Sunday, October 31, 2010

Toddler Cough Suggestions

Looks like Halloween is cancelled this year.  My son only wore the Halloween costume I made for about two hours at an event that he didn't like.  sigh

The little one woke up with a horrible cough and a rattle in his chest.  He's not coughing nonstop or anything, but when he does cough it sounds awful.  He coughed so hard a time or two that he even had to catch his breath. 

Other than the cough, he appears to be perfectly fine.  He's been busy playing all morning.  His appetite is a little dull, but he's still eating plenty.  He's been chatting excitedly about seeing his Grandma & Grandpa. . .too bad he can't see them if he's sick.

My son rarely catches colds and I've never heard this cough so I want to knock it out as quickly as possible.  I've tried warm water with honey and he will not drink it;  I'll try adding lime or lemon and see if he'll drink it prepared with a little citrus.  I'll be giving him a bath with Vapor bubbles after lunch and I'll follow that by rubbing him down with baby chest rub.  Besides running the vaporizer, what do you recommend to loosen congestion and improve a cough in a 2 1/2-year old?

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Sometimes "Breathing" Sucks

I have found myself "breathing" at dinner each night this week.  Of course, I breathe all the time, but this is a special breath.  It is the subtle, but deep, breath you take when your hunger is satisfied.  That's the point that you should stop eating because you are no longer hungry.

I was never made to clean my plate while I was growing up, but I can't stand leaving food on my plate now that I'm an adult.  Other than greedy gluttony, I don't know why I've developed this habit.  But I have it now and it is a hard one to break.

I've learned that I consistently put too much on my plate.  Not a lot, around 1/4 to 1/2 cup, but it's definitely enough to add up over time.  By stopping when I'm full, I have consumed about three fewer cups of food this week that I would have eaten otherwise.  I keep telling myself that the food will still be there if I want it later; sometimes I do, sometimes I don't.

I have also rearranged how I eat, consuming my favorite parts of the meal before anything else.  I always used to eat salad first, but I'm saving it for the last thing to eat because I'm more likely to stop eating when I'm full when salad is all that remains.  I don't even dress it unless I'm about to eat it because seeing it with a Tablespoon or two of my tasty semi-homemade ranch dressing would tempt me to eat it even if my hunger is satisfied. 

I'm glad that I can hear what my body is saying and that I'm listening.  And I'm pretty amazed at just how little I actually need (want is another matter!) to eat before I feel satisfied.  Seriously, one night I only ate half of a stuffed red bell pepper and 1/4 cup of a delicious barley & mushroom side dish before I was full.  I still had half of my dinner left on my plate.  I'm very happy that I have an abundance of plastic containers for storing leftovers because I've been using them a lot this week!

All this isn't to say that I've been perfect because I haven't been.  I ignored that special breath at lunch once and kept shoveling food in my pie-hole.  I still didn't clean the plate though because I began to feel uncomfortably full after eating a few more spoonfuls of what can only be described as Sloppy Joe Salad.  I wonder now if this is how I always felt after eating and I just didn't notice it?  If so, that's really sick and I'm glad that I'm taking steps to stop this self-destructive behavior of over-eating.

I sure hope the scale reflects my efforts at my next weigh in. . .

Friday, October 29, 2010

Sleep Training a Stubborn Toddler

I suppose that sleep training sucks no matter the age of the "trainee," but it really sucks with a stubborn toddler.  I'm pretty sure that it's human nature for children to test boundaries, but it's really getting old in my household.  I feel like I'm engaged in a never-ending dance of two steps forward, one step back.  Though I am the parent, there are times that I have the sinking suspicion that my son is the one calling the shots.

My 2 1/2-year old son used to be a fantastic sleeper.  He slept at least twelve-hours every night once he started sleeping through the night - 7 to 7.  I credited having a consistent and soothing bedtime routine, but I think I may have just been exceptionally lucky to have a SuperSleeper for a son. 

As is always the case, my luck ran out.

He was totally potty trained shortly before his second birthday (luck again, no doubt, but read my blog posts about it if you're interested in my method), but he still wet himself every few nights.  I moved him out of the crib to a "big boy bed" so that he could come get me if he had to pee in the night.  Though it stopped nearly all night accidents, that's when all of our sleep troubles started.  I would have moved him back to the crib, but this is also around the time that he discovered the joy of climbing and, since our floors are tile, I worried that he might end up seriously injured if he climbed/fell out of his crib.

After many weeks, he was back on track and sleeping through the night in his toddler bed.  All that work was unraveled when I left the state to attend my only brother's service and I could not bring my son with me.  I was gone for a week and I had never previously been away from my little guy for more than four hours in his entire life.  It really messed him up to have me gone so long.  Heck, it really messed me up too!

When I returned home, the little one slept in our bed for weeks afterward.  We had never co-slept even once, but I figured that he needed the extra love & assurance so we obliged. We started transitioning him back to his own bedroom and what ultimately worked was lying down with him in the twin bed that is also in his room (he refused to sleep in the toddler bed) until he fell asleep.  At that point, we'd sneak out of his room.  Yes, we're lame sometimes. . .aren't all parents??

Obviously this was not be something that my husband and I wanted to do for very long, but it bought some much-needed peace in our home at bedtime and that is absolutely priceless to a young (ish) family.  No jokes about our ages, okay?

Anyway, we inadvertently helped him develop what I consider to be a bad habit so we've been working with him to get him to fall asleep on his own again.  It hasn't exactly been easy, and it has downright sucked sometimes, but I feel that we're making progress so I am encouraged to stay the course.

I simply tucked him in one night and did not lie down beside him.  I told him that he is a big boy and we are proud of him.  I gave him a kiss on the cheek, firmly massaged the area around his occipital bone, covered him in a blanket, and tucked him in.  I added that we expected him to go to sleep and stay in his bed until morning comes.  Does he understand even half of what I say to him?  I have no idea, but I do it nonetheless.

I do not keep a baby gate in front of his bedroom door and he ran out of his room for about 1 1/2 hours that first night.  I sat in a dining room chair out in the hall and I calmly returned him to his bed each time he opened his bedroom door.  I told him the first couple of times that it's bedtime, but then I didn't even say anything as I put him back in the bed.  Receiving no reaction must be terribly boring to a toddler because he went right to sleep once I began mechanically returning him to bed as though I were some sort of android.

By Day 4 of this sleep training experiment, he only left his room once before staying in his room and falling asleep.  However, on Day 5 he ran out of his room five times - while we were trying to watch Iron Man 2, dangit!. . .two steps forward, one step back, right?  In any event, I feel like progress is being made because neither my husband nor myself are forced to stare into the darkness of our son's bedroom while the little one falls asleep.

Note that I did have to cut his nap down to only one hour (it used to be between 1 1/2 to 3 hours every afternoon when he took one) and he doesn't get one at all if he doesn't take it by 2:30 pm.  I drag him outside and let him run around for a bit if it is 2:30 pm and he is still awake.  He doesn't take a nap, but he is practically snoozing at the dinner table on those days.

Sleep training.  You know, it's a real drag sometimes.  Stay the course and continue moving forward.  Remember that so many parts of childhood are a temporary phase.  If your "temporary" phase is lasting longer than you desire, try changing up how you deal with it.  You never know what might work!

I want this post to be helpful and offer hope to other parents.  For you veteran parents out there, how did you handle bedtime battles with your young ones?  

Thursday, October 28, 2010

This is Sirius

Yes, the title of this post is a Wonder Pets reference.

I was overcome by tears when I was driving home yesterday afternoon.  I was listening to The Bridge on Sirius and I was hit by a double-whammy of sad songs that made me long for my brother.  I had been having a few really good days so I guess I was due to get upset over something as random as songs on the radio.

Though it is about two lovers, the opening lines of Jim Croce's Photographs and Memories immediately brought tears to my eyes:

"Photographs and memories
Christmas cards you sent to me
All that I have are these
To remember you

Memories that come at night
Take me to another time
Back to a happier day"

The rest of the lyrics are heartfelt and touching, but they don't really fit a sibling relationship.  Jim Croce really knew how to write a song to stir up emotions in the listener.  I'm glad that he was alive and recording back when your looks weren't the most important thing in the music industry or he probably never would have made a single album.

The second song that continued my downward spiral was Carol King's So Far Away.  Everyone probably knows the words to this song, but this part made me bawl like a little baby:

"You're so far away
Doesn't anybody stay in one place anymore
It would be so fine to see your face at my door
And it doesn't help to know that you're so far away"

The 70s may have been a crappy decade for a few reasons (stagflation, fashion, and energy problems), but it truly produced some of the finest songwriting and musical collaborations.  Not sure what I mean on that last bit?  Check out who played guitar on So Far Away for a perfect example.

Am I a Serial Killer?

It's probably shocking to the readers of this blog, I know, but I've been accused of being uptight more than once in my life.  At one point, I could walk into my bedroom and immediately discern if my hairbrush was out of place by less than 1/4 of an inch on my dresser.  Certain words, topics, and situations left me in a wretched knot.  Bodily functions disgusted me beyond belief.  My sister had nicknamed me "Prudence."  I was a (young) woman who desperately needed to be loosed. 

Though I have improved significantly, I still feel bummed out when certain things aren't just so.  Take, for instance, my pantry.  I insist that all of the cans and the few boxes in my pantry are in order.  I rotate the older stock to the front every single time that I go shopping.  All labels must face front.  I throw away anything that is at it's expiration date.  Heck, I have tossed milk that makes me suspicious even if it hasn't reached it's expiration date.  If these conditions aren't met, I'm terribly upset. 

Unbelievably, I became unreasonably bothered by a spice container that is on the "wrong" shelf.  Indeed, a lemon-pepper shaker actually inspired this post - it was on my coffee & ranch powder shelf.  Take what you will from that admission. 

