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.
Saturday, June 18, 2011

Guest Blogger Jena’s Note to Herself

Welcome to our first guest blogger, Jena! Fantastic job and great message about the choices we make when starting to cloth diaper.

Dear self of seven months ago:

I know you’re absolutely confused and overwhelmed by the variety of cloth diapers available out there. You’re actually paralyzed by the fear of making the wrong decision for the baby you’re about to meet, and you know that’s silly, but knowing it’s silly doesn’t help you become able to make your first decision about which diapers to buy. Well, second—you already made the decision to use cloth. Good choice, by the way—you’re going to love them.

See, here’s the thing. It’s kind of hard to make a wrong choice with cloth diapers, unless you order a bunch of huge diapers and forget she (yes, it’s a girl) is going to be pretty small at birth, which of course you wouldn’t do. Know what would suck? What would suck is to not have those diapers laundered and waiting for her when you two come home from the hospital. Especially since she’s going to arrive a week earlier than you would’ve thought to expect her.

You’re very lucky a friend gave you her first diaper stash—she took some of the weight off your shoulders. Those diapers will last for the first few months, and you’re going to love prefolds on your newborn girl, and you’d like to kiss the man who invented Snappis, because it means you don’t have to deal with those big clumsy pins. So you got eighteen or so newborn size prefolds, half a dozen covers (in x-small, small, and one-size), a dozen size one hemp fitteds and another half dozen size one cotton fitteds, plus a couple small all-in-ones and one one-size pocket diapers.

Choice is a good thing, when you’re not terrified of somehow screwing up something for your kid. And no, you wouldn’t have chosen the prefolds, because they’re just not as cute as some of the other diapers, but once they have a cover on them, they’re still adorable and they’re cheap. If your friend hadn’t loaned them to you, I’d advise you to start your stash with them anyway. Besides, the newborn size only fits about a month and then you’ll be using the trimmer fitteds.

Later, when friends can’t figure out which diapers to register for or purchase themselves for the first few months, you’re going to recommend at least twenty-four prefolds and three Snappis for the more budget-restricted and a combination of prefolds and hemp fitteds and covers for those with a not-so-restricted budget. You’ve heard that some pocket diapers work well on newborns, but you’re not convinced. They’d probably be a lot bulkier than you would’ve liked on your baby (and the prefolds were pretty darn bulky).

But you’re going to feel like such a wimp down the road, when you think of all those times you almost bought diapers but didn’t because they might be “wrong” for the baby. You won’t know if you don’t try; you don’t have to order a ton of them, but you might consider ordering with friends to get some of those buy-in-bulk deals, some of which are really good. Read reviews where possible, but go with your gut. When you have a question, find a site with a cloth diapering forum or discussion board and ask—or just Google it; I’m sure someone’s already asked it. Search for sales; cloth diaper sales do exist, often on those sale-a-day sites. In fact, you’re going to purchase your first pocket diapers through one of those sites. (Oh, and when you order, consider ordering extras as gifts for friends.)

When your daughter is almost six months old, you’ll be using three different brands of pocket diapers. You’ll only have two all-in-ones exclusively for your diaper bag (remember when you thought you’d want mostly all-in-ones?). You’re hooked. You can’t wait to pick out which diapers you’re going to order next. And your little girl looks adorable in them, like you knew she would.

Don’t worry. You can do this.


Jena lives in British Columbia, Canada, with her husband and their first baby, who was born Christmas morning and has been nothing but a delight since she arrived.
Monday, June 13, 2011

Summer Trips or Not Poll Results

Ok, I’m sad. Only three people voted in this week’s poll. Two said they plan summer trips and one said that they don’t work any differently in the summer than they do during the year so they don’t plan summer trips.

This summer we’re planning on doing some Sea World tripping (not really a trip since we live in San Antonio) and we’re planning on going back to Hamilton Pool Preserve. What are some of your fun summer ideas?
Friday, June 10, 2011

Running in the Sprinkler

The other day my husband was out watering the lawn, and my son was getting restless, like he does. Rather than throw some toys, I brought him outside to “see what Daddy’s doing.” Daddy had the arch sprinkler going, and Silas walked out to it slowly, investigating it. He finally got close enough to touch the arch when it was over to his right, but eventually it was straight up and raining on him. He laughed, and ran away. I thought, “Ok, we’re done with that.” But he went back and touched the spraying water again until it rained on him, and ran away again. He did this until he was soaked – hair, shorts, feet, diaper, soaked. And he was having a ball, laughing every time. I just watched and shook my head. But a small part of me wished that I could do the same (well not the diaper part).

