Tuesday, July 16, 2013

everything you ever wanted to know about sustainable baby butt

I promise I'm not only going to blog about baby and pregnancy-related stuff for the rest of my life, but I had a really hard time finding easy-to-follow information about this, and I get a lot of questions from people who are curious about it.

Cloth diapering was terrifying when I was pregnant. Mostly because I did things like watch ALL of Katie Kimball's diaper review videos and read her tomes on every. single. diaper. ever. So many choices! So many "systems"! So many ways to get poop on my hands! (But she does give you a lot of information, so if you're not scared, I recommend a look.) But it really hasn't been a big deal. And all those fancy systems are a waste of time. Cloth diaper + cover is all you need. Old school. Eff that other mess.

Here are our supplies:
-Prefolds (flats) and Fitteds, size newborn and up, by Cloth-eez
-PUL (waterproof) covers, via CraigsList. No-names with a "minky" outer layer. They have snaps to size up or down and theoretically fit newborn all the way through potty training.
-Cloth wipes. I got a stack on Etsy, but going forward I'll just cut up The Foliage's worn-out undershirts or whatever other useless fabric we have around.

The laundry process, happens every other day or every third day:
1. Dirty diaper (the cloth part always, and the cover only if poop got onto it or it smells bad) goes straight into the wet bag. Once baby's eating more than breastmilk, diapers will be rinsed into the toilet before going into the bag.
2. Cold-water rinse everything, including the wet bag, no detergent
3. Hot-water wash everything with diaper-appropriate detergent
4. Additional rinse, hot or cold, whatever, also this is optional if you're short on time
5. Transfer everything except PUL items (the covers) to dryer - PUL items lay flat to dry, (heat breaks down their coating and makes them not waterproof anymore)
6. Highest heat dry everything else, two rounds (our dryer sucks). I'd like to start line-drying but I never finish the washing part before most of the sunlight's run out.

This has been our timeline so far:
-At birth, was almost 8 lbs, wore disposable Swaddlers. Meconium is the first poop you'll see and it's nearly impossible to wash out. We have a friend who spent the first day of his son's life taking steel wool to his chest hair after holding the newborn. The stuff is terrible. (We also put straight olive oil on our kid's diaper area to help it not stick - reapplied every diaper change.)
-Once the meconium was done, we switched to newborn-sized diapers. She was around 10 lbs. These fit AL until she was about 6 weeks old.
-At 6 weeks, started using size small diapers.
-She's now (3.5 months) outgrowing the smalls and is mostly in medium-sized diapers. I think she weighs 15 lbs.

Other information:
Overnight she wears the fitteds because they have sewn-in extra layers, and babies tend to wet really heavily overnight. During the day she usually wears prefolds because they hold in mess better - her legs (though sufficiently roly poly) are too skinny, so the fitteds leave too much gap. We COULD get fitteds without snaps and use Snappis with them, but then we might as well just use the prefolds. I use the "jellyroll" method in this video. I'd recommend having 12-18 diapers of each size. We have 12 prefolds, plus a few fitteds, and that seems to be plenty for now. We have 12 covers but probably only need 6.

I think that's it! Good luck and godspeed.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

i always have a reason to be on edge

Here is the number one thing I've learned about parenting so far:

It's harder to take care of the things you took care of pre-baby. But it's also just as important as the new job of keeping a baby alive.

Going to the store is harder, but I need fresh foods. Conversations with The Foliage are interrupted, so we have to force ourselves to ignore her for a little while and finish talking. When she (invariably) cried while I'm mid-workout, I have to keep going. It's important to stay healthy, even if I'm incredibly distracted during the ab portion of the DVD.

OK, so that's part 1. That maintenance of my own health has become a lot more difficult, but maybe even more important than it used to be.

Part 2 is postpartum depression. Do I have it? I don't know. The symptoms of PPD are the same as regular depression, only with baby-specific stuff added (difficulty bonding with, thoughts of harming). I've dealt with regular depression for my entire life, so I don't know whether my feelings are just THAT or this new deal. Also most of the markers for PPD seem to be...things inherent to early motherhood. This shit is ISOLATING. Even though I'm around people every day. Even though I go out of my way to get out of the house and visit, I still feel alone most of the time. Changing and washing all of the diapers every single day and being responsible for all of the food will do that, I guess. This non-villagey child-rearing business is just sadness central. 

