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Valentine’s is for Vendettas

12 Feb

Some of you around here may remember that Vin and I don’t really celebrate Valentine’s Day, per se. It’s not that we don’t like things like love and flowers and romance. We just like the mob more. Therefore, we like to celebrate the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. Our favorite way to celebrate is by watching mob movies.

 

So, in honor of the most romantic day of the year, here are our favorites. If you happen to be as twisted and warped as we are, this is the perfect way to in the romantic spirit! If not, ignore this post and come back Friday.

 

1.) The Godfather (Part I and II, never III)

 

Any list of mob movies is obligated to include The Godfather and I’d be remiss if I didn’t admit that it’s one of my favorites series. I fell in love with Michael Corleone in college. When I took a film history class for my minor, we watched Part I and II. On a big screen. In one sitting. It was intense.

I’m not lying when I tell you that when we all stumbled out of that theater and into the blinding afternoon sun, every person in class was incredibly paranoid. We walked across the quad as though someone had a hit out on us. It’s an obsession that led me to perform a scene from Part II for my film acting final (which I aced, thankyouverymuch) and endlessly quote the movie to this day. These movies are perfect for a Valentine’s celebration because they’re super-romantic (Italy, duh).

 

 

2.) Mystic River

 

 

Okay, so this one is a favorite, but promise me you won’t watch it if you’re feeling especially sensitive. There’s some heavy stuff in this movie. Heavy stuff like child abuse and parents dealing with the death of their child. Heavy.

But, guys. Sean Penn is the best crier of all time. Plus you get fantastic performances by Tim Robbins and Kevin Bacon. This is seriously one of the best and most interesting explorations of guilt, innocence, criminal motivation, and the evolution of friendship. This is definitely a good pick if you’re down for a serious time.

 

 

3.) The Departed

 

Leonardo DiCaprio. I’ve been obsessed with him since forever and he’s fantastic in this one.  Also, there’s Matt Damon, who is, well, Matt Damon. They play guys working undercover for the state police and Irish mob, respectively.  There’s a great story line here that involves both men fraternizing with the enemy, forging relationships they know they’ll have to betray, and the question of whether they’ll be able to betray them when the time comes.

There’s also Jack Nicholson as the mob boss. He generally creeps me out, but that’s absolutely perfect for his role in this film. I just love the idea that you never really know who’s on who’s side in this movie. Definitely a tense movie, which is what you want on Valentine’s, right?

 

4.) Gangs of New York

 

 

Don’t tell Michael Coreleone, but this one might be my favorite. I know I said they were all favorites, but this one is more favorite. As Vin says, this is more your average blue collar, working man’s mob movie. I believe his direct statement was, “When I watch The Godfather I feel like I’ve got to put on a shirt and tie.” So, I guess if you’re wanting your Valentine’s affair to be a classy one, go Godfather. If you’d like to keep things more casual, then Gangs of New York is for you.

So, we’ve got kind of a similar story line as The Departed, in that there’s Leonardo DiCaprio playing a guy trying to infiltrate the mob. This time he’s in Civil War era New York trying to avenge his father’s death at the hands of Bill the Butcher (best name everrrr and played by Daniel Day Lewis). This movie has it all. The juxtaposition of a personal vendetta and the climatically violent war over control of the Five Points in New York is just wonderful.

The gang names are phenomenal, too. I mean, how can you go wrong with the Natives vs the Dead Rabbits vs the Bowery Boys? You can’t, especially when the gangs include guys named Happy Jack Mulraney, Priest Vallon, and Hell Cat Maggie. The cast is excellent; DiCaprio and Day-Lewis are joined by Liam Neeson, Brendan Gleeson, Jim Broadbent, John C. Reilly, and on and on. The weak link, if there is one, is the inclusion of Cameron Diaz who isn’t my favorite actress. She’s decent enough and I guess you have to have some sort of a love interest…and since this is for Valentine’s Day, I’ll let it slide. Plus, there are top hats. Lots and lots of top hats and fantastic plaid pants. Overall, this is one of my favorite movies ever, so go watch it.

 

 

If you’ve already made plans for Valentine’s, I seriously suggest you scrap them. I mean, who wants hand holding and roses when you can have the severed heads of horses, knife fights, and blood baths? Not this girl, that’s fo’ sho’.

