Sunday, August 28, 2016

Disneyland Vs. Disney World

Howdy peeps!  We've just come back from a family vacation to SoCal, which included 3 days at Disneyland.  I've gotten tons of questions about it, "Is it better than FL?",  "How expensive was it?", "Would you recommend it for kids blah age?", etc.  So I figured that a blog post was in order.

The initial goal of this trip was a Disney World vacation in FL, which we have already done in the past with the kids.  The #1 reason we didn't do it again was COST!!  Anyone who's planned a trip to WDW knows it will cost you an arm and a leg to get a magical experience.  Even with our corner cutting 2 years ago, we probably spent close to $4K, and that wasn't happening again. 

I should probably preface this with the fact that all other factors of our trip were either free or minimal cost.  Wifey travels a lot for work so we were able to redeem award points for all of our airfare and hotel stay, and only spent $18 for a rental car for the week.  That being said, we are talking park cost only. 

Based on a 3 Day park hopper ticket for a family of 4 (2 kids), here's how it broke down:

WDW:  $1,925.00
DL:  $1,132.00

For a little bit more ($1,336.00), we found something called the SoCal City Pass, which was 3 Days at Disney with the park hopper and one magic morning, 1 Day at LegoLand and 1 Day at Sea World.  Still cheaper than the 3 Days at WDW.  By a few hundred dollars.  Would that still be the case including hotel & airfare?  I have no idea since we didn't have to deal with that.

Finances aside, how did everything else stack up?

Park Hopper
My first and probably the most important observation that I made right away was the ease at which you can navigate from park to park.  I know some people who refuse to get the park hopper option at WDW because it is such a nightmare to leave one park and get to the next.  You have to go through security, wait in line to get into the park.  Then when you leave that park to go to the next park you have to get on either a monorail, transport bus, or get in your car and then navigate security AGAIN, and wait on line AGAIN to get into the next park.  Wasting probably close to 30-45 minutes on just moving from one place to the next.  Disneyland is waaaayyy better for this.  You first go through security and once cleared entrances to both parks are right there.  So you never have to go through security again once you're in, you don't have to take a tram or a monorail to get there, you just leave one and walk right over to the other.  Only line is the line into the park.

The downside to this is that there are only 2 parks, not 4 or 5 (or whatever WDW is at this point).  There are no water parks.  Just regular Disneyland (which is somewhat comparable to Magic Kingdom) and California Adventure (which is like Hollywood Studios plus other stuff and a boardwalk). 


Everyone knows that if you go to WDW, expect to wait on line for about 2 hours for the "good" rides, maybe longer for the "BIG/scary" rides.  We took this into consideration when planning this trip.  We found a crowd calendar online and went with a week that was designated as "Alright" instead of one that was "Packed".  We wanted to go with one that was "Ghost Town" but we weren't so lucky.  Having no idea what to expect, we braced ourselves for the worst.  Upon seeing the crowds at park entrance we thought the lines would be worse.  Walking down Main St. everyone was just shoulder-to-shoulder, nowhere to go, tons of people everywhere.  But I think the longest line we waited on was 45-50 minutes.  Average was about 20-30, and we walked right on to some of them.  There is a Disneyland Experience app that you can look up all your wait times on, and that helped a lot when figuring out what to do next.  Especially with kids who want to take turns picking rides and the choices are never near each other, and at times not even in the same park.  So you can look it up and say, "Yeah, let's do that" or "Why don't we stay in this area for a while until that clears out".

The experience waiting in line is also much different in Disneyland vs. Disney World; In Florida, waiting on line is part of the ride experience.  In some cases there are interactive displays where you can wave at CGI crabs or animatronic Buzz Lightyears who talk to you.  At the very least, the line is decorated in the theme of the ride.  And if you see a line that ends outside of the building it is in, you know that's gonna be a looonnnng wait.  Disneyland is different.  A majority of the line you wait in is on the outside.  You can see it, in some cases, in it's entirety.  So when we first saw a line wrapping around 4 times before even entering the building, we thought for sure that the 20 minute wait estimate was wrong.  But it wasn't.  And this also means that the line is just a line.  No standard Disney entertainment while you wait, just your own company.

