Friday, December 16, 2011

The Twilight Saga's Bella Swan: Poster Mom for Natural Birth

I have a confession.  I'm a big fan of all the cute little pics that have not-so-recently popped up all over Facebook.  You know, stuff like this:

This is a big reason I get on Facebook.  To chill out and laugh at frivolous stuff.

One of the latest popular themes is twi-hating.  Pithy pictures making fun of the Twilight Saga and it's cast of sparkling and shedding characters have taken over my news feed.  I commented on a few; in one I actually promised I wouldn't go all crazy and write a blog dedicated to Twilight.


I don’t know why I find myself filled with a desire to defend these adequate, at best, movies (and books).  Nothing about me screams twi-hard.  I am not a 14 year old girl.  I am not Stephanie Meyer’s bff.  I do not have a collectors edition, sparkly-skinned Edward Cullen doll in the back of my closet.  (Ahem.)

Maybe it’s because I always feel the need to defend those being bullied.  Maybe it’s because I read these books as I watched my mom wither away of cancer; the light, sometimes frivolous Twilight stories were a much needed break for my overworked and emotionally exhausted brain, and in turn it holds some strange, sentimental place in my heart.

It started out as me making fun of other people making fun of Twilight.  Take this for example:

Yes, thank goodness for all the scholarly people of the world who illuminate us on the difference between serious, real-life vampires and silly, made-up, sparkly ones.

Along the same lines....

Um, no Mr. mean, ugly, scary man, you are definitely not sparkling.  You also don't look like someone teenage girls want to mastu... er, want to dream about, either.  In other words, trying to put Twilight into the horror genre is like trying to book The Backstreet Boys for Ozzfest.  If you're looking for sexy, scary vampires, go straight to Netflix and make a left at The Lost Boys.

Then we move along to the many Harry Potter-themed insults.   Things like:

Now, I will freely admit that I haven't seen or read a single Harry Potter anything.  Nothing personal against wizards, I just haven't gotten around to it.  But I do live on planet Earth - coincidentally the same place all the twi-haters live - so let me give this a go.

There's this group of adults who are slightly obsessed with a set of books and movies, generally aimed at an age group much younger, that are all about a bunch of fantasy characters that could never actually exist in real life.  These people like to make fun of this other group of people who are slightly obsessed with a set of books and movies, generally aimed at an age group much younger, that are all about a bunch of fantasy characters that could never actually exist in real life.  I believe an introduction is in order - dungeon... meet dragon.  This may be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

But then things got a little more serious...

People started comparing Twilight to Star Wars.


To Star Wars.

Has the world gone insane? Has serious film study been banned from colleges world wide? Has all common sense been replaced with bantha fodder?  Trying to call it a horror movie is one thing, but come on now.  Twilight? A science fiction movie?

You don't put the cast of Glee into a room with Hannibal Lector.  And you certainly don't try to put a teeny bop, romance saga anywhere in the same vicinity as one of the best science fiction movies ever made, let alone in the same genre! Pst... Star Wars fans, you are kind of making fun of yourselves by trying to.

And then I saw about a hundred variations of this one:

Now, I'm not usually one to take something frivolous and strip it of all that is funny.  But then I saw George Takei (of all people) post this and he said, "Parents, there are two opposing messages your daughters are receiving from Hollywood sci-fi. Which would you rather them hear?" 

Well, George.... since you asked and all.....

This is what has been bugging me the most with all the twi-hating.  People aren’t picking apart the plot, scene decoration, make-up, or editing (I'd be right with them there).  People are picking on Bella.  What a horrible excuse for a female lead character, she is.  What a horrible excuse for a role model.

Well, I have news for you... Bella is much stronger than Mr. Takei and the twi-haters give her credit for. Bella Swan is not the weak, stupid, pathetic little fawn she has been made out to be.  Bella Swan is, in fact, a poster mom for Natural Birth. Now stick with me here, I’ll lay it out for you: 

1.  Bella makes her own informed choice.

The minute Bella and Edward discover she is pregnant, Edward’s thoughts turn to abortion.  Not only that, but almost every other person close to Bella tries to talk her into terminating the pregnancy as well.  Now I’m certainly not trying to turn this into some kind of abortion debate, especially considering my prochoice stance.  But it is interesting to note that Bella is mentally and emotionally strong enough to thwart the opinions of all those around her, and make up her own mind about what to do concerning her body and her fetus.  She listens to all the information given to her, and then makes her own decision.  Hmmmm, sounds a little like informed consent to me. 

2.  Bella gets support and acquires a doula.

Bella finds herself in a position many young women know all too well: young, without her parents, and unexpectedly pregnant.  Does she curl up into a ball and ignore it? Does she try to hide it from everyone around her, give birth in a bathroom stall, and then throw the child in the trash (a storyline I've seen multiple times in tv and movies)? No, she makes an informed choice, and then immediately seeks out support.

Rosalie Cullen, Bella's sister-in-law, plays the text-book role of doula during Bella's pregnancy and birth.  She supports her decisions, gives her advice and encouragement, and steps in when her client is being ganged up on by friends, family, and care-givers. Yeah, she has to be tackled by a werewolf during the birth because she tries to kill her client, but come on.... She is a vampire.  And even doulas get hungry. 

3.  Bella chooses a homebirth.

True, giving birth to a half human/half vampire baby by emergency c-section that must be performed by super-strong vampire teeth is probably one of those overly-detailed birth plans that hospitals frown upon, but I'm still giving Bella props for choosing the more natural route.  We homebirthers need all the numbers we can get.

4. Bella risks her own life for the life of her unborn child.

This is another example that many women can relate to.  Pregnancy for many mothers is a dangerous endeavor.  But if high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, uterine tearing, and pre-eclampsia are scary, it's nothing compared to a vampire child that is literally sucking the life out of you from the inside out.  Right? 

5. Bella survives the dreaded baby-name ridicule.

Her vampire husband and in-laws don't support her.  Her werewolf best friend is disgusted by her.  Her doula is trying to bite her.  Her unborn child is literally consuming her from the inside out.  And through all of it, she still has the creative gumption to come up with 'Renesme.'  Go girl. 

So what was I getting at anyway?

Bella is human.  (Er.... was human.) Sometimes she's happy and sometimes she's sad.  Sometimes she stumbles, and sometimes she falls.  She gets depressed and curls up in a little ball.  She flies halfway around the world to save someone she loves.  Sometimes she needs to be rescued.  Sometimes she finds the strength to stand up to a bunch of invincible vampires and werewolves, all for the love of a tiny, helpless little ball of half human/half vampire joy.  She survives what is probably the most traumatic c-section ever caught on film.

Bella is a mother.  And from the description above, she reminds me of quite a few mothers I know and admire.

So to answer your question, Mr. Takei, I really hope my two daughters aren't so hard up for role models that they have to peruse teen fantasy/romance (or what you would call "sci-fi") books and movies for characters to emulate.  But if they do find themselves making a comparison, I think they could do a lot worse than Bella Swan. 