 

Image Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4

Some New Year’s Wisdom

6 Jan

Well, we’re almost an entire week into the new year and it still hasn’t lost that “new year” feeling of reflection and self-evaluation for me. I wrote a few days ago about all the things I want to accomplish this year and received a beautiful comment from one of my dear readers who has been down this road of young motherhood before. Here’s what she wrote:

 

“I could have written the same list when I was a mother of three little children. My guess is that you won’t achieve all of them this year.

The good news is that I have finally accomplished some of them, and I just needed to retire to be able to say that. Many of the things you wish to do and be are limited by one thing: TIME. Juggling three babies is more than a full time job. When you add work, home, church, spouse, and all the other things that eat up our time, little time is left for art, literature, writing, baking, and 5Ks.

Now that I no longer have to drag my sorry self out of bed at 6:00 am and be gone for nine hours, I find that I pretty much have time to do whatever I want. I sew a lot, cook delicious and healthy meals, and our house is cleaner than it ever was before. Our lives are very satisfying. We are near to Cameron and her wonderful family, and are able to help them out in numerous ways.

Once, when our three were young, an older friend visited me when I had been home bound with sick children for an endless period. They had all had chicken pox, not at the same time but one after the other after the other. My friend told me something that took me years to realize the truth: “Mimi, one day you will know that these are the best days of your life.” In retrospect, those were wonderful times. And I worried too much about things that didn’t really matter to fully enjoy the richness of my life.

I’m not sure what the point of this rambling is, except that some day, when you finally have time and peace to do and be what you want, you won’t have three precious little people in your care. So don’t give up trying to reach those goals, but don’t kick yourself if you do not. And remember that these are the best days of your life.”

 

Oh, yes, yes, yes. This encapsulates everything I feel about a new year. It’s so easy to get caught up in the excitement and the planning of a fresh start for 2014. Many of us get wrapped up in change, caught up in an attempt to “fix” everything we’re screwing up and begin January like a chicken with it’s head lobbed, off rushing around trying to become the “perfect” person we want to be but not really getting anywhere.

 

Change is good. Wanting to be a better version of ourselves is good. Planning good things and renewing good habits for the future are good. But, as my friend Lauren says, New Year’s Day is really just another cold, snowy day like the one before it. The entire year should be focused on refocusing, so to speak. There’s a very fine line we tread between self-improvement and self-loathing. It’s easy to get wound up about all the things we’ll do in the new year as a way to make up for the things we lack, the things we didn’t do, the flaws we see in ourselves.

 

 

But these are the best years of our lives.

 

 

This is the best. The lack of pants, the garbage bags, the dirty floor…these are all the best.

 

I just started reading The Reed of God by Caryll Houselander, a study on Mary. Houselander makes the point that our human nature (soul and body) is material which God uses to assert His purpose in us; that we are individually shaped and created not only by the things we’ve experienced, but also the lives and experiences of each of our individual ancestors. We were planned from the very beginning and God used thousands of people over hundreds of years to specifically create us. 

 

And this stood out to me this morning as I contemplated the new year, the plans I’ve made, and the wisdom Mimi shared:

 

“Each one can…look honestly at the material from which he is made, and ask the Holy Spirit to let It show him the way Christ wills to show Himself in his life….There is, however, one big thing we can do with God’s help, that is, we can trust God’s plan, we can put aside any quibbling or bitterness about ourselves and what we are. We can accept and seize upon the fact that what we are at this moment, young or old, strong or weak, mild or passionate, beautiful or ugly, clever or stupid, is planned to be like that. Whatever we are gives form to the emptiness in us which can only be filled by God and which God is even now waiting to fill.”

 

So this year, like every year, I hope for balance. I hope that I can learn self-improvement and self-love. I hope I’ll have the courage to pursue all the dreams I have for my future and the joy that can only come from loving what I’ve been given, just as it’s been given to me.

 

Don’t give up trying to reach those goals, but don’t kick yourself if you do not. And remember that these are the best days of your life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have a great week, y’all!

Natural Childbirth Series: Reading Recommendations

8 Aug

To continue our series on natural childbirth, I thought I’d share some reading/viewing recommendations that I’ve found to be useful. My list is not long. Heck, I don’t know if it really even qualifies as a list.