As adults, we’re missing something. We’re missing the small things in life and the enjoyment we can get from them. We’ve stopped checking out the new things just to see what they do to us (and going back for more). Don Lucas, a colleague of mine at Northwest Vista College, talks about this in terms of why we do things. My son was doing this for the pure enjoyment of the thing, or what Lucas (2010) describes as an endotelic reason. He wasn’t cajoled into doing it by us, he wasn’t required to do it for work, he was simply…playing.

When was the last time that you did something simply for the enjoyment of it? You may be able to think of something easily but let me ask you, really, were you doing it for enjoyment? My husband plays video games. He keeps playing some of them because he wants to beat the game, that’s his goal. That’s not a “just for fun” reason. If I read a book to review for a blog, I’m not doing it just for fun. I have a goal that I’m trying to reach. If I knit a blanket for a friend’s new baby, again, I have a goal. While we may enjoy what we’re doing, after a while it may feel like a chore because really we’re working toward a goal rather than simply enjoying the pleasure we feel from doing something we enjoy.

Kids do these types of things all the time – they investigate stuff, they have no goal or agenda, they just play (especially when we’re talking about solitary play). They can spend a good part of their day just investigating and learning “what does this do? How does it work?” if we let them. So when do we lose this? When do we lose this interest in just learning to learn and playing to play? Typically? When we start school, sadly. At school there are goals, there are tests, there are all sorts of outside reinforcers that influence us to behave in certain ways. Once we internalize this idea of feeling good about accomplishing a goal, then it’s possibly all over for the endotelic “just for play” activities. Because then everything has a reason. Everything has an end or a goal that we’re trying to reach.

A lot of times I find myself trying to direct my son’s play, trying to set goals for him. “Let’s play with this shape sorter” (so we can learn shapes, colors, and practice your fine motor skills). After a few minutes of me “helping,” he loses interest. But if I leave him to his own devices, he’ll play with the shapes and investigate where they fit and what fits in the sorter (Daddy’s keys?) until I interrupt him for something else. But because I’ve gone to school, because I’ve “turned adult” and can’t do anything just for fun anymore, I feel badly leaving him to play alone or undirected. It’s the same way I feel when I sit down to watch TV for a little bit (my own version of undirected play). I feel like I’m not accomplishing anything.

So after observing my son’s behavior and thinking about this for a bit, my husband and I were outside watching the sprinkler right before bed. “Let’s run through the sprinkler,” I dared. He looked at me, concerned. “Why? Are you hot?” He asked. “No, just because. Come on.” After some cajoling and me telling him I would beat him to the other side of the lawn, he agreed. He apparently did not see the value in simply running through the sprinkler – he needed a reason (to beat me across the lawn).

We ran through the sprinkler, and I slipped and my $50 canvas shoes got covered in mud (says the adult). Who cares, says the little kid in me who wishes we could do this more often (and not feel the need to cajole Mike into it too). Shoes wash off (which they did). But can we really enjoy a life where we’re doing things to reach some goal rather than just to enjoy them?
Monday, June 6, 2011

Toddler Backyard Wading Pool – Diaper or No Diaper Poll

After 13 votes, 46% of you said the kiddo’s nakie, 23% said they’re definitely in a swim diaper, and 30% said “It depends.” At our house we’re definitely of the “nakie” variety, but it does depend on what time of day it is. If it’s typically a time that he has a dirty diaper, then I’m definitely putting a swim dipe on him. Thanks for taking the time to vote!
Friday, June 3, 2011

“Is This Normal?” – Yes, It’s Normal to Dislike Your Significant Other (Sometimes)

I had originally titled this “It’s normal to hate your significant other (sometimes)” but I felt that was really harsh. For me hate and dislike are hugely different and if you hate someone today you’re not going to love them another day, so “hate” really doesn’t fit what I want to talk about here. As a psychologist and a mom I have heard so many stories (so so so many stories) from moms who after the birth of their child thought about divorce often (and some even talked or threatened about it). Before I had my son I wondered why that was. I thought, “Shouldn’t having a child together bring you closer? You can watch it grow and develop its personality and share that love together…wouldn’t that bring you closer?”

In a simple answer, I would now say, “No.” Or “Not always.” I have met some amazing couples who transitioned from couple to co-parents easily it seemed. And I have met some people who went from best friends to not being able to sit in the room together without sighing or glaring (or hey, both, that’s fun). There are a couple possible reasons for that. The one that makes the most sense to me relates to talking about personality and identity.

Personality can be thought of as people’s typical ways of behaving. It can be traits, like we think about from personality tests, or it can be ways that they typically behave. Let me give you an example. As I grew up, I learned that when I got home from school I should complete all of my homework and then do my chores and then I had all the leftover time to do whatever I wanted. I’ve continued this pattern of behavior so that now when I get home from work I do work if I need to, do some cleaning, and then, if I have time, I relax. My husband, on the other hand, comes home from work and wants to relax after his day. When he’s done relaxing there may be some chores or cleaning done, but most likely it’s already 11:30 and he’s ready for bed (and I’ve been taking up what I think of as his slack).

