Thursday, December 29, 2011

7 Reasons Silence is Important for Kids

So much of our day is impacted by sound and activity. Silence and quiet time are important for both adults and children though. Check out this article as to why silence is important and how to help yourself (and your children) learn to enjoy quiet time.

7 Reasons Silence is Important for Kids from eNanny Source

How do you help your children to unwind and enjoy silence?
Monday, December 19, 2011

A Dad Style End of the Year Letter

When I was a kid my Dad created an “end of the year letter” and sent it to his friends. It was more funny than informative really, and it always made me shake my head in embarrassment. But of course I was a teenager – what wasn’t embarrassing? So if the Wrights were to write an end of the year letter, what would go into it?

- This past year was kind of crazy living space and money-wise. Our house was foreclosed on in April and we moved to a bigger (and cheaper) rent house in March. When we first started living here we thought we’d buy the house in two years (when our credit looked better) but after almost a year of living here we’ve seen the house’s flaws. I think everyone should live in a house for a year before buying it. But now I have to wonder what we’ll do if they put the house back up for sale when our lease is up. I hate moving. With a passion.

- Silas turned one in April (and will turn two next April…crazy). Even with all of my knowledge and experience in child development, this child STILL amazes me every day. It’s like I have this growing sea monkey science project that continues to grow and is playing its own “Choose Your Own Adventure” that I have very little control over. My love for him amazes me. He amazes me. Every day he becomes more of his own little person and it’s so cool. He’s very stubborn (like nobody Mike and I know) and will not do an activity when asked (i.e., “Can you tell me what sound a cow makes?”). He’s not a perform on cue kid. So assessing his language skills is tough but then he hides behind the vacuum and says, “Where did he go?” (also known as let’s play hide and seek). And when this little person comes up to you and kisses you on the lips and walks away, or runs his fingertips over your cheek (tickle), it just makes you smile inside.

- Mike’s going to finish his Associates in Art in 2012 and hopefully go on to the Southwest School of Art BFA program in 2013. His skills at ceramics (which he took as a studio art non-major requirement – ha!) have improved so dramatically over the past year that I’m looking forward to what he learns/accomplishes in this next year. He’s finding his “art style” and is amazing when he sets down to accomplish a project. Now we just have to figure out what to do with these projects…

- The dogs continue to hate the child. Well, let me rephrase – Ivy randomly will allow him to pet her, but usually tries to get him to go away by showing him her teeth. Jasmine tries to protect him and/or runs away while he chases her. Silas chases Jasmine, laughing the whole time, or puts out his lip and cries when Ivy snaps at him. *Sigh* At least they didn’t revert to peeing in the house, that’s what I keep reminding myself of.

- I’m still finishing my Capella University Ph.D. I’m now “ABD” (all but dissertation) and am moving slowly toward gathering my data (studying the development of the environmentalist identity). I’ll get there. Then I’ll enroll in part time classes so I never have to pay back my student loans. But I never said that.

- My parents are still living in MA although there are talks of moving down here when Dad finally retires. My grandfather’s Alzheimer’s continues to progress which causes the whole family stress and emotional strife. I could never put myself in his position and understand what he’s experiencing.

Value every single minute with your family, even if you’re a teenager and find them not cool.

What were your highlights from the last year?

Love and happy end of 2011,
Monday, December 12, 2011

You May Be “Green” If You’re Reading This

If you’re reading this post, you most likely consider yourself at least in small amount an environmentalist. Since you think of your self as pro-environmental does that mean that you perform pro-environmental behaviors (PEBs)? Well, maybe. According to research performed by Whitmarsh and O’Neill (2010), it depends on the behavior and on your specific view of yourself (or identity).

We can think of our identity as having many pieces when it comes to environmentalism – there are specific identities (“I’m a recycler”) and then there’s a general identity (“I’m an environmentalist”). A specific identity is more predictive of a specific behavior, whereas a general environmentalist identity is more predictive of general PEBs. These PEBs can include decreasing domestic energy and water use, decreasing wasteful behaviors, and increasing eco-friendly shopping behaviors (Whitmarsh & O’Neill, 2010).

One would think that if a person values the planet or, say, clean air, that they would more likely perform PEBs (and maybe have a general environmentalist identity) but these authors found that was not the case – values (as assessed by a questionnaire) did not predict PEBs. Being aware of the risks associated with climate change was not a significant predictor of PEBs either (Whitmarsh & O’Neill, 2010). So values and knowledge are not enough to kick humans in the tush regarding the environment.

What else did these authors find? Visible consumption behaviors are more likely (Whitmarsh & O’Neill, 2010) – in plain English that means that people are most likely to change their shopping behaviors in a more eco-friendly way, and they are especially likely to do so when others are watching. Take into account other findings that previous behaviors are important in predicting future environmental behaviors, and there’s some good evidence that you should take your non-enviro friend shopping next time you go and guilt them into buying eco-friendly. They may just do it again (and start thinking of themselves as an environmentalist).

Last but not least, Whitmarsh and O’Neill (2010) tell us that there are certain things in our context (i.e., environment, family, etc.) that constrain or decrease our PEBs even if we have a general environmentalist identity. A lack of available options makes increasing our PEBs difficult. So if you don’t have bike trails or safe bicycle riding areas, you’re not going to reduce carbon emissions by riding your bike to work. If eco-friendly shopping products aren’t available near you, guess what? You’re not going to buy them.


So what does all this mean? The fear-inducing educational campaigns aren’t working folks. Al Gore’s “here comes the sun…to kill us all” stump speeches are getting nods from the people who already have the knowledge, and are getting ignored by those who do not (because he’s a nut job – thank you cognitive dissonance). Rather than guilting or “fearing” people into PEBs, we should start small with offering eco-friendly shopping products to more consumers and increasing the availability of environmentally friendly options in cities. I know you’re probably thinking, “Well it’s too late for that now. We need major change right now.” And to that I say, “I agree. But good luck with that.” Changing minds with a hammer breaks the mind; changing minds with a chisel and small, strategically placed cracks eventually gets the mind to recognize the change (and own it as their own rather than simply conform, i.e., the hammer method). Chisels create identity change. And according to Whitmarsh and O’Neill (2010), identity change is the way to go.

Get To It

How can you start small? How can you encourage others to start that small, strategically placed crack?

Whitmarsh, L., & O’Neill, S. (2010). Green identity, green living? The role of pro-
environmental self-identity in determining consistency across diverse pro-
environmental behaviours. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 30, 305-314.

**The post is the beginning of a series of posts relating to articles I'm reviewing for my dissertation. So not only do I get to learn, so do you! Rockin'!**
Sunday, December 11, 2011

He’s Got the Moves Like Jagger

For the past few months I’ve been working (and feeling constantly behind), feeling like crud, being a horrible wife (it feels like), and observing this super amazing “baby” grow into a Little Boy. You’d think having an extra person (my father-in-law) around would be helpful but in fact it’s more work/frustration because he feels like Silas isn’t his son to parent so he’ll stand there while Silas wants more food (and be in my way when I come to help Silas). But whatever.

Since I’ve been MIA, I haven’t been sharing Little Boy Bites for the past few months. So Silas is 19 months (20 on the 26th) now, and I can understand why everyone says every age is their favorite (but for different reasons). Why does 19 months rock? Well you can see his personality/preferences developing very quickly. He dances by standing stationary and bouncing at the knees, or moving back and forth from his right to left leg. When he gets really excited he spins in circles, stamps his feet, and/or claps while grinning of course. LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem” is one of his current foot-stamping favorites. He’s also very interested in people whistling and thus Maroon 5’s “Move Like Jagger” is one of his favs too. While he can’t whistle yet, he loves to “sing” to himself in bed and one of his favorite songs to sing is “Ma” where he repeats “Ma” until the end where he raises his voice and sings “Maaaaa!!!!!!” Singing Ma also requires dancing (side to side only).

One of the most fabulous things about this age is that everything’s so cool. Airplanes. Buses. Lights. The Christmas tree (and all its ornaments). HotWheels and Matchbox cars elicit a “Wow!” when he gets a new one. And the “Wow” is very intense and intentionally formed – super awesome. He loves to lie on the floor and roll them and watch the wheels turn. Petting the dogs is now super cool (“Coo”) too – but sadly they run from him, especially Jasmine (the one he covets the most). And he’s started pouting when they run away – how can you not feel badly for a little boy that only wants to pet the puppy and The Dog Who Needs Klonapin runs away afraid for her life?

Speaking of pouting, emotional development is a big part of Silas’ life right now. Telling him “no” elicits lip quivering, as does raising your voice to get his attention to get him to stop quickly. Loud noises in general kind of freak him out and the lip starts. I tell him, “You’re ok! The X just scared you. Let’s take a deep breath and it’ll be ok.” He learned the other day what “accident” means and how we can respond with kissing a booboo when we have an accident. I never realized how hard it was to explain that to someone – it’s something you need to show (“Hey Mike, can you come kiss my booboo so Silas can see you?”). Once he saw it, he easily replicated it. And I love his kisses. He’ll come up and give me a hug while I’m sitting playing on the floor with him, and will push his lips to your lips if you ask for a kiss. It’s pretty cute.