Okay, I don't kidnap the daughters of Senators or take the skins off my "humps" (a la Jame Gumm or Hanibal Lecter) so I'm not going to be a serial killer, but I do get totally mental if my cupboards are not right.

I don't know when I loosened up, but I really did.  I'm pretty mellow these days.  I somewhat take the stance that the house can manage itself and I don't waste a lot of time screwing around with making sure that everything has it's place.  It takes a lot to surprise me, let alone embarrass me.  I'm almost uncomfortably comfortable with bodily functions at this point in my life. . .as those who read my blog regularly can attest!

But, damn, I get freaking nuts if my cupboards aren't in order!  Yeah.  I'm like the abusive whack-a-doodle husband from the movie "Sleeping with the Enemy."  Just don't get out of line and I won't have to lay a smack-down on you!  Or, more accurately, don't screw with my cabinets. . .

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

What is it with Women?

What is it with women?  If we can't be supportive, can't we at least be respectful toward each other?  Do we always have to disdain women who have different opinions or make different choices than us?  My specific gripe is with women who insert themselves into your personal choice about how to feed your own baby.

If you've had a baby, you know that you have a choice right off the bat:  formula feed or breastfeed.  We all know that breast milk is best, but the fact is that not everyone wants to go through the effort to establish a nursing relationship.  I can totally understand their feelings as I had a loooong learning curve when it came to breastfeeding.  I suffered mightily for seven weeks before I didn't hurt with every feeding.  And feedings occurred every ninety minutes.  Imagine pain visited upon your impossibly tender and sore nipples every ninety minutes around the clock for nearly two months.  Breastfeeding may be perfectly natural, but it sure did not come easily to me!

I really hated breastfeeding in the early days and it's hard to say who cried more in those early weeks, the baby or me.  Okay, I'll admit that it was definitely me.  I was stubborn though and I wanted to give my son the very best nutrition so I kept moving forward in my attempts to establish a good nursing relationship with my son.  I'm very thankful that I was able to become a SAHM for many reasons and a big one is that I know I would have quit breastfeeding and just went with formula had I returned to work.

As I've indicated in previous blog posts about breastfeeding, I am a fan of the practice.  I exclusively breastfed my son until he was around five months old.  That means that he only received nourishment from my breasts for that entire time.  I continued to nurse him until he was over one year old and fully weaned him shortly after his first birthday.  Though we had a rocky start, I ended up having a remarkably easy breastfeeding relationship with my son.

Look, we all know that breast is best, but it is no one's business how someone else chooses to feed their own baby.  Some moms don't get the support and resources to establish a good breastfeeding relationship so they turn to a bottle of formula out of desperation.  Some just don't want to for other reasons; maybe they think it will make their boobs droop, maybe they don't want to be tied down to their new baby, maybe it's some other reason.  A very small percentage are physically unable to produce enough milk no matter what they do to increase their milk supply.  And some simply cannot because their medications are contraindicated; chemotherapy patients, for example.  Regardless of the reasons, it doesn't matter because it is ultimately their decision how they feed their own baby and *it has nothing to do with anyone else.

Breastfeeding was the best way for me to feed my son, but that doesn't mean that I should be hurtful toward someone who chooses to formula feed - for whatever reason.  Since I was so determined to nurse our son, formula feeding was NOT going to happen, my husband is always surprised by my opinions on this topic.  I know that I'm incredibly opinionated.  Heck, this blog is primarily made up of my opinions and thoughts.  While I've been known to forcefully state an opinion or two, I hope that it's clear that my opinions aren't indictments toward others who feel, act, or raise their children differently - vaccination being the notable exception.  Vive la difference, as our French friends would say. . .

Women tend to judge themselves harshly and it's a rare woman who meets her own standards.  No matter what we do, it's never enough and this causes plenty of Mom Guilt.  Since we are our own worst critic, we don't need other moms heaping it on too. 

Come on, ladies, you don't have to approve of or even support different parenting choices, but can we just try to be nice toward each other?

*Ignoring the long term health impact of mothers & children and the societal impact of breastfeeding v formula feeding infants.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Keep Moving Forward

I can't believe it.  I actually lost weight last week.  That's a good thing, but I'm totally shocked because I screwed around way too much and I didn't work out at all prior to my weigh in yesterday afternoon.  Yet I somehow still lost weight. 

I know that this surprising weight loss this week was a gift so I've been diligently staying on-track since my weigh-in.  I have performed two workouts (no cardio, but it's still valuable and worthwhile) and I have had two very healthy meals.  I find that reflection is important in all areas of life and thought I'd list out the things I did right, no matter how small, and the things I need to improve upon. 

I will keep the weight loss going this week!  Once again, with emphasis, I will keep the weight loss going this week!  One more time, in case you aren't sure what I'm saying, I will keep the weight loss going this week!

What I did right last week:
~ I stopped eating when I was full, even though there was still food on my plate, at three meals.  I didn't leave a lot on my plate, but I did leave it.  This might sound like no big deal, but it is really hard for me to walk away from a bite or two of food.  Unfortunately, "just" an extra bite at every meal over the course of a year really does add up to a lot.
~ After eating, I threw whatever was left on my son's plate right down the drain.  I didn't customarily eat the remnants off his plate, but I have done it a time or two if the meal was particularly tasty.  A spoonful of mac & cheese was calling my name on Sunday night as I was cleaning up the dining room table.  I ran the plate to the sink and poured water on it - temptation removed!
~ I made three big pots of soup to eat for lunches and the dinners without my husband.  Soup is a terrific weight loss food for me because I find it filling and nourishing.  I made a low point soup that utilized ground chicken and lots of veggies, a zero-point pureed cauliflower soup (kinda like potato soup but not), and a low-ish point sausage, kale, & bean soup.  I froze some of the leftovers into single serve containers so I will always have meal options even when I don't feel like cooking.
~ I made spinach-y scrambled eggs on Wednesday morning and, instead of adding milk to the eggs, I added some of that pureed cauliflower soup that I made last week.  By trying something different, I save a little on calories and boosted the nutrition in my breakfast.  I liked the result so much that I did it again this morning.
~ I found a rye-crisp that is only 1 point for two crackers.  Normally I'm not a fan, but these ones are pretty tasty and they offer more nutrition than regular ol' saltine crackers.  Even better, I found them at my local 99 cent store.
~ I set a goal to work out at least once.  I did it with only hours left in my weight-loss week, but I did do it!
~ I normally wouldn't exercise at night, but I did last night.  I've been sleep training my son and I have nothing else to do while I'm standing in the hallway to hustle him back to bed when he leaves his room.  By the time he stayed in bed, I had completed three sets of squats, lunges, standing leg lifts & donkey kicks, biceps curls, triceps dips, chest flys, and inverted flys (bent-over lateral raises).

Where I need to improve:
~ I didn't track at all.  Not even once.  I so didn't track that I didn't even grab a tracker.  I will grab a tracker right after I finish this post.
~ I didn't measure at all.  Not even once.  I hate measuring, I really do.  Unfortunately, I don't know how to make it any less annoying.  I guess I will just leave my measuring cups and spoons on the kitchen counter so that I remember to keep my portion sizes reasonable.
~ The busiest social season of the year is looming and I need to strategize about how to handle parties and get-togethers.  I had two this weekend and I colossally bombed at both of them.  Too much food and too much booze combined with not enough will power or activity is just a bad equation.  When possible, I will bring a WW-friendly addition to the event.  I will also alternate one glass of water for every alcoholic beverage that I consume.  I should also avoid drinks made with juice or mixers, but that just sounds so un-fun.  Perhaps I should refamiliarize myself with just how many points are found in only one Cosmo. . .actually, that's a very good idea.
~ I have to really watch my drinking at home.  One glass of wine turns into the entire bottle nearly every single time.  Okay, every time.  This is particularly true if I've already been drinking out with friends.  I hate when the partying stops, but I can't lose weight without radically changing my relationship with liquor.  I'll have one glass of water for every alcoholic beverage that I consume because it slows down the guzzling.  I'll have to get my husband on board with this one because I won't be able to do it without his support.
~ I didn't get in all my water this week.  A lot of this is because I'll drink coffee until around noon if I'm home.  I'm going to have to watch my coffee intake and start chugging the H2O after mid-morning.
~ I need to fit in exercise wherever I can.  I frequently fall victim to the all or nothing mentality and, more often than not, that means doing nothing.  An hour to spend on cardio isn't going to magically materialize, but even a busy SAHM can find ten minute chunks of time to work on a little toning.  I will take advantage of those times when I find them.
~ I didn't take my son for a walk even once.  I blamed the weather, but really I was being lazy.  I will walk him to the park at least once this week.

Those are the things that I can think of off the top of my head that I've been doing right and the things that I need to improve.  Seeing it in print drives home the point and I will continue to improve.  Coming up with a plan is key because, as they say, a failure to plan is a plan to fail.

Did you know that I will keep the weight loss going this week?

Dream a Little Dream

I've been having bad dreams lately.  In general, they have to do with not being able to protect myself or my son.  Almost all of them involve me being attacked in our home and either not being able to find one of our firearms or, inexplicably, not knowing how to use it.

I tend to wake up just as I realize that I'm unable to defend myself against this intruder.  I'm willing to use deadly force so I suspect that these attacks in my dreams are likely to end in my death.  I think these dreams are highlighting that I can't necessarily control everything that happens, particularly life or death. 

The message is unsettling, to be sure, but it is the truth.  I've been trying to conceive for 18-months with no luck yet so I obviously don't control life.  The sudden loss of my only brother last month demonstrates that I sure don't control death either.

