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.***

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Parental Civil War

This post was written as part of the Parenting In America Carnival hosted by Adventures in Mommyhood: Mommy Outnumbered. The Carnival is running from July 3-10, 2011.
When I became a mom, I instinctually sought out other moms.  I wanted advice, encouragement, and apathy.  I wanted to know I wasn’t alone.  As a stay-at-home-mom, I was definitely craving some adult conversation.  Since I am shy and kind of a homebody, I decided to jump on the internet and see what the world wide web had to offer.  This is when I first came across CafeMom. 


At first, it seemed like a great find.  Moms supporting other moms in every single category your mind could imagine.  There really was something for everyone.  But then came my first experience with mom bullying.  It was horrible! When a mom would excitedly talk about how much she loved breastfeeding, the formula moms would jump on her for thinking she was superior to them.  When a mom talked about the fact that she liked formula feeding her baby, the breastfeeding moms would attack her for not doing what is best for her child.  Vaxers and anti-vaxers, circumcising moms and intactivists, the enemy lists go on and on.  After about a month on the site, I realized this was less a place for support and more a battleground for the ongoing parental civil war.  And CafeMom is certainly not the only parent chat site that has been sieged.  

 Now that I am attuned to the sounds of the parental civil war going on today in America, I hear the battle cries everywhere I go: the moms at the park afraid to breastfeed in public because they will be shelled with hurtful comments; the dads at the grocery store afraid to baby wear because their manhood could be amputated; the parents at daycare who are shunned as traitors for not vaccinating their children; the vaccinating parents shunned by the antivaxers for poisoning their children; the laboring woman who surrenders to her doctor and submits to an unnecessary cesarean section who is crucified by natural birth supporters.  No one is immune, neither side is showing signs of retreat, and everyone is suffering from heavy casualties.

As I have been watching the battles rage on for five years now, I often find myself torn, not sure on which side I should be fighting.  I certainly have strong convictions about all of these topics, but most of the time I just try to wave my little white prefold, signaling I don’t really want to fight at all.  I find myself defending everyone.  After all, this is America.  We all have a right to our opinions; we all have our individual freedoms to parent the best way we see fit, right?

On the other hand, what about the common good? If one way really is better than the other, shouldn’t we be trying our hardest to make sure most of America is practicing it? As parents, doesn’t the fact that we are responsible for the children of America mean that we are also responsible for the fate of the country?

I certainly don’t have all the answers.  Just as I could never tell you which of my children I love more, I cannot tell you which freedom is more important - the freedom of individual rights or the freedom to make a positive difference in your country no matter your race, creed, gender, or economic status.  But the more I look at the issue, the more I see I may not have to choose at all. 

A Gentler Approach

When I was a child, I was bullied into going on my first roller coaster by my family (Dad, aunts and uncles).  As we stood in line for an hour, I was terrified. I knew I wasn’t ready to go on this ride.  But my family dismissed my fears as childish (um duh, I was a child!) and said once I got on, I would be fine.  Well, I wasn’t fine.  I was frozen in fear through the entire ordeal and the minute the ride was over I broke into tears and was inconsolable for the next hour.  The experience traumatized me.  For years I refused to go on any kind of ride or water slide and I refused to listen to anyone’s opinion on the matter.

A few years later, my mom took me to the local street fair.  I rode the merry-go-round, jumped in the moon bounce, and ate cotton candy.  It was comforting because I knew what to expect.  It was fun because it was all things I had done before, things I knew would be fun.  Mom looked bored though.  I watched her eyes as she peered longingly up at the Rainbow.  That’s the ride where a big flat group of seats starts slowly swinging back and forth until at last it starts going all the way around in big circles.  It is by no means an extreme ride.

 “Would you like to try the Rainbow, Leah?” Mom asked excitedly.

“No way!” I cried, the fear of my last roller coaster experience already bubbling up in my sensitive gut.

Mom took a much different approach at convincing me to try out this new, terrifying ride.  We sat down on a bench and watched others go on the Rainbow.  We watched it make its passes back and forth and listened to the riders scream as it finally made its inevitable loop all the way around.  As we watched, Mom told me about her first experience with the Rainbow - how she had been frightened too.  But once she gathered the courage to go on, she experienced wonderful things: the butterflies in her stomach waiting for the ride to begin, the anticipation in her fingertips that gripped the safety bar as the ride floated up into the sky, and the feel of the wind lifting her hair away from her shoulders as she descended towards the ground.

After about 15 minutes, the ride looked different to my inexperienced eyes.  It was no longer new and unpredictable.  I could see exactly what was going to happen, I could count how many times it would swing back and forth before it finally plunged over, and I could hear the sheer delight in the shrieking voices that once had only sounded like petrified screams.  I could also see that nobody was walking off in tears.

I fixed my face with the bravest look I could muster and stood up. 

“Ok, let’s do it.”

And the rest is history, of course.  I went on the Rainbow at least 10 times that night.  The next night I went back to the fair and rode it another 20.  I’ve been on at least two dozen other new and thrilling roller coasters since that day.  And I will admit freely, that I am still terrified every time I’m standing in line.  But instead of trying to avoid the fear like I did as a child, I find that the fear is as thrilling and as useful as the new experience that follows it.  And every once in a while, I find the experience less than thrilling.  Some roller coasters really are no good - they hurt your neck, upset your stomach, or lead you down a path you realize you never wanted to go down.  But one bad ride doesn’t stop me from testing out others.  Every journey has a lesson to deliver.

You Do What?

The first time I heard of ideas like breastfeeding to four years old, elimination communication, and extended rear-facing car seats, I had the same terrified feeling I did the first time I looked at the Rainbow.  For one, these were brand new experiences I had never heard of, and the unknown can always be a little scary.  But even more, I was scared of what it meant if I considered these new ideas.  If I pondered these new and different paths, did that mean the mothering I had been doing up to now had been wrong? And if I actually decided to incorporate these ideas into my parenting style, did it mean I was somehow a better mother than I was before? If I changed the way I thought about parenting, would it change the way I loved my children?

Insert the best quote ever: “You did then what you knew how to do.  Now that you know better, you’ll do better.” - Maya Angelou

The very tools used in the “gentle parenting” method are the same ones we need to use on each other and ourselves.  If we don’t expect our children to always know the right thing to do, why do we expect it of ourselves? If we say its ok for our kids to make mistakes, why do we expect our fellow moms to be perfect? If we have to show patience to our children to teach our children patience, why are we so impatient with each other? Why can we be so tolerant of our children’s shortcomings and so demanding of ourselves? If we would never say it to our kids, we shouldn’t say it to each other or ourselves.  How much I love my children is not congruous to how much knowledge I have of different parenting techniques. 

So what’s the moral of my incredibly long blog? Parenting in America does not have to be some kind of civil war.  We don’t have to kill the other side in order to prove our side the victor.  And we don’t have to run away in fear.  Instead, we can all take a long hard look at each new and sometimes scary path presented to us and listen with anticipation to the exciting tales other parents have to tell us about those paths.  We can relate our own tales of our own paths to other parents with just as much excitement and compassion.  We can sit on benches and take our time pondering which new and exciting roller coaster we want to ride today.  Sometimes the journey other parents love will just not have the right fit.  Other times, we will find ourselves gleefully over the rainbow.

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