This is not me.

***This post was originally written under my previous blog name, Zen and the Art of Cloth Diaper Maintenance.***

Friday, November 4, 2011

Zen and the Art of Thinking Like a Toddler

I have this picture in my head.  A picture of what “thinking like an adult” looks like.  This picture is colored by many influences, both internal and external.  Often, I don’t like the picture I see in my head, yet I still feel strangely compelled to make it my reality.  When that happens, influences affecting me might include my own OCD, other people’s harsh opinions, or mainstream advertising. 

Unfortunately, this affects the way I mother my one-year-old.  When I’m “thinking like an adult,” I find mothering Scarlett to be exhausting and stressful.  She’s not following the rules.  She’s not listening to me.  She’s not doing what she should be doing, according to... somebody. 

I have this other picture in my head.  It is a picture filled with laughter, and fun, and unintentional learning.  It is a picture filled with Zen.  This picture most often takes shape when I find myself "thinking like a toddler."  No rules.  No borders.  No 'Your Baby Can Read' commercials. 

She has her whole life to learn how to do it “right.”  At one, I want to let her explore what she wants to explore, however she wants to explore it.  It sounds simple, but it is extremely hard for me.  Story time is an illustrative example of how I can suck all possible fun out of a situation by thinking like an adult.

This is an embarrassing, yet probable look at a less than satisfying story time:

Scarlett shows an interest in a book. 

I say something like, “Want to read some books?”

I grab three or four, pick up my toddler, and head for the couch.  We sit down together and read the first book, cover to cover, in 8 seconds flat.  I see this as a success, put that book aside, and grab the next one.  Scarlett ignores my attempt to move story time along by reaching back for the first book, happily babbling gibberish that can most certainly be translated as, “hey, I wasn’t done with that.”

My adult brain is already bored of Duck is Dirty and I have some strong desire to move on to Dog is Thirsty.  Or rather, you would think the desire was strong because I then try way too hard to get her to accept MY way.  In reality, I really don't care which one we read, since I have read each one a million times before and will read each one a million times again.  I just want her to do it MY way.  Because I said so. 

But even though I can use the sweetest, calmest, most enticing voice possible to explain why we should move on to Dog is Thirsty, it cannot hide the hilariously imbocilic stubborness I am exhibiting by arguing with my one-year-old over colorful cardboard. 

Scarlett expresses her frustration the only way she knows how and starts screaming.  “Resistance is futile,” her furrowed brow seems to say.  I give in, we’ll read Duck is Dirty.  Again.  How unproductive this toddler is.

This time though, we only get halfway through the book, and Scarlett wants to start turning the pages backwards toward the beginning.  My brain - the brain that tries to turn OCD into CDO - does not function well with this new turn of events. This is not the way books are meant to be read.  Must go FOWARD! Must.... Finish..... Book!

So ensues the second argument of this funfilled story time, as I try to explain to my one-year-old daughter why it does not make sense to start Duck is Dirty in the middle and read backwards to the front.  Duck simply cannot start dirty and then get clean, that is utter nonsense. 

Conclusion of story time: Well wasn’t that fun.  I should just get it over with and make Scarlett an “I’m with Stupid” onesie. 

Thankfully for both of us, these instances only occur sporadically.  When they do, it usually coincides with my feeling tired, sick, anxious, or stressed in some way.

On a good day, I’ll take the time to put on my Zen cap.  This cap magically oozes Zen through my scalp, leaching all the OCD from the exhaustingly anxious crooks and crannies of my brain.  Creativity and thoughtfulness regain control, and I try to consider story time with the brain of my 13-month-old.

Story Time Stuffed with Zen

Scarlett shows an interest in a book. 

I say something like, “Wanna read some books?”

I sit down on the floor a few feet away from her and wait for her to pick out a book.  Then I laugh at her adorableness as she toddles toward me with one of our favorites.  She hands me Duck is Dirty, then makes a perfect about face and backs into my lap.  This is a 10 1/2 on the 1-10 cute scale.

We read Duck is Dirty and she smiles at the way my voice rises and falls with dramatic inflection.  She turns the pages herself, which cuts me off on almost every page.  I try not to notice.  As “the end” is coming out of my lips, Scarlett points to the bookshelf, signaling she is ready for another. 

At my prompting, she’s up and back with Dog is Thirsty.  Once she’s back in my lap, she decides to put that book aside, and picks up Duck is Dirty again.  She must have missed something in the first reading. 

We now read the book front to middle to front.  Then we read it back to front to middle.  Then she takes one of the middle pages in between her chubby, little toddler fingers and flails the book around 2 inches from my face.  It doesn’t hit me though. 

Then she closes the book and hands it to me.  When I try to read it, she takes it out of my hands.  Then she closes it and hands it to me again.  When I put it down, she picks it up and hands it to me again.  She is very proud of herself.  Then she decides to see how the book tastes.  She has tasted it so many times, there is a Scarlett-shaped outline of a mouth decorating the spine of the book.

This is repeated with three or four more books.  She is playing.  We are playing.  She is learning.  We are learning.  She is meticulously studying each and every one of these books with all five of her adorable senses.  I am meticulously soaking up the joy pouring out of each and every crook and crannie of her smiling face.

We are having fun.

Conclusion: Holy crap, we just spent an entire hour reading five books 9 times each and now it’s time for nap.  Hot diggity dog.  Story time is so friggin’ Zen.

I am Zen; I am Not Perfect

We all have our limits.  Not reading the book 10 times in a row teaches her sometimes we are gonna do what Momma wants to do.  Cause Momma’s needs are important too.  And 9 times of Duck is Dirty is my limit, for fuck’s sake.

***This post was originally written under my previous blog name, Zen and the Art of Cloth Diaper Maintenance.***

Monday, September 12, 2011

A "Spy Kids 4: All The Time In The World" Viewing Reveals I Am Officially a Car Seat ‘Nazi’

A word of caution: spoiler alert.

This weekend, we decided it was time for a treat.  So the whole family headed to the movie theater to see the fourth installment of Robert Rodriguez’s Spy Kids series.  I never would have thought that this of all movies would send me into an attachment parenting tailspin.  From my blog, to Facebook groups, to research projects, I have become so immersed in the natural parenting culture, I can't seem to get it out of my head.  I think I may have a problem....

Pregnancy and Labor

We jump right into the momma madness with full-term pregnant spy, Marrissa Wilson (Jessica Alba), clad in head to toe, skin-tight leather and 5 inch platforms.  With neither puffy face nor swollen ankles, hot momma Marrissa jumps off an extremely tall building and flings herself down a zip line towards the bad guy.  This is right after she announces she is in labor. 

What I couldn’t help but think:

“Seriously? Are they trying to be funny?”