 

But here’s the deal: This is a biiiig topic and it is easy to become overwhelmed by the veritable cornucopia of options out there. It is also easy to become overwhelmed by bloggers who use phrases like “veritable cornucopia”…so, sorry. Anyway, I’m going to list a few things that I’ve found to be extremely helpful in preparing for a natural childbirth and then I’d like to open the comments up to other (probably more experienced and better read) mamas and daddies to share their suggestions.

 

Please note that these are books that I have found to be extremely helpful as your average, every day person. I am not a medical professional, blah, blah, blah, consult a physician, yada, blargh…

 

So, here goes!

 

1.) In my opinion,  the Bradley Method is pretty much the gospel of natural childbirth. You can take the actual classes, but we’ve never been able to afford them and honestly, Husband Coached Childbirth has been our go-to book time and time again.

 

 

This was the first book on the subject we picked up when we found out we were expecting Maggie and it’s so great. I really appreciate the premise that childbirth should be an experience shared with a partner, that it builds the relationship between man and woman, rather than causes a rift, as seen in the movies.

 

I also like it that Bradley’s ideas are derived from observing how “perspiring mammals” behave during labor. As someone who has seen many a house cat deliver kittens, it totally gelled with me. The entire book does a great job of giving practical examples and great comparisons (there’s the metaphor of labor being like climbing a mountain, for example) that make the whole process easier to understand. Basically, it’s my fave.

 

 

2.) When we were expecting Lily, I knew I really, really wanted to deliver without medications and interventions. I picked up a copy of Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering by Sarah J. Buckley, M.D. and really enjoyed it.

 

 

This book does a great job of balancing scientific research with real-life stories that have a lot of heart. You’ll get the bare-bones facts about the effects and risks of medications and interventions during pregnancy and labor as well as Buckley’s birthing experiences with her own children. I liked that the research was very approachable and that it’s easy to tell that the author is incredibly passionate about the subject.

 

I will say that this book tends to be more on the “hippie” side of things, for lack of a better descriptor. Buckley endorses lotus births, for example, something that I don’t disagree with at all, but also won’t be attempting any time soon. But that’s just me.

 

 

3.) Also, you should totally watch The Business of Being Born, a documentary executive-produced by Ricki Lake and directed by Abby Epstein.

 

 

Guys, this is really just so eye-opening and great. And it made me have all kinds of respect for Ricki Lake that I didn’t have before. She’s kind of a beast. Also, there’s a sequel and a new movie set to come out soon about breastfeeding. Awesome and awesome-er.

 

 

4.) I’m also anxiously awaiting my copy of Ina’ May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin, CPM.

 

 

I’ve got it on hold from the library, so hopefully I’ll get it soon-ish so I can report back. I’ve heard good things!

 

 

 

So, what about you? Have any go-to books that you’d recommend for someone considering natural childbirth? Let us hear about them in the comments!

Natural Childbirth: A Series

25 Jul

So, I’ve got birthing on the brain and I wanted to start a dialogue with on natural childbirth. I’ve been having a conversation with a friend who is preparing for a natural (unmedicated) delivery after having previously given birth under induction, etc. What’s really struck us, and what I’ll be focusing on in this first post, is the initial negativity that most people have regarding natural childbirth.

 

As Everett’s arrival gets closer, I find myself gearing up for one of the most transformative and soul-satisfying experiences a person can  have. I can’t begin to tell you how totally psyched I am. Seriously, can’t wait.

 

 

Mama, Daddy, and Ev at the Bean in Chicago.

 

 

And I know I’m not in the majority here. I’ve been blessed to find some really great online communities of people who are as excited as I am, but more often than not, when I’m out and about in the “real world” and the subject comes up, I’m greeted with emotions of horror, put-downs, negativity, or self-depreciating comments.

 

Why is that? Why is it that our culture is so incredibly negative regarding the “earth-shattering” idea delivering babies without drugs? I believe that, ultimately, it all boils down to fear, ignorance, and intimidation.

 

Unfortunately we’ve got a long history of negative imagery deeply embedded in our minds. Think about every movie you’ve seen in which a woman is depicted giving birth (natural or otherwise). What happens?

 

Looks pleasant, doesn’t it?

 

There’s always a great wailing and gnashing of teeth. People panic, run for hot water. We find out that Prissy “don’t know nothin’ bout birthin’ no babies, Miss Scarlett,” and then Prissy gets the biz slapped out of her. Hateful words are shrieked across sterile hospital rooms. The doctor bumbles around and the hysterical mother usually casts blame on the father, as in, “YOU did THIS to MEEE!!!”  I cannot recall one instance in which birth is depicted as a peaceful experience. I’m sure one exists, I just don’t know where.