He’s also learning how to get what he wants. He’s started doing the “come here” motion (with both hands at the same time which is pretty funny) and if that doesn’t work he’ll come take your hand and drag you to where he needs you to be. He’ll also bring you toys and hand them all to you then hug your leg until you sit and play with him. Every once in a while he’ll bring you the remote and dance and sing “Uhlihiah!” (“Olivia”). He loves that pig apparently. While language isn’t 100% his thing yet, he’s repeating things more, even just randomly (so guests beware, .25 per cuss word when he’s awake goes into The Jar – and I pick what cuss words are). I’ll be excited when his language is more consistent so he can tell me what he wants all the time.

Enough extolling my son’s virtues (but damn he’s cute). For the next few months I’ll be posting more Little Boy Bites, but I’ll also be talking about environmentalism research articles (thanks to my love-er-ly dissertation work), and throwing in a few reviews and giveaways here and there. If you have something you want to guest blog about, please email me!
Sunday, November 27, 2011

And I thought I was doing all right…

My son is 19 months old. He can feed himself, use some words, sleeps through the night, socializes well with other kids…I thought was doing pretty well. Then last week the nanny said something about starting to potty train boys at home and how she can’t start with him at her house until he learns at home. So Mike took it upon himself to at least try it out and get Silas used to the idea.

Grandpa and Mike built a little stool (his “pee stump”) and showed him how to use it to get up to the toilet. Yesterday Silas peed after a demo from Daddy and we were all excited. Today we were trying again and Mike said, “Be sure to hold his hands.” My brain said I needed to watch Silas’ hands so that he didn’t put his hands in his own pee. As Daddy demonstrated, Silas attempted to touch the stream and I was caught off guard. “Who would touch pee?!” I wondered. Well, my son, who doesn’t know not to. So first Mommy fail.

After waiting for a bit, there was no pee, so we put him in the tub and waited a few seconds (because he always pees as soon as he gets in), then took him out and put him in front of the toilet again. I threw a Cheerio into the toilet and said, “Get it!” Meaning “Pee on the Cheerio, make it sink.” Instead of doing so, my son looks at me, confused, and then reaches into the toilet to “get” the Cheerios. No no! Oh Criminy. Second Mommy fail.

I really need to watch what I say as my son is still thinking in a quite literal way. And I need to ask for clarification from Mike as apparently I have no idea how to potty train a little boy and what may go on in the process. I’m beginning to think that this is not my cup of tea and should best be left to Mike.
Sunday, September 11, 2011

Not Your Average Paper Towel – Review and Giveaway

I sent Mike grocery shopping today and stayed home to clean the house. He was amazed when he got there (he texted me, “Is it a holiday? Why are all these people here?”). One of the things I had on our list was a roll of paper towels. Mike brought home an 8-pack of paper towels, and I laughed. “Well I guess that’ll last us for the next five months.” “Not the way you go through paper towels,” he replied. I raised an eyebrow and pointed to the paper towel roll currently on the spindle. “THAT has been there for the past week.” And it was only ¼ of the way gone.

I used to be a paper towel waster. Super bad. Like a full sheet just to wipe up a little water. I got better by ripping off a small amount to blow my nose on or something like that, but I still didn’t like the fact that I was using paper. Enter Cassie Louis and her fabulous Unpaper Towels. Cassie (of Crafted By Cassie) makes her towels out of birdseye cotton serged around the edges. She makes some with snaps (so you can make a “roll” of them just like paper towels) or without.

Cassie sent me 10 unpaper towels with rainbow serging (stitching around the edge) with snaps.

I snapped them up and rolled them around the regular roll of paper towels. Mike took one and put it in his pocket and it became his “hanky” for the week (I made him wash that one). I brought one in my purse for lunch finger wiping rather than grabbing a napkin, and I used them at dinner rather than paper towels (I always have a napkin or paper towel to wipe my fingers and face). I used them in the kitchen for wiping up spills and sometimes a little boy’s fingers. When we were done with them they went in the “kitchen wash bag” (along with our United By Fluff wipes for kiddo cleanup and our hand towels) and easily washed along with all that stuff.

So using cloth towels has decreased our paper towels usage by a huge percentage. It was amazing to watch the paper towel rolls not disappear. I really can’t remember the last time I recycled a paper towel roll. We’ve stopped snapping them together and rolling them up because it got kind of frustrating if you needed one quickly, but I think the idea is good in general. But obviously if you have snaps on your towels you don’t need to use them. Our cloth towels go in a pile on top of the paper towel holder.

Wait, did I say “if YOU have snaps on YOUR towels…?” I did. You know why? Because I want you to have 10 of Crafted By Cassie’s unpaper towels. If you enter this month’s contest, you could win 10 of the towels just like the ones pictured here. They are sewn and ready to come live with you!

To enter, “like” both the Mama Around the House Facebook page and the Crafted by Cassie Facebook page. On Cassie’s FB pictures, choose which project that she has done that you think is the coolest, and fill out the entry form. Good luck and thanks for reading!
Friday, September 9, 2011

I rarely do this...

I try to stay positive and promote positivity in others in everything I do. I see so much negativity around me, hear so much of it, that I just feel the need to combat it by throwing as much positive energy out there as I can. Some days that feels like a bigger burden than I’m able to deal with.

This past week has been rough. Ok, to be honest, I think the past year is just now catching up to me. Hell, maybe the past three years. But yesterday I finally got to my quiet point – it’s the point where you don’t open your mouth for fear of crying or cussing out your child or loved ones. Freud would talk about this in terms of a neurotic anxiety – worrying what the outcome of our possible behaviors could be even though it might be completely out of the ordinary for you.

Mike and I were sitting on the porch last night lamenting that Wilfred is in reruns now until next season. He asked if I thought I could write a show that was as funny as Wilfred and I wanted to respond, “Right, like in my sleep? Because that’s the only time I’d have to do that.” I shrugged and responded, “Probably not, I’m not that funny. But I was thinking about writing a new book.” Many of the people I know (many of whom are therapists) would ask a clarification question (“About what?”) but my husband isn’t like that; he just moves on to the next topic. When I realized he wasn’t going to ask me what I wanted to write about, I turned to go inside. “Babe,” he began pensively, “do you have any ‘me time?’ Like time when you do stuff for yourself?” “What’s that?” I asked, quasi-jokingly. He thought some more and asked, “Well what if I could give you an hour a day to relax? Do you think that would help? What would you do with that hour? You can’t Facebook or grade or write your dissertation, none of the have to stuff. What would you do?” And I seriously couldn’t answer him except to laugh and say, “Nap?”

But here’s the thing – my husband works and goes to school. He’s out of the house just as long as I am every day, and has homework on top of that. So his offer to me wasn’t even physically possible. But he does spend a lot of his time at home watching TV and playing video games while I spend my time cleaning and chasing a little boy. Doing laundry while he watches TV makes me so angry. But when I tell him why I’m angry he tells me that I’m requiring him to go by my expectations (the laundry or dishes need to be done on my schedule) and that’s not fair to him. My response would be, “If we went by your schedule the dishes would get done once per month,” but I refrain. Not talking back to your spouse takes a lot of mental energy, and is just one of the things that sucks my mental and physical energy during the day. If he just did a share of the day-to-day stuff then I wouldn’t need an hour – we’d both have time left over after the chores for the day are through.

So like I said, I rarely do this. I rarely complain about my stuff or what other people aren’t doing. But when my husband says, “We should start going to the gym,” I would love to respond, “We’d have time to do that if you and I worked as a team rather than me working as a manager and you acting like a non-fireable employee.”
Saturday, August 27, 2011

Gratitude Journals

Research in psychology has found that people who write a gratitude journal experience more positive experiences and more positive affect (mood) than people who don’t. Gratitude journaling can include writing for short periods during the day about what you’re thankful for, and obviously you can do this on paper, on a journal on your computer, or via a blog.

So what are you thankful for today? Take 10 minutes per day to sit and think about this and I can bet that you’ll be thankful for gratitude journaling :)

Me, what am I thankful for today?

1. My job. I love it. Where else could I sit around and talk to people about something I love (psychology and teaching)?

2. The fact that my son doesn’t have a stomach virus. My sister, her kids, and her husband all have it. I can’t imagine how worn down they all are and how terrible it is to see your 23-month-old being afraid of vomiting. I wish I could go down and help her more, but #1 and #3 keep me from doing so.

3. My son. He’s freaking amazing. And he was an amazing work of science – seven doctors all coming together to help me and Mike have an amazing and healthy little boy. He’s so sweet and fun and inquisitive. And he’s working hard on growing and developing (like his language skills). I love him so.

4. My husband. He’s patient (most of the time) with me and lets me do what I need to do (nap, grade, read), and I appreciate that wholeheartedly.

5. My parents. They’re super fantastic and supportive. I wish we all lived closer so they could hang with #3 more often. We’re trying to put together video chat this week. I hope they can get it working on their end!

6. My mama friends on Facebook (especially the Gen-Y B/S/T ladies). Without them I’d lose my sanity and feel completely disconnected from other mamas and that would be rough. Support is awesome, even if it’s in the form of online discussions!

Now it’s your turn. Go gratitude journal even just for a little while. Everyone’s thankful for something and someone. I bet there’s someone out there who is thankful for you.