Well, yes, of course, they were trying to be funny.  But when you have spent the past year submersed in birth and birth stories, this over the top look at labor was puzzling to say the least. 

Things got better in the next scene when Marrissa starts to chase Mr. Bad Clock Guy.  Rodriguez doesn’t show her running full speed through the street, catapulting over the hood of a car, and somersaulting into a warehouse.  Rather, she waddles through the street, heaves herself up onto the hood of the car and precariously scoots herself to the other side, and then staggers breathlessly into the warehouse. 

What I couldn’t help but think:

“Ok, that was pretty funny.  Especially the car bit.”

The Birth

So Rodriguez has established the fantasy/tongue in cheek comedy tone with the crazy hot pregnant lady in labor kicking some serious ass.  Then he makes what can only be described as a strategic move with the birth of the baby.  After Marissa is wheeled through the hospital hall on a paramedic stretcher, her husband excitedly tells his two other children that they will have a new baby in 10, 9, 8.....

And that’s it.  In the next scene the baby is like a year old.  Rodriguez skips the whole birth.  No what kind of drugs did she get? No did she go au natural or get cut open? He bypassed the whole thing, leaving no leverage for homebirthers and epidural lovers to shake white knuckled fists at each other through their computers.

What I couldn’t help but think:

“This man is a genius.”

Formula in a Sippy Cup

Yeah... I’m not even going to touch this one.  Nothing to see here.  Keep it moving ladies.  Keep.  It.  Moving.

Crotch Dangler

Strollers? Super spy mom doesn’t need no stinking strollers.  She straps her spy baby to her chest and is hands free to kick some serious spy ass.  Unfortunately, it’s a Baby Bjorn-type soft structured carrier that puts most of the weight of the baby on her pelvis as she literally dangles from her crotch. 

What I couldn’t help but think:

Sigh.  “Robert, what are you doing to me? You were doing so well with the ten second mystery birth, now with the formula AND the crotch dangling?”

Front facing babywearing will almost always cause a tremor among AP fault lines.  You have people like Dr. Kikilionis, who feel that front facing can cause sensory overload when the child is unable to make eye contact with the nurturer for cues.  Others argue that when a child is primarily held between the legs and pressed up against the very hard, adult breast bone, it negatively affects the c-curvature of their tiny, little spines and can also cause damage to the pelvis. 

Other mommas will no doubt chime in with counterpoints such as an uncomfortable baby is going to let you know they are uncomfortable.  Many babies authentically do not like to face inward, and isn’t front facing better than not babywearing at all? There are, in fact, ways to front face - like the Buddha hold - that makes forward facing easier on the spine.

Personally, I have used wraps, pouch slings, and mei tais and have never found a need or want to forward face.  Although I have to admit that I do think my baby would let me know if she wasn’t comfortable facing forward, just like she lets me know when she is uncomfortable facing in. 

Car Seat

When retired spy turned stay-at-home mom gets a call to arms, she scoops up her bundle of joy and heads for her SUV.  Once she puts spy baby into her car seat, computer techno arms come out of no where to perform the tedious task of securing the seat's five-point harness.

What I couldn’t help but think:

“That is friggin’ awesome.”

But sadly, my awe was short lived.  And, here is where I have to go a little (more) neurotic.  The first thing I obviously notice is the fact that she is forward facing already.  This is a child who, at the end of the movie, takes her first steps.  I don’t know how much she weighs, but I’m guessing she could still benefit from extended rear facing

But the worst part was yet to come.  Once the mechanical arms snapped baby spy into the five-point harness, the straps lay dangling loosely off her chest, and the camera cut away. 

I gasped, instinctively.

This wasn’t just a slightly misread pinch test.  If I buckled my one year old into her seat that loosely, she would be wriggling out of the straps, crawling under the driver’s seat, and eating stale cheerios off the floor before we even got one block from the house. 

Are you seriously telling me that someone can go to all the trouble to create a machine that buckles a child into a car seat, and they can’t be bothered to actually read the simple manual to said car seat? And that’s not even addressing the whole extended rear facing issue.

What I couldn’t help but think:

“Holy crap, I really have become a car seat Nazi.”

Gender Neutrality

Rodriguez saves a little face when spy mom sends two rockets to save her step-kids -- one pink and one blue.  Going against the cliche, the girl crosses to the blue rocket and the boy (without any kind of homophobic apprehension) runs to the pink rocket. 

What I couldn’t help but think:

“Nice touch.  Doesn’t make up for those damn straps though.”

Zenclamier: I really don’t like using the term Nazi to refer to any activists including car seat safety promoters.  Nazis killed thousands and thousands of people in torturous devices.  Sometimes car seat safety activists get a little over zealous in an effort to, ummm, save lives.  I really don’t think the term applies.  But you have to admit, it was a pretty catchy title.  After all, you are reading this.  And I am ‘Officially a Really Crazy Car Seat Safety Advocate’ just didn’t have the same ring to it.

***This post was originally written under my previous blog name, Zen and the Art of Cloth Diaper Maintenance.***

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Top Five Utterances of My HBAC

Welcome to the First Carnival of Birth Reflections.  This post was written for inclusion in the Carnival of Birth Reflections hosted by Patti at Jazzy Mama and Zoie at TouchstoneZ. Participants are writing posts that reflect on how birth has transformed them into who they are today. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

After the emergency cesarean birth of my first child, I was convinced I would attempt a vaginal birth after cesarean the next time around.  At my six week postpartum appointment, I was nonchalantly informed by the OB/GYN that no hospital or doctor would allow this.  It was soon afterwards when I started planning my home birth after cesarean (HBAC).  A waterfall of new experiences showered down on me during my HBAC and I found myself uttering things I never said in my first birth; here are the top five.
5.  “I need my birth sculpture.”
When I bought the book Birthing From Within by Pam England and Rob Horowitz, in preparation for my first birth, I found the initial - extremely long - part on birth art a little hokey.  Drawing crappy pictures is going to help me prepare for my birth? OK.  I never finished the book.
When I pulled the book back out in preparation for my second birth, my HBAC, I tried to have an open mind.  I made a couple of sketches and this sculpture:

