Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Hey Bushy, Bail Me Out Too!

So let me get this straight:

If you are in charge of one of the largest corporations in the United States and you make horrible financial decisions and loan money to people who will never be able to pay you back and your choices create a huge negative impact on the economy George W. Bush will hand you 700 billion dollar check courtesy of taxpayers to bail your butt out of trouble?? 

Hey G.W., how about us people who refused to take out a bad loan when the market was high and waited patiently for things to cool off so we could afford to buy a home?  What about those of us who were responsible with our money when banks were loaning hundreds of thousands of dollars to people who could only afford the interest payments?  Now the people who waited for housing prices to drop can't even get a loan because the lenders are refusing to give home loans to stated income/self-employed people. 

Guess being financially responsible really doesn't matter in this country does it?  America's greed has bitten itself in the butt and here comes Bushy to patch it up.  I guess I should have purchased a house back when interest-only loans were a dime a dozen, refinanced it, bought myself nice toys and fancy vacations and then forclosed on the home and filed for bankruptcy.
I am so embarrassed to be an American right now.  This country is full of self-indulgent people who want instant gratification regardless of the consequences.  It's no wonder other countries hate us.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Jazzercise Update.

I started Jazzercise about a month ago. When I first went I was not sure what to expect. I wanted to be challenged but I also wanted to be comfortable in my own skin, meaning I didn't want to be surrounded by teeny 19 year old girls complaining about cellulite. When I started out I told myself I would go 4 times a week and stick to it. I have done fairly well with that commitment. The moves come a lot more smoothly to me now. Although I still get lost at times or I can't perfect a move or a routine I still get my heart rate up there and I have a good time.

So now the report...does it work?

While I have lost only a couple of pounds my body has completely changed. My buns, thighs, hips, and waist have lost a lot of inches. I assume I am losing fat while at the same time gaining muscle, so my weight is balancing out. I am more toned and fit. I am feeling the addiction to the endorphines that exercise gives you. I honestly think it was one of the best choices I have made for myself. I feel better overall and I am drinking more water (another thing I was bad at) and I tend to watch what I eat the rest of the day so I do not "undo" my workout.

Big thumbs up for Jazzercise!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

My Readers Rock!

When I added the Live Traffic Feed to my blog I thought it would be fun to see if anyone actually reads my blog. Lo and behold, not only do people read it, but they share it with others! I have readers in Canada, Budapest, England, and even Sweden. And someone on a messageboard has posted a link to my Cloth Diapering 101 post because I keep getting traffic from a board full of "sexy mamas." They denied me access to snoop on their board though. Maybe I was not sexy enough?? ;-)

Anyways, I just want to thank everyone who takes the time to read my blog. Sometimes it's a big whiney, crunchy, long-winded, or opinionated but knowing that I have people who care about what I write means a lot to me. I have always loved writing and I think I missed my calling. It's very flattering to know I am worthy of a good read, or a good laugh at my expense. :-)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Homework...Oh How I Loathe Thee!

When I graduated high school I celebrated my freedom from the tyranny of classrooms, school lunches, tests, and best of all, homework! Or so I thought.

Fast forward 12 years and I am once again a slave to school bells, packing organic nutritious and yummy lunches, and worst of all...homework!

My afternoons are mostly spent helping both of the school aged kids to get through hours of homework. When they come home they are tired. I see it in their walk, in their faces, and in their eyes, mostly. I know that if they start homework right away they will be more productive then if I wait and they lose their steam. Then they tend to be more resistant.

I find myself questioning why it is necessary to give a 7 year old 7 pages of homework plus 20 minutes of reading in one night. She is sitting at her desk now plowing away at it like a dedicated learner. While I admire and praise her hard work ethic I also question if she would be better off taking the afternoon to learn at a museum or having an arts and crafts day with dear old mom. What benefit does homework truly have for children?

According to an article in Time Magazine students now have more homework than ever. Not only that, but homework has been shown to have an affect on the quality of home life and even on a student's health. However, with standards ever-increasing for our young scholars how are we to keep up if we don't push our children to go above and beyond? What is a reasonable amount of homework that a student should be expected to accomplish?