* * *

I had a very strange dream last night.  It didn't quite follow the standard dream formula that I've been experiencing lately.  After mulling it over for a bit, it actually left me feeling pretty good.

I dreamt that I was walking with my son in the jogging stroller and that a man asked me for money.  I said I did not have any and he attacked me, trying to get to my handbag.  I was able to run away, but he somehow tripped me up and I landed face down on the sidewalk.  The stroller began to turn and I thought it might roll away.  I knew if this happened that my son would end up in traffic and I saw red.  I grabbed the tire pump (which is located in the basket below) and I clocked the perp.  Then I launched myself at him and we fell next to a brick planter.  I began to choke him and beat his head against the bricks.  He fought to escape and I grabbed his wallet as he ran away.  I grabbed my son and started calling the police with my attacker's drivers license information.  Suddenly I noticed that he was returning with a gun.  Holding my son against my chest, I ran.  I ended up shot three times; my rear, my shoulder, and the top part of my ear.  Fast forward to this Thursday (funny how dreams do that, huh?) and I asked a friend to take my son to a Trick or Treat event since I was unable to attend.  She asked why and I explained that I had been shot on Tuesday.  I added that "God was looking out for me."  She asked how I figured, after all, I had been shot three times and could have been killed.  I explained that I'm still here and I'm going to be okay.

You don't have to look real deep to see what I think this dream means.  Yes, I've been wounded.  I've been wounded on many fronts in this last year.  I'm hurting emotionally and mentally.  Sometimes physically and sometimes spiritually.  But these wounds, though they may hurt and oh how they do hurt, they aren't lethal.  I'm still here and I'm going to be okay because God is looking out for me.

Sitting here with that realization, all I can say is:  Hallelujah!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Legacy of The Weirdo with the Beard-O

Billy Mays has been gone for over a year, but his legacy endures.  What, exactly, is his legacy?  Is it the devastatingly fashionable pairing of blue shirts with khaki pants?  Is it sporting facial hair that makes barbers and hairless young men cry?  No, his legacy is found in cupboards, closets, drawers, and garages across America.  Useless crap that solves a non-existent problem yet somehow simplifies your life while cluttering up your house.

I'm willing to bet that you've seen some of his commercials a time or two.  That is, unless you've been living under a rock for the last ten years.  Or if you're one of those pseudo-intellectuals who likes to claim that you not only "never" watch television, but you don't even own one.  Somehow watching television programming and movies on your laptop is okay though, amirite?

Here's the skinny on each and every one of his commercials:  A bunch of morons demonstrate that they should not be trusted to walk among us in normal society.  Seriously, the most mundane tasks are a challenge for these dolts and I wonder how they were capable of getting out of bed in the morning.  Putting a nail in the wall?  Too difficult!  Grating cheese?  It's so hard!  Making a hamburger patty?  Impossible!  They put on a ridiculously sad face and are, no doubt, lamenting that they are such dipshits.  At that point, our esteemed pitchman arrives on the scene and screams, "BILLY MAYS HERE. . ." and he explains that you just can't live without a metal hook to hang things on your wall, a cheese grater that is a plate, or a mold to make hamburgers. 

His message was pretty simple:  Chaos ensues if you don't buy Hercules Hooks, Grater Platers, or Big City Slider Stations.  Then he appeals to our desire to get a good bargain.  See, this crap is actually worth $40 or more, but they are able to sell it for $19.99 (+ Shipping & Handling).  But WAIT!  If you call in the next ten minutes, they will double your order. . .blah, blah, blah. 

Why have one plate that grates cheese when you can have two?  I always wondered why you would need two of the exact same object.  It just seems to scream that the item must be totally flimsy crap that would break if you gave it so much as a hard look.  Am I alone in not understanding the appeal of the double your order offer?

Perhaps I'm being too harsh on The Weirdo with the Beard-O.  Some of the stuff that he hawked actually does work.  OxiClean and Kaboom! both come to mind, but the vast majority of the items he represented were completely unnecessary useless junk.

His commercials were so pervasive and he was so persuasive that thousands upon thousands of television viewers succumbed to his sales pitch and picked up the phone (or the laptop) with credit card in hand.  Maybe even someone you know.  After all, if you buy in the next ten minutes they will double your order. . .of course, the additional shipping charges are quickly glossed over.  But you should call and call right now!

Unfortunately, the people who are most susceptible to this sales style are generally the least able to afford whatever is being pitched.  Not that any of it was expensive, but making credit card purchases when you are already in debt is the worst thing you can do.  If there is one thing that people with a spending problem love to do, it's whip out credit cards and spend money that they do not have.

I guess that's his real legacy.  An America deeper in debt, but with a bunch of stupid gadgets in our kitchens and garages.  Thanks, Billy Mays, thanks a lot!

But never fear, compulsive spenders of the United States, Vince has stepped in to fill the super-sales void with Sham-Wows and Slap Chops.  Call now and he'll send you two Slap Chops plus a Graty!  Wonderful, just wonderful.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

3 Squares

The title of this post does not refer to the amount of healthy meals that I consume in a day, though it would still be an accurate description.  No, this post is about toilet paper.  Yes, this is yet another toilet paper blog post.

I guess that I've been thinking a lot about toilet paper this month.  First it was my post wondering about crumpling v folding TP.  Then I informed the readership about the existence of reusable toilet paper, AKA family cloth.  Now this. . .

It goes without saying that I am not interested at all in using family cloth for #2, but I've determined that I'm not quite crunchy enough to try family cloth at this time.  It doesn't make me squeamish to use a square of fabric to wipe after I pee, but it does bother me that people might think I'm a complete and total weirdo for doing it.  What can I say, every now and then I actually give a rip about what other people think.

However, I still am interested in lowering the cost of my toilet paper burden.  So, instead of exploring family cloth options, I decided that I'd look at my disposable toilet paper relationship.  I had been a crumpler of toilet paper and, at the urging of a friend, I tried the folding technique.  I did not like it the first day or so that I tried it, but I chalked it up to the impossibly thin and rough one-ply paper that we typically have at home.  I purchased a different brand of TP at the store and continued my TP-folding experiment.

The two-ply offered an immediate difference.  It was much softer and, when folded, it was twice the thickness and was far more absorbent.  I felt encouraged with this finding and I continued to experiment with finding a good folding technique.

I think that I have found folded toilet paper perfection.

I started off with the bare minimum; one square of TP.  Needless to say, it was not enough and my fingers were wet with urine after wiping.  Gross!  I bumped it up to two squares of toilet paper and my fingers continued to suffer a damp result.  Still friggin' gross!  I doubled it to four squares and all was well; my fingers weren't wet and the toilet paper did the job.  Success!  I backed it down to three squares of toilet paper and I think I have found the perfect balance.  Yay!

I was always a crumpler so this has been a major change in my toilet technique.  Three squares, folded over, keeps my digits dry and dries my underside quite nicely.  To me, this is the perfect balance of cleanliness and frugality.

Have you been thinking about how you use toilet paper or considering family cloth?  Share your thoughts below and let start a blog dialog!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Pizza Bones

I made a variation of the soup & sandwich combo for lunch today.  It was soup with a slice of pizza.  The soup had a tomato-base and it was a nice complement to the pizza.

My son has become obsessed with pizza bones lately.  He likes the rest of the slice as well, but he loves the pizza bones.  He enjoys the bones so much that he begs for my bones whenever we eat pizza.  I have no problem giving it to him because the toppings are my favorite part of a pizza slice. 

I figured that he only liked it because he likes to dip it in the Ranch sauce that I always serve with pizza.  I ran out of my nonfat milk a couple of days ago and I haven't made a new batch of Ranch since getting a new gallon of milk.  So I served the pizza with the soup and wondered what he'd do with the bones. 

He dipped the pizza bones in his soup.  Clever kid.

Friday, October 22, 2010

It's Ladies Night!

Yeah, yeah, so I have an affinity for Kool & the Gang, but it is most certainly Ladies Night tonight!

For only the second time since my son has been born, maybe since I've been dating my husband (that would be over seven years for those of you keeping score at home!), I'm kicking it with some chicks tonight.  My NM 08 friends are having a hen party, no children and no spouses, and we are gettin' our drink on!  I was supposed to make my super-tasty stuffed mushrooms, but since I didn't go to the store and I do have seven ripe avocados on my kitchen counter, I'm bringing my super-awesome (and lazy!) guacamole.  Of course, no cocktail party would be a cocktail party without the cocktails so yours truly is also bringing a big bottle of some cheap-ass vodka. . .Smirnoff to be exact.  Martinis and munchies?  Oh, yes, I am in!

* * *

Super-Awesome (and lazy!) Guacamole
Ripe avocado
Minced onion (or onion powder)
Granulated garlic
Salt & Pepper
Diced tomato

Toss avocado flesh in a bowl, discarding skins and pits.  Roughly chop or mash avocado flesh.  Add everything except tomato and continue to mash avocado with back of a fork.  Add in diced tomato and lightly blend together with fork.

You might notice that my guacamole recipe does not call for ingredients to stretch the avocado goodness.  Let me be absolutely clear on this:  Guacamole DOES NOT contain mayo or sour cream or any other ingredients to stretch the avocado.  If you only have one avocado, then you only get a small amount of guacamole!

Is a Merkin Next??

I've held off on writing this for a long time, but I found a grey eyelash in the last week and it prompted me to actually create this post.  There's no time like the present, so here goes. . .

I grew the first grey hairs on my head when I was around 16 or so.  I didn't look like Emmylou Harris or anything, but I had a few here and there.  I did what any mortified teenager would do:  I plucked them out until I began to regularly color my hair.