 

Now, I get it. “Knocked Up” just isn’t as funny without all the scrambling and the chaos. And it’s genuinely hilarious to think of Bill Cosby’s wife literally pulling his lower lip over his head. But if these are the only images of childbirth that are out there, I mean really getting out there to a large audience of young women, what message are they receiving about the miracle of bringing a new life into this world?

 

And the blaming of the father? The screaming of condemnation that he is solely responsible for the allegedly horrible situation in which the mother finds herself? What does that say about our culture’s view of sex and responsibility and the gift of children?

 

Besides a boatload of cultural misconceptions surrounding childbirth, I think the main thing to combat is the simple fact that the average Joe has no idea how the female body works, much less how it works specifically in childbirth. Blame public schools, cultural stigmas, shyness, over-protective parents, whatever, but let’s face it we just don’t know our bodies.

 

 

Pretty much sums it up…

 

 

For many years I considered myself fairly well-informed on the female anatomy. It wasn’t until I took a Natural Family Planning class that I realized how little I really did know. Later, when we were expecting Maggie, we researched and learned even more, and I felt like I was an informed parent-to-be; I felt like I knew enough.

 

But it wasn’t enough. Not enough for me to trust my initial instinct to wait for labor to begin on its own. Not enough for me not to be tempted by the alleged ease and quick pace and “routine-ness” of an induction. Not enough for me to avoid being in labor for eighteen hours. You can never know enough.  When I became pregnant with Lily, I hit the books hard and never looked back. I was intensely more satisfied with my second labor experience and I credit that to my continued pursuit of knowledge. Never stop learning. Never.

 

Ultimately, guys, we’re mammals. We need to understand that the female body was gorgeously created to give life. Childbirth is intuitive for the body, but not the mind. We have to re-introduce ourselves to our bodies and get to know them intimately to get the best results.

 

I understand that medications can be helpful and that they can make things a zilliondy times better for us in the right situation, under specific circumstances, but I will never be comfortable with the idea of medicating the body when medication isn’t required. It is counter-intuitive to chemically change the dynamics of a machine that is doing exactly what it was designed to do. Period.

 

I know that natural childbirth is intimidating. It hurts. A lot. Is it the most horrendous pain of all time that no one alive can live through? Not even close. And the way I look at it is that, based on the research that’s out there, a drug-free delivery is the best option for my babies, so why wouldn’t I be willing to sacrifice of myself for them? Labor is not forever. It is completely doable. People climb mountains and run marathons. Childbirth is no different. It’s a physical challenge to the absolute extreme that will take you to the edge and back…and that’s why it is so incredibly rewarding.

 

 

 

 

I think a lot of women don’t choose natural childbirth because they’ve been told they can’t do it, by society, by other women, by themselves. I’ve literally had people tell me that I’m crazy for wanting to deliver naturally. I’ve been told, “Don’t be a hero, take the drugs.”

 

I’ve often wondered what makes women so negative about the birth choices of other women.   It may be that they don’t understand the desire. It may be that they don’t feel capable and, when met with someone who wants to try, they feel threatened.

 

Maybe they’ve met one too many of those “militant” people. You know, the kind who use their lifestyle choices -which are fine in principle- as weapons to make you feel like absolute garbage.

“I don’t eat that I’m vegan.”

My child wouldn’t know about that…We’re a screen-free family.”

“I delivered my baby on top of Mount Kilimanjaro with only a                                  Sherpa to attend me.”

 

 

Regardless of the cause, I think it’s a shame that women aren’t more empowering of one another, specifically in regards to childbirth. While I’m as pro-natural childbirth as they get, I will never condemn another woman for the choices she makes in delivery. Every woman, every pregnancy, every delivery is unique. I am not the one who walks that road. I only take my own and I don’t think that belittling someone based on their childbirth choices helps anyone.

 

But I do want people to learn. I do want people to give natural a chance. Most importantly, I want to foster a community of women that is encouraging and uplifting. I want my stories and your stories to be an encouragement to others who may be considering natural childbirth, but never though they could do it.