Which leads me to:


WDW FastPass is efficient but also ridiculous.  And unfair.  If you are staying on property you get a wrist band and when you download the app you can select FastPass rides before you even leave your hometown for your trip.  So you know before you even enter the parks that those 3 rides you want to ride today, you definitely will, TODAY.  But for those of us poorer people, who don't stay on the Disney property, you have to wait in an hour long line in some godforsaken part of the park to make your 3 selections for the day.  This is all null and void in Disneyland.  If you want to FastPass a ride, regardless of where you are staying, you must walk to where that ride is, find the designated area that doles out FastPasses for that specific ride, and swipe your park ticket to receive a paper ticket with a designated return time on it.  Once you do this, you can't get another FastPass ticket for about 2 hours.  I think this helps the non-Disney stayers get on the FastPass rides of their choice, instead of having them book up so far in advance that you don't have a shot at it.  Also, if you plan the smart way, you can get in more than 3 FastPasses for the day.  There is a learning curve to it because some of the rides are more popular than others and the FastPasses are given out pretty quickly.  So once you know what you for sure want to FastPass, go get it first thing as soon as you get in the park.  This FastPass setup also works well because of the ease at which you can swap parks.  There were several times we would get a FastPass at one park and then hang out in the other park until our time came up.  In most cases, it took us about 10 minutes to leave wherever we were and get to the other ride in the other park and be well within our time slot.  Definitely not something you can do at WDW.


Dining was also different.  In FL you can/HAVE TO make your reservations 6 months before your trip.  And in many cases if you don't make a reservation, you're not going to get into whatever restaurant it is.  In CA they don't open up reservations until about 1 month prior to your visit.  And if you don't book in advance, it's OK, you can probably walk into a restaurant and get seated within 30 minutes or so.  I'd still make reservations ahead of time, especially if you're traveling with children that turn into The Incredible Hulk when they don't eat by a certain time.  And for the character dining.  I'd book that in advance too.  But if you didn't make plans for a certain day, you will probably be able to walk in and eat.  And it's still Disney, so it's just as expensive.  Character dinner for 4 was damn near $200 when you add in tip & tax. 

One of the drawbacks to the dining was that I felt like there were less sit down options in CA than in FL.  My littles have some crazy food allergies so we had to be careful about where we chose to eat and it had to be a sit down dinner so that the food was made specifically carefully for them.  So that eliminated a bunch of dining options for us right off the bat.  But if you don't have any special dietary needs there is plenty of variety.

For those of us traveling WITH food allergies, I can tell you that my kids had an option at every single place we went.  Every restaurant (the sit-down ones) had a separate allergy-friendly menu.  It didn't break it down by allergen like other restaurants will (except for GF), but it listed options that were OK for certain allergies.  Drawback was that it was usually the same 2 dishes everywhere we went:  steak or chicken.  Which is fine, but can be repetitive for 5 & 7 year olds.  So we usually packed our lunches for the day and then had dinner out somewhere.  We had several days where we weren't on Disney property so we were able to eat at some of the chain restaurants the kids are used to and they were able to get some more variety that way.


There are not set zones/areas for character meet & greets.  There are no FastPass lanes for these either, but also no 4 hour waits to meet Elsa & Anna.  Either you catch them while they are in the area or you don't.  It's not like WDW, where you have to/can plan to meet all your favorites. It's somewhat random and unpredictable (maybe there is a schedule, but I never saw anything).  So if your little is banking on pictures with Mickey, do a character dining experience or go to FL.


Reilly & Kayleigh are both pretty into Legos so I thought this was going to be a favorite of theirs.  While we are all glad we did it, it wasn't anything fancy or out of this world.  There were some really cute things there but nothing I would consider a "must-see" and I wouldn't say you HAVE TO go there if you're going to be in the area.  Definitely skipable.

Sea World

It's awesome.  Do it.  Plan some kind of animal encounter.  It's worth the money if you can swing it.  But HEADS UP:  There is ZERO shade there.  Anywhere.  All the stands in the arenas are out in the blazing sun, the eating areas have umbrellas but they don't always block the sun.  Translation:  You will be in direct, strong, sunlight for however long you are in the park.  Re-apply sunblock every 90 minutes.  Even if you tan.  If strong, constant, direct sunlight will bother you or your kids make sure you bring umbrellas to shade yourselves.  We were spoiled by Disney's fairly constant availability of shaded areas.

