be able to depend on me or any other adult to tend to his needs when he was unable to do so himself. I began to inexplicably find myself getting angry when I read about parents who used CIO methods on their kids, who refused to carry their babies, who insisted that infants who bed shared or co-slept and who were carried instead of pushed around in strollers would become spoiled children and adults who were unable to care for themselves.

It became second nature for me to carry my son in a carrier. Although we no longer shared the bonding experience of breastfeeding, we bed shared and wore him, and found ourselves with a happier baby who tolerated us better, and whom we could in turn better tolerate. The screaming fits and long nights were over, the resentment was gone. The change was night and day.

So when we found about a year and a half later that yet another form of birth control had failed us, we didn't ask questions. The birth, while not completely intervention-free, went much better with the assistance of a local doula. Although we still had a myriad of problems with breastfeeding, we made it for months longer than we had with G. We wore him in carriers and slings, we used cloth diapers (and still do!), we fed him organic baby food and started solids with him on a case-by-case basis when he was ready for them, or seemed interested. Although we do all vaccinations but influenza, I learned significantly more about vaccines, their contents, and how they've changed in the last two decades. We bed shared from day one.

We are now the proud parents of two well-adjusted, happy boys. G spends most of the night in his own bed in his own room, now, but still comes into our room early in the morning and snuggles up in our bed with us. A sleeps in our bed still, and we expect he'll be closer to two years old before we start working on getting him into his own bed, too - about the same age G was when we started moving him into his own bed. Our kids are not spoiled, they aren't overly dependent on us, they aren't coddled. They are brilliant, both over the 80% range for height and weight, both well-proportioned. A will eat almost anything (I attribute this to a more varied diet while pregnant and the fact that he was breastfed longer), G is more picky. They are both ahead of their peers, both fearless, both amazing kids with wild imaginations.

And they have taught me that kids need their parents to care for them the same way we have for centuries: by using cloth on their bottoms, sharing cloth on our beds, and keeping cloth around them to keep them close to our hearts.

Monday, January 17, 2011

An open letter to Facebook

Recently, I've heard word that Facebook has been openly deleting the pages and profiles of users who have posted pictures of themselves breastfeeding their children. There are a few protest pages that demand these groups, profiles, and individuals be allowed back onto Facebook, or that their original profiles be restored, and I am inclined to agree 100% that Facebook has no reason to claim that these pictures overstep their terms of use. Breastfeeding is NATURAL, it is NORMAL, and it is NOT disgusting, nor should it be something that women should be discouraged from doing in public.

I am an intactivist. I am pro-breastfeeding, public and private. I believe in a baby's rights to be given the best they can get, and to remain healthy, happy, and whole.

That being said, I'd like to present an open letter that ANYONE is free to use to send their message to Facebook that breastfeeding is not inappropriate. Feel free to edit as you please, add your name, your own comments, and your own research - all I ask is that if you share it on Facebook or your blog, please do so with a link back here, so as I get my blog back up and running, I can help get the word out on my passions as well.

Here you go!

To the Powers that Be of Facebook,

Every day thousands of people around the world make choices as to what they include on their personal Facebook pages. Mothers, fathers, minors, and the elderly alike post pictures of themselves and their families, sometimes including scenes of both women and men wearing clothing that would be considered inappropriate in public. These scenes sometimes lead to employers choosing to terminate employees who shared inappropriate photographs on Facebook. There is no doubt in anyone's mind that Facebook is a very important, very influential social networking site, and that what is posted on an individual's profile can make or break the opinions of others.

We ask, then, in all seriousness, why Facebook does not seem to bat an eye at pictures of scantily-clad 16-year-olds wearing little more than they were born with, posing on beaches or in houses alike, but insists on immediately removing pictures - or deleting entire profiles - of individuals who include pictures of proud mothers nursing their babies.

Perhaps you aren't aware of the importance of breastfeeding. The WHO suggests that babies should be breastfed exclusively until six months of age, then continued with appropriate complementary foods up to two years of age. Breastmilk is the single most natural first food for any baby, promotes sensory and cognitive development, and protects the nursing baby against infectious and chronic diseases and can even reduce infant mortality due to common childhood illnesses. It contributes to the mental and physical health and well-being of the nursing mother, can help space out children, and can even reduce the risks of some types of cancer in the mother.(1)

The influences of breastfeeding also go well beyond the first few years of a child's life. Breastfed children have been shown to have lower blood pressure than their formula-fed counterparts, lower cholesterol, and higher performance in intelligence tests. There are fewer cases of obesity and type-2 diabetes among breastfed children.(2) These are effects that last well into adulthood and positively influence a child's life, without question.

