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Amen! to “What do you DO all day?”

My small group was recently talking about how we plan our futures, and where we thought we’d be now if we were asked ten years ago. I would have said, optimistically, “A stay-at-home-mom and artist.” And, after a long time of thinking that wasn’t going to be, here I am, and I’ve got all that 16-year-old me could have wished.

At new introductions and homecomings, I hated answering with some menial job when people asked what I did. So why do I still feel like I have to make excuses?

I’ll say, “I’m a stay-at-home mom.” (smile)  “… … I’m-also-taking-classes-for-my-master’s-and-have-a-home-based-business.” Read: I’m educated. I do things with my day. In case you were wondering.

This is an article written by Matt Walsh, a husband and father of 3-month-old twins. He defends his wife and mothers everywhere who choose to stay home with their children – and argues that it’s ridiculous that he needs to be “defending” SaHMs.

“Are we really the first culture in the history of mankind to fail to grasp the glory and seriousness of motherhood?” he asks. I love it. He also points out, “Whatever they are doing, they ARE doing something, and our civilization DEPENDS on them doing it well. Who else can say such a thing? What other job carries with it such consequences?” In the workplace, there is a position and someone is hired to fill that role. In motherhood, there is no one else that can do the job of a mother. No interviews. No resumes. No one else can be a mother to your children. It’s not expendable, and as Matt says, entire generations of lives will turn upside-down if you decide to quit. But no matter who you are at what company, someone can be trained to fill your shoes. Apple lives on without Steve.

Neither Matt nor I are saying that all women should be home with their kids. It’s not in everyone’s cards. Likewise, not everyone is called to motherhood, or to marriage, for that matter. But it also shouldn’t be OK to assume moms will go back to work in 6 weeks.

Carl Jung: “We overlook the essential fact that the achievements which society rewards are won at the cost of a diminution of personality. Many aspects of life which should have been experienced lie in the lumberroom of dusty memories.” Author and Rabbi Harold Kushner adds to that, “Worst of all, society applauds this imbalance, honoring us for our financial success, praising us for our self-sacrifice. …Forces in society won’t let us become whole people because we are more useful to them when one small part of us is over-developed” (When All You’ve Ever Wanted Isn’t Enough, 25). We are useful if we work and earn money; useless if no money is involved. SaHMs who blog and make money – you’re OK. Write a book – good to go. Whatever you do, just make money at it, and everyone’s happy. It’s like you’re a waste of space if you’re JUST home.

…with your kids! There is one little 13-month-old at our house. Just one. And there are days when I get one, two, maybe even none of the things on my to-do list crossed off. That’s because kids speak the love language of quality time. They read your love in the time you spend with them.

This is something I’m working on. I’m very much a to-do-list gal. That’s how I know my day was worth something! Ecclesiastes 3:11 – “He has made everything beautiful in its time.” I believe nothing is outside of God’s will – everything happens because he ordains or allows it to, and it all works “for the good of those who love him” (Romans 8:28). So if Copper is tugging on my pant legs every ten minutes today because he’s been getting a tooth for three days and he’s tired and sore, maybe what I need to do is stop sweeping or cooking and hold him. Hold his head to my shoulder. Let him be part of my cooking or sweeping. Be his mother.

Because that’s my job. I’m not making money – but really, why does anyone care? One kid’s world (and my husband’s!) is changed by what I do. That’s something I’ve never been able to say about my job before.

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Diapering Refined

Ok ladies. Here’s the rundown: it’s week 2, and we’ve learned a lot as we enter these double-digit days.

First: Inserts are a good thing. They’re basically washable Maxi pads. We started out with prefolds (large rectangles you need to fold before inserting), and they’re great for heavy-duty absorption. But, I would recommend using prefolds when you know you won’t be dealing with solids. (If you do use them with solids, place a thin liner on top. Single layers are much easier to dump out than something with many soiled surfaces once unfolded.) Inserts are great on their own for daytime use. They’re a quicker change and less messy when you remove them.

Second: Flushable liners. Folks. These are amazing. The Bambino Mio Liners are the only ones we can use, as they’re made out of cornstarch and are septic-friendly. Also, they’re thinner than a page in the Bible, so they won’t clog pipes. You just lift and plop right into your porcelain pot.

Third: We had our first public change! Just needed a plastic bag for the used and insert a new liner. Bam. Just like good old times.

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Here’s a list of our supplies, including new additions:

4-6 waterproof covers (check out some of those designs in the photo! How cute!) – We have one of each brand, and they’re all comparable. I would just recommend snaps so your dexterous darling doesn’t undo them.

12 thick inserts

4 thin inserts – Single layer pieces of cloth. These came with one of our covers and we use them to catch solids when we use a prefold. I’m not sure we would buy them if they weren’t included, especially now that we have the liners, but they serve a purpose.

6 prefolds (mix of these and Chinese and Indian – honestly, I can’t even remember which is which and it hasn’t mattered yet)

One pack flushable liners (mentioned above)

3 wet bags – We just got these and I’m looking forward to trying them out. We got a tall one, a small one, and a Kanga one that is supposed to sit up on its own (but doesn’t, at least not empty). We had been using a makeshift setup with a cloth hamper bag inside a wooden hamper with a hinged lid, but that was just barely cutting it. It just needs to be waterproof and close securely.

Regular wipes – We still have our Diaper Dekor, and there will be times we still use and need to dispose of plastic diapers, so we have a secure place to toss wipes. I thought about getting fabric wipes, which require that you either buy or make your own cleanser to use on them, but I decided I really like something that gets thrown away. Then, if you really have a mess on the table, you can swipe and toss.

Washer/Dryer/Clothes line – I do a cold prerinse with vinegar, then a hot wash. Sometimes, another cold rinse for good measure. And I would recommend a detergent like Free and Clear or something.