Tips, Hints & Misc.

  • If you are driving your own vehicle to and from the parks, try to park in the Mickey & Friends parking garage.  It is closer to the parks and there is a tram to the park entrance.  Versus taking the shuttle bus from the Toy Story parking lot where you have to deal with downtown Anaheim traffic.  Also, from the Mickey & Friends garage, you can easily access Downtown Disney or even walk directly to & from the parks and bypass the tram if you don't mind a little bit of a hike (definitely under 1 mile, all on a walkway on Disney property).
  • If you are in the parks around 8pm & 9pm and you DO NOT want to watch the parade/fireworks/light show that is going on...get yourself to whatever area you want to spend the next 2 hours in.  Once the show areas are roped off it is nearly impossible to navigate to or from anywhere in the park. You will start to question if it is actually OK to just start running people over with a stroller.  So figure out which areas in each park keep you guys the busiest and stay there, or just leave around/before 9pm.  Or plan to watch all the shows.  Because they are all back-to-back.  
  • Also, do not try to leave right after those shows are done.  Everybody else will be leaving then.  Either leave before they start/while they are going on if you can (if you have small kids), or stay until after (if your kids are old enough and can hang out until 10pm/11pm).
  • Plan "break" days where you hang at the hotel pool or go to the beach. It's a lot to get everyone out the door and to the park for first thing in the morning, which is definitely the time you want to be there.  There is not as much to do or see in CA as there is in FL.  3 days was nice, I feel like we got to see/do a good majority of both parks.  I would have liked a 4th day in the parks to revisit some favorites, but I think you can see most of it in the 3 days and have some repeats.
  • Your hotel room will have a fridge.  Buy stuff to pack lunches.  Pack your cooler & ziploc baggies & ice packs from home in your luggage so you have it out there with you.  Bring water.  Lots of water.  In insulated thermal containers  Don't pay for it in the park.
  • Bring a stroller, don't rent one if you need one.
  • Disneyland does not serve alcohol, only California Adventure does.  So if you want a cocktail with dinner, don't make reservations in Disneyland, make them in California Adventure.
That's about all I can think of for now.  If you have any more specific questions, feel free to ask away!!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Reclaiming My Former Self. Well, A Small Part Anyway.

I have often posted on here about needing some Alone Time or Special Mommy Time and have been absolutely horrible in the execution of actually doing something about it. They aren't kidding when they say, "Having a baby changes everything".  They really mean EVERYTHING!  Most of the changes are good, but when we don't etch out some time for ourselves we become overstressed and it is so, SO easy to lose a part of ourselves that maybe we shouldn't.  Simply because we don't have the time or we don't make the time.  It's OK to change and evolve, but we should never abandon the person we were before, especially if it was something we enjoyed about ourselves. 

For me, one of those things has been reading.  I mean, it was part of what identified me as a person pre-baby; I was a book person.  I loved the smell of them, the feel of them in my hands, the unique "book" paper...everything.  And I would fly through a new book every day or two, depending on the length.  All of my wishlists were at least 50% books, and my book collection had amassed enough to be a small library.  Over the years I have had to greatly reduce my own personal library to make room for things like cribs and a 2nd baby, or to make a few extra buck to afford said things, but I've held on to my favorites & "must haves".

This year, now that my kids are older and in school I am going to try making time for myself more of a priority.  It's hard with our schedules & especially with Wifey's insane travel schedule, but one of the most easily feasible things for me is reading.  Even
if Laura isn't here, I can try to read at least a part of a book each day. 

Now, I am so far out of the literary world it's not even funny.  I don't even know where to start.  The last attempt I made at trying to read a book was "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" and it was right after K was born in 2009 and it was horribly unsuccessful.  You have no idea how sad that makes me.  And so I am asking for your help!  What do YOU think I should read?  What are you reading right now?  What is your favorite book?  What's the hottest book out there right now that everyone one the planet is talking about?  I will read pretty much anything, even willing to re-visit a classic to see it through an non-15-year-old's eyes.  (Kind of want to re-visit Gatsby after seeing the Leo version of the movie)  To give you an idea of my favorites, I've read pretty much everything Michael Cunningham has written up to 2009, Joyce Carol Oates, Dan Brown, Stephen King, Shakespeare, Poe, Toni Morrison, even the "newer" grown-up Judy Blume books and the garbage novels sold at the grocery store.  So my range of interest is pretty open, but I'm definitely looking for some kind of work of fiction. 