 

Because self-doubt is the biggest enemy. So many women who initially want natural births cave under the negativity, they believe the lie that says they aren’t capable, and they give up before they’ve even begun. And it’s a shame, because you really can do it if you want to. Really.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. I’m not even really all that professional in general, so I’d suggest that you get out there and decide what you think for yourself. And then come back here and tell me about it, ’cause I want to know what you think! This series is meant to provide my personal opinions and to foster dialogue, so chime in and consult a trained medical professional if need be. But definitely chime in! 🙂

Taking Time

7 Jun

So, my friend Stephanie just started a blog (Follow her at stephaniecov.wordpress.com!) and she wrote about the challenges of getting back in shape after having her second (adorable) baby. And it’s really about so much more than that, cause what I just wrote sounds lame, but the post is great and you can read it here.

 

Anyway, now I keep thinking about bodies and appearances and motherhood and how that’s all tied together. But, I’m mostly thinking about time. How there’s not enough. How I’m supposed to take some for myself and how that never seems to happen.

 

Lately, my version of taking time for myself essentially consists of me being all frazzled and crazy, sneaking away from my highly suspicious family (“Where you goin’ Mama?”), locking myself in the bathroom and frantically consuming something sweet because I just don’t want to share every single bite that goes into my body, dammit. And then I feel bad about the fact that I just snuck a candy bar like a criminal and, in all likelihood, I then consume another candy bar because I’m a guilt eater. I do usually share the second one with the kids, you know, to be fair or whatever.

 

Clearly this version of taking time for myself is not a healthy one. Clearly.

 

And this bothers me. It also bothers me that I rarely wear makeup when I’m not going to work or church. Not that I absolutely have to wear it…because, let’s face it, I’m pretty hot. But seriously, it would be nice. I mean, I like to look like a human sometimes and not just an extra on those cracked out meth scenes in Breaking Bad.

 

And my family needs it, too. My husband deserves to come home to a wife who makes some effort, not that he would ever complain, because he’s such a good person.

 

Then there’s the girls and soon to be boy-child. They deserve to see their mama take some time to make herself look presentable and to be presented with an image of womanhood that isn’t self-depreciating, but self-celebrating. Now, I don’t go running around the house talking about how nasty I look, but I can’t say as I’ve ever talked to the girls about how great my body is, either.

 

And I know these things take time. I just go through these cycles of frustration where I’ll resolve to do better and to be better and it’ll be okay for a little bit, but eventually I’m back to my old tricks. Example: I love writing. It is SO good for me. I know this. Time and time again I resolve to blog at least once a week. And a lot of times I do a good job with this goal. Which is why some of you get a ridiculous influx of email for a few days and then nothing for like three months. And that’s sad, because this is something that really makes me happy. So, why am I not making time to do it?

 

“But, when?” I keep asking myself. When is there time? When is there space? Where is the peace and quiet in the day to even contemplate doing this?? Especially those days when the baby’s poop falls out of her diaper and she steps in it as she’s getting on her toy horse? You know, the days when you clean up the poopy baby and she pees on you as you’re putting her in the bath to clean the poop from her widdle toes? Where’s the time in those days, I’d like to know?

 

While I was having a tea party with Mags, someone helped herself to the potting soil. Oy.

 

According to social media every other mom on the planet has her shiz together and has plenty  of time to cut box tops and creatively swath her child’s room in handmade decor while designer cupcakes cool in her spotless kitchen. I, however, cry foul. That jazz is not real and if it is, it sure isn’t as widespread as social media wants us to think. I have proof in the form of very comforting texts I get from one of my friends. Here’s my most recent favorite: “Days are long and years are short. Blah freakin’ blah. I’ll tell you what’s short. Patience. She’s a short b-.” God bless her, she always knows what to say to make me feel better.

 

Now, because my three year old daughter is smarter than I am, she just waltzed in and figured it all out for me.

 

I’ve been doing this thing with Mags about 30 minutes before her nap time that we’re calling “Quiet Time” because we’re original around here and we come up with sweet titles for things that we do. Suffice it to say, this is a time when Mags gets to sit on a special blanket in a special part of the living room and gets to complete tasks that I give her. She’s usually required to read a few books, do a few puzzles, and if I’m feeling particularly pinterest-y, I’ll have some clever fine-motor skill challenge for her. But usually puzzles.

 

I laarve Quiet Time because, she actually likes it and I actually have time to load the dishwasher in peace.