Welcome new readers from the Circle of Friends Weekend Hop. If you decide to stick around and follow me, be sure to leave a comment so that I can follow you!
Saturday, August 20, 2011

A Long, Fun Day

Last October Mike and I took Silas and Kyle (Mike’s son) to Hamilton Pool Preserve in Dripping Springs, TX for a day trip of exploring and swimming.

We had such a fun time that we decided we would do it again at some point. Mike and I decided that we would do something this week because we didn’t get to do a lot as a family this summer, so we gathered our friend Steven, and Mike, Steven, Silas and I drove to Dripping Springs.

An hour and forty-five minute drive there, and Silas barely slept (even though it was nap time). He did take some cute naps with Uncle Steven though.

While we had to wait 45 minutes to get in, it was definitely worth it.

Silas has never been swimming. So we brought swim diapers and a swimsuit along with a shirt with sun protection (and a super cool hat). I wore my new Vibram Five Finger shoes and actually went in the water where fish live. You have to understand that after watching childhood friends get bitten by turtles and stung by jellyfish, I have avoided the ocean or anything resembling it since 4th grade. So to walk in the water and see a fish swim by and NOT get out was a big thing for me. But I don’t want to pass on my phobias to my littlest best friend, so I stuck it out (and had no problems, thank you).

He was tired, and that was to be expected. But he was so interested in all the people and the whole floating thing.

He clung to me (or Steven or Daddy) and floated around as we moved around the natural pool. He wasn’t so hot on floating on his back, but he would kick a little if we pulled him around in the water. He was very into sitting and chilling on your shoulder with his little snotty nose (poor punkin’).

We tried to get him to take a nap on a towel in the shade but he wasn’t having any of it.

Finally around 3:30 we packed up and left (only to have Silas fall asleep on my shoulder as we hiked out .25 miles of rocky terrain – and you all know how heavy a sleeping kiddo who already weighs 34 pounds gets).

We got some lunch/dinner at one of the new restaurants (or new since we were there last) and Silas had a little grilled cheese and fries, but everything went bad quickly and we left. And everyone slept on the way home (except Mike who drove). All in all, it was a good day. We’ll definitely be going again next summer (or maybe even later this year when it calms down over there).
Monday, August 15, 2011

My Son Goes To Daycare and This Is What It Feels Like

Silas and I were home for almost four months together before I had to go back to work full-time and we found him a daycare. While it was an amazing time, I definitely got to the point where I envied my husband for having a reason to leave the house every day (to go to work LoL). If we lived closer to town I would have made up excuses to go out, but we lived 30 minutes from anything so even just a drive to get a Mtn. Dew was ridiculously long and required 30 minutes of baby prep! So when it came time to go back to work I was sad to leave the Monkin all day but excited to do something different with my day.
I searched and searched for his first daycare, and we interviewed a boatload of home daycares. Ever want to be concerned for other children’s wellbeing? Visit home daycares. Some we were both appalled at (and Mike and I look at different things differently). We finally decided on one, and she seemed flexible and that was great. She would send me pictures of him throughout the day and there were other Littles there for him to learn new skills from. Then she got kind of wonky and inconsistent, and I realized my son wasn’t crawling because someone was carrying him around all day (she thought he was gorgeous and wanted him for herself, she’d say). Sooo we left there. We found another daycare run by two sisters out of their home and it looked fantastic. They had 28 years combined daycare experience, and their house (or the kiddo’ed part) looked exactly like every other daycare you’ve seen. Silas and I spent some time there over Christmas break and we liked it, so he started in January when I had to go back to work. These ladies worked hard to get licensed and to get food programs in place for the kids (awesome, everyone benefits). They teach Silas Spanish and I feel comfortable enough asking them to tell me how to “dice” something. So my little Mono (monkey) is learning Spanish and a boatload of other stuff.
This is all fine and good. This summer though I’ve gotten a lot of text messages from daycare asking if it was ok if they took the kids (usually just the two Littles, Silas and a 17-month-old girl) here or there. Since they’re free to go under two to most places, I would always say sure. But I can say that recently I’ve started feeling…I don’t know how to put it. Jealous I guess? They took my son to Sea World for the first time.

They put him in the wave pool for the first time. They took him on his first merry-go-round. In my head, these are all my things. They’re my job. I should take him to SeaWorld first and see how excited he gets over the water rides. I should put him on a merry-go-round for the first time and see his reaction. I’m his Mom. Mike and I should be doing these things, not his daycare teachers. And that makes me feel badly. I think Mike’s feeling this too. I’ve talked to other parents who are either working full-time or students full-time, and they’ve said very similar things. It’s like you keep worrying about what you’re going to miss. I was lucky to see him crawl first, walk first, and try to imitate words first. But I feel like I’ve missed out on this piece that seems to so small but is yet so important to me because I had memories of these things as a kid. I don’t want his memories to involve his two nannies.
We work hard to create new memories of fun stuff we do together as a family (like drive out to Hamilton Pool Preserve this weekend), but I still get dumpy whenever I get those “Can we take the kids to ________?” texts. I suppose it’s part of life.

What’s been the hardest part of parenting for you so far?
Saturday, August 13, 2011

Wild Weekend Blog Hop

Welcome blog hoppers! What is a blog hop you may ask? It's a way to find new blogs to read and get more "traffic" to your own site. This week I'm participating in the Wild Weekend Blog Hop hosted by About A Mom and Smile and Mama With Me. Join up if you're interested and leave a comment if you're a "hopper" who stopped by. Thanks!
Sunday, August 7, 2011

Cloth Wipes – Not Just Awesome for Diapering (“United By Fluff” Review and Giveaway)

A few weeks ago I got a package with a Gen-Y diaper cover that I had traded for and it came with a little something special – a square cloth wipe from United by Fluff (crafted by the amazing Jessie McLouth). While we cloth diaper, we don’t typically use cloth wipes but I had been thinking about getting some wipes for general Silas clean up (think after spaghetti).

When I opened it I honestly didn’t want to wash it and use it on him – I wanted to rub it on my own face. One side was cotton flannel print, and the other side was super soft minky-type fabric. It was sewn extremely well (and machine stitched, work-at-home-Momma-made), and simply fabulous. It made me WANT to use cloth wipes on Silas’ tush. So just to try it, I did and it worked well - just as well as those disposable wipes. AND you don’t trash them after you use them; you simply wash them with your cloth diapers (or by themselves if you don’t cloth diaper). Some of her wipes come with the minky dot fabric as well, which I have found is super useful for getting in nooks and crannies of fingers and toes and other areas as well.

So you don’t cloth diaper? What can you use these luscious things for? Child clean up. Drool catching. Hand washing. Counter clean up. Spilt anything. Baby washing. Feet washing (I don’t know how many times we’ve done this so far with my stinky-footed lad). Wiping off the dog after ravioli night (no I’m not joking). Pretty much anything cleaning or child/cleaning related, you can use these for.

I am so in love with these wipes that I want someone else to have some too! Since the Facebook “likes” is close to 100, I’m going to give one lucky “liker” 10 of these fantastic things in their choice of print. How do you enter? Well, let me tell you…

1. Make sure you’ve “liked” us on Facebook.
2. Like United by Fluff on Facebook.
3. Fill out the entry form (which requires you to go to United by Fluff’s Hyenacart store and pick a favorite print).
4. A winner will be chosen randomly on August 15th at 11:59 p.m., so that gives you just over a week to enter. The winner will be emailed for their shipping information once the giveaway ends.
5. Wipe and clean eco-friendly!

Thanks for all your support you guys.

**FYI: The products endorsed and offered here were chosen by me and I was in no way compensated for suggesting them to you. I just really enjoy them and hope you do too!**
Thursday, August 4, 2011

Today I Was Staggered By Generosity

Let me start off by saying that I am proud to be a part of an online community of Gen-Y Mamas who are simply amazing people. Even though I have only been a part of it for three months or so, I watch these women help each other with diapering issues, help each other find diaper covers that they are in search of, and help each other find good deals for diapering, and I am amazed that a group of women who don’t know each other in-person are so amazingly helpful. I don’t know a handful of people in real life who are so helpful honestly, so to have a whole group of them online is just astounding.

This week we were told that a group member was having some financial difficulties, and that diaper covers in the older prints would be auctioned off with the proceeds going to this member. Mamas were excited at the opportunities to both help and to get an older print diaper. If you don’t understand why they were excited, think about something you collect or something you know others collect. Then imagine that you sat around and talked to other collectors about this thing, and someone came and told you you had an opportunity to get a rare collector’s item – you’d be excited too. Auctions were scheduled for Thursday and Friday, but other Mamas started auctioning off their own stash of diapers and covers on Wednesday with the proceeds going to our group member. The psychologist in me was interested. The Gen-Y Mama in me was pretty flippin’ excited.

As a psychologist, I watched my community raise money for a member today with an interested eye. I waited for the first auction to start, wondering just how much people would “donate.” I personally had an amount preset in my head of how much I was going to donate regardless, and I figured I would throw in my preset amount at some point on an auction and see if I won. If I didn’t, I would simply donate it and be happy with that. I expected things to get a little crazy but not too much so. I figured people would go up to $50 per cover honestly. But then things got a little more than crazy. Mamas were bidding like they had unlimited funds. $10 - $20 - $40 for one cover in under a minute. The psychologist in me was perplexed. We talk about ourselves as “collectors” (not addicts), and these collectors were out for those out of print (OOP) and hard to find (HTF) prints with their PayPal waving in the wind.