Also - and let's get this RIGHT out of the way - I love my kid. She's so great! She is incredibly squishy, and makes hilarious noises at me, and I experience palpable relief when she poops, and when she puts her tiny arm around my neck it's the greatest thing that's ever happened. But have I imagined throwing her in frustration more than a few times? Um. Yes. 

And I feel like that's not something you're allowed to say! All the other moms I know express only adoration for their babies, and are able to not take their babies' actions personally ever. I don't know how. I exclusively take her actions personally. Tell myself not to, but ugh! It's pretty tough.

But then on the other hand, I don't. There are plenty of times I look at her, and she's totally alien to me. I am acutely aware that she's going to grow up, and leave, and be a sexual person, who will experience things I wouldn't have chosen for her. And for now I'm totally fine with that. I don't feel like she's MINE - she belongs to the universe. I'm just her guardian. And most of the time I respond to her, not because I have a biological imperative to make her life OK, but because I don't want to get in trouble. Like CPS is listening with a glass up against the door. If there were no risk of people hating me for being a bad mom? I don't know. I really don't. This being the center of someone's universe stuff is so intense and draining. And I have a pretty easy baby! She sleeps so much! She doesn't mind noisy places! I can't imagine dealing with a kid that has actual issues.

So I'm thinking I'm on the precipice of PPD. That's my self-assessment. And the very best way I know to stay afloat during depressed periods is to eat healthily (Paleo or Weston A. Price), so I've been doing a Whole 30 for the past month. I started working out (Barre) 9 days after AL was born, and 6 weeks ago we started doing Insanity

It's been intense. I've gotten into maybe the best shape of my life, but it's also unsustainable. And we're about to go to the beach for 2 weeks. Vacation = all work lost. Every time. Which means I'm analyzing photos of the beach house's living room to see what workouts will be possible there, and noting where all the grocery stores are and what kind of products they carry, and debating whether or not to bring the crockpot with us.

But. You know. Necessary or whatever. So.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

two dew

The Foliage and I were both raised by pack rats. Which is nicer, pack rat or hoarder? Hoarder sounds less derogatory, but now it's a frigging show that exploits people's pain and psychological issues, so THAT doesn't seem very polite. 

In any case, we have grown up with...stuff. Oh so much stuff. And while we have both made huge strides in being able to identify and remove the unnecessary, it's still really hard. And we end up with stuff. Still. We live in a 2 bedroom single family home WITH a basement, and that basement is nearly full. How? HOW??? Well, it's partially my deal, because I was going to start a business of vintage rental items once* and the remnants of inventory are down there. And also a largish portion is my crafty and sewing supplies. Which is basically a section of one thousand percent potential!! You can eliminate papers in your home, but which is less wasteful: recycling them, or transforming them into paper mache? Every single person on the planet wants a picture frame lacquered with their bank statements, probably.

Some of the things down there are The Foliage's, I swear. Well. They at least fall under the "both of us" heading. If nothing else.

So I started doing this decluttering project last year before we moved, and it was great. I eliminated tons of duplicates and things we never used...from the kitchen. Then I mostly stalled. But I'm gonna do it again! All the way this time! Here's my day-by-day plan, for the next 40 days(** items are my notes to the original author's list):