I recently learned of "unschooling." This is where a child is not placed in a set curriculum, but they are taught as they show interest in a subject. I find this facinating. Although I value the great teachers we have at our elementary school I have to wonder what my children are missing because we are limited on our free time. I would love to take my young ones on a field trip to watch a cow being born or to let them spend the day with dad and learn how engines work. I believe making a lesson out of a grocery store trip can be more memorable and educational than pouring over a math sheet. Involving a child in daily tasks, like budgeting, is a necessary life skill that isn't taught in a classroom setting.

I believe that as parents we need to step up and become advocates for our children. If your family is suffering because of homework then speak to your childrens' teachers. There is a time and place for learning after the school bell has rung, but not at the expense of a happy family. Use your daily outings as a chance to teach. Show your children food labels at the grocery stores so they know how to spot junk food. Take them to a bank and explain how loans work. Plant seeds in your backyard and watch them grow.

Most importantly, lead by example. We are always teaching our children, even if we are not aware they are learning from us.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Blow It Out Your Ash-Hole!

This weekend we went to a huge car show.  As we lined the streets to watch the cruise route I noticed that all around me people were lighting up cigarettes.  They didn't seem to care that they were less than five feet away from my 17 month old son.  Many of them were smoking with their kids right next to them.  It was just disgusting.  While they might profess that it was their right to smoke I will argue that it is my right to not breathe their second hand carcinogens and it certainly isn't right for them to subject innocent children to poisons.  In fact during the burnout competition while we were in the grandstands there were two men behind us that were puffing away almost the entire time.  Stephen asked them if they were smoking and they lied to him and told him they weren't but I was sitting there watching them do it!  It was just infuriating!  To have them lie to us was one thing, but for them to continue to expose my child to smoke knowing that it bothered us was unacceptable. 

Most smokers I know of are considerate, and I do give them credit.  However, this weekend I must have just been surrounded with real winners.  Generally I am a very non-judgemental person and I try to see things from all points of view, but ignorance about the harmful effects of smoking is intentional.  From a very young age we see the anti-smoking commercials on tv and we are taught in elementary school to "just say no."  One thing that completely frustrates me is seeing panhandlers who smoke asking for money.  Did it ever occur to them that their habit need not be funded by the kindness of others and maybe if they quit they might have some extra money for food or clothing?

So without sounding too preachy I just have to voice my complete and utter disgust with smoking.  I have had enough of kids that come into the hospital with asthma whose parents reek of cigarettes.  I am tired of keeping my toddler from picking up cigarette butts and eating them as we take walks.  This last Wednesday I wanted to slap the parents at Disneyland who took their kids into the smoking section so they could have a cigarette.  Why does your habit come before the health and safety of your children? 

I have sugar coated a lot of things here.  But if you are a smoker I will not do that for you.  If you smoke expect that your life will be shortened.  Expect that it will affect those around you.  Expect that your children will imitate your behavior.  Expect that you will be disabled by your habit.  Expect that you will be socially outcast.  Expect that you will be throwing away money.  At the same time you need to realize that you can make the choice to stop. 

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Cloth Diapering 101: Getting Started

So you have written Pampers and Huggies their Dear John letters telling them that you will no longer be needing them.  Now you are moving onto a long term relationship with cloth diapers but have no idea where to start or how much to spend.  If you are still insist that Luvs is in love with your baby's bum wake up and smell the rash cream while reading this article.

Since I have started using cloth diapers a couple months ago I have had many friend and family ask me about how they can get started. 

First, you need to decide what kind of cloth diaper you need and which brand you would like.  There are four different kinds of cloth diapers.  I have listed them here along with their pros and cons:

1. All In Ones (AIOs)- A diaper that has the cover sewn on the fleece layer so it is all in one piece.  No diaper cover required. 

Pros: The most leak proof.  Thinner than other cloth diapers.  Fasten with a snap or velcro with the ease of use most like a disposable.

Cons: They take several dryer cycles to dry completely.  They tend to hold more odors (especially if they do not dry all the way).  I have heard some moms say that they don't feel like these get as clean as other diapers.

2. Fitted Cloth Diapers: Diapers that fasten with velcro or snaps that do require a diaper cover.

Pros: Dry faster than AIOs. Easier to fasten than pre-fold or flat diapers. 

Cons: Require a diaper cover. 
3. Flat or Pre-fold Diapers: The "old fashioned" diapers your grandma remembers.  (DO NOT BUY THE GERBER BRAND!  They are worthless!) 