 

Today, I plopped myself down on Mags’ Quiet Time spot and just began writing because I had to. And my sweet, sweet girl wandered in and said, “You havin’ some quiet time, Mama? Good. You sit there and when you finish on your computer you can take a little rest.” From the mouths of babes, my friends, from the mouths of babes. Because it’s obvious, right? I need Quiet Time just as much as Maggie does. And, shoot, if she’s doing it, I might as well be sitting there right along side her. I could learn a lot from this kid.

 

She also pretends to be Betsy Ross, so she’s way cooler than I’ll ever be.

 

Motherhood is hard. Emotions are hard. None of this is easy and I need constant reminders that I’m worth it and that, like Stephanie reminded me, I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I’ve been given talents and gifts that need cultivating. I struggle with guilt, with the feeling that I need to be doing other more important things with my time than make up or blogging or reading. And though I feel selfish for taking time sometimes, I know that the negativity is all a lie. I am not required to live up to the false image of womanhood depicted on social media. I’m worth the five minutes it takes to put on some eye shadow and mascara. I’ve been given gifts that need cultivating and so have you. You are just as deserving as I for a moment’s peace, for some rejuvenation, for Quiet Time.

 

So, how do you do it, good friends of mine? Where do you take the time? And if you find the time, what is it that you’re doing?

 

I know this isn’t something that will be solved overnight and that I’ll probably fail about a million times before I figure it all out…if I ever do. But, I do know this: we need each other. We need the sisterhood of girls who are in the trenches everyday. We need the sisterhood of girls who did all of this thirty years ago and are still mothering everyone around them. We need the encouragement, the text messages, the blogs. We need daily reminders that we will all get through this. Because, we will. We really, really will.

Cloth Diapering

3 Apr

So, I had pictures for this post. And then the computer ate them/I’m technologically illiterate and my husband will find what I need immediately making me feel like a complete ding-dong because, well, I am one. So, please imagine this post full of colorful, artfully composed pictures of adorable babies with adorable cloth diapers on their bums. Thank ye, kindly!

 

 

Aaaanyway…

 

My high school friend, Beverly, is expecting her first baby soon (!!!) and I promised her I’d do a post on cloth diapering, preferably before the baby comes. Writing this post has taken way longer than it should have, so I owe Beverly my unending apologies (grovel, grovel, grovel)!

 

There is a ton of information out there about cloth diapering, which can be pretty daunting. I’m going to share the links and info that helped me the most when getting started, plus a few tricks, if any, I’ve learned along the way.

 

 

What Kind:

The first thing you need to decide is what kind of diapers you want to go with. There are about four zillion and one different kinds of cloth diapers, all with ninety different names/brands/make ups. Want organic hemp pre-folds? Done. Want a pocket diaper with disposable inserts? Done. Want diaps with adorable patterns/colors/textures/your baby’s name embroidered on them? Done and done.

 

I think the most important thing to consider when choosing a style of cloth diaper is convenience for your family, which means mama and daddy, of course, but also the well-meaning aunties, besties, and mothers-in-law who will be dying to help out, but might not be comfortable with a complicated system.

 

Our family went with the bumGenius system, which consists of pocket diapers that you stuff with inserts. This is nice because they’re made pretty much the same as disposable diapers, but you can adjust the absorbency for nighttime, etc. I also like the fact that they change sizes with your baby. Snaps on the front convert the diaper from small to two sizes bigger, which makes them last longer. Plus you don’t have to worry about guessing the right size for your baby’s bum. There’s definitely not much of a learning curve on using these diapers, which is nice for the people in our lives who don’t use them every day.

 

Keep in mind that the world of cloth diapering is a big one. I found myself getting overwhelmed by the number of options and really just went with what was recommended to me and what looked like the most accessible option. Follow your heart, Sacagawea, and you’ll be fine.

 

 

How Many?

This really depends on how frequently you want to wash diapers. I suggest having enough diaps so that you’re only washing every other day. Any longer than that and things will get stinky. And by ‘stinky’ I mean ‘staanky’. I think we’ve got about 20 or 25 diapers and that’s done us just fine.

 

 

Washing

So, when using cloth diapers the main goal is to avoid anything that will cause buildup, as buildup leads to moisture repelling issues which is poo-tastic (pun intended). This really isn’t that hard. Avoid laundry detergents with additives like fragrances, softeners, etc. We go with our store brand free and clear formula and it works great. I know a lot of companies out there make all-natural soaps that are supposed to be wonderful and a lot of the diaper manufacturers make their own detergents to “go with” the diapers, but I’m honestly more interested in the money-saving route, so just go with whatever works for you! Never use fabric softener or dryer sheets with your cloth diapers, either.