As a Mama, I watched these auctions today and thought, “Holy *expletive*, are you kidding me?!” I love me some Gen-Y and some cute covers, for sure, but…wow. One print/cover went for $100. $100. These things sell for $16.99 each (well obviously the current prints do). $100 is groceries for the week for us. I don’t think I could do that. On the other hand, I could give $100 to a friend and not expect it back, so I guess that getting an OOP/HTF cover would be a nice thing to get WHILE helping a friend. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s an online community (in which most members have never met face-to-face) that amazed me. We all help each other online and give each other good deals (and make it right when something goes wrong), which is amazing for any community (online or not). And we all love Gen-Y and super cute diaper covers on our little ones’ tushies, but $100?! Wow.

Interestingly, today in class I talked with my students about the definition of altruism. Since altruism loosely means helping others with no expectation of getting anything in return, a student asked me if I believed that true altruism actually exists. This is something that has been debated by psychologists for years, and my view has always been that since a person feels good about themselves (or at least receives a subconscious boost in mood) after helping then true, by-the-book-definition, altruism cannot exist. We always get something (even if it’s a good feeling), and thus helping others for no reason except to help them cannot exist because we receive that boost in mood. Do I wish for true altruism? You bet. But have I seen it or did I ever expect to? Not in my lifetime.

And you’re probably thinking I’m overthinking this, but that’s what I do. The psychologist never sleeps. She’s always trying to understand “why.” Sure there’s excitement there about diaper covers. And it’s definitely for a good cause; this member’s an amazing and helpful Mama. We are a helpful bunch anyway. Add all those things together though and I still can’t come up with the amount of money I watched Mamas offer to spend today via the auctions. But I also have to keep in mind that people from this same group have done this for other members and even for me – I have been amazed at one Mama in particular who was generous in offering to help me continue cloth diapering Silas who seems to be growing out of diapers at an exponential rate (he’s 15 months and in size XL – no joke). All of the theories of altruism that I’ve learned cannot explain this. And thinking about that brings tears to my eyes because it means that maybe, just maybe, true, by-the-book altruism does exist, just as I’ve always wished it has (but was told by others and my science that that belief was naïve).

So I want to thank all of those amazing Mamas who played along today. Thank them for their donations to our member and for being an amazing community for sure, but mostly for giving me a glimpse of what I thought I would never see – true, by-the-book altruism at work.

I will leave you with one of my favorite quotes of all time. If you followed my previous blog, you may recognize it:

“But what I hope most of all is that you understand what I mean when I tell you that even though I do not know you, and even though I may never meet you, laugh with you, cry with you, or kiss you. I love you. With all my heart, I love you.” –Valerie (V for Vendetta, 2006)
Tuesday, August 2, 2011

And the winner is...

Jordyn Lessenberry! Jordyn won our 50 Facebook Fans Giveaway and will receive four reusable shopping bags. Please be sure to check out her blog The Green House and show her some love!
Monday, August 1, 2011

One Last Reminder - Giveaway!

If you're a blog follower, don't forget to like us on Facebook and enter the giveaway for reusable shopping bags by midnight tonight!
Sunday, July 31, 2011

Silas Is Sick

It feels like once every two months or so my son has mocos (Spanish for boogies) and seems to feel like crud. Since we can’t chat about his symptoms quite yet, I’m never really sure what to do and it makes me feel horrible. I don’t know if he aches, just has a runny nose, has a sore throat, or what. Sometimes he wants to sleep it off, sometimes he doesn’t. Sometimes he’s just glassy eyed and quiet. After his 15-month appointment at the pediatrician’s office, I’m pretty sure that’s where he got some sort of cold something that involves cranky, tired, and mocos.

Today’s a sleepy, glassy-eyed and quiet day. He’s taken two naps and the first one was three hours long (not normal). We’ve already gone through one pack of Boogie Wipes (yesterday and today) and he, again, hates having his nose squeezed. I wish he would learn to blow his nose. Yesterday I showed him how to and he wouldn’t do it, but then three minutes later he was wandering around the house blowing snot out his nose. Perfect. We use our electric nose sucker and that seems to help as long as he’s participating (and not running away from the sucker). You know he’s done when the arms go up and the face goes as far away from you as possible. *Sigh* Child.

This stinks. Other than these things, I feel as if I have nothing else available to me except the occasional baby fever reducer. But if you’ve got a little one or are expecting a little one soon, these are the things I’ve found the most useful when mocos strike.

FYI **The products described in this story are things we have found help us when Silas is sick, and I am in no way compensated for using them or describing them here.**

Let's Get Social - Sunday Link Up!

Welcome to those of you visiting from the "Let's Get Social" Sunday. Please be sure to leave a comment if you follow us so that we may follow you back. Also, be sure to "like" our Facebook page (and leave a comment there as well) and enter the giveaway that ends Monday (8/1)! Thanks for your support.
Friday, July 29, 2011

Thanks Oikology!

Thanks to Carrie at Oikology for helping me figure out how the heck to create my own button for the blog. She gave great and CLEAR instructions for how to do it and voila! It's done!

Blog Hop Friday

Welcome all you blog hoppers! Thanks for coming by, I really appreciate your support. Be sure to leave a comment and I will follow you back! Be sure to "like" us on Facebook and enter the contest that ends Monday for "green" grocery bags (scroll down, on the right for the link).
Tuesday, July 26, 2011

My Little Boy Is 15 Months Today

Silas is 15 months today. It’s crazy how much he has changed in the last 15 months. We went from a newborn who slept all the time to a roller to a crawler to a walker to a toddler. Obviously this is how the whole process goes, but it’s amazing to think of the things that he can do now.

- He can walk well and even runs pretty well (his own version of running without bending his knees yet). We practice running around the house by playing Chase Me until he gets tired.

- Silas has learned to play well with the puppies. He’ll play Tug-O-War with Jasmine and he and Ivy have seemed to make peace, at least some times. He and Jasmine play chase but Ivy will still growl at him once in a while. But he has learned to pet Ivy’s belly which she appreciates.

- He’s moved into the “toddler throws a tantrum” stage of life and telling him “No” actually can be pretty entertaining (although we don’t do it just for fun). You say “No,” and this child gets on his hands and knees and (safely) gets himself flat on the floor and turns into a starfish, screaming.

- Words words words. There are lots of them. “Dipe” (diaper), “I-ee” (Ivy), “Jaja” (Jasmine), “Mo” (more), “bahh" (ball), “mine,” “soo” (shoe), “go” (usually with an exclamation to the dogs).

- He likes to watch Olivia the Pig on Nick Jr. He’ll even dance to the show’s song.

- He loves to dance in general. Any music with a beat he’ll bop to, and he’ll even bob his head in the car. If you don’t have any music on in the car he’ll bob his head until you put some music on.

- We’ve moved from two naps a day to just one at daycare. There’s no more evening napping which is ok because he now goes to bed earlier – dinner at 7, bath at 7:30, and bed at 8:15 (whereas previously it was bed at 9:30 or later).

- “Boo” is one of his favorite games – he hides somewhere and then I ask, “Where’s Silas?” and he slowly comes out and has this HUGE grin and cries, “Ooh!”

- Who pees in his closet? My kid. Twice already. And once in the doorway to his room. We need to get a lot faster at diapering him after his bath.

- This fruitcake is a climber. Already. He can get himself onto the couch, and even gets up on the outside coffee table (but knows not to try to get down by stepping, he waits for you to come over and catches a ride down). And he’s a daredevil. He’ll try climbing over the couch and stop himself before he gets too far.

- He loves to eat. My god he loves to eat. And he’ll eat almost anything you put in front of him. Raviolis and Chic-fil-A nuggets are some of his favorites right now. Ravioli face (who am I kidding, body) is hilarious and requires a quick bath.

- Mr. Bubble is his favorite bath time friend. Bubbles are very helpful when it’s ravioli time.

- Forward rolls. Headstands. We can do them all.

And this is just a sampling of what he can do. Crazy little boy. I love him so.

"Be Green Rather Than Go Green" - Green Child Magazine Article

If you haven't seen it yet, check out my article in Green Child Magazine this month - see page 65 (and be sure to check out the rest of the issue for "green" nutrition for your kiddos and some fantastic pictures of "green" kiddos.
Saturday, July 23, 2011

GroVia All In One (AIO) One Size (OS) Review

I’m a sucker for trim diapers. Bulk is definitely one thing that I dislike about cloth diapering because it makes dressing (or at least pant/short dressing) more difficult (usually we size up). Thus when I hear a diaper is trim, I think, “Well, I want to try that!” GroVia OS AIOs are definitely trim – they have an outer shell, a sewn in liner, and a snap in doubler, and that’s it. It’s not a pocket, so there’s no stuffing required, the liner simply lays in to the cover (and the doubler snaps on that). The snap down rise (two levels) allow these to be OS, and the snaps on the wings are actually hidden (they don’t snap on the outside of the diaper, they snap on the inside of the cover). These also come in cute prints, which is a plus! So let’s talk about some benefits and drawbacks of the GroVia OS AIO.