Part of our personality is also how we relate to others and what we expect from them. If I expect that a significant other will do 50% of the housework and they don’t, my expectations are violated which usually leads most people to frustration. But here’s the funny part – you’re sitting there getting frustrated because your partner isn’t doing what you expect them to do, and they’re just happy as Larry (however happy he may be – Eddie Izzard reference), oblivious that you’re frustrated and maybe (most likely) oblivious to your expectations. Because they can’t read your mind. And they don’t hold the same expectations. Does that make them wrong? No. Does it make you wrong? No.

“Wait…you mean that neither of us are wrong?” you’re thinking. Yes, that’s what I’m saying. Relationships aren’t about right and wrong really. They’re two people with two different expectations and two different life experiences coming together to share a relationship (with two different expectations about what that means). It’s a wonder that anybody stays together really. Because most of us don’t vocalize our expectations. We assume that because this person knows us that they should KNOW what we want. Or they should KNOW that you do the dishes right after you have dinner (when that’s not a rule, that’s your expectation). See where I’m going with this? Your partner’s not pissing you off. You’re pissing yourself off by making the rules that your partner doesn’t know about. That does not sound like a “fair” game.

Ok so that’s how we piss each other off in general life. Then let’s add some stressors. Right before a baby is born we’re anxious about a lot of stuff. Is the delivery going to go ok, is the baby going to be ok, are we going to adjust ok, will we get sleep, will we be ok with money, etc. etc. Thennn there’s a baby (or any major life change really). It causes chaos to a maybe previously pretty calm (and clean and organized) atmosphere. It doesn’t have a mute button so it may still be loud when you want it to shh (and excessive noise adds to anxiety). It keeps weird hours. You’re sleep deprived. You may not know what day it is (or care really) because you’re so sleep deprived and “off your game.” You may be dehydrated and hungry (new parents frequently forget to eat and drink water – I made myself by setting a timer on my phone). All of these stress your body and your brain out.

Now let’s add to this chaos. Each person in this relationship has their own identity or their view of themselves and how they are (and how they should be – like an ideal identity). That identity for many of us has been around for a while and hasn’t really had to change much. We’re ourselves. We’re like this. We do these things. We are a sister/brother/wife/husband/paper carrier, whatever we are, that’s what we think of ourselves as (unless we’re lying to ourselves and telling ourselves we’re our ideal but that’s for another discussion). Changing your identity is…well…hard. Some people are more flexible and they “bend” better than others, but for many, identity change is a difficult period. And after a kiddo is born, you’ve got two people who have to deal with this change. They both have to go from being themselves to being someone’s parent AND themselves (which can be difficult to maintain if “themselves” involves behaviors that don’t jive with being a parent). Most people can’t verbalize how they’re feeling as they go through this identity change. So you’ve got two people sitting around thinking about how their lives are changing and it’s a pretty freaky thing. They’re both feeling anxious. Just about identity change.

So stress + identity change + chaotic experiences + unrecognized expectations = what? You got it, frustration (and that’s a nice way of putting it). “I hate you you lazy asshole” has been used to demonstrate this frustration by some new moms that I know. And that’s just a small sample of what you may think when your significant other does something that goes against what you expect to be done.

I know this is easier said than done (especially when you’re sleep deprived) but before you say something to your significant other that you may regret and before you go badmouthing them to your friends, stop. Take a break. Sit quietly (if you can – nap times are good for this). And think about what we’ve talked about here. Stress. Anxiety. Identity change. Chaotic experiences. Lack of sleep. While those all may describe you, they’re describing your significant other too most likely. If you do something “off,” you may think to yourself, “Oh, that’s just the tired talking.” But do you give that same justification to your spouse when they do something off? If not, how come? That would be the equitable thing to do right? This is not a one-person life raft. It’s now a family boat. And everyone in the boat should be given the same benefit of the doubt.
Thursday, June 2, 2011

Why Buy from Work at Home Moms (WAHMs) or SmallCorp

Today CC Bums (run by Cami Court) posted on Facebook “Reasons to buy from WAHMs” and it got me thinking. While not all readers may cloth diaper, it’s still something to think about. Historically, humans produced what they could (i.e., farmed, raised animals, sewed clothing, etc.) and bartered with others who produced what they could not. People taught what they knew to others who paid the teachers in food or shelter (how the whole “apple for the teacher” got started) – still bartering. Now, producing what you’re good at and selling it to others who produce other things has become mostly a thing of the past sadly. Now we go to the grocery store and we’re confronted with multiple options for the same item that we feel that we need (although we probably want it rather than need it, but that’s for another discussion).