Barnes & Noble, take me away!!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Celebrate the Perks, Don't Compare The Plights

I came across a Scary Mommy article this morning about the struggles of being a stay-at-home-mom.  At first glance, it was amusing and I was able to relate.  I can't tell you how many times I've been asked, "So, what do you do all day?" or someone implies that being home with the kids is easy or that I am somehow "less than" because I am not a working parent. I have actually had people look down on me and make me feel stupid because I don't hold a position outside of the home.  So yes, sometimes I wish that working parents could see what I have to deal with day in and day out.

And then in the comments section of that blog post was the much predicted argument from the working moms.  That SAHM's don't understand how difficult working is, and how it's so much harder to be a working mom because they do so much more, and how they would give anything to be able to stay at home all day.

All of this angered me.  All of it.  The argument from both sides is just ridiculous.  Why are we arguing?  WHEN WILL THIS END??!!  Why are we comparing, why do we care who has it worse, and why aren't we just trying to make it better for everyone?

Motherhood is hard.  Period.  Parenting is hard.  Period.  Whether you are at home with your kids, or you have to leave to an office every day, it is hard.  Our struggles may be different - I want to eat without someone else sitting in my lap and you want to be able to make it to a school performance for once - but at the end of the day they are all the same.  We are all tired, frustrated, and aching for someone else to understand our plight. There is not enough time in the day for us to do X, Y & Z.  If only we were able to (fill-in-the blank).

And I get it.  I've been guilty of it myself.  We all get it, it's hard for all of us.  But instead of putting each other down for the different lives we lead and comparing who has it worse, we should be supporting each other and maybe even (dare I say it!), celebrating what we LOVE about our lives!!  There are perks & plights for those who work outside of the home and for those who stay in, and so I say let's celebrate the perks!  All of them!!

I CHALLENGE YOU.  Not just for Thanksgiving.  Not just for November.  But every day.  I challenge you to find something that you love about your situation.  Every day.  Something that makes it special.  Something that you wouldn't have if you were in the other mom's shoes.  Marinate in that, even if just for a few moments of the day.  My hope is that if we can all appreciate what we DO have we can stop complaining about what we don't have or what we wish we had.  I think we will all be a little happier at the end of the day too if we just counted our blessings instead of our aggravations.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Adventures in Garbage

One of the "green" changes that we have implemented in The Conneuter household is that we rarely use paper towels.  Instead, I have a stack of kitchen rags that I use for clean-up, cleaning, wiping, etc. To keep the process easy for me I have a bin in the kitchen that I toss the used ones in until it's wash day.  It's wonderful, easy, definitely much cheaper than constantly buying paper towels, and one load of laundry and it's done.  I can go into great detail about this process, but I will save it for another blog.

The problem is that the bin is often times confused with the regular kitchen garbage during any kind of event that is held at our house.  Maybe it's because it's on the other side of the room from the regular garbage, maybe it's because people don't expect there to be a "hamper" in a kitchen, maybe it's because we are just friends with weirdos.  I don't know.  I have just gotten used to this over the 5 years that we have been implementing this.  I am not annoyed by it in the least, rather, I am amused by the treasures that I will inevitably find in the next wash load after a house gathering.  If nothing else, there is always, always, ALWAYS a juice box straw wrapper.  Even if we are not serving juice at whatever function we have had, the straw wrapper is in there.

But this blog is also not about the treasures I find in that bin.  Oh no.  This is a blog about what I found somewhere else.  Something that is so bizarre, I cannot imagine how someone made either the decision or mistake of doing this, or even what was going through their heads.  This is a story about what was found in the Bag of Bags.

Don't act like you don't know what I'm talking about.  Every household has the Bag of Bags.  It's a plastic shopping bag that you use to store your other plastic shopping bags in.  Be it for while you collect enough to drop off at the recycle bin at the supermarket, be it for you to collect them to re-use them, be it that you collect them to use as stinky poop bags for disposable diapers or dog poop or cat litter cleanup.  Everyone has a Bag of Bags.  It's just a simple fact of life.  Where you have it is what varies.