- Super trim
- No liner to lose in the wash
- Easy to use
- Can last from birth to potty training (about 35 pounds)

- Short rise even on open setting – my son has a 20-inch rise (from belly button to top of the butt) and he can no longer wear these (insert sad face here)
- They seem to take a while to get to full capacity in terms of absorption (even after 5 washings they still leaked sometimes)
- No exterior leg gussets to catch leaks – the elastic on the cover is it, there’s no other barrier

Would I suggest these to parents? For sure. Just make sure that your child’s rise is compatible with them. It makes me sad that this is the second one we’ve tried (we tried a sized one when they were called something else as well) and this is the second one I maybe got 5 uses out of. I would definitely suggest them for smaller babes and for younger babes, but I’m not sure how much use older children (close to the 35 pound mark) would get out of them.

*This review is solely my view and experience with this product, a product that I purchased. I was not paid to complete this review, and simply wanted to give my unbiased opinion of the utility of this diaper for other parents*
Thursday, July 21, 2011

"They Do The Hop - The Monster Hop"

What's a blog hop you might ask? Well, it's a group of folks with a blog who link up and visit each other's pages (and allow you, our lovely readers, to do so too). If you look to the right, you'll see two buttons for blog hops - feel free to click and be taken to the next dimension

If you're here from a hop or stalk, be sure to comment and say "Hey!" Thanks for stopping. I really appreciate it. If you like what you see, follow us via Google Friend Connect and on Facebook (both buttons on the right). Be sure to view the Current Giveaways too!

I Flat You – Attempting Flat Diapers Just Like Yo’ Momma (#1)

Before I ramble, I have to say that I love cloth diapering. And it’s addictive. For me, being someone who likes to learn “stuff,” I am constantly on the lookout for new diapers, new covers for the diapers, new things to try, new new new. I want to learn everything there is to know or everything I have the time and the money to learn. We’ve done pocket diapers, we’ve done fitted diapers, and we’ve used some prefolds with covers, so I decided, “Heck, let’s try flats.”

Flats are the diapers everyone thinks of when they think “cloth diapers.” Large squares of fabric are used to cover your baby’s bum, and they’re secured with pins (or a Snappi which have little teeth to dig into the fabric and hold it all together). If you want it to be waterproof, you have to cover the flat with a waterproof cover. If you look around online you can find an amazing number of different types of folds to try with flats, and so I decided I wanted to try. I got some birdseye cotton 27x27 flats, a couple of Snappis, and my Dirty Diaper Laundry (DDL) iPhone app (they have videos of “how tos”), and I prepped the flats. They came out looking like they may fit one of Silas’ butt cheeks. For real. So I found a fold (kite fold) that would fit him even with those. I also found a fold that I could use for larger squares (the origami fold) and would put the most fabric where it needed to be for my super soaker. Then I ordered some hand crafted flats from Crafted by Cassie and she sent me some amazing tye-dyed flats made of upcycled jersey bedsheets (so they’re stretchy too). Rock on.

One Sunday I decide, “We’re going to try flats today.” Silas agreed, so after the first diaper change we were on. We used a large receiving blanket (yes, you can use them in this capacity) in the Origami fold and a Gen-Y Classic cover, and that worked well except I am not Snappi proficient and the diaper kind of drooped in the front (thank goodness for waterproofing). Next we did the birdseye cotton with the kite fold, and again, Snappi was not my friend. I didn’t spread it out far enough; I understand that now. Also it seemed like Silas peed so much that the entire 27x27 was wet, all the way up to the cover even in the back. I felt badly for him. Later in the day we tried the diaperbag fold and even used a prefold in the “bikini fold” that a CDing friend had told me about. All worked well. All could be done again (and I could spread the Snappi out). I think that if I did the birdseye cotton again I would put in a doubler in the wet zone so that the wetness didn’t spread to his entire bum.

I think we’ll try it again this weekend. I have a better idea after some research of Snappi placement, and I have better ideas of what works and what doesn’t for my heavy wetter. I also have Cassie’s awesome looking tye-dyed flats to work with and I’m looking forward to seeing how those work out.

If you want to try – I suggest getting a bunch of waterproof diaper covers (I’m partial to Gen-Y), some flats (Crafted by Cassie, Orange Diaper Company, and Zabi Baby have been suggested to me), some Snappis, and some video tutorials from Dirty Diaper Laundry. Learn how to prep them (you can boil rather than wash and dry numerous times like other diapers), and take off! I’ll keep you updated about how me and Snappi are getting along…

**FYI - The retailers I described here were chosen by me freely - I was not paid to "advertise" for them but simply believe that their products are awesome and should be shared.**

New Facebook Only Feature - Daily Rules of Life With a Toddler

A new feature is going up on the Facebook page for the blog - a daily dose of "Rules of Life With a Toddler." While sometimes funny, sometimes darling, and sometimes sad, these rules will definitely keep you entertained and help you see that "it's not just you." Make sure you're a Facebook "liker" in order to see these daily gems. If you don't follow the blog on Facebook, use the button on the right to "like" the FB page.
Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Me, the Guest Blogger Over at Rockin' Green!

If you cloth diaper (CD) or use natural laundry products, check out Rockin' Green Cloth Diaper Detergent . Today they posted my guest blog post about going back to work when your babes are in cloth - there are some suggestions for how to find a daycare and how to do some community education about cloth diapering. Show RnG some love!
Monday, July 18, 2011

My Littlest Best Friend’s Back – Kiddos Mirror Your Emotions

For eight days in June (June 8-16) I went to Kansas City for work. Before I left, Silas was my super best friend. He laughed at my silliness, he followed me around, and even called out to me sometimes. We always had a good time and I got lots of hugs and snuggles (except when he was teething but that’s a different story).

When I went to KC, I called the first night and Mike put me on speakerphone. Silas cried because Momma was in the phone. The second night he cried again. The third night he went to the front door when he heard my voice, and THEN he cried. So by day 4 we quit doing speakerphone because it upset him and he didn’t understand what was going on. Then I started worrying (ok, I was worried from day 1 that he’d be pissed at me when I got home). When I got home on a Thursday, Mike and Silas picked me up from the airport. I got in the car, Silas looked at me, and looked out the window. I was super excited to see him. I got an, “Oh, it’s you, ho hum” response. I just about cried on the spot.

For the next few days he cried when I left him at daycare in the mornings and he tried to follow me out the door. In the afternoons he ran to me when he saw me, hugged my legs, then went on his way playing again. If I picked him up, he’d scream and throw himself on the floor if I put him back down. At home if I asked for a hug or a kiss or a cuddle at night, he would ignore me, not look me in the eye, and go find Daddy. Ouch. Even as educated as I am about this stuff, I was still worried that I had hurt our relationship, and I was worried.

Apparently this worry showed on my face, and he was seeing it and mirroring what he saw in me back at me. So if I approached him tentatively, then he did the same (or moved away). If I half smiled or wasn’t silly momma (because silly momma was trying to figure out how to get her best friend back), then he didn’t grin big at me or play silly with me at dinner.

So after thinking about this for a while, I quit. I decided he would be fine with me at some point, I just had to be fun and funny and consistent and we’d be best friends again. So when I was with him I tried to push all the stress of work and everything else out of my head and just enjoy my time with him. I sat with him and taught him how to pet the puppies (which he is very good at now – “Soft, that’s right, soft”). I helped him put on his shoes by sitting him in front of me and asking him, “Does this shoe go on this foot? No way! Silly! Do we eat it? No way!” Just small silly stuff. I started making him give me a bite of his dinner (and he feeds it to me). Now he grins and shoves a piece at me while he’s eating (even if I just had one).

Last night Daddy came in and Silas offered him a piece of fruit (with chicken with BBQ sauce attached). Mike scrunched up his nose and said, “No, thank you.” Silas’ face turned inside out and he CRIED like you would not believe. He reached for me and gave me a hug (and patted me on the back) from his seat a few times, but even when Daddy came back in to the kitchen he still cried. When he got down from his seat he followed me around or yelled, “Mama?” from wherever he was to find me.

Apparently my son is sensitive to you not taking his gifts? And I’m pretty sure that we’re back to being BFFs. Yesterday he came and sat on my lap while I was sitting on the floor. He can also crawl up on the couch, and crawled up on the couch and got himself into my lap on the couch, head back on my shoulder. He was napping as I wrote this, but he woke up and I just heard, “Mama? All done!”

I have to go. My BFFs calling. I have to get all the best friend time I can before he’s an adolescent and thinks I’m not cool or something.
Sunday, July 17, 2011

First Giveaway – Your Reusable Bags

After reaching 50 Facebook “likes” for the blog’s page, I would like to thank you for hanging out with us. And since it’s me, I’ll thank you in an ecofriendly sort of way!

For this giveaway we have four reuseable shopping bags – two artsy ones and two nature-y ones.

How do you enter? Well, let me tell you…

1. Make sure you’ve “liked” us on Facebook.

2. Fill out the entry form.

3. A winner will be chosen randomly on August 1st, so that gives you a whole two weeks to enter. The winner will be emailed for their shipping information once the giveaway ends.

4. Shop eco-friendly!

Thanks for all your support you guys.