1. Kitchen drawers- Cutlery and cooking utensils.
2. Kitchen cupboards- All cupboards with eating dishes (plates, glasses, china, wine glasses, 
etc.) and storage containers (like Tupperware or Pyrex containers).
3. Kitchen cupboards- All cupboards with cooking items (pots, pans, casserole dishes, baking 
trays or pans) as well as small appliances (blenders, food processors, toaster ovens, etc.).
4. Kitchen drawers- Any junk or miscellaneous drawers.
5. Kitchen linens- Dish towels, cloths, rags, oven mitts, napkins, tablecloths, placemats. 
6. Kitchen "other"- Water bottles, reusable bags, lunch boxes and containers, cleaning 
supplies, anything else you store in the kitchen that isn't covered somewhere else 
on the list.
7. Kitchen cookbooks and recipes. **This will be Library Day 1
8. Videos, DVDs and CDs. **This will be Library Day 2
9. Your desk or work area. **If necessary, Library Day 3
10. Childrens books- Day 1 **Replace with potting/gardening center planning/creation
11. Childrens books- Day 2. **Clean out purse? Or continue with gardening ish. 
12. Adult books- Day 1 **Clean out the refrigerator
13. Adults book- Day 2. **Go through food cupboards 
14. Medicine or vitamin/home remedies cabinet or cupboard. You could also tackle your 
First Aid kit on this day. 
15. Children's art work, certificates, special notes or cards, etc. **We have none of this. AL has done zero cool things so far. Maybe order some photo prints.
16. Magazines and newspapers. **Photos seems like a good idea. Work on albums for family FINALLY.
17. Decorative items in living areas.
18. Furniture. Walk through the house and, room by room, assess whether there are 
unnecessary furniture items that can be removed. Either move them into your "stuff" 
storage area today OR make a list of the items that need to be dealt with as you prepare 
for your garage sale, donations, etc. at the end of the 40 days. **We did this before the baby was born. Anything we don't want is already in the basement, several items were sold on CraigsList.
19. Clothing- Kids dresser(s)- Day 1. 
20. Clothing- Kids dresser(s)- Day 2. **Kid's clothes will MAYBE take up one day. I'll start on whittling and sorting my wardrobe.
21. Clothing- Kids closet(s)- Day 1. **Day 2 of my wardrobe.
22. Clothing- Kids closet(s)- Day 2. **Bar cart/wine rack
23. Clothing- Master bedroom closet. **All our clothes are in Ikea wardrobes, so the master closest is really AL's stuff, plus miscellaneous baby gear, plus a few boxes we never unpacked from our last place.
24. Clothing- Master bedroom dresser(s). **Nightstands I guess.
25. Bathroom #1. Towels, cupboards, drawers, toiletries, empty bottles- anything you can 
think of. **There's no storage in our bathroom. So. Straighten up I guess.
26. Bathroom #2. Same as yesterday, but different bathroom. **Linen closet
27. Entry, hall or mudroom closet (where you keep jackets, winter gear, backpacks, etc.).
28. Shoes. **I think I'll have done this during my wardrobe cleansing
29. Garage- Day 1. **Ugh. THE BASEMENT. Do shelves on either side of the freezer. 
30. Garage- Day 2. **Basement Day 2: Outdoorsy stuff.
31. Craft or sewing supplies. **Basement Day 3: FINE I'll get rid of some of my stash geez
32. Laundry room. **Basement Day 4: Laundry and surrounding area
33. Linen closet. **Closet in guest room
34. Backyard shed. **Return to basement: Home maintenance/workbench
35. Homeschool supplies OR kid's school supplies and backpacks. **Ummm...car?
36. Holiday supplies and decorations (includes Christmas ornaments and decor, as well as 
other holidays, and you could also include things like gift wrap). **Sort the dreaded china into their sets. Note names of sets and what they include.
37. Kids toys- Day 1. **We have one tiny shelf of toys. And some stuffed animals. I'm good with it. Maybe I'll hang art in the nursery. Or list china on CraigsList.
38. Kids toys- Day 2. **More art hanging 
39. Closets. **Closets are done. Photograph and list sellable items on CraigsList. Hang art. 
40. Any area of your home that hasn't been addressed yet. OR use this as a catch-up day for a 
task that took longer than you thought it would. OR, if you're done decluttering, use this 
day to begin to organize your garage sale and donation items. 

There are a LOT of things on here that can be combined or skipped, I think. It might only take 2 or 3 weeks, if I get crazy and do more than one item at a time. After this is done, major to-do items are: creating a filing system for our important papers, and dealing with photos (printing, photobooks, etc). And getting life insurance. And working on my NEXT business idea.

In a twist of awful timing, our street is having a community yard sale on Saturday. As in...2 days from now. Sure would be nice if this were to happen AFTER doing our big declutter. Maybe if I get time tomorrow I can get some china together to sell. I may or may not have about 8 complete sets of china in my life. Super fancy stuff. Let's not talk about it.

Bring on the cleaning! Bring on the zen!

*I still think this is a great idea, and totally lucrative, but the execution always fell on The Foliage's shoulders, and it isn't fair for my creativefunbusiness to ruin his non-work time. I'd need to hire people and I couldn't afford to, and I'm totally anti-debt. Of any kind. Except for I guess mortgage.

I have written this post as part of The Discerning Dilettante's Congruence Contract

Monday, May 6, 2013


Since I'm home ALL the TIME now I keep thinking I should paint my nails. Then I remember that my kid wakes up at THE most inconvenient times, and also that nail painting has never brought me anything but sadness. I am incapable of waiting for the paint to completely dry, so I always end up with at least one nail that has a fingerprint relief on it. I get paint all over my cuticles. And apparently you're supposed to paint multiple layers or something? Which is so much more waiting! And when I'm done I invariable think my hands look weird and stubby (except with clear nail polish, I don't hate the immediate results of that stuff). Then I get too lazy to use nail polish remover, and just chip off the paint over the course of a month. Which looks...super classy.