Overwhelming options don’t make our lives easier; they actually make them harder. We have so many things to choose from now that we feel post-purchase anxiety about whether we chose the “right” item. “Does Dawn really get my dishes cleaner or will I be ok with this no-name brand that I bought because it was cheaper?” In our current way consumerism, we’re making ourselves more anxious and making ourselves feel inadequate because we don’t have the “newest” or “greatest” gadget or product out there. So let’s get back to Cami’s question and expand on it a little bit.

Many stay at home parents have started businesses where they produce what they can (probably when the kiddos are napping!) and sell them to others via the Internet (which is a helpful invention for this area) and sometimes in specialty shops. Things created by WAH parents (usually Moms, let’s be honest, thus WAHMs) typically are good quality because they’re made by someone who loves what they’re doing and is usually doing it by hand. I’m not necessarily saying that making something by hand is “better” than machine made, but usually there’s more care put into it when it’s made by hand. Buying from these parents supports their family and it gives your family what they want and/or need. A great example is a company called FluffyRumps run by Rhonda ( Rhonda makes amazing stuff – diaper soakers, fleece longies to go over cloth diapers, washable fleece tissues (FluffyNoses), and tons of other family-type stuff. Asking her to make Silas’s fleece soakers/longies makes me feel like I’m helping out another Momma and getting what we need (something to cover the diaper at night). WAHM buying supports a non-commericalized economy where people are helping each other out rather than padding the pockets of companies that over-price their materials and shipping, and may not pay their workers the best wage.

If you’re a good WAHM or an amazing WAHM, your products sell and they sell well. You end up hiring helpers to produce your product, do your shipping, etc. At this point I would consider that a SmallCorp, meaning a group of people who create the product and may produce more than a lone WAHM, but still create an awesome product. Rockin’ Green soap (used for cloth diapers or anything else you can think of really) is one example of what I’d think of as a SmallCorp. Buying their soap and products you’re still supporting your local economy and small business, but these guys have gotten bigger than working out of their garage (RnG used to be housed in a small strip storefront miles from my house and now they’re further out of town in a larger space – good for them but sad for me because I can’t go visit as often anymore). But the light of excitement that you see with a WAHM is still there. They’re still fantastic at customer service (which is usually way better with work at home families).

What’s the answer to Cami’s question then? Support. Support your local economy rather than “Global Corp.” Support individuals rather than a company that’s stock supports them more than your purchase does. Find someone around you who can fill a need (and enjoys doing it) and give your business (and money or bartered product) to THEM and not to larger groups who seem to have difficulties managing their money ethically. Yes, sure, farmer’s market, go there. But hey, what about starting a neighborhood garden – you grow X, your neighbor grows Y, and then you exchange? Crazy idea. It may just work.
Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Kudos – The Natural Baby Company

As you may not know, our family uses cloth rather than disposable diapers (more on this in another post). Even though we have more than enough diapers to hold us over for at least a week without washing, I am always on the lookout for more simply because cloth diapering (CDing) is addictive. It’s like shoes for a shoe addict – you can never have too many. I’ve bought a few things from The Natural Baby Company (out of Bozeman, MT) and always appreciated their quick shipping and great products. Last week they had a percent off coupon, so I thought, “Well, why not, let’s see what I can find.” I bought three diapers and was excited to receive them.

This morning I missed a call from a Bozeman, MT number and the voicemail stated that one of my diapers was out of stock and they wanted me to call them back so we could figure out what else to send. I then remembered that this had happened one other time with them when they had a sale on GroVia seconds (diapers and inserts that are not perfect, maybe they have some stitching or color issues, but work perfectly). So I called them back.

Now, as we’ve all become used to, customer service has become automated service (if you can call it service at some places). So when I called The Natural Baby Company I expected an automated “press 1 for X.” But a person answered. Like a real person. I told her my name and that I was returning a call about my order, and she said she was going to send me to Shipping. Three seconds later another person (person!) named Donyetta answered and called me by my first name. Wow. That fast and you actually know who you’re talking to? She told me one of the prints I ordered was out of stock and asked if I was looking for a boy print, girl print, or a gender neutral. I told her we needed a boy print and she gave me my options. We decided on a dino print. Then she told me she’d ship my order out today.

Even if you’re not a cloth diapering family, check out these people. They have a great selection of toys, clothes, baby wearing items, breastfeeding help, natural personal care stuff, and diapers of course. They have fantastic human customer service, and they do a great job of keeping you updated about your order via email and their website. Five stars all around. Kudos to The Natural Baby Company.