 

If you’re looking for yet another awesome reason to breastfeed, search no further, since breast milk is water soluble, huzzah!  This means that as long as baby’s exclusively breastfed, you don’t really need to rinse poo out of diapers! As soon as baby starts eating solids, though, you’ll need to dump/rinse your diapers.

 

This is the part where a lot of people get all squeamish and grossed out. I say, if baby poop grosses you out that much, your baby is laying down on the job. I’d much rather scoop it off a diaper than off my own chest (which has totally happened to me, thanks Mags) so just chalk it up to another awesome part of parenting and more fodder for “the things I did for you” speeches. It really isn’t that bad, though.

 

I will say, you have  to get a spatula for this job. Nothing scoops poop better than an old, hard sided spatula and I’m really sad I didn’t discover that trick until after I’d been cloth diapering for two years. Le sigh. I know you can get diaper sprayers that hook up to the toilet tank, but a spatula works for me!

 

Also, just so’s you know, we dry store our diapers. You can definitely soak them in a pail, but I don’t think it’s totally necessary. Like with the detergent, there are a lot of products that you can spray on your diaps to keep them smelling fresh as a daisy, but I haven’t found them to be necessary.

 

Okay, to the actual washing! BumGenius’ washing instructions are as follows:

“Pre-wash cold. Wash hot (100F/40C) with bumGenius detergent. Extra rinse. No laundry additives. Line dry cover. Tumble dry insert. No fabric softeners. Use 1/4 cup or 60 mL bleach in the hot wash once per month.”

 

Easy peasy, right? So, yeah…wash ’em once on cold, again on hot with a minuscule amount of detergent, bleach ’em when you want and you’re good to go! I do bleach mine once a month and I’m definitely guilty of tossing my covers in the dryer with the inserts (remember, no dryer sheets!). This is especially common for me in the winter when I have no incentive to hang things up since the drying rack isn’t as pretty as the clothesline and I’m kind of lazy anyway. A word for the clothesline: I’m obsessed with them and think everyone should get one! They’re so wonderful, in general, but nothing makes cloth diapers smell better or shine whiter than the sun. Plus, a line full of pretty cloth diaps is so, so lovely.

 

 

Stripping

Wink, wink! Unfortunately, this kind of stripping isn’t usually that exciting, but feel free to improvise! Ahem. Sometimes you might have to strip your diapers when there’s a buildup of some kind. Most manufacturers warn against doing this too often, however, I know of some people who strip their diapers once a month. I’ve only stripped mine once or twice.

 

To strip your diapers, just put ’em through the regular cold/hot wash cycle with 1/4 c. of bleach and a small squirt (like 1/4 tsp) of liquid dish soap like Dawn. If you want, you can do a sanitizing wash on just the inserts with more bleach to really seal the deal.

 

Stripping diapers removes excess buildup and helps get rid of leaking issues, which is never good and also helps with odor.

 

 

Durability

We’ve had the same set of bumGenius diapers for three years now. I haven’t added to my stash once, nor have I thrown any diapers away. Holla atcha boy.

 

As I mentioned before, there have been times when I’ve dried the covers in the dryer, so I will say that my velcro tabs are a bit curly (I keep meaning to use and iron to straighten them out, but I’m really just not the type who irons her diapers, you know?). Some of the fabric that the velcro sticks to on the front (whatever that’s called) is a bit mangled and coming unstitched, as well. It’s really nothing a sewing machine couldn’t fix…if I had a sewing machine or the sewing prowess with which to fix it. I’m clearly not too worried about this…

 

 

Out and About

A lot of people worry about how they’ll store cloth diapers when they’re out running errands or otherwise away from home. Again, there are companies that make adorable travel bags for diaper storage. I prefer the less-adorable, and less-expensive grocery bag option, cause that’s how I roll. (The more I write this post, the more I realize I am a complete cheap-o…sheesh.) Really, as long as it’s waterproof there’s really nothing to worry about. Just make sure whatever bag you use doesn’t escape the diaper bag and roll under the driver’s seat…’cause that would be baaaad. Not that that’s ever happened to me…

 

 

Other Sundries

My biggest advice to first time cloth diaper-ers is as follows: Don’t do it when you’ve got a newborn. Seriously, there are far more important things for you to worry about with a brand new baby than washing diapers…like snuggling and rubbing your lips on their velvety head. Wait till you’ve got your groove and then tackle the diapers. Plus, their tiny little butts will probably be too small for the reggo diaps in the beginning, anyway, and I just think it’s silly to buy newborn sized cloth diapers.