Why, then, are breasts outlawed? Those of us who go out into public on a semi-regular basis are guaranteed to see more flesh revealed on any given day than we would on a typical breastfeeding mother. On TV, women bare themselves to make headlines - in real life, a breastfeeding mom bares a breast when necessary to feed her child. To be perfectly honest, those of us who have breastfed children are sick and tired - no, insulted and hurt - that Facebook goes as far as not only comparing us to underdressed teenagers, but has the audacity to treat us with more scrutiny. Breasts ARE NOT OBSCENE. A society that has been taught to overreact to any amount of flesh will quickly jump to accuse breasts of being wild, crazy partiers who just want to pass out on your couch for the night. Trust us, though: All they want to do is feed babies.

It doesn't matter what you call them. Breasts, boobs, tatas, whatever - they serve a purpose, an important one at that, and the other few million breastfeeding mothers out there who are feeding their babies as we speak would agree. Facebook has an opportunity here to speak out and help share the physical, mental, and emotional values of breastfeeding by doing nothing more than allowing us the same right you give to all the teenagers out there who would happily post pictures of themselves in bikinis (and in doing so actually show off far more skin than a breastfeeding woman can at any one time)! All we ask is equality and support. So what will it be? Will Facebook step up and acknowledge the importance of breastfeeding, and grant mothers and supporters the opporunity to share with friends, family, and the world how proud they are to be providing their children with the best and most natural source of nutrition out there? Or will you sit back and censor breastfeeding while gals in the Bahamas share bikini shots from the beach?

It's your choice. All we ask is that you do the right thing.


The undersigned

(1): WHO article on breastfeeding (
(2): Excerpt from WHO article, "Evidence on the long-term effects of breastfeeding" (

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Been a while!

Well, first of all, I want to sincerely apologize. It's been a while since I last posted anything significant, and I'm aware and ashamed of that. My original idea for this blog was to post at least weekly, if not more often, and I've been so caught up with life and everything it offers - and a lack of money that has made trying new items rather difficult - that I've neglected my sincere desire to post here and continue to review what I've got.

So, first and foremost, my most favorite topic of all: cloth diapers!

Okay, so you saw that coming. As a mom of an 18 month old who used disposables all the way through her first child (who is almost four), at this point, it's pretty much a guarantee that I'll be talking about diapers often enough to make non-parents scream, but they're a focal point of my life at the moment. A good diaper is hard to come by. They need to be taken care of, and when one ends up destroyed somehow it's either like the loss of a good friend or an opportunity to try something new and, potentially, better. And I'll admit, I've found favorites here and there, diapers I love and some that I simply hate.

Dipes I haven't tried yet
KaWaii Baby overnight diaper. I have one that I bought from Sara over at Cloth and Carry, and while she does have an online presence I'm lucky enough to live in the same city as her!

Dipes I've tried, and love
Thirsties Duo fitteds and covers. I obsess over these because the covers have the coveted LEG GUSSETS! Yes, leg gussets are worth it. Yes, they are amazing. And yes, they still fit my 26lbs, 34" long 18-month-old in MEDIUM! It's a small miracle, and makes me love these diapers even more than I did before. He will need to move up to the large size soon, but only because the mediums are almost too short - not because he lacks waist space. A somewhat smaller baby would easily be able to keep wearing these. I think he'll make it to two years in the medium dipes before a switch to the large size will be necessary. Just about any diaper will work under the covers, too, which means if you have a beloved fitted that needs a cover, all you have to reach for is a Thirsties cover and you're set.
FuzziBunz OS. I absolutely adore these diapers because of their versatility. They come with replaceable elastic for the legs so if you need more length, or if it breaks or stretches out, you've an extra set for BOTH legs. They're pretty sturdy diapers, well-constructed, and are soft both inside and out. Plus, their inserts are quite similar to the BumGenius microfiber inserts. Just about any insert will fit in here, and I actually love using the bamboo inserts from my Blueberry Minky dipes inside the FuzziBunz diapers - they're so trim this way! Plus, they have three snaps holding them on, so you're guaranteed to get an amazing fit on almost any size baby every time.