I warmed the clay in my hands for a long time while I thought about the message I wanted to convey.  Before long, I had a soft, smooth roll about 8 inches long.  It had a prefect, polished look.  It reminded me of the umbilical cord that was providing nourishment to my baby at that very moment.  But I frowned as I held it up at both ends and watched it sink in the middle; it was so weak.  
Starting in the middle of my roll, I began to gently twist the clay around and around, forming what looked more like rope.  The roll became shorter, fatter, bumpy, and rough.  It also became stronger.  It wouldn’t bend as easily as its smooth counterpart.  I pushed the two ends together and my piece was complete - a small, simple circle, containing a smooth, peaceful half and a strong, rough half.
After I baked my birth art I kept it by my bed for the rest of my pregnancy.  I would pick it up, rubbing the bumpy and smooth grooves, contemplating the birth that would soon come.  I wouldn’t try and plan individual details; I would imagine the feelings and emotions I hoped would surround me.  
I cradled the sculpture in my hands during most of my labor.  Sometimes I would lean on the counter and study the lines and grooves.  Sometimes I would massage it with my thumbs as I paced the bedroom.  It now has a place of honor in my nightstand.  I no longer consider birth art hokey.  Birthing From Within now holds an important place in my birth story.
This certainly isn’t an unusual phrase to hear during childbirth, except I never had a chance to say it the first time.  Looking back on it, I am overwhelmed by how urgent and confident that phrase sprang from my lips.  I certainly didn’t need anyone to stick their hands inside of me to tell me I was ready to push.  “Try and stop me,” more accurately described the situation.
The fact that I never got the chance to push during my first birth sparked an emotional and determined flame in me that burned like the ring of fire.  It is a flame that still burns today and a big reason why I write about my births.  Sometimes it felt like I had to push everybody in order to get the birth that I wanted.  
I had to push away doctors and hospitals who told me I couldn’t even attempt a vaginal birth after cesarean.  I had to push my husband, who was understandably hesitant at the thought of a home birth.  I had to push myself to find a suitable midwife in a sea of OB/GYNs.  I had to push my own pediatrician who just had to comment about how scary she thought home births were.  I pushed, and I pushed, and I pushed.
After a very long year of pushing my way towards the birth I craved, I pushed my 6.4 pound baby girl out in less than ten minutes.  I guess I had gotten pretty good at pushin’.  
3.   “Don’t turn that off!”
Oh, no she didn’t! As I was heaving myself up onto the bed so I could push my baby out, my midwife went over to the T.V. and turned off the Grey’s Anatomy DVD that had been playing throughout the three hours I had been in labor. Oh, yes she did.  
I was not happy about it.  Judge me if you must, but I am an avid T.V. watcher.  You could say that having the television on during my birth was my “focus item.”  It was soothing; it brought me familiarity and comfort.
So... yeah....  I yelled at my midwife.  But, they’re used to that... Right? She took it well.  And turned the T.V. back on.  
2. “NOOOOO!”
While we’re on the subject of yelling at the midwife... I like to think that I’m a pretty assertive person in my everyday life.  I don’t know what it is about a hospital, but whenever I find myself in one, I also find myself turning into a complete pushover.  
Even after spending nine months painstakingly planning my first birth, I let my plans fall right through the cracks the instant I walked through the automatic doors.  Get in bed -- Okeedokee.  Wear this monitor -- right-e-o.  Time to get in the tub -- yes, master.  Don’t stop here to have your contraction -- give me drugs! You need to have a c-section, sign this -- is this my fault? Do they pump some kind of brain-numbing gas into the air or something?
I certainly wasn’t consciously thinking about any of this during my HBAC.  I did, however, find it much easier to say no.  Would you like to get in the shower, Leah? -- Noooooo! Every time you push you are pushing her head out, do you want to feel? -- Nooooooo! Chuck, do you want to come catch the baby? -- Noooooooo! I guess I thought my husband needed some help asserting his feelings as well.  
I didn’t take it too far though.  After I had been checked, by request, and was at 7/8 centimeters and started feeling pretty tired, Katia again suggested I get into the shower.  This time, I heeded her experienced advice.  Less than ten minutes later, I was screaming, “I HAVE TO PUSH!” (See #4)
1.  “I did it!”
Yeah, yeah, yeah.  It’s cliche, it’s cheesy, it’s corny.  What can I say? Birth is corny.  And cheesy.  It’s also beautiful, powerful, natural, instinctual, gentle, hard, painful, and unique.  Why wouldn’t I be so proud of having accomplished something that wonderful that I shout out the first thing that came to my mind?  There is a plethora of emotions that can be felt when someone lays a newborn baby on your chest, still wet from the womb and still connected to you through a pulsating, life cord.  At that moment, this cheesy phrase is the only thing my brain could push through my lips. 
It’s also true.  I did do it.   And I’ll cherish every memory of it for the rest of my life.

You can read my full birth story here.

Carnival of Birth Reflections
Visit Jazzy Mama and TouchstoneZ to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Birth Reflections!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

***This post was originally written under my previous blog name, Zen and the Art of Cloth Diaper Maintenance.***

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Sundays With (Grandma) Granny: The Healing Power of Garlic

I have recently befriended a fellow momma blogger.  That's right, I got peeps now.  Christy at Adventures in Mommyhood: Mommy Outnumbered writes about the joys and trials of raising four small children.  I am in awe of her awesomeness, both as a mommy and a blogger.  I participated in her very first blog carnival, Parenting in America, with a piece called Parental Civil War.

Now I am thrilled to team up with her to present a weekly (mmmm, more like monthly) theme: Sundays With Grandma.  I have to change the title to Sundays With Granny, since that's what I always called my mom's mom and it just feels weird to call her grandma.

Granny's Senior Picture

My granny died when I was only 12 years old (not health related).  Though she has been gone for 20 years now, (crap, I just dated myself didn't I?) she remains one of the most influential people of my life.  As you will see, because I was so young, I took Granny's wisdom for granted.  As I embraced the fast paced, mass produced, chemically ridden world in my young adulthood, Granny's "old-fashioned" ways seemed to fall even farther into the back of my mind.

But ever since I have committed to living a more holistic/crunchy/green life, I feel her influence sweeping over me more than ever before.  It's such a comforting feeling - one I am so happy to share with Christy, and with you.  For our first installment, we bring to you Grandma and Granny's garlic wisdom.  To check out Mommy Outnumbered's post, click here.

The Healing Power of Garlic

Granny definitely knew the therapeutic powers of garlic.  But, as I said above, I was so young at the time.... this is an example of how our conversation on the wonders of garlic probably went:

"What are you eating, Granny?" I ask with a mouthful of no-bake cookies.

"A garlic sandwich," she informed me with a wrinkled up nose, already predicting my response.

"Ew, a garlic sandwich?" I mimicked her wrinkled nose.

"That's right, a raw garlic sanwich.  I know it sounds pretty icky, but it is very, very good for me.  One reason I stay so healthy is because of these garlic sandwiches."

"Oh.  Can we play Chinese checkers now?"

So, yeah, not very interested in the healthy magic of garlic at 10 years old.  And I have to admit, Granny's raw garlic sandwiches still sound pretty gross.  But I certainly admire her convictions.  Cut to a few weeks ago when I caught a cold and went on a frantic internet search for natural remedies.  Low and behold, garlic is great for colds! 

As I sat at the computer reading all about garlic, I was instantly transported back to Granny's yellow kitchen, watching Granny eating her raw garlic sandwich.  It was such a warm feeling - I could almost feel her over my shoulder, nudging me deeper and deeper into my research.