So basically try as I might to be fancy, it just doesn't work. The most I can ever muster up is marginally-more-fancy-than-other-times. 

Old ladies are the worst. That's not a thing a person is supposed to say, but good sweet mother! Getting around with an infant takes way longer than it reasonably should. Getting around with an infant, in a place with old ladies, takes like 7 times longer than that. In the grocery store, they seriously follow me around so they can casually comment when I accidentally turn towards them. And by "comment" I mean ask all their small-talk-baby-related-questions, ultimately closing with: "enjoy it!"

Fck everyone who tells me to "enjoy it." I AM ENJOYING IT. I would enjoy it a lot more if I didn't have to stop and humor strangers all the time! 

The other thing old ladies do is to talk smack on new moms' choices. Look. Moms kind of suck. We are accidentally (and I guess sometimes not accidentally) terrible to each other all the time. But I try to keep company only with the ones who aren't as awful and don't just assume that the way they're doing things is THE way to do things. Apparently no one's reviewed the latest memos on "supporting the sisterhood" to these women, because they have NO qualms about telling a mother-to-be that the co-sleeper she registered for is a completely dumb product (in front of the person who bought said co-sleeper). 

I wonder if calling out "old ladies" for being crappy to younger ladies is hypocritical. OKFINE. It's really just the old ladies I don't know. Take heart, Grandma! You are not the worst. But your friends might be.

We are trying to plan our yard/garden, and it is stressful. We'd gotten really good at talking all plans to death so we were ONE ZILLION PERCENT aware of each other's expectations before proceeding, but now we start talking about expectations and then like magic BABY SHRIEKING. And oh what were you saying? Um...not sure...what do you want for dinner? So when we went out to look at fire pits yesterday, we were each totally surprised to learn that the other wanted to DIY a fire pit. While we were in the store of fire pits. With the stroller and the bottle of pumped milk, and the other errands waiting, and getting hangry because grabbing food was one of the errands, and NEWSFLASH hanger isn't helpful for effective communication.

Really excited for this whole "new normal" thing to kick in. Any day now, please.

Monday, April 8, 2013

results not typical: labor

Guess who gave birth! I'll give you a hint: it was me. Me!!

Due date: March 25th
Got tired of being pregnant: March 28th
The contractions I'd been having for weeks picked up intensity and frequency but were still bearable and erratic: March 29th
First castor oil smoothie: March 30th
Effect of this smoothie: upset stomach

March 31st we decided to go for broke. We went on a 2 mile walk, had sex, ate spicy food, and I had another smoothie (though I'll note I only used 1-2 tablespoons each time, which is apparently not nearly enough).

At 1am I woke up thinking I was wetting the bed. I thought "I guess I'm incontinent now. I'm at that part of pregnancy." The Foliage woke up and asked what I was doing, and I told him I thought my water had broken but to stay in bed. Because maybe it hadn't and then he'd be up and excited and standing in my urine and I just couldn't let that happen. (Spoiler: my water HAD broken)

1:45 we called the midwife. Contractions about 40 seconds long, 2ish minutes apart (but really...all over the place), 5 on the pain scale (I am terrible at things like pain scales - I based it on limb severance via hacksaw = 10). She said to call back in an hour.

At 2:45 I had to moan to get through contractions and I rated pain at a 7. TF called the midwife at 3ish and she came over right away.

For the next 4 hours I labored on our bed (kneeling, draped over our birth ball), the toilet, and sitting in the tub. It was hard. HARD. I had TF repeat to me "your face is relaxed, your neck is relaxed, [etc]" during each squeeze, which really helped.

Lemme just say, he was...amazing. I knew he'd be awesome, but geez. I fully anticipated getting annoyed or frustrated with him, and it never happened. He truly anticipated my every need perfectly and interpreted my grunts accurately. So I wasted 9 months of preemptive apologies is what I'm saying.

He also described my contraction noises as such: "I imagined a battle scene, like from 'Braveheart.' A 10,000 man army assembled on one ridge, and on the opposite hill - you. Running at them, screaming." Which is pretty much how it felt, so. Well done, spouse.

I guess the second half of those 4 hours were Transition. I don't think timing ever got really consistent, but I recognized a lot of double-peaks. The midwives said to let them know when I felt downward movement, and I felt the baby shift down around 6am.