Thirsties Fitteds – New vs. Old

Thirsties has recently updated their fitted diapering options – previously called the Thirsties Fab Fitted, it is now called the Thirsties Duo Fab Fitted. Besides the name change, there have been other changes as well. The previous Fab Fitted came in four sizes – extra small (6-12 lbs), small (12-18 lbs), medium (18-28 lbs), and large (28-40 lbs). The new Duo Fab Fitted comes in two sizes with snap-down rises – small (6-18 lbs) and large (18-40 lbs). The Duo also comes with either snaps or Aplix closures whereas the older version only had Aplix.

Let’s take a look at a side-by-side comparison. Since I’ve used both, I can tell you the benefits and drawbacks of each as well. On the left is a large Fab Fitted (color: Melon) and on the right is a large Duo (color: Meadow).

The older version Fab Fitted (left) is longer, even though they’re both supposed to fit up to 40 lbs. The older version is a AIO (all in one) diaper, while the Duo has an opening so that more layers can be added for extra absorption. Both require a waterproof cover to be waterproof. There is also a price difference – the older version is about $20 while the newer one retails on for $17. It seems as if Thirsties is trying to streamline their product line while also decreasing the overall/lifetime price of cloth diapering, which is fantastic.

But for those of us with babes with long rises, the new Duo size large just isn’t long enough. My son barely fits in the Duo while the Fab Fitted fits him well and is a great naptime or nighttime diaper (and you can simply layer additional layers on top of the diaper before closing it, so the pocket on the Duo really isn’t necessary for us).

For babies with shorter rises, I think that the snaps or Aplix option of the new Duo is awesome, and I definitely suggest it for folks who can fit their little ones into it. But for us we’re going to have to try to find some Fab Fitteds before retailers run out and replace them only with the Duo.
Wednesday, July 13, 2011

It’s Very Quiet Here…Shh…

The dishwasher is humming.

The washer is washing diapers.

The child is asleep.

Mike is lying in bed playing with his iPhone.

The dogs are relaxing on the couch.

And I finally have some quiet. This past week has been rather crazy. I’ve been teaching two online courses this summer, and on Monday I added in two face-to-face courses (2 hours each with a 20 minute break in between). I started the dissertation portion of my Ph.D. program Monday and I don’t think I’ve done anything differently since then – I haven’t had a free minute really. Silas has been working on new teeth, and refuses to nap after we get home around 4:45 p.m. from daycare/work and then he’s a crank ass at bath time and bed time (but he’ll go directly to sleep, so that’s good). Mike’s taking a new class as well (Weight Training 2) and has already injured himself (he did the same thing the first day of Weight Training 1 if I remember correctly).

So by the end of a day of waking up at 6:15, taking the Monkin to daycare, doing office hours, teaching four hours straight, doing more office hours, and then picking up the Monkin and going home, I am dead tired. And he’s been screeching. All week. I want to say, “Buddy, I know your teeth hurt. I know they do. And I do everything I can to help. But just STOP SCREECHING.” I keep reminding myself that it will pass and I’ll have my lovey little boy back. It’s a phase. This whole thing (work, Mike’s classes, teeth, dissertation), they are all phases and they all shall pass. At some point.

Sooner rather than later please.

But I have done everything that needs to be done around the house – dishes, laundry, kitchen, it’s all ready for tomorrow. And I’d really rather not think about all the things I have to do like grade my online classes or prepare syllabi for the fall (especially for the new statistics class I may be teaching if enough students sign up for it). I’d really rather just go to bed to be honest. A glass of wine doesn’t even sound enticing. If that’s not tired, I don’t know what is.

But the not wanting wine thing, that’s a phase too. It’ll pass.

So go do something productive. And then do something relaxing. And then go to bed (if you can).
Sunday, July 10, 2011

We’re Getting There…Where Are We Going?

Slowly but surely I’ve been moving the blog into the realm of social media. First a Twitter account, and now a Facebook fan page. All this social networking has made me contemplate where exactly all of this is going, and I think I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m going to maintain the “mission statement” of the blog as I wrote originally. Parenting. Environmentalism. Balancing life and work. These are still our main topics. And we’ll keep on keeping-on.

What’s next? I figure a giveaway is in order since I personally love blog giveaways (especially winning them). Here’s the plan – once we hit 50 fans on the Facebook page, we’ll do an eco-home giveaway. The first one? Reusable shopping bags. Because everyone can use those!

So if you’re a fan via Google Friend Connect (GFC), make sure to become a Facebook fan as well in order to help us get to our first goal (and to be able to enter into the contest!).
Saturday, July 9, 2011

Disturbed. (Not the Band).

Sometimes I feel like I live in a bubble because my brain has so many things going on that I can’t pay attention to every detail that passes by. I used to be able to, but then I started my Ph.D. program, moved, had a kid, got foreclosed on (and worried about money), etc., and yeah, my brain’s a little shot to you-know-what right now. So sometimes things stick. Sometimes they do the proverbial wash – in one ear and out the other. Or as psychologists talk about, lack of concentration on stimuli leads to lack of storage. My husband talks a lot about different things (this morning was…oh what was it…oops lack of storage), so the next time he asks me if I remember him saying something I’ll have to tell him, “Lack of storage, sorry.”

But I do remember one thing he was talking about a week or so back. Some guy in NY, he said, lit his tap water on fire. Don’t ask me how or why (why would you have a lighter near your water unless you were looking for it to light on fire), but his tap water literally lit up. Mike (my husband) didn’t know why but he was sure it was due to chemicals in the water, which makes sense.

Now I’ve been trying (TRYING) to keep up with life outside this house (and my office) this summer because I have a little more time, and I’ve been blogging (as you see) and reading a lot of other blogs. A week or so ago Diane at Big Green Purse wrote about “fracking” and I read her post and thought, “WTF is fracking?” My educated brain said that from the looks of the word it had something to do with fracturing land perhaps. After that, I got nothing.

Fracking is short for hydraulic fracturing. I won’t go into the details of how it works because you can learn more from Josh Fox’s movie “Gasland.” But what I will tell you is this – companies dig wells and pump large amounts of water, sand, and chemicals into the well. This creates pressure which fractures the Earth, sending the oil and natural gas up into the well. Sounds kosher so far (well, I guess). But then those chemicals end up seeping into other areas, such as, oh, the water table and into wells. That water flows to where? Eventually, your house (and that guy who lit his water on fire, his house too obviously). It waters the plants that animals eat (that eventually become your food). Hell, it even waters your produce. *Awesome* <<-- sarcasm (I hope you got that). So what chemicals are involved you ask? Good question. It’s a secret (shh). No really. According to Barry Estabrook, the chemicals used are considered a trade secret. Really? But animals who have drank contaminated water have foamed, bled at the mouth, and died. So there’s something more than, oh, sodium going on in that water. Are you pissed yet? You should be. I am.

Over 35 states allow fracking while certain countries including France are talking about banning it or have banned it according to Theodora Filis. The Environmental Protection Agency is now looking into certain counties in the US and some of the practices, and will include a pre-test/post-test design of sorts to study the environment before and after fracking occurs in an area, according to The Huffington Post. Texas recently became the first state to require (starting in 2012) companies to disclose the chemicals used in fracking (according to The Huffington Post), and hopefully this will start a trend in other states. While it’s not stopping the entire process, at least it’s a step (right? Kind of?). States like NY are currently battling over this issue, and I encourage anyone who lives in a state that practices fracking to petition their leaders against it.

What do I see here? I see money. I don’t see people and their welfare. Humans, animals, ecology, the Earth, I don’t see those things as being important in many of these decisions. I see money (and natural gas and oil, hence money). I am well aware that our current economy and ways of life need these things. But continuing this behavior, even though we know it’s detrimental to animals, the Earth, and humans, indicates to me that money and resources have gained the stronghold in many decisions, and that disturbs me.

Well, I’m off to try to light my water on fire. Got my fire-resistant gear on and fire-extinguishers at the ready. Wish me luck.

This is ridiculous.
Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A Fun Fourth

This past weekend we spent Friday through Monday with Mike’s Mom, step-father, sister (Missy, my BFF)

and her husband Jerry, brother (CJ) and his fiancé, Christina, along with Missy and Jerry’s daughters Ember (19 months) and Brinley (4 months) and CJ and Christina’s son Logan (18 months). Plus of course Silas, our 14 month old. As you can tell, it got kind of crazy.

On Saturday Mike’s mom Bettie had offered to take care of all four grandkids so the “adults” could go out. We didn’t know what to do (and didn’t know what to think of being called “the adults”), so we went to Chili’s for dinner and ended up being “those loud people” in the back corner. We had a lot of fun though, and then we played pool for a bit until 11. Mom texted us that all of the kids had fallen asleep. When we got home Logan and Emmie were asleep in the “big kid bed” (the bed Mike and I sleep in) while Silas was sleeping in his Pack N Play.

Mom said they were up for at least an hour giggling and tickling each other (well the bigger kids were) until they passed out from exhaustion. I’m betting Silas was standing in the PNP watching them and wishing he could play. Once he learns to be able to get off the bed safely, he’ll be up there playing.

Sunday the “boys” pulled and repaired a well while Missy, Christina, and I hung with the kids by the pool.

Silas had his first ice pop while Ember was a pro.

Silas practiced stairs with Grandma’s suggestions of holding on to the railing.

The boys ran around in their diapers until we threw them all in the pool (Logan still with his clothes on).

We finished the afternoon with some watermelon.