Pros: Less expensive.  Multiple uses: burp cloth, cleaning, wiping up spills. 

Cons: Require a diaper cover.  Require pins or a Snappi (diaper faster pictured) to hold in place.  Can leak.

4. Pocket Diapers: A diaper that has three main parts: a waterproof outer barrier fabric is sewn to the second component, an inner moisture-wicking fabric that keeps the skin feeling dry. These two fabrics form a pocket for the third component, an absorbent insert, to be placed.

Pros: Wicks moisture away from baby's bottom.  Pieces are easier to clean and dry.  Best for diaper rash.

Cons: More pieces to keep track of.  Need to "assemble" and "disassemble."

So now that you know a little bit about the different types of cloth diapers you will need to decide on which brand you want.  There are so many brands to chose from that I cannot mention them all here.  However, I will touch on some things to consider when you are chosing a brand:
  • Does the diaper come as a one-size fits all or will you have to spend more money to buy each size?
  • Does the diaper come with it's own inserts or covers?
  • Is the diaper made of organic materials (this usually costs more)?
  • Does the diaper come in different colors/designs?
So now that you have purchased your diapers what do you do with them?

The first thing you should do is wash them.  There are many different methods of washing cloth diapers but I am going to give you the one that I use.  Do do not use baby detergent and never use fabric softener.  Dreft and other detergents that are advertised on tv are not good for cloth diapers.  In fact, commercial detergents aren't good for you or your clothes at all, but that is another blog for another time.  So what do you wash them in?  I have two favorites: Charlie Soap  or Maggie's Soap Nuts.  Both are great products.  They leave no residue on the diapers that can irritate your baby.  Fabric softener isn't needed because when fabric has no residue it will be naturally soft, plus fabric softer will make the diapers repel urine instead of absorbing it.  Before you wash the diapers be sure any velcro tabs are folded down so they do not snag on other fabrics.  Also be sure that all diaper parts are separated (take pocket inserts out) before washing.  You can put your cloth diapers in the dryer on warm but they will last longer if hung on a clothes line.  Most diapers can be washed warm (check your diaper's washing instructions) but any diaper that is soiled should be soaked for about 15 minutes first in cold to remove poop stains.  Soaking in hot water will "cook" the poop proteins onto the diaper.  Some people like to do an extra rinse cycle on their diapers.  I have not done this and it's never been a problem, but Midge isn't that sensitive.  A more sensitive baby or a newborn might benefit from the extra rinse cycle.

While we are talking about washing, let's go ahead and talk about poop.  Admit it, you dread having to change a poopy cloth diaper.  I was intimidated at first, too.  You can read about my first adventure in poopy cloth diapering here.  The good news is that there are extra products you can buy to help the process go a little smoother.  If your baby is breastfed his or her poop will be soft and you really won't need to do a lot of pre-care.  It's okay to put liquidy poop in the wash, but you will want to avoid putting anything solid in it as it will not break down and rinse away.  If your baby is formula fed or eats solids the poop will require a little more care.  You will shake the solid poop into the toilet carefully and flush away that waste.  From there you just place the soiled diaper in a dry diaper pail.  You can purchase a flushable liner to place inside of the diapers so the poop will not mash itself into the diaper's fabric.  You just lift it out of the diaper and place it right in the toilet.  Some pocket diapers come with a liner that releases poop pretty easily.  If not you can purchase them separately.  They are also great for heavy wetters or doubling up for overnight.  Another option for cleaning off the soiled diapers is to use a diaper sprayer.  These can hook to your bathroom sink or behind your toilet.  These are also great for rinsing down your sink, tub, and toilet.  You do not have to have all of these products, but chosing one or two would be good to make cleaning up poop less a little neater.

So eventually you will need to leave the house and when you do you will need to be prepared with a "wet bag" in your diaper bag.  These are neat because they come in dozens of different colors and designs that make you look ultra-cool to the ladies in the public restrooms.  I opted for one with a zipper and it has worked wonderfully.  I have also seen the available with a draw string top.  You just place your dirty diapers or any other wet clothing items in and dump them into your diaper pail or washer when you get home.  They are washable but so far I have not noticed a smell coming from mine.  You can opt to carry a small squirt bottle of water and wash cloths with you or use disposable packaged wipes.  After your cloth diapering days are over your wet bag can be used for wet bathing suits or potty accidents.  