I discovered a grey eyebrow hair a few years ago.  Though I immediately plucked out the offending hair, that miserable little grey thread really bummed me out.  I mean, it's no big deal if I begin to sport a crowning glory of silver hair on my head, but grey body hair. . . well, that's something totally different.  I've spent enough time on nude beaches to know what was coming next.

Several months ago, it may have been a year, I discovered it.  Something that I had been dreading.  Something even more disturbing to me than that one damned grey eyebrow hair. 

I found a grey pubic hair.

For my younger readers, pubic hair is what is naturally grown on your "mound" or around your "junk."  You may well wax it all off, thereby ripping it from your flesh, but it has existed nonetheless.  I give props to those of you who go this route as there is no way that I'll commit to keeping a shiny & pristine p*ssy and waxing makes me bleed like a mo-fo.  I'm not saying that I'm a Sascrotch or anything, but for hirsute folks like myself, we just try to manage our pubic area effectively while not causing injury to any visitors or ourselves.  A controlled chaos, if you will.

Grey pubic hair.  Oh man, what a load of crap.  How am I possibly old enough to have grey pubes?  And what am I supposed to do about it?  Shall I begin to color it?  It wouldn't be too big of a deal, I suppose.  After all, when I used to keep up my hair color, I always made sure the carpet matched the drapes.  Perhaps I should just shave it all off and present a pre-pubescent illusion?  Not that I have anything against a bald vulva, mind you, it's just that I'm a little weirded out by keeping it that way all the time.  Besides, I don't have all day to spend in the shower while I shave my snatch.  Maybe I should just pretend it doesn't exist and pluck it out whenever I find one.

So I have grown grey pubic hair.  Good fucking grief!  What's next?  Will I begin to lose my body hair?  Actually, all those days spent on nude beaches has prepared me for that inevitability. . .and that leads me back to the title of this post. 

Will I be sporting a merkin next?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Happy Birthday. . .

to my brother.

Today you would have turned 42.  I still sometimes can't wrap my head around the fact that someone so young, so healthy, and so loved died so suddenly.  To say that life is unfair would be a spectacular understatement.

I can't believe that you've been gone for six weeks now.  I guess I find it hard to believe that life has gone on.  A month ago, I would have never believed it.  I don't cry every day anymore, it's more like every other day at this point, but some days are harder than others.  Yesterday was hard.  Today will be harder.

I think it's bittersweet that my son identifies you in photos now.  He also says your name when he sees your necklace pendant.  I can't bring myself to put mine on yet, but I think it comforts Mom and she wears hers everyday.  I'm still sad that you were never able to meet my little boy.  He is truly my own heart walking outside of my body.  He's so handsome and smart.  I know you would have just loved him to bits.

I was lucky to grow up as your little sister.  Not that it was all awesome. . .with three children in the family, there were always alliances being formed to gang up on the odd man out.  But I knew I was loved and, when I wasn't the odd man out, it was great.  I loved having siblings so much that I long to conceive and bring forth another child.  Maybe sometime next year. . .

I believed you were going to make it.  I believed it strongly enough to not rearrange my plans for the day.  I knew the odds were shockingly bleak and I knew it was possible that you might die, but you were so young.  It didn't make sense that you might die.  I willed you to live.  If only it were so easy.

I sometimes still recall that phone conversation with Dad. . .the one where it was clear that you were dying.  As if it were a poisonous snake, I threw my phone at my husband.  I couldn't hear anymore, what I had already heard was too horrible to believe.  I ran to the bathroom and began puking and wailing.  My body totally rejected what my brain knew was going to happen.

My husband walked in the bathroom.  I shouted, "Don't touch me!  Get away from me!"  I don't know why I took it out on him, I just couldn't stand to feel comforted.  Sometimes I still can't; this grief is such a dark and ugly thing.  I continued to alternately sob and puke until there was nothing left.

Like a zombie, I walked out of the bathroom.  My tears were gone, I think.  My husband said we should go to Mom & Dad.  I didn't want to.  I just wanted to be alone, but he insisted that we all needed to be together right then and so we went.

For some reason, my husband heard a different conversation than I did.  He thought that, while you still weren't out of the woods, that you certainly weren't dying.  A tiny part of me clung to that sliver of hope, thinking that perhaps I had heard wrong, but I think I knew.  I know I knew.

We walked in Mom & Dad's house and they were holding each other, crying.  You died while we were on the way to their house.  Oh God, how I wish that I never had to see our parents look so sad, so utterly heartbroken.  I hate to sound so selfish, but I hope and pray to never know their pain. . .

"Oh no!" I cried out and Mom held me while I held her.  And Dad held me while I held him.  All of our tears intermingled as the family sobbed for your loss. 

As I've written once before, a piece is now missing in the puzzle that is our family.  And, again, pieces will continue to disappear as time relentlessly marches forward.  That makes me sad to realize.

You know, this post did not start out as a tear-jerker, but it sure has turned into one for me.  I guess I just wanted to say that I'm glad you were my brother and I miss you.  I always forgot the birthdays of my nieces and nephews, of course there are a ton, but I never forgot the birthdays of my parents or my siblings.  And, while you may be gone, you aren't forgotten.

Lil' Sis

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Thinking Outside the Box

I spent a productive morning in my kitchen today and had two big pots of soup simmering by 11:00.  Two things prompted my soup-making frenzy:  It's been cool & rainy lately and I had two heads of cauliflower that were going to spoil if I didn't do something with them soon.

It was chilly in my house this morning and I decided to make a soup for lunch and one for dinner.  A friend had brought over a delicious soup last month and I decided it would be perfect for dinner because it's meaty and hearty.  She'd shared the recipe some time ago on a message board and I had all the ingredients.  Plus, it's a slow cooker soup and I figured I could let that cook all day while I used the stove for the soup I had planned for lunch.

I grabbed a pound of ground beef and began to brown it.  About halfway through cooking, I thought it was the weirdest smelling ground beef ever.  I knew it was good because my husband only bought it yesterday so I continued browning it while I assembled the rest of the soup in the slow cooker. 

When I finished browning the meat, I thought it looked funny.  So I tasted it. . .yes, I am crazy.  It wasn't ground beef.  It was ground chicken.  Ground chicken?!

I looked at the slow cooker that was filled with the rest of the soup recipe.  I looked back to the pan of ground chicken.  I shrugged my shoulders, added it to the slow cooker, and hoped for the best.  I'm just glad that I browned it before adding it to the slow cooker!

Dinner was going in the slow cooker so I turned my attention to lunch.  I have several potatoes and I initially was going to make potato soup.  I opened the fridge to get my son a milk refill and I noticed two heads of cauliflower that would be spoiling in a few days.

I don't generally purchase cauliflower because I'm not fond of the taste and it gives me gas.  I prefer broccoli if I'm going to consume a cruciferous vegetable because at least I like the flavor of those "little trees."  The only reason I had two heads of cauliflower in my fridge is because it was on a super-sale at the market.  I know, I know, it was lame to purchase something that I don't care for, no matter how low it was priced.  But I bought it anyway and it was sitting in my refrigerator, just waiting for me to prepare it.

I've had mashed cauliflower before and it was remarkably similar to mashed potatoes, so I wondered if I could make a cauliflower soup taste like potato soup.  In a word, no.  But it was still very tasty for a light lunch. 

I made mirepoix with a little olive oil - no butter as I'm back on WW.  Then I added the two coarsely chopped cauliflower heads, 1 quart of chicken broth, two cups of water, and two chopped garlic cloves.  I brought it to boil, added dried parsley and white pepper, then simmered for fifteen minutes.  I thoroughly blended the soup with an immersion blender and gave it a taste.

The taste was good, but next time I will not add the water.  It didn't have much body (I'm pretty sure it's because I didn't use homemade chicken stock) so I looked in the fridge to see if I could find something to punch it up a bit.  My gaze landed on a package of mushrooms. . .

I sliced up the mushrooms and sauteed them with a little soy sauce and black pepper for seasoning.  I decided not to add them directly to the pot in case it didn't taste good together.  So I topped each bowl with these mushrooms and the addition definitely improved the taste and appearance of the soup.  Overall, I was happy with the end result of this kitchen experiment.

* * *

Sometimes circumstances force us to think outside the box.  Sure, my soup for dinner called for ground beef.  As it turns out, I didn't have any.  But the ground chicken soup smells fabulous and I'm pretty sure it will be as delicious as the original recipe.  The blended cauliflower soup wasn't exactly the same as potato soup, but it was still pretty good.  Additionally, it was loaded with veggies and very low in WW points.  Best of all, making the cauliflower soup saved me money because I didn't let previously purchased food go to waste.  Sometimes thinking outside the box yields awesome results!

Have you accidentally stumbled upon a tasty recipe?  Please share!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

BABIES: Wearing v Carrying?

If you've been reading this blog (or my old blog) for any amount of time, or if you know me personally, you probably realize that I adore babywearing.  I will always be an advocate for babywearing on your body instead of baby-hauling in some sort of baby gear like an infant car seat/carrier or stroller.  Please understand that I have a very definite opinion on the matter and it may differ from your own feelings.

* * *

Back in April, I designed a six-page handout titled Babywearing Basics for my local mama group.  In the introduction, I explained that many types of modern baby gear subtly encourages Western mothers to not touch their babies.  You might feel that I'm being unfair, but think about it for a minute.  Infant car seat/carriers, bouncy seats, infant sitters, swings, jumperoos, johnny jump ups, strollers, and who knows what else are all incredibly popular and require virtually zero interaction with the infant being contained.

Of course, I didn't belabor the point because I know that not every mother I know agrees with that assessment.  But I still believe it's absolutely true.  I might be unreasonable, but it seems like the babies who end up suffering from Container Syndrome would agree.