The kids had a blast and we got to relax and hang out for a bit.

While we didn’t get to stay to see the fireworks (they were after dark and we needed to start the 2.5 hour drive back to San Antonio before then), hopefully we’ll get to see them next year and Silas will be able to enjoy them. We did show the kids some sparklers and they enjoyed that. The most important part, for me, was the fact that the kids got to play together. They had a fantastic time. All of the “adults” said they wished we all lived closer so that we could spend more time with the little ones together. Watching the kiddos hang out and have fun was definitely better than any fireworks.
Monday, July 4, 2011

Organic Food Poll Closed

66% of respondents last week said they look specifically for organic foods but can’t find everything they need in organics. 33% said food’s food whether it’s organic or not.

At our house we are the “I look specifically for organic foods but can’t find everything we need in organics” type. My husband would love to be able to grow all of our own vegetables at least, but we have a hard time doing that with the soil in San Antonio. One of my goals for the summer is to get him a composter (the round bucket that you can rotate) which would help with the soil problem.

I think another difficulty with buying all organic is that since the food isn’t treated with chemicals, it doesn’t last as long. I don’t know about everyone else, but I hate to grocery shop (and farmer’s markets usually are Fridays here when I’m working). So when I do shop, I try to buy for the week (or longer if I could). If I get organic fruits and veggies, a lot of them end up going bad before they get eaten because they don’t last as long as the other stuff. So it’s hard, and I think it’s especially hard for some folks because the organic stuff is a lot more expensive – thus it doesn’t last as long and it has a higher cost. I can see why people wouldn’t always buy organic.

I do wish that more people would grow their own produce though. What do you think holds people back from doing that?
Friday, July 1, 2011

Feed Your Stash Friday?!

Diaper Junction does a giveaway each week starting on Friday where you can win diapers to feed your cloth diapering stash. It's called Feed Your Stash Friday (or FYSF). This week they're giving away a Flip system (2 covers and 6 inserts). Rules for entering are here. I don't know about you, but I'd love to win some free fluff and try a new diaper out. Plus the Flip covers can be used as covers over other things (such as flats which I'm trying out soon), so winning would definitely be useful.
Thursday, June 30, 2011

Join the Hop!

Welcome to anyone who's visiting from a blog hop! Look around and follow me via Google Friend Connect (GFC) toward the bottom at the right. If you Follow me, be sure to leave a message here and I'll be sure to "hop" to you and return the favor! Go find some super blogs :)
Tuesday, June 28, 2011

It's a Tough Day

This week daycare is on vacation (no worries, it’s a scheduled vacation that I’ve known about for a while – not like our last daycare provider who called Friday to say she’d be closed Monday indefinitely), so I’ve been a full-time Mommy this week. That may sound funny to you, seeing as, you know, I’m always a Mom (no matter where I go, there I am) but I don’t honestly feel like one. I work 8-4 most days (except during the summers) and so Silas is at daycare from 7-4; I mommy from 4 until 9:30 or so when he typically goes to bed (and sometimes there’s even a nap in there). Obviously the weekends are different, but I have to say that on the weekends I get exhausted really quickly. By his second nap around 2 p.m. I’m ready for a nap (and sometimes get one).

Since I knew this week was coming, I’ve been trying to plan fun Silas and Mommy activities (since Daddy is still working and going to school until Friday). My schedule looked something like this (yes, I’m a planner) – Monday, Chic-Fil-A for lunch and play in the play area, then Just Add Children (an indoor play area) until they closed or Silas turned into Captain Chaos (i.e., tired lil’ boy); Tuesday, Witte Museum (3-8 they’re free for families and have a good toddler play area); Wednesday, Fantastic Playland (another indoor play area); and Thursday, toddler time at the library and the San Antonio Children’s Museum. Friday we’re leaving for Victoria to visit with Mike’s family for the 4th, so obviously I didn’t plan anything for that day.

Well, let’s see how this is going so far. Monday – we had Chic-Fil-A (Silas really likes their chicken) and we played in the toddler play area. It was pretty cruddy. Most of the stuff didn’t work. The rest of the area was for bigger kids, and when a gaggle of bigger boys came in Silas got pretty uneasy – I would too if I were his size, they were pushing each other and very loud. We left there and went to Just Add Children to find that they changed over to summer hours and are now closed on Monday. I was going to flex the schedule and go to the Children’s Museum when I noticed a little boy in my rearview whose head was resting on the car seat side and whose eyes were slowly closing. It was, after all, by that time, nap time. So we went home instead. Silas slept and then we played toys (my SIL and her husband brought their girls up Sunday and we did a toy exchange – he got some fantastic new gadgets).

This morning (Tuesday) I asked Kelly if she and her daughter wanted to join us at the Witte around 3. Her response was that they had plans and that we should get there way early because by 2:30 the parking lot is full and there’s a line around the place waiting to get in. Silas and I ran errands and grocery shopped, then he napped. I called at 2 and there was already no parking (and it was over 90 degrees) so…we stayed home. Silas napped until 4 anyway. Then we played toys and we cuddlebugged (sitting on the couch arms wrapped around each other and heads snuggled together) during some DVR’d episodes of Olivia (which is his newfound fave).

So tomorrow I don’t know what we’ll do. I’d like to take him out and do something, but it’s hard with his nap schedule. I think my expectations and what my kiddo can handle at 14 months are way out of whack. I had this idea that I should try to be super fun Mommy this week (because I could) but with three two-hour naps during his day (8 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.), it’s pretty hard to go anywhere or do much of anything. I would like to go to the Playland tomorrow but it’s open 10-3. We nap 10-12 and 2-4 and there needs to be lunch in there. *Sigh* Perhaps trips are just not destined to be. And toddler story hour? It’s at 10:15. I think my plans are screwed.

And that’s ok. Because right now what I should be doing is enjoying my cuddlebug and playing toys and going outside to find sticks (when it’s not stupid hot out) and playing in the wading pool. Maybe next summer we can do daytrips during daycare’s vacation. But tomorrow I think we may just sleep until we want to and go out if we feel like it (if we’re not too close to nap time).

One thing we have been doing a lot of this week is talking, and that is just fan-tastic. It is amazing to think that this little person is developing preferences and is now able to tell you those preferences by shaking his head no, nodding yes, saying, “Yeah” (we’re working on the s, believe me, I hate “yeah”), and pointing at what he wants when it’s visually available. Sunday Jerry (my BIL) asked him, “Do you want to take a nap?” and he nodded emphatically. And he did. He took a nap. This afternoon he napped and when he was done I heard his little voice, “Ah dun!” Apparently he’s realized that all done can apply to eating AND to napping. At dinner he told the dogs to “go,” drawing out the o and really making the o face. It was awesome. He’s following commands better and actually NOT touching that the first time rather than testing you to see if you really mean it (and I do). The other day I asked him as we were leaving, “Do you want to help me put the dogs up?” (in their crates before we leave). “Yea!” he cried, following me to get the treats then following me to the crates. Today I took pineapple chunks out of the fridge for him and he cried, “Yay!” with a huge grin when he saw them. Boy likes pineapple (as he should since I ate it every day throughout my pregnancy).

He’s just an amazing little person. And I need to keep that in mind. No schedules, no required trips. Hangout. Cuddlebug. Hugs. Play toys. Some sticks. Naps (of course). That’s what we need.
Monday, June 27, 2011

New Guest Blog Post

Interested in learning about choosing a baby carrier? I have a guest blog post I did for Top to Bottom Baby Boutique that just got posted today. Go show them some love!
Saturday, June 25, 2011

CuteyBaby Modern Cloth Diaper Review

Tester Bebe: Silas, 16 weeks, 16.5 lbs and 27 ¼ inches

I came across the CuteyBaby website during a search for cloth diapers, and the information about the Modern Cloth Diapers they were making made me really excited. They had cute prints, removable Velcro (so there’s less laundry wear), and the insert was removable but sewn in (so it won’t get lost in the wash). The difference though was that the pocket where the insert goes in is in the middle of the diaper, creating a channel to hold any solid waste. The removable Velcro and inner channel made me excited to try these diapers. They sell them on for $24.95, but I wanted to try it for cheaper so I found one on eBay.

I prepped the diaper by washing and drying on hot three times, and I was looking forward to trying it. We started putting it on my son, and the tabs were too long. We found there were snaps on the side to shorten the tabs, so we snapped them and were good to go. But the rise was way too long for him, even though the leg elastics fit well. So he had a big bubble from his crotch to the back of the diaper. My husband and I joked he had lots of room to pack #2 in there. An hour later, he was hanging out in his bouncer with his legs lifted up and fussing. When we checked the diaper, sure enough, there was poo. When I went to wash it out with the diaper sprayer, the inside pocket had absorbed some of it so I had to take the insert (also with poo) out, then turn the diaper inside out to wash out the interior.

After this experience, I would say this would be a fantastic dipe by itself for urine only. If we consistently had #2 in this diaper though, I’d get annoyed. But CuteyBaby has the answer to that (but I haven’t tried it) – they created “Keep It Clean!” liners that you lay over the top of the diaper to catch solids so that they don’t end up in the pocket. It seems like a fantastic idea. So maybe I should table my review until I can try those out too.
Want to buy? has them for $24.95
Friday, June 24, 2011

To Hybrid or Not? The Votes Are In…

Last week’s poll asked about why you don’t drive a hybrid (if you didn’t, obviously). 33% of you cited the price (they’re too expensive), 16% said you can’t afford a new car right now, 50% said they’re too small usually, and 50% indicated there were other reasons. I was interested to see that nobody chose the “I can’t work on it myself and don’t want to pay any repair bills” option.