Happy diapering!

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Crunchy Mom

It’s a cool thing we humans do with language: I read the term “super-crunchy” in an article and instantly thought, “…I think that’s me.” Here’s what Urban Dictionary says it is: “persons who have adjusted or altered their lifestyle for environmental reasons.” I would adjust that to include human-conscious reasons. So that means we buy organic not just because it’s better for the field and surrounding areas where it was grown, but because the people who picked the lettuce will live longer, healthier lives, and my family and I just might, too.

I ran across this term in an article about vaccinating your kids. (Amen, sister.) I admit, I considered not vaccinating my son. Hear me out: we’re at the pediatrician’s office and two nurses come in and tell us to hold him down so they can give him shots. “Shots? What kind of shots?” They had to go find info sheets on what it was they were giving him. So there, I thought about not, but then again, I didn’t want him contracting rubella, measles, mumps, and the like.

The author said it’s usually super-conservative or super-crunchy types that don’t vaccinate, and that they’re usually very different camps. Actually, I’m probably part of the small population in the Venn diagram that overlaps them both – not completely, but I’ve got a foot in each. Crunchy: our future house is very possibly going to be off-the-grid. Conservative: yay big business. Crunchy: I make bread, applesauce, and yogurt. Conservative: 10% goes to the church. Crunchy: I’m a stay-at-home mom diapering my baby in cloth, collecting rainwater for plants, selling a natural alternative skincare line (Arbonne) from home. Conservative: we have a 401k and a lot of our money is in long term, high yield stocks.

So put that in your local honey-sweetened granola with almond milk and chew on it.

...and we garden. Like fools. Wherever that falls.

…and we garden. Like fools. Wherever that falls.

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The Start of Cloth

It’s day three. We received the cloth diaper covers and inserts Monday night and decided an overnight test was as good of a start as any. I briefed my husband on how the “boy fold” worked, added a “soaker” liner just to be safe, and tucked sweet baby Copper in for the night, fingers crossed I wouldn’t be changing sheets at 3:30 am.

Here it is Thursday, and we’ve had two outings but thankfully no public changes yet. I have had to do laundry twice, but mostly because the covers got soiled. We started with two nylon waterproof covers and seven prefolds. The covers came with a pack of liners, but really, compared to the prefolds, they don’t seem to do much.

As I sat with Copper at our 5am feeding this morning, I contemplated whether to put a cloth or disposable diaper on him at this point. He’s very predictable with his nighttime and early morning diapers: the first is always wet, the second is always soiled. So this twenty cent diaper would save me from a messy cleaning in a few hours when I know I’ll be rushed to get to my mom’s group on time. But if I put him in a disposable now, will I always do that? For the first time, I calculated how much money I’ve been spending on disposables. Right now, we’re at a pretty steady rate of five diapers per day. That means about $1, so roughly $400/year. Now, this is at a year old, so there have been heavier rates of change, but I’m going with what I know here. That $400 is a lot less than cloth diaper sites will quote when they’re selling you on the astronomical savings you’ll see. To be fair though, it only cost us $41 to start this cloth thing, so we’re admittedly doing pretty good.

But it’s not just the cost, of course. I read that babies contribute half a ton of landfill annually with their plastic diapers. Poor little poopers – it’s not their fault. I make the choice to either put his plastic diapers in a plastic bag and half fill a garbage pail every other week, or I can literally get my hands dirty and save all that. Now, again, my husband just read that if our rate of garbage production continues to steadily increase, in a few thousand years, we’ll still be able to fit our country’s garbage in a mile-long landfill, which isn’t really all that large. So should I be more concerned with our water consumption as I launder all those prefolds?

So here’s how I look at it. As it is, I do laundry as little as possible. It’s not so bad to do more little loads instead of a one huge load that I never want to put away because it takes so long to completely repopulate our closets and dressers. They’re wrinkly and less thoroughly cleaned because they’re all jammed into one load – it’s just not a good deal. Second, I just feel better about it. We’ll see, a few weeks down the road, if the novelty of scraping and spraying off the contents of his diaper gets old. Then back to disposables and I’ll put the lot on Craigslist. Will we ever change to cloth wipes? Probably not. I think that’s where I’ve put my finger on the limit.

Plastic throwaway diapers are supposed to be filled with materials that aren’t exactly baby-friendly. They are definitely bleached white, so there are those residual chemicals. They use more raw materials. They have “a variety of plastics, adhesives, glues, elastics and lubricants,” but the industry isn’t required to disclose materials, says a CBC News report (2010). There have been lawsuits brought accusing some brands of causing chemical burns. And a research lab found diapers emitted a number of fumes with known respiratory toxicity.

I sell Arbonne. I’m the poster child in the fight against chemical additives. “Did you know it only takes 26 seconds for something on your skin’s surface to be absorbed into your bloodstream?” I ask potential clients. I’ve rarely fed Copper anything store-bought outside puffs and Cheerios. We buy organic fruits and vegetables when we can and get our milk from the dairy. But you know, whatever chemicals are in his diapers 24/7 for two and a half years, I’m sure that’s fine.

If nothing else, they say cloth kids potty train younger because they can feel the mess better.

bumGenius Freetime AllInOne  Snap Cloth Diaper Albert

 

+ This is a great post about the basics of diapering: what you need, how it practically works out in the day-to-day of this mom’s life, from newborn on. My added two cents: 1) I highly recommend the snaps. Starting with a one year old, I can tell you nothing but snaps will keep these on him. Also, snaps won’t ever wear out. 2) I’ve mostly done one wash cycle, maybe an additional rinse cycle in cold. 3) That spatula idea is gold.