"Eat your garlic, Leachen Beachen! Live long and be healthy!" I could almost hear her voice in my ear.  (The explanation of the crazy nickname will have to wait.)  What I learned - what Granny would have told me if she were here - is that garlic really is a natural wonder drug, and has been utilized as such for thousands and thousands of years.  Here are just a few of the numerous ways garlic can improve health:

1. Fight the Sickies

Many studies have shown that garlic has significant antibiotic qualities and can help the body fight off illnesses caused by bacteria, fungi, yeast, viruses, and protozoa.  Garlic also works cooperatively with other remedies; combining it with prescribed antibiotics can be more effective than the antibiotics alone.

Many women praise garlic as a natural yeast infection remedy - taken either orally or vaginally.  Garlic has been used in place of vaccines in poorer countries and has also been successful in the treatment of viral herpes and pneumonia.

2.  Prevent the Sickies

Like with Granny's sandwiches, raw garlic consumed on a regular basis can boost the immune system.  Studies have shown that garlic increases the activity of a certain type of white blood cells called Natural killer (NK) cells.  Garlic can also aid the body's production of interleukins, which help regulate the immune system. 

3.  Help Guard Against Heart Diseases and Cancer

For decades now, garlic has been used to treat high blood pressure and numerous studies have shown reductions in systolic and diastolic pressures.  Garlic has been successful in the treatment of arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) and has also been used as an antithrombotic.  It should be noted that people with anticoagulant diseases should take caution when using garlic for therapeutic benefits.  The correlation between garlic and cancer definitely needs further study, but many experts now agree that garlic can produce therapeutic benefits with some cancers, including stomach and colon cancers.

Even with my new garlic knowledge, the thought of Granny's raw garlic sandwiches are still pretty intimidating, so I tried something a little different.  I crushed and minced one glove of organic garlic, added it to two tablespoons peanut butter, and spread onto wheat crackers.  I must say, not only was it eatable, but it was actually enjoyable.  Thank goodness my palate has matured from my no-bake cookie days.

How do you eat raw garlic?


The Complete Book of Garlic: A Guide for Gardeners, Growers, and Serious Cooks by Ted Jordan Meredith

***This post was originally written under my previous blog name, Zen and the Art of Cloth Diaper Maintenance.***

Friday, August 19, 2011

Breastfeeding in Public: The Bright Side of the Boob

NIP at White Sands National Monument
It seems a single week cannot go by without another breastfeeding in public nightmare.  There was the woman who was kicked out of Pure Fitness for Women, the momma at Denny’s who was asked to go to the bathroom to nurse, the school in Georgia that banned breastfeeding inside the school, and the list just goes on and on.  If I were a brand new mother still considering whether or not I would breastfeed in public, and read these articles, I would probably be scared milkless. 

It’s crucial that these issues come to light.  How can we change the world if we don’t know the world needs changing? How can we support these women if we haven’t heard their horror stories?

But when I do read about all these horror stories, I also feel compelled to tell my own breastfeeding in public story.  Because it is a great story, filled with nothing but kind and encouraging remarks from total strangers. 

As much as we need to hear the bad, I feel like we might need to hear the good even more.  When a woman is trying to decide whether or not she will attempt breastfeeding in public, she needs to know that many, many women do it everyday with very positive results.

So lets see here, I have breastfed:

in an airport,
on the airplane,
in a number of restaurants - right there at the table,
during my cousins ballet recital,
in a hospital waiting area,
at many parks,
at the mall,
at an amusement park,
at an interstate rest stop,
in my car in crowded parking lots,
at my daughter’s gymnastics studio,
and in more than one museum.

I almost never use a cover.  The few times I did try to use a cover, my baby would just pull it down anyway.  She doesn’t like being covered while she eats.  I do wear specific nursing bras and nursing shirts.  It makes it easier for me and my 36 DD’s to get the job done without exposing my entire ginormous breast to the world (not that I really see anything wrong with that). 

Honestly, I’m more self conscious exposing my pudgy tummy (by having to pull up a regular shirt) than I am exposing my breast in a nursing shirt.  Isn’t that silly? The women on the cover of magazines at new stands across the country show more breast than I do when I breastfeed.  Heck, I show more breast in some of my sexier shirts and dresses than I do when I breastfeed.

I have never, in all the times I have breastfed in public, had one nasty comment directed my way.  I’ve never even noticed any dirty looks.  I have, though, had a number of wonderfully kind and supportive comments. 

A man who passed me while nursing at a rest stop said I was feeding my baby the best way I could.  When he passed me again, he said all of his kids were breastfed and they were strong as bulls. 

When I breastfed at my cousin’s ballet recital, her mom - who was sitting right next to me - said she saw my baby cross her little ankles when she took the nipple and it made her ovaries hurt.  That’s a good thing, if you were wondering. 

The latest time I breastfed in public was inside my daughter’s kindergarten class during “transition day.”  That is just a fancy term for the day before the first day of school when parents can come in and see what their kids will be doing.  When I discovered I would have to take my baby with me, I will admit, my first thoughts were anxiety riddled.

Sadly, even after all the positive experience I’ve had while nursing in public, all I could think of were the horror stories.  What if they asked me to go into the bathroom? Would I go? What would I say? Maybe I shouldn’t even attempt it. 

But when baby wants her babas, she wants them RIGHT NOW! So I turned my chair slightly and whipped it out.  Not only did no one say a word to me, I don’t think anyone even noticed.  Ironically, another woman had left the room to nurse her six week old baby.  When we talked outside later, she was pleasantly surprised to learn I had nursed right there in the classroom.  Hopefully it gives her the courage to try it too.

And hopefully this blog can be a source of courage to other women still considering this whole breastfeeding in public thing.  We must hear the horror stories in order to show support and spread awareness and education.  But we must also hear the positive stories to spread courage, positivity, and show that awareness and education don’t have to be cursed with negativity.

Can you share a positive breastfeeding in public story?

***This post was originally written under my previous blog name, Zen and the Art of Cloth Diaper Maintenance.***

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Changing Momma's Recipes - Taking Out the Unhealthy, Keeping the Love

My mom was a wonderful cook.  I can’t count how many times she made everything in my life seem all better simply by cooking me dinner.  Now that she’s gone, I find myself clinging to her recipes.  When my house is filled with the familiar aromas of momma’s cooking, it's as if she is there with me.  I can almost taste her love.  When I cook her recipes for my children, I feel like I’m giving them memories of their Granny Jo that they will never otherwise have.

Many of the recipes were actually passed down from my mom’s mom - my granny.  So many times my kitchen is filled with the love of many generations.  It's such a comforting feeling.  The problem is, many of my favorite recipes don’t exactly fit into my plan of a healthier lifestyle - lots of sugar, gaggles of butter, white flour galore.  I am 100% committed to cooking healthy meals for my family, but I miss my mom and my granny too much to give up something that brings me so close to them.  What’s a girl to do?

Granny secretly started a cookbook for me, we found it after she died.