Not surprisingly, I didn't have an infant car seat/carrier prior to my son's birth.  Many friends insisted that I would want one. No, that I would need one.  I was told that I won't want to wake the baby if he falls asleep in the car, I was told that it's more convenient to carry a baby in the car seat than take them out, and I was told that I'd change my mind and want one once the baby arrived.  As it turns out, none of those points were a valid concern in my situation.

I trusted my instincts and held off on buying one.  I ended up just sticking with a convertible car seat that could be used safely with a baby as lightweight as five pounds.  My eight-pounder easily fit in the convertible car seat and I never once regretted my decision to eschew an infant car seat/carrier.

I don't care if you love/loved infant car seat/carriers and use/used one all the time.  That's your choice to make and your right as a parent to make that decision for your own child.  I just would never ever use one with my own child.  Neither opinion is right or wrong, they are simply differences in opinion.

I hate infant car seat/carriers above all other types of baby gear.  There.  I said it and I'm not ashamed of my feelings.  I also acknowledge that my opinion on infant car seat/carriers is only based on my observations and the research that I've done on them.  I never used one so I really can't comment on their effectiveness, convenience, or safety. 

What's my beef with the ubiquitous infant car seat/carrier?  I actually had a couple of reasons for not liking them.  One, they all are so heavy and bulky.  It always looks like an awkward item to carry.  Why would I want to tote my tot in a heavy piece of gear when I have two capable arms or a cozy carrier?  Two, a car seat that so easily detaches from the base just doesn't seem as safe as one that is completely anchored to the vehicle via LATCH or seat belt.  As I've learned more about infant oxygenation levels and how SIDS is related to deep and uninterrupted sleep, I actually have a third gripe that is probably much more legitimate, but more on that later. . .

I didn't really know much about babywearing, but I knew that I wanted to try it out.  I am so glad that I did! Thanks to my stubbornly unmovable breech baby, I had a c-section.  I couldn't lift my stroller out of the car for months after my son was born. That also means that I would not have been able to life an infant car seat/carrier out of the car.  It isn't an exaggeration to say that I don't know how I would have survived those earliest days of motherhood if it hadn't been for safe babywearing options.

I purchased a stretchy wrap and familiarized myself with how to wrap yards of fabric around my body to create a safe seat for my bundle of joy.  I wore my darling little baby in that wrap from the moment we arrived home from the hospital; mainly because I was afraid that I would drop him. Typical new-mom jitters, right?  Additionally, I think that thanks to keeping him upright and belly to belly with me in a wrap, he had outstanding neck control and was able to push up to look around at only one month of age.

I think he liked being carried so close too. I suppose every new mother thinks their child is absolutely wonderful, but he really was a very pleasant baby. As an infant, he only cried when I didn't pick up on his hunger cues or, much later on, when he was teething. Even taking him out of the car seat if he was sleeping didn't really bother him all that much.  He might have stirred awake a little bit, but he'd cuddle right up to me in the wrap and oftentimes would just snuggle or fall back to sleep.  I don't know if his easy-going attitude was because I wore him or not, but I will definitely wear any subsequent children I may have in the future!

My son was worn in a wrap for his first six months or so and then I started to use the stroller. The only reason I stopped wearing him is because he grew too heavy to wear in my wrap. I used the Ultimate Baby Wrap and it became a real hassle to have to constantly adjust & tighten due to his increasing weight demand on the stretchy fabric.

Knowing what I know now, I would have simply transitioned him to a woven wrap.  Or a ring sling.  Or an adjustable pouch.  Or an SSC.  Or a mei-tai.  Or an onbuhimo.  Yes, there are plenty of options for babywearing older infants clear into toddlerhood!

I rediscovered babywearing when my son was nearly 18-months old.  Oh, I am so thankful that I did!  I purchased several styles of barely used carriers from a certain meetup organizer (you know who you are!) and my son happily transitioned out of the stroller when I reintroduced baby/toddlerwearing into our lives.

I wonder now how I parented all of those long months without babywearing.  Thanks to putting in hours upon hours upon hours at hospitals and medical centers this year, I have truly come to love babywearing.  Hands-free parenting of my toddler has been a requirement while navigating wheelchairs and helping "patients" into and out of vehicles.  On top of that benefit, it has been so nice to keep my son close, comfortable, and quieted while in impossibly stressful situations.

Even now, at nearly 2 1/2 years of age, my son still likes to go "in the pouch" or on "mama's back."  Putting him in a carrier often wards of meltdowns and tantrums, it helps him feel secure when he's overwhelmed, and it gives him a cozy place to snooze if he's tired while we're out & about.  Just this weekend I pouched him for thirty minutes to calm him when we were at church and it worked like a charm.

Though my son can certainly walk, there are still plenty of places we go that I need to keep him safe and secure - whether it's in a stroller or a carrier doesn't really matter.  My son is too tall for his regular stroller so I haven't used it in months.  But he still easily fits in my ring sling, pouch, and ERGO so here's to enjoying many more months of baby/toddlerwearing!

Did you wear or carry your baby or do some mix of both?  How did you find that your choices made your life easier when learning how to live with a new baby?  Please share your feelings below.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Toddler with a 'Tude

I have heard so much crying the last two days that I think it's restarting my milk supply.  Okay, maybe not.  I don't think it's possible to begin lactating again after going over one year without breastfeeding, but my nipples are tingling and my breasts are throbbing. . .I better not start soaking shirts again!

I am so sick of hearing whining and screaming in this house.  If it doesn't stop soon, I think I may join in!  My son has been a total grouch this entire weekend and, while today seemed like it was getting better, it quickly went downhill after dinner. 

He hotly protested sleeping tonight, louder than I've ever heard, but he suddenly zonked out.  I'm guessing it's exhaustion from all the howling he's been doing lately.  Here's hoping that I get some good sleep tonight too!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Express Your Love

As most of you know, my cat died this week.  My cat was 15 1/2-years old and she was simply delightful.  I found her shortly after I left home.  She was a weak alley-cat kitten who was kicked out of her mother's nest - or whatever they call it.  When I first caught her, her eyes were horribly infected and she could barely see.  A trip to the vet took care of the infection.  She suffered a dog attack when I was at work because I didn't have the sense to make her solely an indoor animal.  That surgery, to reattach her arm to her body, cost more money than my first car!  I was only making $6.00 per hour, so it was a huge sacrifice to keep this sickly little darling.  But I had adopted her and so I cared for her.  In return, she was a faithful friend and companion.  She fit in the palm of my hand and, though she cost me a fortune in vet bills during her first year, I was wildly in love with my first pet.

It's always a bad time to say goodbye, but the timing here seems particularly cruel.  My brother has been gone for just over a month, my husband's grandmother has been gone for less than two weeks, and now my first pet has died.  I can deal with it I guess, but my poor parents have had custody of that little puddin' cat for over ten years.  My first husband was majorly allergic and I left her in the care of my folks.  So in the span of six weeks, my parents have suffered the loss of their only son and their only pet.  Damn it all!  Life can be so hard, so freaking cruel, sometimes.

I had a bad dream last night.  It was very vivid and it was about a loss that would be completely devastating to my family.  Unfortunately, I can totally see it happening.  But I hope and I pray that it does not.  I can't bring myself to write exactly what it was about, but I just want to say that you should tell your loved ones that you love them whenever you get the chance.  You don't know when you might never have the chance to do so again.

I know that it seems like my family has been under constant attack since the year began.  I feel it and I know that it's been happening.  Rather than serve to push me away from God, it has drawn me closer to Him.  I am leaning more heavily on God now than I have in years.  I know that He is the only reason that I can still stand on my feet.  He was here before time began and He will be here for all eternity.  I'm asking Him to carry me through yet another day. . .

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Blog Action Day 2010 - Water

Yesterday (10/15) was Blog Action Day 2010!  Well, I'm a day late, but the designated topic was:  Water.  I initially thought it was a lame topic, but it turns out that I had quite a bit to say about good ol' H2O.  Some is science-y geekiness and the rest is hard core spiritual teaching.  Whichever you prefer to read, I hope that you enjoy!

Water is vital and we'll perish quickly without access to clean water.  The only thing more essential to life than water is air.  You can life for weeks without food.  For days without water.  For minutes without oxygen.

I'm gonna get my inner-geek on here and break out my limited chemistry knowledge for this post, but I leaned heavily on my husband's vast knowledge about H2O.  What can I say?  I was a college drop out and I'm just not all that bright about such things.

- Water is necessary for life, but drinking "pure" water can kill you.  You can't live on pure water because your body requires the minerals, which are electrolytes, to allow the electrical impulses in your nervous system to work.  You see, the minerals in water make it a conductor of electricity.  No electrolytes means no life.

- Water absorbs more heat per pound than any other chemical compound known to man.  Let that sink in for just a second.  Considering that the human body is mostly made of water, and cooled by water via sweat, isn't it interesting that we are cooled by the very same compound that absorbs more heat than any other?  Fascinating design, isn't it?  Oh wait, we only happened by accident. . .right, that's the ticket.

- All the water that is currently on this planet is all the water that has ever been on this planet.  Yes, that means that the fresh mountain spring water that you currently enjoy was someone's piss once upon a time.  Thank goodness for filtration, evaporation, and condensation, eh?  It's actually a pretty fantastic method for something that only happened by accident, huh?

- Water's hydrogen bonds hold together until we add so much energy that they rip apart.  These hydrogen bonds are unlike any other chemical of a similar design.  What this means is that water has a very, very, very high boiling point, higher than any other similar chemical compound, which is 212 F or 100 C at sea-level atmospheric pressure.  Without this high boiling point, our oceans and lakes would have dried up long ago and the human race, actually all life on Earth as we know it, would have ceased to exist.  Damn, it's an amazing thing that only happened by accident, right?