What about diaper rashes?  If your child develops irritation using cloth diapers try using less soap in the wash and doing an extra rinse cycle.  If that doesn't help add 1/2 cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle.  Vinegar helps strip the diapers of alkaline irritants.  If you use a rash cream try one that does not contain fish oil, like A&D or Destitin.  Instead try Burts Bees, Angel Baby Bottom Balm, Weleda, or Lemongrass Spa's Baby Bottoms Up Balm.  If you do use a cream consider using a liner so that the diaper does not stain.  Try giving your baby lots of naked time.  Also, only use water to clean your baby's bottom. 

Diaper pails can be done in two different manners...a wet pail or a dry pail.  A wet pail is filled with water for diapers to soak in until wash day and a dry pail is just that...dry storage.  The drawbacks to a wet pail are the odor, the need to change the water daily, potential drowning hazard for children, and some diapers cannot be stored in a wet pail, such as the AIOs.  A dry pail is a safer and preferred option.  You can purchase a trash can with a lid for cheap from your local Target for about $10 and it does a fine job.  A sprinkle of baking soda helps reduce odors.  You don't want to go any longer than two days between diaper washings.  I generally wash mine with every poopy diaper but I have a toddler who poops once a day so it works out nicely.

One day you may go to smell your fresh clean diapers and realize that they aren't so fresh anymore.  If this happens you will need to strip your diapers of oils and detergent residues.  Before you start this process check your diapers for washing instructions to make sure you will not damage your diapers  First, turn up your water heater and let your water get very hot.  If you are going to do this please be so careful to make sure everyone in your home is aware of the change so they do not burn themselves.  Be especially careful if you have older siblings who may be forgetful when going to wash their hands or take a shower.  You may want to do this when they are in bed.  Start with clean diapers.  Run them through the very hot wash cycle without detergent.  You can add a drop or two of liquid dish soap to help remove oils.  Perform an extra rinse cycle where you will add 1/2-1 cup of white vinegar.  The vinegar smell will disappear once the diapers are dry.  Then you will want to rinse rinse rinse your diapers until all suds are gone (still not using soap).  This will remove all of the residue.  Be sure to turn your hot water heater back down.  If you find that your diapers have stains sunlight is a great stain remover.  Just place your stained articles in the sun for natural bleaching.  If your diapers are too stiff after air drying put them in the dryer for 15 minutes before hanging out to dry.    

Okay so now you are wondering what the costs are.  Well let's do a rough estimate:

Diapers: This depends on which diaper you chose and if the diaper is a one size fits all.  I highly recommend using BumGenius 3.0 pocket diapers.  They are easy to use, come with inserts (which eliminates the need for flushable liners or a sprayer), and they are one size fits all.  It also depends on how early or late you are beginning to cloth diaper.  A newborn can go through a diaper every hour whereas a toddler will go through one every 3-4 hours.  Let's say you want to buy an average of 12 diapers.  BumGenius 3.0 pocket diapers run an average of $17.  So a little over $200.  With tax, shipping, etc will say $250.  When you are buying diapers look for deals for buying them in larger quantities.  

Detergent: Let's say you use Charlie's Soap.  It runs $15 a bag that lasts 80 loads. White vinegar costs you a few bucks. 

Diaper Pail: You can easily use a lided trash can or diaper pail that you already own or you can spend $10 at Target for a pail.

Wet Bag: They average anywhere from $14-$24 but let's say $20. 

Cloth Wipes: I use regular wash cloths when I am not using disposable wipes.  You can purchase special fleece wipes but they are not necessary. 

So $250 for diapers+ $15 for Charlie's Soap + $3 for vinegar + $10 for a diaper pail + $20 for a wet bag. 

Grand total= $298. 

Now of course this is going to vary depending on your needs and extras but to start out that is basically what you need.  Compare this to the cost of disposable diapers and you are saving some significant money.  

Happy diapering! 

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

For My Husband, On Our Anniversary

Click to play Our Two Year Anniversary
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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

If My Blackberry Curve Could Give Back Rubs...

This phone was designed for a business person but I have found this little piece of technology to be key to keeping my ducks in a row.  Besides being sexy and red I love that it has little alarms that I can set to remind me of appointments, birthdays, and even that hag of an aunt that visits me every 21 days.  I get my 30 minute reminder at Trader Joes that I need to pick up the kids and so I have to get away from the baklava and check out.  Never again will I lose track of time while deciding on the best bunch of organic bananas! 