So, I promised my daughter we would make no-bake cookies tonight.  This is probably my most beloved of my granny’s recipes; I have been eating them since birth and making them myself for the past 15 years.  Best.  Cookies.  Ever.  Here is the recipe:

2 Cups Sugar
1/2 Cup Cocoa
1 Stick Butter
1/2 Cup Milk
1/8 Teaspoon Salt

In heavy pan mix well and over medium heat, bring to a boil stirring constantly.  When boiling good, turn heat to low and boil 1 1/2 to 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in:

Love reading recipes in their own handwriting.

1/2 Cup Peanut Butter
3 Cups Oatmeal (quick type)
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
1/2 Cup Nuts (optional; I usually leave this out.)

Line cookie sheets with wax paper and drop by teaspoonfulls.

Right when we were getting ready to make them, I realized I was all out of cows milk.  I did, however, have some coconut milk.  The thought of messing with this meticulously written recipe really freaked me out. It felt, somehow, disgraceful.  Not to mention I was worried they wouldn’t taste the same.  And even if they were still good, if they didn’t taste the same, well, it just wouldn’t be the same.  But a promise is a promise.  So we substituted 1/2 cup coconut milk for the cow’s milk.

They tasted EXACTLY the same! I was so excited I was literally dancing a jig of glee in my kitchen, with a mouthful of cookie.  And as I stuffed one cookie after another into my mouth, I was overwhelmed with inspiration.  I could do this to all my mom and granny’s recipes! It will take courage, patience, and a lot of trial and error, but I can keep on substituting ingredients until the recipes are healthy - or at least healthier.  The no-bake recipe will definitely need some more tweaking before it can be considered healthy - but hey, Rome wasn't built in a day.

This is what love looks like...

Healthy meals, wonderful memories, and still the taste of love.  You just can’t beat that. Happy dance!

***This post was originally written under my previous blog name, Zen and the Art of Cloth Diaper Maintenance.***

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Farmers’ Market: Crunchy 101

My family spent a simply lovely morning at the local farmers' market yesterday.  We ate breakfast burritos and authentic Belgian waffles.  We guzzled down three hefty cups of lemonade as we braved the heat already entering the 90s.  We chatted with local vendors and other market dwellers, seeing a few familiar faces.  It was hot.  It was crowded.  It was tons of fun.  And it was so educational.  Who knew?

One of my main goals with this blog is to chronicle the health changes I have been implementing into my family’s daily living.  I guess you could say, I’m trying to give our lives a little more crunch.  Who knew that one trip to my local farmers’ market would give me so much to talk about! From wonderful produce to the power of honey to breastfeeding support (that’s right, breastfeeding support!) our day at the farmers’ market turned into a crash course in healthy living.  Crunchy 101. 

Local Produce

Our first stop, after breakfast, was to visit the many produce vendors, as these usually sell out very quickly.  Summer squash and corn on the cob were among the favorites.  Our basket was quickly filled with red onions and zucchini.  Next came watermelon and the cutest little cantaloupes I have ever seen.

I also found some delectable yellow tomatoes that are so good I can eat them with a little mayo in a sandwich by themselves (although they would also be fantastic in a BLT).  One giant red tomato also mysteriously found its way into our bag (I didn’t want the reds to feel left out).

There are many benefits to buying local produce.  Its healthier; all the produce vendors had signs up stating that their produce is pesticide and herbicide free.  No chemicals or synthetic fertilizers are employed.  Unlike food you find in a grocery store that has been picked days or weeks ahead of time and then transported up to 2500 miles, local food is fresh.  Local farmers can focus on breeding produce for taste rather than focusing on preservation.  They also have a more positive impact on the environment by keeping shipping distances short and saving community land that might otherwise go to developers.  Its also nice knowing I’m contributing to my local economy and I’m supporting local farmers, a job becoming more and more endangered all the time.

Fresh Herb Leaf Tea

Between produce vendors, we found a gentleman who sells herbs, spices, and teas.  His booth was small and his white beard was long, almost down to his legs.  It also smelled fantastic - the booth, not the beard.  Because of my recent tea challenge, I was especially happy to find a local tea vendor! We chose Children’s Calma Te, a combination of lemon balm, lemon verbena, lavender, gota kola, and rose petals, which is supposed to calm and relax both children and adults; and Roobios, a sweet and nutty red tea that is reported to help with nervous tension, allergies, and asthma.

Like with produce, buying local herbs, spices, and teas means I’m getting a fresher, healthier product with no chemicals, preservatives, or additives.  I also have the producer right there in front of me, ready and willing to answer any questions I may have about the product.  It turns out, the maker and owner of New Mexico Herbs turned out to be the midwife who attended the HBAC (homebirth after cesarean) of my second child.  Talk about trusting your seller!

Local Meat

Our next vendor was not a planned stop on our journey, but one I was overjoyed to find.  We picked up some ground beef and a beautifully marbled chuck roast from Kate and the family-owned Maynard Cattle Co.  Her excitement in her product was beautifully tangible and refreshing.  She answered all of our questions about her beef (and we had many) and even delved into a huge spiral binder filled with a collection of mouthwatering recipes. 

Right outside the city I live in, there is a huge cattle ranch.  It smells horrible.  The cows are literally on top of each other; hundreds of them shoved together into small pens.  There is not one piece of green grass in sight.  The cows literally look sad, and it makes me sad every time I pass by.  I don’t even want to know what kind of steroids and antibiotics they are subjected to. 

The meat I bought from Kate at the farmers’ market is naturally raised and aged.  The ranch employs no concentrated feed lot conditions; cows eat quality grass, nothing artificial.  Cows are not subjected to any hormones, antibiotics, steroids, or animal by-products.  This meat really does come from happy cows! That makes me happy too.

Breastfeeding Awareness and Support

Our next stop was definitely the biggest surprise of the day.  Breastfeeding? At the Farmers’ Market? What huh?! That’s right.  My local W.I.C. office (an office I once thought synonymous with formula) had a booth set up with an overwhelming amount of breastfeeding information.  I walked up to the booth carrying my ten month old daughter, and was immediately showered with excitement, and a free bottle of cold water, when I told them I breastfeed on demand. 

I received a bumper sticker stating, “Affordable healthcare starts with breastfeeding,” and a “license to breastfeed,” which was a card small enough to stick in my wallet quoting the state laws concerning breastfeeding in public and pumping at work (section numbers and everything!).  I also took two of the many brochures: one was about knowing if a newborn is getting enough breastmilk and the other was a hardcore look at formula vs. breastmilk.  This brochure even admitted and denounced the fact that formula companies compete for “multi-million dollar contracts” with WIC clinics and bombard mothers with free coupons.