Then they said to let them know when I had an urge to push, so the very first contraction that ended with that feeling, I was IN. Because OH MAN I was ready to be done. That was at 6:30. I might've actually had a few contractions to go before I needed to push, but. I was not down with waiting. They wouldn't do a pelvic exam to see how dilated I was. This is because my water had broken, and it would've introduced new bacteria/whatever to the baby unnecessarily. So that was frustrating during contractions but HAHA they couldn't tell me not to push! Handy.

They helped me get onto the bed (I'd planned to push in a squatting position on the floor but decided in the moment that FCK NO I was not gonna support my own weight). I laid in the bed with TF on my right, Midwife M in front of me, and Midwife E on my left. TF and E held my legs back while I pushed.

Which was a hard thing to figure out. Draw your knees back! Keep your heels down! Relax your shoulders! Don't push against your legs! Feel the baby's head!

I did not want to feel the baby's head. It felt weird and squishy and too far inside most of the time. I also did not want to see the baby's head but M held up a mirror and E took photos. Of the head emerging. So now those exist and I don't know how I feel about it. They had me feel the perineum so I could apply "counter pressure" but ummmm it's not like there was one area that was having trouble. As far as being a baby-slide goes, the whole perineal area was problematic.

I pushed for about 45 minutes and it felt impossible but then she came out and HOLY EFF SHE CAME OUT.

They laid her on my chest, where she sputtered and cried and immediately looked up at us. And then...I don't know. We've kept her alive for a full week now, but I'm continually surprised no one's confiscated her yet. I am always on guard for that knock on the door.

More thoughts on pregnancy, childbirth and parenting as events warrant.

Aria Luren. 7lbs 13oz 21". Born 7:16am on April 1, 2013. (For blog purposes she'll go by AL)

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


Currently watching Parenthood on Netflix, and oh man. It's so good. And also pretty much tailor-made for Bringing Up Shit.
Because my Favorite Thing is bringing up potential parenting situations to The Foliage to make him RESPOND! IMMEDIATELY! He loves it. It makes him so excited and not at all anxious. Several of our most significant disagreements have been over Things I've Decided Our Stupid Kids Want To Do or Will Do. Like, what do you do when your kid is given a curfew on prom night and they want to push it back? Or, are we paying for art college? Or, what's our response when our kid gets suspended for miming the use of a grenade? 
For the most part, on the issues that arise on the show, we're in agreement. But last night we reached an impasse:
If a kid confides in one of us that they're sexually active, do we tell the other? The Foliage says yes, definitely. You have to tell me. I say, no. Maybe. But probably not. It depends on what kind of relationship you have with the kid. Obviously I'm anticipating him having a fantastic relationship with our kids, but I've always had a fantastic relationship with my dad and I would NOT have wanted him to know when I started having sex. Even in retrospect that idea makes me squirmy with discomfort.
There are plenty of things I thought were a big deal when I was a teenager that really weren't, that I shouldn't have worried about so much. This is not one of those things. If Mom had told Dad (maybe she did, I have no idea, but I doubt it because I don't remember any period of time when he couldn't look me in the eye or attempted to murder my boyfriend) I would have been SO so so hurt.
When one of my sisters told me she'd slept with her boyfriend, I felt like someone had reached into my chest and squeezed my heart. The Foliage...does not have this relationship with his siblings. They speak openly about their sexual experiences (well, TF did until we were together, and I requested he significantly reduce the jaw flappery). They don't feel protective or parental toward one another. For him, the idea with not being OK with a family member having sex is just unfathomable.
I think he's underestimating how it would feel to have a daughter.
If this kid is a girl, once I hand her over to him, and he's looking down at her feeling totally overwhelmed and in love, I'm totally totally going to say, "I am so not telling you when she has sex."

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

you light up my life

This morning I got on the train, sat down, and started to read. Then I got sleepy so I took a nap. Mouth drooping open, in my usual ultra-classy nap-taking-position. I woke up to some guy tapping on my knee and holding out a piece of paper. As soon as I took it, he exited the car. My thoughts were, in order:
1. Oh geez I dropped something
2. I'm drooling or something else about my appearance is offensive enough to warrant a note
3. He stole something from my bag and is playing some weird mind game with me
It was his phone number. And his name and a "call me" with a smiley face.
He wasn't bad looking either. Shame about that smiley. Automatic disqualification for emoting. Win some lose some, I guess. Sorry, Dwayne. I hope your future train conquests work out better for you.