In the morning I wake up to the sweetest chirp that escalates slowly.  No loud obnoxious blaring bleeps, this phone knows how to seduce me into the land of the living. 

I get email straight to my phone for three different email accounts.  That helps me keep on top of things and helps me get back to people more quickly and I can even send emails while I am out.  The best part of it is that when you send your email at the bottom it tells your recepient that you sent it via your Blackberry.  What better way is there to imply that you are important and tech savvy than to have your own phone rub it in?  "Yes, I have a Blackberry...suck on that cousin Bob!!  Love, Wendy."

In the morning I turn on my XM radio and listen to the 90's station.  On Sunday morning I am treated to a retro weekly top 40 with Rick Dees.  It's a great way to take a trip down memory lane.  And when New Kids on the Block come on I secretly cheer.  I still remember having hundreds of posters.  My brother drew on Joey McIntyre's poster once and it truly ruined my Easter Sunday when I was 12.  Last Sunday Rick Dees was giving away a stereo system complete with compact disc player, tape deck and a turn table!!!  Must have been about 1993.  I had to laugh...my kids don't know what a tape deck is, let alone a record player.  They will never know the joys of mix tapes or holding down the pause button ever so slightly to hear your favorite artist sped up to sound like a chipmunk.

When I need directions I just turn on my telenav and it gives me turn by turn directions.  No more forgetting the Mapquest directions on the printer.  My baby tells me everything I need to know. 

I think my husband is jealous.  He complains that I love my phone and I will freely admit here that I do.  I don't want to say that I love it as much as him but I sleep closer to the phone than I do my hubby.  I guess I do understand.  He does have the edge though...the Blackberry can't kiss my neck when I sit here and type this. 

Speak of the devil...he just got home...and kissed my neck.  Awww. 

I'm off to bed, Blackberry in hand.

Monday, September 8, 2008

A Website Is Born!

I am please to annouce the birth of origins doula services new website:


I have been working hard on it for the last few days.  

Just wanted to share.  Now you know why I haven't been blogging. :-)

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

My Yearbook Photos

Travel back in time with yours truly as I share with you my yearbook pictures:

Okay this pic above was supposed to be from the year I graduated, 1996. Here is a real pic from that year. All I can say is Yowzers!

If you want to have some fun seeing yourself through the decades go to yearbookyourself.com

Have fun!


Since my last post was a bit of a heavy note I thought I'd lighten it up a little today.

For months I have been agonizing over how to exercise with a toddler. Nothing seemed feasible as Midge is now in high gear all the time. I didn't want to pay $30 a month to go to a health club and then an extra $10 a month for childcare. It seemed as if I would never get rid of the extra junk in the trunk. I walk the kids to and from school but the heat has forced me to take the car in the afternoons. Therefore I felt stuck in my fat rut without a light at the end of the tunnel.

That was until I found out about Jazzercise. My friend mentioned she was going and loved it. I have to admit that when I first heard about it I immediately pictured this:

I needed to check it out because my friend used the word "addicted" and anyone who uses the words "addicted" and "exercise" in the same sentence is either crazy or has found something really good. Since my friend is very levelheaded I assumed the later. After an internet search and a phone call I found out I could go for free anytime I wanted if I put one hour in each week in the childcare area. At this point I would have been willing to wear a full on flourescent pink one piece stretch leotard complete with scrunch socks and a scrunchie. Just one hour of childcare a week and I can come whenever there are classes and work out for free and have free childcare?? Sign me up!! Lucky me I grabbed the last childcare spot available. "It's destiny," I convince myself. I am meant to Jazzercise.

So today was my first official workout day. Let me tell you it was more fun than I thought. Most of the women there were moms or grandmas and I felt comfortable and secure. And it's a good thing too because some I probably looked like I was doing a drunk ho-down instead of a graceful step ball change.

The only challenge is that Midge didn't like the childcare. He cried a bit at first and I went in after he wouldn't calm down for 10 minutes. Then I went back out and he continued to cry for the rest of the time off and on. I felt bad but he has to get used to being in there. By the time the workout was over I was sweating and felt great and Midge was covered with hives and was snotty and hiccuping. Poor little guy! Maybe tomorrow will be better.

I will be sure to report my progress.