Dipes I've tried and are okay
BumGenius 3.0 OS. These are pretty good diapers, but not ideal in my opinion. I find that nearly anything you stuff them with makes them fairly bulky in comparison to the FuzziBunz dipes, and if you put in too many layers (even just their microfiber insert with a single soaker) the fit is horrible. The diaper ends up so bulky on A that he actually has gaps around his waist with it fastened on him as tightly as he is comfortable in, never mind that so much bulk means more of a chance of leaking in the legs. I've tried these as overnight diapers, and I have to say I wouldn't use them as such on a regular basis. I've also had problems with their hook-and-loop closures wearing out quickly - I have several dipes where it needs to be replaced ASAP. I haven't tried the 4.0 yet, and hope to before potty training.
WonderWrap OS covers. These are okay covers, but a lack of leg gussets (I'm so spoiled) and an unreliable fit around the waist means that they aren't my preferred line of defense against poo. I use them most often over prefolds with a Snappi. I do like the wider Velcro, though, and the waistbands are reliable when you finally get a good fit on them.

Dipes I've tried and dislike
Blueberry Minky OS with bamboo insert. These are adorable diapers in amazing colors and patterns, and they're incredibly soft, but they are also insanely overpriced. When I bought them, I think one was either $34 or $36, don't remember which now. I have two, and I don't think I'll get more. Each of mine has two snaps for the closure, which for us ends up meaning a pretty poor fit, and they become bulky quickly, moreso than the BG3.0 does. The inserts aren't bad, but one bad wash means they'll end up stiff and uncomfortable on your baby the moment they get wet. However, I do love the reverse adjustable snapping that they use on the inserts to fit them. I actually think I use the inserts more than I do the actual diapers.

Dipes I've tried and hate
GroVia OS with snap-in insert. I absolutely despise these diapers; for us they are a go-to when just about everything else is currently in a wash. I own all of one and will never buy more at this rate. They claim to have a reusable cover, but unlike the Thirsties covers that actually can be wiped clean and reused if desired, the GroVia diapers have a sort of cloth netting inside the cover that soaks in urine and poo the moment it touches the insert, rendering reuse a bad idea. The insert also bunches at the front with A, which may be partially because he's a boy and wets there first, but either way the insert doesn't soak in urine evenly. Plus, because the insert sits on top of the cover and has no elastic on either side to hold it to the baby, runny poop can be a total disaster. Overall, I'm not impressed, and wouldn't recommend them.
gDiapers. Okay, these were the first reusable diapers I tried, and I even made the effort to use them both with flats, prefolds, and the disposable inserts. And boy, do I have complaints! First, because any insert you use sits inside an elastic-sided snap-in "cover" for the cover itself (which is actually cloth and is not waterproof at ALL), any blowout will probably effect the entire diaper, which moots the point of being able to remove and exchange the snap-ins. Second, the disposable inserts are horrible at absorbing the runny poops of smaller, younger babies who are still mostly on breastmilk or formula. It really just sits there, which means you need to hope it isn't a blowout, and change that diaper ASAP or you're in for a LOT of diaper changes. Third, the actual cover isn't at all waterproof - yes, I already said that, but it's important enough that I feel I ought to say it again! It's a layer of cotton cloth, nothing more, so the moment it touches anything it can absorb, it does just that - which can lead to a lot of wet clothes. Prefolds were too bulky in these dipes, and flats did absolutely nothing - no style of insert helped prevent the blowouts and soaking issues I saw with the disposable inserts. My biggest beef with the disposables, though, was that even though they could be flushed, they had to be broken up first via a "swisher stick" used in the toilet - and they had to be ripped up first, before that. A total pain in the butt, and I would not recommend them to anyone personally.

So there's that bit. Hopefully I'll have the KaWaii dipe prewashed and ready to go tonight. I'm super-excited about getting to use the soap nuts I got from Cloth and Carry. I snagged a five-load sample pack for $4.49 so I could try them out before committing to them full time. I've been looking for a replacement ever since my Rockin' Green stopped doing what I need it to. Boo!