Water is pretty cool stuff, right?
* * *

This planet was made by a loving Creator.  We didn't happen by accident; we were designed.  He knew exactly what He was doing and he gave us the miracle that is water.  Indeed, water is referenced often in the good book.  Following are a few New Testament passages that really stood out to me as I wrote this blog post.

- In John 7:38, Jesus said, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.  Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him."  He was talking about the gift of the Holy Spirit for all believers in Him.  The Holy Spirit is a living and separate member, the third member, of the Holy Trinity.  If you believe in Jesus, you have the Holy Spirit within and the living water flows from you courtesy of Christ.  Do you have streams of living water flowing from within you?

- The apostle John further commented in the water vein in Revelation 7:17 when he said, "For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water.  And God will wipe every tear from their eyes."  The Lamb is Jesus, the perfect sacrificial Lamb for all humanity, and he is our shepherd and Lord; belief in Him results in streams of living water flowing from the believer.

- And again in Revelation 21:6, "He said to me: "It is done.  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.  To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life."  God was at the beginning and He will be at the end of His creation.  Eternal salvation may well be free to you and me, but it cost one man everything he had - his life.  Drink from this living water, believe in Jesus' sacrifice for all sins, and enjoy life everlasting.

- Finally, the most compelling and important biblical reference to water is found in 1 John 5:6-12.  The apostle really boiled it down to just a few short lines when he said that, "This is the one who came by water and blood - Jesus Christ.  He did not come by water only, but by water and blood.  And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.  For there are three who testify:  the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and the three are in agreement.  We accept man's testimony, but God's testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son.  Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart.  Anyone who does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about his Son.  And this is the testimony:  God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.  He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life." (my own emphasis added)  I realize that I'm going to sound like the worst Baptist in history, but your own personal baptism through water has absolutely nothing to do with your salvation.  Belief in Christ is all that is required.  Jesus was baptized at the beginning of His ministry and he bled at his own sacrifice; he came by water and by blood.  If you believe in Jesus, that he was the perfect sacrifice for all of your sins, you have everlasting life.  If you don't, you do not.  That's not my opinion and I'm not trying to be cruel, but the Word is very clear on this particular issue.

I believe in the Son of God.  I know Jesus, know peace.  I believe that I know where I'm going when my time on this planet is up.  Do you?

* * *

It was challenging to write about a topic that I didn't come up with and I thought that "water" sucked, but I think it was a good writing exercise.  So I'm asking my readership to submit a topic that you'd like me to write about. . .it can be anything at all.  I promise that I'll do my best to make it an entertaining read, but I'll make no guarantees.  I look forward to researching and writing based on your suggestions!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Therapeutic Jewelry or Big Pharma?

Therapeutic jewelry isn't going to cure cancer or improve the longevity of HIV patients, but I'm very interested in it at the moment.  In the interest of disclosure, I neither have cancer nor HIV.  Besides, if you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you'd surely know if I did!

This is going to sound like I'm turning into a full-on crunchola, but I've been researching therapeutic jewelry to help relieve some light physical complaints.  Specifically, hazelwood necklaces for the heartburn that I've been suffering lately and amber necklaces for the migraines that used to cripple me several days out of every year.  Okay, husband, you can stop laughing at me now. . .oh, come on, please stop it!

I've been intrigued by therapeutic jewelry for years.  When I was a very little girl (under five for sure), I recall my grandmother wearing a copper cuff bracelet.  I assume that she wore this bracelet to help with arthritis pain or something similar, but it seems like all she got was a green wrist for her trouble because she stopped wearing it and I never saw that copper cuff again.  A former co-worker began to wear a magnetic bracelet to help relieve knee pain.  You know, he complained of pain and limped whether or not he wore that magnetic bracelet. 

At one point in my life, I wore hematite to help deal with the anger that was the root cause of depression.  Nothing but a lot of talk therapy helped with that.  I wore rose quartz to heal a deep emotional hurt.  Only time healed that wound.  Even more ridiculous in hindsight, I sought to relieve my migraines by using amethyst.  And essential oils.  And aromatherapy.  And acupressure.  Guess what?  Migraines still knocked me on my ass until I finally asked for a prescription from my doctor.

I'm embarrassed that I actually believed in foolishness over pharmaceuticals.  I suffered needlessly for over ten years by dicking around with alternative migraine treatments before I asked for help from my doctor.  I hate that I wasted so much time suffering needlessly.  My migraine medication does something that amethyst, essential oils, aromatherapy, and acupressure could not do - it works to quickly relieve my migraine pain and it allows me to live a normal life.

And yet, here I am all these years later, looking at necklaces that are purported to relieve a physical symptom.  A physical symptom that is already adequately managed and a physical symptom that can be easily managed!  My ability to place hope in new age horseshit is truly staggering, isn't it?

Why am I interested in trying an alternative therapy?  Well, besides the obvious answer that I'm being a total ding-a-ling?  Because I would prefer a natural remedy to my ailments if possible.  I'm willing to bet that my husband just rolled his eyes at that last statement. 

Why do I prefer a natural remedy?  Again, I guess it's because I have an endless ability to place hope in new age hippie horseshit.  Maybe it's because Big Pharma is consistently demonized, primarily because they want to make profits. . .just like every other business, including businesses selling "natural" or "organic" remedies.  Or homeopathic remedies.  Or therapeutic amber and hazelwood necklaces.  Or essential oils.  You see where I'm going with this?

On one hand, I feel that I should just go with what definitely works, what has been proven to work, and STFU.  After all, I know for sure that I'll be getting relief after spending my money on my migraine medication or heartburn medication.  I can't say the same for the new agey rip-offs that I've tried in the past.  But, on the other hand, I guess I really buy this "natural" hype and the testimonials are so dang compelling.  Seriously though, why am I placing anecdotes over evidence?  Snake oil salesmen over scientists?  Maybe I really am a hippie at heart - at least on some level?

* * *

Can jewelry be beautiful and therapeutic?  Can wearing a necklace made of hazelwood beads really restore your acid/alkaline balance?  Does amber really help relieve a laundry list of pains?  Have you tried any of these types of therapeutic jewelry?  If so, please share your experience!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

My Favorite Songs - Part III

Do I love music or what?  I've already posted my favorite songs (Part I and Part II) on my old blog, but I have a lot more!  I'm sure there will be a Part IV of this series.

Woodstock by Matthews Southern Comfort - CSN (& possibly Y?) and Joni Mitchell also recorded this song, it was written by Mitchell, but this is still my favorite version because it perfectly creates a dreamy vibe.

I Go Crazy by Paul Davis - This song has been a favorite since I was a child and I must have heard it at least a half a million times by now, but it's still as lovely as ever.

Any Song by Roberta Flack - Seriously, any song.  There's a story about one of her greatest hits albums that wouldn't play one evening, but that's a story for my husband to share. . .we ended up with Pink Floyd instead.

Bad Company or Shooting Star by Bad Company - A supergroup with some super-bitchin' hits, I couldn't pick just one and I'm almost tempted to toss in the other two hits that get frequent airplay:  Feel Like Makin' Love and Rock N Roll Fantasy.

Werewolves of London by Warren Zevon - I ordinarily would not have included this on a favorite list, but it makes my dog go totally cuckoo when I sing it.  Naturally, that means that I sing it a lot.  Ow-ooo!

Break Up to Make Up by The Stylistics - Hasn't everyone had a relationship that this song so perfectly describes?  These guys were so smooth and their music is unrivaled.  It was really hard to pick just one of their songs to include on the list.

The Joker by Steve Miller Band - I know that this song is picked to play on the jukebox by every lowlife in every billiard hall in America, but I like it.  I guess it's a holdover from my days of slumming around lowlifes in pool halls.  No, I still can't play worth a darn.

Touch Me by The Doors - It's altogether too brief, but it's fast, hot, and to the point.

I Like the Way You Love Me by Brenton Wood - Really, you could pick any one of his songs and I'd probably like it.  I recall that a friend (you know who you are!) and I cruised to Montebello as teenagers to catch him live in a bar.  Montebello PD was incredulous and suggested that we return back to Orange County.  Good times, good times.

Popcorn by Hot Butter - A synthesizer and the 70s, need I say more?

(If Loving You is Wrong) I Don't Want To Be Right by Luther Ingram - Adultery has never sounded so freaking fantastic.  Billy Paul warbling about Mrs. Jones comes pretty close, but this one still is sinfully delicious.

Rock Lobster by The B-52s - Such a silly song by such a silly group.  I totally cracked up when it showed up in an episode of Family Guy.

Same Old Lang Syne by Dan Fogleberg - If you've ever run across an old flame, you'll understand why this song is on the list.  Speaking of the accidental-meeting-of-a-former-lover style of songs, this one is far better than Harry Chapin's Taxi.

Border Song by Elton John - At the risk of sounding like a total puss or peacenik, I get a little teary at the final verse each and every time I hear this song.  I'll probably start crying at insurance commercials next.

Pour Some Sugar on Me by Def Leppard - Every stripper's song of choice, eh?  Yep, makes me want to shake my ass and get naked too.

Cowboys to Girls by (I have no idea) - This is an old-school jam from waaaay back in the day, but I still remember cruising and listening to it all these years later.

What are some of your favorite songs?  Please share!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Socks, Panties, and a Bathrobe - Oh My!

This has been a rough week. . .for my clothes!

I've had to throw out a pair of socks, a pair of underpants, and I'm tempted to toss out a bathrobe.  Why?  I guess because I rarely shop and, as a result, I have a lot of old clothes.  Old clothes do eventually wear out.  How old are these articles of clothing?  Well, let's just say that I have some clothes that might be older than some of my friends.