Local Honey

Cutting the refined, processed sugar out of my family's diet was one of my first steps to a healthier life and the local honey vendor was a major reason for our trip to the market.  Not only is honey a wonderfully sweet replacement for sugar, but many studies are now proving that the antioxidants found in natural honey have superior health benefits, including a reduced risk of heart disease and cancer.  Raw, local honey has been shown to significantly relieve symptoms due to allergic reactions and is the most nutritious way to consume honey because it contains all the natural enzymes and live pollens absent from processed honey.

Knowing how your honey is gathered is very important for utilizing the natural health benefits.  Buying locally makes it much easier to know how the honey has been processed.  This particular honey is strained, not filtered leaving as much of the natural occurring pollen grains as possible.

Handmade Soap

Our last visit was to one of the local soap makers.  We took advantage of the buy five, get the sixth free deal and found ourselves surrounded by addicting scents like lavender-sage, nag champa, oatmeal, milk-n-honey, coconut, and vanilla berry.   
Cutting out the chemicals in my life has meant significant changes to my personal hygiene products.  I've lived my whole life thinking I had dry skin, which meant a plethora of moisturizing soaps and lotions.  It turns out, those soaps and lotions were there very culprits making my skin so dry! In less than a month of using homemade soaps, I have all but eliminated my need for lotion.  And when I find that my skin is in need of some extra moisture, I use unrefined Shea butter, also available from New Mexico Soap.

I See a Theme Developing...

I plan on making my local farmers' market a weekly event.  So why shouldn't I make blogging about it a weekly event as well? Ok, I'm getting a little over ambitious there.  But I do want to make 'The Farmers' Market' a recurring theme here on my blog.  Maybe I'll start profiling individual vendors.  Maybe I'll have more crunchy 101 lessons to talk about.  Do you attend your local farmers' market? How do you utilize local merchants and how has it affected your health, family, and life? I would be ecstatic to have some guest bloggers talk about their experiences with local farmers' markets around the country.  Any takers? Hit me up on Facebook.


***This post was originally written under my previous blog name, Zen and the Art of Cloth Diaper Maintenance.***

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Switch To Tea, Stupid

The proceeding is a conversation I had with myself recently:

I feel like crap.  I’m so tired.  Its only 2 in the afternoon.  Why am I this tired?

Maybe because you had two cups of coffee with creamer and sugar in it with breakfast.

...... Maybe.... (Yes, I get sarcastic even with myself.)

Really? (But that bitch always gets sarcastic right back.)

It doesn’t have to be the coffee.  It could have been the breakfast.

You mean the veggie omelet with mushrooms, red peppers, spinach, and feta cheese using the organic, cage-free eggs and ghee?

Uhhhhh, yeah.

Why don’t you give up the coffee?

I have been drinking coffee since I was about 14 years old.  My mom and dad were/are both coffee drinkers.  My whole family is full of coffee drinkers.  I cherish my cup (or two) of coffee each morning.  I have even spoken the cliche line, “not before I’ve had my coffee, please.”  There’s no way I could possibly give it up.



So what if you give up the creamer and the sugar? You know that is one of the last places you are using sugar on a daily basis and is a big reason why the coffee is unhealthy. 

I can’t stand black coffee.  I have to have creamer and sugar.  Sugar in the raw is ok, but it has to be sugar.  My creamer of choice is Nestle Peppermint Mocha Coffeemate, except every time I go to buy it, I think about the thousands of people boycotting Nestle (with good reason) and I feel like shit. 

So then I stand there for five or ten minutes trying to decide what to get.  Nothing from the fridge because I hate that it cools down the coffee.  Can’t do those little individual packages - talk about a waste of materials.  Fat-free or sugar-free? French vanilla or hazelnut? Will it never end?

Gee, that sucks.  Maybe you should give up the fucking coffee.

I would still be getting the calories from the sugar and milk.

No you wouldn’t because you can’t stand sugar or milk in your tea; you always drink it straight.  You would probably lose five pounds in the first month.

Oh yeah.  But with coffee, I get to use a coffeemaker that will make as many cups of coffee at one time as I want.  I can’t do that with tea.  I’ll have to make each cup individually.  Ugh.

Wrong again.  You can use a tea pot.  Remember the song? And you actually own two of them - one from Mom and one from Aunt Bobbie. Tea pots are also much more decorative than coffeemakers, it will make your kitchen look pretty.

You know, that song is functionally inaccurate; a tea pot doesn’t whistle, only a tea kettle does.  Or maybe I’m wrong.  I wonder if a tea pot can whistle.

Ok, seriously?

Right.  Right.  Right.  Back to the subject matter.  Ok, what about the times when I want something cold? I love my frappuccinos when it is hot and disgusting outside.  Yeah, they have even more sugar than the hot coffee but at least its cold.  You can’t drink tea cold.

Actually, you can.  Its called iced tea.  Your mom had a pitcher of iced sun tea in the refrigerator every summer day of your childhood.  Remember? Plus, you don’t like sugar in your iced tea either.

Tea is so expensive.  Especially the organic.

Its cheaper than coffee, even at the expensive organic co-op.

There’s not enough variety.

Black tea, green tea, red tea, grey tea, chai, herbal, caffeinated, naturally decaffeinated, jasmine, lavender, berry, echinacea, peppermint, orange, raspberry, chocolate mint...

Ok, ok.  Maybe this isn’t as big of a deal after all.  Maybe I really could switch to tea.  I could just try it for a month, right? I sure would love to lose five pounds.  Wait, did you say chocolate mint?!

I am now on day five of my month-long “Switch to tea, stupid” challenge.  I will admit, I have already missed my sweet, sweet magical bean water and have contemplated cheating.  I am surprised by how addicted I seem to be, but I have a feeling that the sugar may be the culprit and not the coffee.  Well, maybe 70/30.  I haven’t cheated though, and I have already found a playful interest in the tea culture.  I will probably have purchased my first leaf tea and little plunger thingy by the time this challenge is over.  I should also probably learn the correct term for little plunger thingy.

Could you? Would you? Have you given up one addiction as long as there was another, healthier addiction waiting in the wings?

Want to learn even more about tea and the advantages it has over coffee? Click here!

Want to yell at me for giving coffee a bad name? That's cool too.  Leave me a comment, yo!

***This post was originally written under my previous blog name, Zen and the Art of Cloth Diaper Maintenance.***

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Musings From a Cloth Diaper Addict: Traveling with Cloth Diapers

My family and I recently took a trip to Austin, TX for a week.  The only other week-long trip we have taken since Scarlett joined the family was to Syracuse, NY when she was only 3 months old.  I had just started cloth diapering at that point, and the thought of traveling across country with cloth diapers was still a little too overwhelming. 

Scarlett is now 10 months old, and I am a much more seasoned fluff user.  Taking our cloth diapers on this trip wasn’t even a question, what else would I do? Since I see a lot of questions about traveling with cloth on my favorite cloth diaper Facebook pages, I thought this would make an interesting challenge to chronicle. 