 

As a woman who has traveled cross-country with infants both by car and by plane on multiple occasions, I also recommend not cloth diapering when on a trip. I’ve never tried it and I never plan to. The sheer mathematics of trying to figure out when/where/how to wash and dry cloth on the road frightens me. I do, however, love the mental image I get of clean diapers line drying out the car windows at 70 on the highway.

 

If you have ever done this, you are all that is woman/man and I salute you. And I kind of want to know how you accomplished this mammoth task. (Seriously, if you’ve done it, tell us how!)

 

 

Links

Cottonbabies is an incredibly thorough resource that will help get your started. They’ve got great descriptions of what the different kinds of diapers are, how they work, how to wash them, etc. This is also a good place to purchase diapers. We ordered ours through them and never had a problem. You can also do registries here, too!

A Collection of Passions has a great post on bumGenius 4.0’s specifically, plus lots of good pictures and info.

Diaper Swappers is a cool site where you can get more information plus they’ve got lots of forums and spaces where you can pick up used/never used diapers for a significantly reduced price. I haven’t done the swapping myself, but have friends who recommend it.

Valerie has a great post about cloth diapering with a lot of good pros/cons in the comments. Check it out!

Haley at Carrots for Michaelmas has another good post with more how-to’s, more links, more pictures ’cause she’s not a ding-dong.

 

 

 

Happy diapering!

Mary Susan

Awkward Celebrity Crushes

23 Jun

You know you have one.

 

Okay, maybe you don’t, but you will – oh, yes, you will – once I tell you what an awkward celebrity crush is. An awkward celebrity crush is the crush you have on a famous person who is not, shall we say, classically crushable.

 

I really don’t know how it all began, but what I do know is that my long-time friend and one-time roommate, Sri, was involved. If you know how Sri and I are, you now know that this is all  just plain ridiculous and there’s pretty much no intellectual merit involved here at all. Consider yourself warned.

 

I’m pretty sure our discovery of awkward celebrity crushes occurred when we were watching a movie and one of us sheepishly admitted to thinking that Gene Wilder was kind of attractive. That someone was probably me. Lucky for me, Sri did not immediately ridicule me for having a crush on Willy Wonka. She’s a good friend. A friend who immediately revealed her own awkward celebrity crushes to me. (John Goodman, by the by.) And then we instantly began to poll our other friends to see who they were secretly admiring.

 

And, you know what we found? We found that more people have crushes on seemingly non-crushable celebrities than would like to admit it. Even more so, once you admit your awkward celebrity crush, it’s kind of freeing! It’s also sort of character revealing.

 

Here’s my shameless list of awkward celebrity crushes:

 

I don’t know what it is…the hair, the voice, the moderately creepy factor? All I’m saying is, you can’t deny the dreaminess of “Pure Imagination” or how precious he is as that undertaker in “Bonnie and Clyde.” Love. Him.

 

 

Don’t get me wrong, I like young Bill Murray as well, but old Bill? Old Bill is like a fine wine. It’s the laugh lines, I think. Watch “Lost in Translation” or “The Life Aquatic” and tell me he’s not totally dateable. Just try.

 

 

I actually like Old Dustin Hoffman better than young, but was forced to choose this photo out of the sheer gloriousness of the hair. You’re welcome.

 

 

So, what do these awkward celebrity crushes say about me? That I have a thing for old guys with possibly Jewish heritage and voluminous hair? I’m cool with that.

 

The comment section is wide open, so feel free to share your crushes, too! This is a safe place, fo sho, so don’t feel judged. Now’s the time to finally admit that you think Pauly Shore is a dream boat or that you always thought Chris Farley was cute in “Tommy Boy” (please, oh please, oh please let someone admit those, ’cause that would be too amazing for words!) Gentle sirs are welcome to join, too, just not you, Dad. I have no interest in your attraction to Angela Lansbury or some such. Shudder…

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