When we bought our Toyota Prius (2007), my husband got upset that I chose to buy it because he kept telling me, “I don’t know how to work on it. I don’t even know where the spark plugs are and how to replace them. I don’t even know if it has spark plugs.” While we haven’t had many issues with it, we have learned some things about it such as how to change the oil (it’s not much different than a non-hybrid except it requires synthetic) and how to change the headlamps (the driver’s side one is a nightmare while the passenger side one has directions for it in the manual).

As for the price, I think that as more hybrids are designed that the price will come down. So you may be waiting for that to happen before you buy one, and I understand that. Mine, used, was even $17K or so (I don’t remember, maybe I’m trying to block it out). And the size? You all are right, at least about the Prius. I bought it when I was without child LoL. Now, it’s definitely small. The hatchback is a good size, but when it’s got a stroller in there there’s not much room for anything else. But we have road tripped to Grandma’s (2.5 hour drive) with me, Mike, Si, and the two dogs and our gear comfortably. I also have to say that my husband is 6 feet 8 inches and he can fit into it (although it may not look like it at first glance). So height of the driver shouldn’t be an issue for most people.

What I can say is that the gas mileage and lower carbon footprint, for us, definitely balance out the size issue. Especially when gas prices started to rise, I was happy with my purchase and would definitely do it again. We usually get 400+ miles to a tank of gas. Not many cars can do that for you. If you’re in the market for a car and are interested in a hybrid, definitely check out the Prius.
Sunday, June 19, 2011

One Year In Cloth – The Choice, The Journey

On April 26, 2010 my husband and I were blessed by the arrival of our little boy, Silas. Before he arrived, we talked about a lot of different parenting things, and one thing he said is that he wanted to cloth diaper Silas like his Mom had cloth diapered him. Since we work to be as environmental as possible, I thought, “Why not.” I started doing research on the options (like I do as a researcher), and was overwhelmed. My best friend from graduate school, Alana, had been cloth diapering her son for over a year and sent me a file with her “year worth of accumulated cloth diapering wisdom.” It was a godsend. She helped me understand the options (prefolds? Covers? AIO whats? Is OS really OS?) and gave me suggestions for accessories that were really helpful to her. Her advice gave me a direction to say the least.

When Silas was consistently 8 pounds, I bought my first two diapers from Eden’s Baby in San Antonio. I decided against newborn sized diapers because I didn’t think it was economical to buy a diaper stash for someone who would outgrow that size pretty quickly. So I chose two pocket diapers that I had researched well – a Bum Genius (BG) 3.0 one size (OS) Aplix (Velcro) diaper and a FuzziBunz (FB) OS snap diaper (with the adjustable elastic inside the diaper). I didn’t prep them enough (usually three washings should be sufficient to start using them) and the FB leaked all over him at his pediatrician’s appointment. I think it was also due to the elastic sizing though – I may have had the adjustments on the wrong size. Eventually my husband told me he liked the Velcro better than the snaps, so I sold the FB on eBay and started buying BG OS diapers. Alana had suggested we buy all snaps due to the fact that eventually Silas would be able to remove the Velcro (and the snaps at some point too), but I went with what Mike wanted because I wanted him to be involved in the choices. At four months I found Silas in his crib with no diaper on after he had removed the Velcro, so I started selling off my Velcro diapers and only buying snaps. Mike dealt. Velcro is a lot easier when you’re first trying to diaper baby, but snaps last longer because the Velcro tends to get nasty in the washer after a while. You can replace the Velcro (and Cotton Babies actually sells kits to fix your Aplix) if it gets bad though, so that’s definitely a plus. There are also folks out there who will convert your diapers from Aplix to snaps for a fee (usually about $5 per diaper).

The first thing we realized we wanted as an accessory was a diaper sprayer. We bought the BG Sprayer from Cotton Babies and installed it in three minutes, and I have never been happier with a purchase. It makes clean up of solid diapers 200% easier (especially since we tried the garden hose once). We also got a couple of wet bags to keep the diapers in because grocery bags just weren’t cutting it. My favorite is the Kangacare/Rumparooz wet bag as it holds about a washer-load of diapers. I looked at doing cloth wipes, and tried them for a bit, but I found Mike wouldn’t use them so I switched back to regular wipes.

Once we started diapering and I felt comfortable with what we were doing, I started looking around at other options in terms of styles and companies. I found I really liked trying new things, especially since I found that if we didn’t like them we could always sell them for almost as much as we paid for them. I realized that cloth diapers are a lot like women’s clothing – each company has their own fit and style, and some work for you and some don’t. Some fit your kid’s butt really well, others just don’t. My son has a long torso (or a long rise, which is the measurement from the belly button down around his boy parts to the top of butt/waist). If a diaper has a short rise, then it just won’t fit him. Rumparooz, while super cute, did not fit my son to 35 pounds as they are supposed to for that reason. They fit him to 28 pounds (did I mention he’s also tall and heavy?).

As many parents write, cloth diapering is addictive. It becomes almost like your hobby – collecting diapers for your kid’s butt. Sounds funny, I know. “Most of the time it gets covered up by clothes, so who cares about the print,” you may think. Well, that’s true, but fun prints are so much more fun. Parents post pictures of their “stash” (collection of cloth diapers or CDs) and other parents ooh and ah. They buy/sell/trade and collect different ones on Facebook, eBay, and websites dedicated to cloth diapering sales like DiaperSwappers. They stalk diapers and diaper covers (that go over the non-waterproof diapers like Goodmamas, Thirsties Fab Fitteds, and Kiwi Pies) and post that they are IDSO (in dire search of) a certain print/size. From the outside looking in, it can be pretty funny. Outsiders would think, “Really? You sat on eBay for 3 hours battling another person for a Kissaluvs owl print diaper? Really?” Yes, I did. My son’s room was decorated in owls – I wanted that diaper. Goodmamas (GMs) stock on Fridays with a preview on Facebook on Thursdays. It’s like Christmas – limited quantities for multiple mommas means you get there early and you have your PayPal ready to go so you can check out faster than the other people stalking the same diaper you want. A GM sold for over $400 on Spots Corner. No joke. Some people are, in a word, addicted.

So my kid’s butt has been around the cloth diapering block. We’ve used pocket diapers (BG 3.0 and 4.0, FB OS, FB Perfect Size [sized diapers], Happy Heiny’s, Smartipants, AppleCheeks,Thirsties Duo Diapers, Rumparooz, Blueberry, Swaddlebees, Wahmies, Bububibi, LolliDoos, Coolbaby, and Sunbaby), fitted diapers (Thirsties Fab Fitteds, Sustainablebabyish, GMs, Kiwi Pies, and Kissaluvs), prefolds with a cover (Thirsties, Gen Y, Bummis, Kushies, gDiapers, and Econobum), and All in Ones (AIOs) which have an insert sewn in usually so there’s no need to search for the matching insert (BG AIOs, BG Elementals, Kissaluv’s Marvels OS AIO, The Eli Monster, DryBees, Blissful Booty, Envibum, Tots Bots, Dream-Eze, GroVia, Imse Vimse, and CuteyBaby). Ok that list kind of disturbs me. As you can see though, I’m willing to try anything. I do have to say that my “workhorse” diapers (the ones I use the most) are my BG 3.0s and 4.0s and my FB (size medium currently) though. I think daycare has the easiest time with these too as I’ve seen some of the others come home on him backwards or fastened incorrectly (remember, SmartiPants goes in the BACK, snaps almost always go in the front).

The funny thing is the companies we started out with (BGs and FBs) are the ones that still fit him the best (as of right now). While he’s on the last “size” of the BG OS diapers (because of his long rise), he still fits pretty well in FB size mediums, and I’m thankful for that. If he didn’t, I’m not sure how much longer we could cloth diaper. While the rate of growth slows in the second year, it’s kind of sad that my son has pretty much grown out of almost everything else out there.

So where do you go if you’re a parent (or about to be a parent) and you’re interested in learning how to cloth diaper? A lot of the CDing sites have “How To” pages, and I’ve found that the one at Cotton Babies (home of BG, Flip, and Econobum) is amazingly helpful. There are discussion boards on DiaperSwappers where you can read other people’s questions and post your own, and the parents there (mostly Moms really) are very helpful. Some answers to frequently asked questions: No, washing your diapers doesn’t make your water bill go up by that much; No, washing diapers really doesn’t take that much more time out of your week (with a large enough stash you can wash twice or three times per week); Yes, daycare may have a problem with it initially but you can teach them how to “work” cloth diapers (on July 19 Rockin’ Green cloth diaper detergent will post my guest blog about how to work with your daycare and I’ll post the link here); No, it’s not “grosser” than using disposable diapers – if you’re a person afraid of poop, then I’m not sure that parenting is for you :)

Cloth diapering – try it, you might like it! If you have any questions, please feel free to email me or post your question in response to this. I love helping parents with their diapering journey.