The socks were over seven years old.  They had one hole, which I ignored.  I found it more difficult to ignore the second hole and I figured that it's cool to toss a pair of 7-year old holy socks.  Of course, I questioned if I should repurpose those socks for something else.  A dusting mitt, perhaps?  I tossed them pretty quick when I realized that having a "dusting mitt" in the house might mean that I actually have to dust at some point!

The underpants weren't quite as old as the socks, but they were still several years old.  The only reason I 86ed those is because the elastic broke and they wouldn't stay up.  As I was reviewing my panty drawer though, I realized that I have a few pairs of underpants that I got when I worked at The Broadway.  THE FREAKING BROADWAY!  Does anyone remember The Broadway?  I do because I worked there.  I also know that they were bought out back in 1996.  So these britches are like 15-years old!  I must admit that I'm impressed with the durability of quality undergarments, but damn, I might need to treat myself to some new drawers at some point!

And then there's my bathrobe.  My decidedly un-sexy plaid bathrobe.  My favorite bathrobe and, quite possibly, my favorite article of clothing.  I've had this bathrobe since I was 19-years old.  I love this bathrobe.  I bought this bathrobe for $10 when I moved out of my parents house.  I should mention that I only made $6 per hour back in those days so spending two hours of labor on a non-essential article of clothing was pretty lavish and way out of character.  I liked this robe because it's a lightweight flannel, perfect year-round, and it has impossibly deep pockets.  I had this crazy notion that I'd drink my coffee and smoke my cigarettes each morning while wearing this bathrobe and reading the newspaper.  Um, I didn't drink coffee in those days.  And I sure as heck wasn't reading any newspapers! 

So what happened to my beloved bathrobe?  I had to chase down a certain someone to put him to bed and the belt-loop got caught on a door knob and totally ripped.  One wouldn't think that it would be all that important, but it apparently is because I can't seem to get comfy in my dang bathrobe anymore.  The belt doesn't stay put and, as it turns out, that was pretty important to me.  I'm constantly fiddling with the stupid belt and I feel more annoyed with it by the day.

My husband suggested that I pay someone to sew it back on.  I nixed that idea because it seems ridiculous to pay someone to fix an article of clothing that was only $10 to begin with and that is well over 15-years old at this point.  On the other hand, it's also ridiculous to not feel comfortable in my own bathrobe.

Now, I do own several other bathrobes.  Most are far more pretty, I have a gorgeous silk one that boasts stunning embroidery on the back, but this frumpy old flannel one is my favorite.  I keep thinking that I should just try one of the other bathrobes, I might like it!, but I'm shockingly bothered by this bathrobe drama.

Am I a total weirdo or do other people develop bizarre attachments to clothing?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Best Halloween Costume Ever!

I recently completed my very first homemade Halloween costume for my son.  Some kids are lucky enough to have that "crafty" mom, but mine does not so making a costume was a real task for me.  Heck, just buying the material turned out to be stressful.  Have I mentioned that I have never bought fabric in my entire life?  Yeah, the old lady behind the counter couldn't believe it either.

Why did I want to make this costume?  I don't know, but I keep thinking that this costume will be recalled fondly by the family for years to come.  Silly, right?

My son is totally obsessed with the Wonder Pets and Ming-Ming in particular.  I figured that it couldn't be all that hard to make a duckling costume with a cape so I went for it.  I found a yellow Teletubbie jumpsuit-style costume at a thrift store for only $4 and it fit my son.  Perfect for the duckling body and cheap - yay!  The silver rectangle in the middle of the torso gave me cause to pause, but I decided that I could come up with some way to disguise it.

Since I do not sew (and don't have anything to sew with anyway - it's a long story), I wisely chose felt as my primary material.  I bought sheets of yellow, blue, and red felt to create the Wonder Pets logo badge.  Then I bought a big piece of green felt for the cape.  This was the most irritating part of the process.  Well, one of the most irritating parts of the process as you'll soon read. 

Seriously though, who knew it would be such a drag to buy fabric?  It's like the lady behind the counter was speaking a totally foreign language.  I finally just said that I need "this much" (held my arms out wide) material and called it a day.  For the record, "this much" was way too much. 

Armed with some scissors and fabric glue, I was ready to begin.  I grabbed my sheets of felt and cut out a big blue circle, a smaller yellow circle, and the red W.  I have trouble cutting in straight lines, but I think I did okay.  I didn't have any pins to use to fasten the template to the felt so I used a binder clip.  Yes, a binder clip.  Laugh if you must, but it got the job done.

I carefully glued the logo badge components together.  It was a little difficult to keep it all straight toward the end because, holy cow, fabric glue puts out some crazy vapor and my eyes were burning.  I didn't get high or anything (huffing isn't exactly my style), but I was glad that I was in a well ventilated room.

I got really excited after the logo badge was glued together because it looked pretty good!  I decided to make a second logo badge so that I could attach it on the front of the yellow costume to hide the silver rectangle.  Somehow I didn't feel the need to make sure that the logo badge would be big enough, in fact, hide the silver rectangle.  Naturally, it did not.  NUTS!

I didn't have enough felt to make an even bigger logo badge and, no other option presenting itself, I chose to remove the silver rectangle from the torso of the yellow costume.  I should mention that I do not have a seam ripper because all of my sewing supplies are at my sister's house.  My sister lives in Utah.  Yeah.  So I used the next best thing for pulling a seam:  a boning knife.

Right about now I was starting to have major misgivings about making this costume.  Have you ever had to use a boning knife to pull a seam apart?  It's not fun and it takes for-freaking-ever.  Silver rectangle removed, I was ready to glue the logo badge in it's place.  Um, felt doesn't really attach well to fleece.  At least, not with fabric glue.  CRAP!

That's it.  The costume officially was sucking and I couldn't finish it.  I felt sad that no one would fondly recall this costume for years to come.  I didn't quite cry, but I wasn't all that far from tears.

Then I remembered that hotels used to have those little sewing kits in the rooms.  I wondered if maybe I could find a needle and thread mixed in the soap and shower caps in the bottom of a suitcase.  Twenty minutes of digging through luggage later, I had a needle and thread.  Two needles even!  Success!

All puffed up yet again, I set out to sew the logo badge to the costume.  When I got toward the end of my hand-sewing session, I realized that I needed around one more inch of thread to finish.  GAH!

I got as close as I could to finishing, but there wasn't enough thread left to tie it off.  So I did the next best thing.  I glued it!  I'll bet you were thinking that I was going to use a paper clip or staples, huh?

I admired my handiwork for a moment and decided to sew the other logo badge to the cape.  One would have thought that I would have learned, but one would be wrong.  I was about one inch short on that one as well.  I shook my tiny fist of impotent rage at Marriott Resorts for not providing enough thread in their sewing kits and I glued that one too.

I must point out that during all of this work and frustration, my son was going completely bonkers over the Wonder Pets logo badge.  He kept climbing up on my lap, running his grubby little paws over whichever component I was working on, and crying for "Wah-Puff!"

For all the aggravation it caused, the end result looks pretty doggone good - even if I do say so myself!  You know, I think the family will fondly recall this costume for many years to come.

Delving Deep

It's rare for me to feel ashamed or embarrassed and I'm mostly an open book, but there are some things that are just too horrible to articulate.  On the 21st, I alluded to some dark thoughts that I had been having.  I'd be content to keep those thoughts locked away forever because I am ashamed for entertaining this line of thinking for even a moment.  I'm only exposing this because I hope my confession might help anyone reading this who has suffered or is currently suffering with grief.

* * *

I slept poorly the night before (on the 20th) and, as a bonus, I also had a migraine for several sleepless hours.  I started the day exhausted and drained.  I made the bad decision to not follow my schedule and flaked out on going to my son's pre-preschool.  This gave me the opportunity to languish about and it was my excuse for moping around the house.

I was weeping openly as I was doing the breakfast dishes that morning, mourning the loss of my only brother, and I accidentally cut myself with a butter knife.  Yeouch!  I had no idea that a butter knife would slice flesh, but it sure did.  I dropped the knife back in the sink and tightly gripped my finger.

Do it again.

I gasped at the thought and looked around the kitchen.  My tears stopped flowing as my blood dripped into the basin.  I stared at those drops of blood, no longer feeling the numbing pain of grief.  I was only aware of the pain from my cut.  It was something that I could feel.

Do it.  You know you want to.

"No. . ." I whispered quietly to myself.  I was very aware of my heartbeat and the sound of the Wonder Pets playing on the television in the front room.  I stared out my kitchen window without seeing anything.  Time began to slow.  My finger throbbed and I pushed old memories from my head.

Don't you want to feel alive?  Do it!

"Stop it!  You're starting to sound crazy!" I picked up the butter knife and, for the briefest of moments, turned out my forearm and studied the network of blue veins.

Up and across. . .it's easy.  You have better knives. . .

I threw the butter knife back to the sink and fled the kitchen for the safety of my son and the Wonder Pets in the living room.  My son was dancing and clapping his hands.  Everything looked remarkably normal and comfortable.

I flung myself onto the couch.  My chest was tight and my breathing was rough.  I covered my face with my hands and I shook with violent sobs though no tears fell.

"I can't do this.  Help me.  Please!  Oh God, please help me!" 

I don't know how long I cried out.  It might have been five minutes, it might have been five hours.  But I felt totally spent afterward.  Limp.  The rest of my day was filled with quiet contemplation while my son enjoyed a rare day filled with cartoons on the television.

Was my horrible thought process telling me to simply cut?  Or to kill?  I don't know and I don't really care.  Neither are acceptable to me.  I would never intentionally hurt my family so why would I have such  thoughts?  Why would I entertain them at all?  How could I possibly consider such a selfish act?  Was I really going crazy?