Now, I have to admit right off the bat how lucky I am.  We stayed with my extremely maternal and environmentally friendly aunt, who happens to have the nicest washer and dryer I have ever used.  One time, I even came back from an outing to discover she had stuffed my diapers for me! Certainly, not everyone traveling with cloth will have these amenities, but hopefully you will still find some tips helpful.

Part 1: How much fluff will a fluff addict stuff, when she stuffs her fluff in packing cubes?

My first plan of action was deciding how to pack them.  Its harder packing something that you have to use the entire trip.  This was an 11 hour car ride and, even though we were driving at night, I couldn’t be sure of how many diapers I would use.  I don’t have that many diapers to begin with, so I brought my entire stash, minus a few doublers and prefolds - 17 pocket diapers, 28 wipes, two prefolds, and a couple extra bamboo inserts. 

I keep all my diapers in a rather small 25 quart storage bin.  I could have just snapped the lid on and taken that, but it would have needed much more space in the car and would not fit in my suitcase (a suitcase that would hold all my two daughters’ and my belongings).  Since I have a ginormous suitcase, I like to take advantage of it and fit everything for three people into one bag.  This is where my wonderful Ebag packing cubes come into play.  Ebag packing cubes are an OCD packer’s wet dream and they made packing my cloth diapers a breeze.  No, I am not getting paid to endorse this product, I just love it that much!

I use the travel size all the time to store my stuff for the diaper bag.  I like having it all in its separate bag, since my diaper bag is pretty big.  My husband will usually just take the packing cube when he takes the baby out.  In it, I keep two cloth diapers, two cloth wipes, wipes solution spray, a plastic bag for dirty diapers, and a reusable changing pad.

My everyday cloth diaper travel bag.

So I packed this as usual and then put all my other diapers and wipes in a large-sized packing cube. I didn't want to leave any dirty diapers at home for a week, so I just brought along my In and Out - No Mess Diaper Bag by FuzziBunz to keep in the car.  Now, I'm not getting paid for this either, but may I just add that I friggin' love this wetbag.  It hangs on the door, stays closed yet gets airflow, has a zipper at the bottom for easy washer loading, has a little thingy on the inside to put some essential oils on to keep it smelling yummy, and I can wash it right with my diapers.  It rocks.  Why bother with a travel wetbag, when this way, I had it when I was there, and I could use it to store dirty diapers on the road.  The handy-dandy thing even attached to my suitcase, which meant one less thing to carry and less risk of dirty diapers spilling out in the car.

My entire stash ready to go, including wet bag with a few dirty diapers.

Here is what it looked like all ready to go.  Notice that the packing cubes even have convenient handles on them? I also love that I can see what is inside without opening them up, which is essential when you use a bunch of them for everyone's clothes.

This bitch is ready to do some cloth diaper traveling!

The large bag fit perfectly into my suitcase.  The travel bag went into the diaper bag, which was put at arm's reach in the car, and the wetbag was connected to the outside of my suitcase.  I could have kept it separate, but I liked having everything fit into one bag - when you're carrying an infant and wrangling a 5-year-old, the fewer bags the better!


Do you need fancy-dancy packing cubes? Of course not, but keeping the diapers in any kind of separate bag (instead of just in my suitcase with the rest of my belongings) has many advantages.  On the road, once we used the two diapers in the diaper bag, we just took the big bag out of the suitcase and kept it at arms reach.  At my aunt's house, the four of us shared two rooms, which happened to be on opposite sides of the house.  So we never quite knew where we would be changing a diaper.  Luckily, it was all very easy to transport from room to room.  It was also easy to take it with us on all-day outings; whenever I only take one or two diapers with me, Scarlett decides to take 4 or 5 poops.

***This post was originally written under my previous blog name, Zen and the Art of Cloth Diaper Maintenance.***

Friday, July 15, 2011

Life Lessons: The Big, Scary Bug

On our trip home from Austin, Texas, we stopped at a rest stop and Dani and I went in together to use the facilities.  We soon found we were not alone.  A big, scary looking bug was laying on its back in the middle of the floor, slowly but steadily shaking its legs and writhing its body, obviously trying to get off its back. 

Now when I say this bug was big and scary - I’m not just being a silly ol’ girl who is afraid of bugs.  Ok, I am, but this bug was freaking huge! It was almost as big as my palm, easy, and its legs were hairy, thick, and meaty.  This was a cat.

Dani was the first to see it and yelped out a predictable, “ewww, a big bug!”

“Oh, it's ok, it can’t hurt you,” the redundant and oft repeated phrase was already halfway out of my mouth before I actually saw the size of this new friend.  I thought to myself, “wow, that bug might actually hurt us.”

I tried to contain my irrational fears as I found the cleanest stall for Dani and then stood guard as she did her business.  I couldn’t help but stare at poor Beetlejuice, writhing helplessly a foot or so away.

“Awww, the poor bug can’t get up off his back.  He’s stuck.”

“Awwww!” cried Dani, her caring heart already swelling, “maybe I can turn him over when I come out.”

“I don’t know, Dani, this is a pretty big bug.”

“Well... maybe I can use my shoe,” she creatively suggested.

“Ok,” I said in my best convinced voice, although I was anything but convinced.

When Dani was finished, we switched positions.  As I did my business, I listened for any sounds outside the stall.  I kept waiting to hear the triumphant, “Momma, I did it!” But that phrase never came.  When I walked out to join the party, Dani’s expression balanced between terror and pity. 

“Maybe I can do it if you hold my hand,” she said timidly. 

“Ok,” I said encouragingly.

There we were, at one in the morning, my five-year-old daughter and I, holding hands in the middle of an abandoned rest stop bathroom, trying our best to help the scariest bug we had ever seen.  And then, as Dani stretched out her toe as far as she could to try and push the bug off his back, three things happened in rapid succession:

1)  We both heard a small but distinct crunching sound;
2)  The bug’s large, meaty legs wrapped around the toe of Dani’s shoe; and
3)  We both started screaming and ran like hell out of that rest stop bathroom.

As we scurried through the labyrinth, Dani a few paces ahead of me, I looked back to see if our efforts had at least not been in vain.  But alas, the bug was still on its back as I rounded the corner.  Our altruistic efforts at bug saving had been foiled by our irrational fear of big, scary bugs.  I did actually think about going back and trying again, but the echo of that crunching sound kept me running until we were outside.  If Dani had any thoughts of going back, she kept them to herself.

It just goes to show that anytime is a good time to learn a lesson, even at one in the morning in a deserted rest stop bathroom.  Given the usual bouts of selfishness that any five-year-old is prone to exhibit (especially on vacation with family giving her everything she wants), I was proud at the amount of heart Dani showed the bug.  We didn’t rescue that bug, but we did our best.  Sometimes, it really is the thought that counts.  I’m proud of both of us.  And now I’m going to bed.

Challenge: Would you help something or someone, even if you were scared of them?

***This post was originally written under my previous blog name, Zen and the Art of Cloth Diaper Maintenance.***
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