And then that evil little voice came back.  To accuse. 

Hasn't your family suffered enough without your selfishness?  What's the matter with you?  No one could ever forgive you or understand.  You better straighten up, girl, or else.  Look at you; crying and weeping.  You should be ashamed of yourself!

Yes, my thoughts took me to suicide and I suffered these terrible accusations all day long.  All day long.

* * *

I wish I could say that it was the first time I've ever had those types of thoughts, but it wasn't.  I came dangerously close on two different occasions a long time ago during my first marriage.  My love and concern for my family is the only reason I am still here today.  I kept living through the agony so that I didn't hurt my family.  It was such a horribly miserable period and I don't care to share any more on those memories at this time.

I had one very dark day in the last month, but rest assured that I haven't had those kinds of thoughts since.  I pray that they don't return and I'm trying hard to keep myself surrounded by loved ones. . .I have found that quiet moments are when you can hear that horrible little voice.  So I've been trying to stay busy.

Self-destructive thoughts are not unusual while suffering grief, but you can expect them to pass somewhat quickly.  If, however, your self-destructive thoughts persist or you find yourself taking steps to make it happen - get professional help NOW!  Call 911 if necessary, do whatever it takes to take care of yourself and keep yourself safe.

I hope that sharing this has been helpful if you've ever suffered crushing grief or are currently suffering.  Sometimes we go to deep and dark places when we're grieving. . .let's crawl out together and enjoy a little sunshine.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Betcha Can't Try Just One!

No, I'm not talking about potato chips!  Here's a post that my brother would have totally cringed at reading.  We are back to my regularly (heh!) scheduled blog posts about my period.  More specifically, about mama cloth this month!

Last month, I started my period less than two days after my only brother died.  I had to suffer my period the entire time I was in New Jersey for my brother's service.  Of course I did, right?!  I did myself a favor and decided to only use the Diva Cup while I was traveling.  Overall, it wasn't all that bad and was more convenient than toting a box of tampons in my luggage.  Or, more likely, in my handbag.

However, I'm not gonna lie, it really sucked balls to deal with airport connections while worrying that my Cup was about to overflow.  Naturally, my travel day was also my "heavy" day and I had to deal with emptying and reinserting the cup at LAX in Los Angeles.  And Logan airport in Boston.  And on two different planes.  It wasn't fun in the least.  My vagina was busy, but my cup is mighty so I never experienced even one little leak the entire time I was gone - hooray!

I decided that, on my next cycle, I would try the mama cloth I purchased in August.  Well, I did not conceive right after my brother's death (shocker!) so I did get my monthly visitor this month.  I intentionally ignored my Diva Cup and grabbed a mama cloth pad. 

I have to say that I was sure that it would be yucky and gross to use the cloth menstrual pads.  I mean, I'm just not a fan of pads in general.  Heck, I only wore pads (disposable of course) regularly back when I first started getting periods.  I switched to tampons at some point in the 8th grade and kicked Stay Free to the curb.  That is, until I started getting these horribly heavy days in my cycle.  Tampons, not even those super-duper giant cigar-sized tampons, could not absorb the flow fast enough so I was forced to use these ultra ginormous maxi pads to keep my clothes safe from Aunt Flo's, uh, flow.

Anyway, I grabbed a cloth pad and put it on.  They all have wings that snap together so the pad (hopefully) won't go slipping around in your underpants.  All of my pads are also fleece or flannel backed so they aren't particularly prone to slippage when worn with cotton panties.  Yeah, I know.  Cotton panties, how pedestrian.  But, really, who is wearing silk panties on their period anyway?

So how was it to wear a cloth pad?  You know, it wasn't all that bad.  I mean, what's not to like?  They didn't leak and they are totally comfortable to wear.  My pads are very soft and quite comfortable.  I prefer the velour topped pads over the flannel topped pads, but both were very soft against my skin and even the flannel topped pads are softer than their paper & plastic disposable counterparts. 

I would have expected fabric to feel softer than paper, but I wasn't prepared for their size.  I was amazed that they aren't bulky at all.  Even my heavy-duty cloth pads are thinner than a comparable disposable pad.  How is that even possible?  I have no idea, but I like it!

I have two, actually three, clear favorites of all the sellers from whom I purchased mama cloth.  If you might be interested in purchasing or pricing mama cloth, click the links to go to the seller's Etsy shop.

For a liner, I just love these pretty offerings.  I purchased three flannel-topped (would have preferred velour, but it wasn't available) liners to use as a back up with the Diva Cup.  I picked a solid black top and a red & black swirl pattern on the wings and they are almost too pretty to use.  Almost.  They aren't really absorbent, but they will save your britches if you have any Cup or tampon leakage.  The liners are somewhat short, but since it's just a back up you probably don't need a lot of coverage.

I picked up a few pads from Blossom Pads for moderate days.  You have your choice of length, top fabric (flannel or velour), and the level of absorbency you desire.  I chose velour-topped and fleece backed for breathability - don't want things getting too hot down there!  I regret that I went with moderate absorbency as I'd like to see just how their heavy pads perform against my favorites, which are: 

My absolute favorites are the absorbent pads from Mother Moon Pads.  I purchased a couple of velour-topped pads that have a core made of Zorb (a material that offers awesome absorbency) and terry with a back of breathable fleece.  These pads are just ridiculously soft and unbelievably comfortable.  They are so wonderful that I wish that every woman could try these pads just once to experience a truly comfortable period.  They aren't the prettiest pads in my stash, that distinction goes to the pads above, but these are the pads that I'll measure all other pads against because they handled my heaviest flow - even overnight!

Also represented in my stash are a couple flannel topped "regular" and "heavy" pads.  I'm just not crazy about how the flannel feels in comparison to velour, but it's still far more comfortable than a traditional disposable pad.  Additionally, I have one or two pads with a layer of PUL to prevent leaks.  I'd rather change the pad more frequently and take a chance with leaks than have a layer of PUL in my pad because I find it somewhat hot.

I was even able to venture from the house for a few hours without fear on my heavy day by using the Cup with a Mother Moon Pad as back up.  Hooray for this new freedom! 

I purchased the mama cloth to handle my heavy day and I think I have a winning formula with the Diva Cup on most days of my cycle and the mama cloth on the super-heavy-why-does-my-vagina-hate-me day.  However, I liked the mama cloth so much that I might just become a pad wearing kinda gal!

* * *

Common Questions I've Been Asked About Mama Cloth

"Ew, I can't use a cloth menstrual pad!  Isn't it gross to bleed on fabric?"
I didn't find it any more gross to bleed on a reusable menstrual pad than it is to bleed on a paper & plastic disposable menstrual pad.  Let's face it, it's pretty gross no matter where you dump your uterine lining so you might as well save some money and be comfortable while doing it.

"Save money?  Aren't cloth pads pretty expensive?"
The initial cost for switching is higher, but the savings quickly add up because you aren't spending money every month on a product that just ends up thrown in the garbage.  Depending on your flow (how often you used to purchase pads), your return on investment may only be a couple of months.  Remember that you can reuse these pads for many, many years and, if you wash on the gentle cycle & line dry them, they'll last even longer.

"I don't think that I want to go 100% cloth so why should I bother?"
There is no need to treat this as an all or nothing situation.  Purchase one or two cloth pads and see how you like them.  My advice is to use them at first when you know you'll be at home for a few hours.  I'll bet that you'll be sold on how comfortable they are and you'll want to switch over once you try them out.

"I normally wear tampons.  How bulky are these pads?"
I used to use tampons, but I've used the Diva Cup since around February and I'd suggest that the Cup would be a better option for tampon users.  The Cup is a remarkably better than tampons.  However, these pads are less bulky than their disposable counterparts.  There is no "wearing a diaper to manage your period" feeling at all.

"Don't cloth pads feel gross?"
No, they actually feel really comfy.  I haven't worn pads regularly in over 20-years and I was pretty sure that mama cloth would suck, but these are extremely pleasant to wear.  Imagine your most comfortable panties, but even more comfortable.  Seriously, I can't stress enough just how comfortable these pads feel against your skin!  Try it once and I'm sure you'll be sold too!

"What do you do with those nasty pads?"
I just looped a drawstring wetbag over the door knob of the door in my master bathroom.  No odors, no muss, no fuss.  I was actually surprised at how easy and unobtrusive it was to deal with the pads before washing them.

"What do you do with the pads if you're out?"
Good question.  I'm a SAHM so I have a lot of flexibility about when I go out, but I generally use my Diva Cup when away from home.  You can purchase a wetbags specifically designed for dealing with soiled mama cloth or you can just store them in a Ziploc bag until you get home.

"Won't everyone know you're using these cloth pads?"
Not unless you tell them.  Or, uh, if you blog about it!  There are no crinkly plastic parts or wrappers so I think they are even more discreet than any disposable products, tampons or pads.

"How can you just wash & reuse those cloth pads?"
Pretty easily actually.  I wash on cold with a double rinse and toss them in the dryer.  If that sounds too horrible to handle, I want to know if you throw away all underpants on which you accidentally bleed?  No, you probably just toss them in the wash and hope for no staining.  The same thing applies with mama cloth.

"Staining!  Those pads probably look horrible after coming out of the wash!"
No, not really.  I specifically chose dark top fabric (solids and busy prints) to disguise any staining.  However, I have two pads that are pastels. . .a spritz of Soilove before washing and a little sunshine before drying took care of any staining that may have occurred.

Thanks to my blogging, I've had several friends ask me about the Diva Cup and mama cloth options.  I hope that this post has been helpful to those friends in particular, but do let me know if you have any questions or concerns that haven't been addressed and I'll be happy to help.

A happy period?  It's more likely than you might think!