We keep ours hanging off of our back door knob.  It's very obvious what it is.  It's practically overflowing with bags because I almost always forget to grab it when I go to the store.  You can very clearly see that it is a Bag of Bags, not a garbage.  Especially when there are not one but THREE other bins in the kitchen (garbage, recycling, rags), one of which is right next to the Bag of Bags.  Therefore, I never go through this Bag of Bags for any reason, other than to occasionally grab a bag out.  And even then, I don't go through it, I just grab a bag.

So I had noticed a smell starting to linger in that area.  Thought it was the rag bin.  Washed the rags.  It still lingered.  Thought it was maybe some dirty dishes in the sink.  Wanted to completely empty the sink.  Those of you with kids on summer break can easily understand why this took several days before the sink was completely emptied and cleaned itself.  Still, the odor lingered.  I cleaned out the garbage can, cleaned out the recycling bin, washed the floor.  Stink, stink, stink.  I even emptied the fridge of anything that could possibly be becoming questionable, checked the cabinets for anything spilled, nothing.

And then I went into the Bag of Bags looking for a specific type of bag.  This was the first time I was actively digging in.  And as I dug, the stench became more profound.  And then I saw it.  A dirty diaper.  Somebody had put a dirty diaper in the Bag of Bags.  And it stunk.  And I know why it wreaked so awfully.  The last gathering we had at the house where there was an opportunity for someone to do this was back in the beginning of June.  This was the second week in August that I discovered the diaper.

Now, people have put dirty diapers in all sorts of places in my house.  Most of which, I can understand why.  The rag bin: I get it, it looks like a garbage bin.  The recycling bin:  OK, still a bin, I'll take it.  The cloth diaper pail in R's room:  I guess the cloth liner doesn't give away that it's not a trash can, so I'll gladly accept it.  For the record, there is no disposable diaper pail in R's room, just a cloth one.  The bathroom garbage:  At least it's a garbage.  The laundry chute in the bathroom (that leads to the top of the pool table for whatever bad design reason):  People have confused this as a garbage on several occasions.  I'd rather the dirty diaper than...feminine hygiene trash...yes, it has happened.  But for the love of Pete, I can't understand how someone could confuse the Bag of Bags for a regular garbage?!

Maybe some smaller Bags, ones with less bags in them.  "Hey, I don't know what this bag hanging here is, there's not much in it.  Must be a garbage.  I'll throw my trash in it".  Sure.  But I'm not kidding when I say that our Bag of Bags is overflowing.  And all that is in it is other bags.  And it was right next to a perfectly good rag bin disguised as a garbage (found a half-eaten hot dog in a bun with ketchup on it this last time).  I almost expect to find diapers in there.  But the bag of bags??!!!

Needless to say, there was a great reduction in the amount of bags in the Bag of Bags.  I couldn't handle the stench of the ammonia that had set into them.  So I am contemplating going old-lady style on this and making a holder for my bags.  At least this way, nobody would confuse it as a trash bag.  Right??

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

D Day

Well, here it is. May 28th. D day to me. I was supposed to be having a baby today. 

I can't help but wonder what that would be like, who would be here watching the kids, if they'd be excited about a new sibling or jealous, and how close they would all be. 

I actually cannot believe how much time has gone by since we lost her and I sometimes wonder if that was it, if that's the last time I'll ever be pregnant.  It's not like we haven't tried again, but it seems like it's just not in the books. 

It's hard not to feel like a failure, like my body is doing nothing but betraying me. I wanted my kids to be close; Now, if I'm lucky, K will be 6 years older than the youngest sibling, R will be 4 years. It's just so different from what I wanted, from what I expected, from what I tried for. It's all very...empty. 

But time marches on. I can take this moment to reflect but I can't let myself get caught up in what could have been. There is only what is and what will be and I only have so much control over that.  But I will be thinking about her today and I imagine I will in the future as well. 

It's funny that there's no word for this. She was a part of our lives, we were excited for her, we had plans for her, we WANTED her. And then she was gone. Just like that. 

When a person dies there's a funeral, there are memorials, we remember them with stories and we keep them in our lives that way, by talking about them. And it's OK to do that. But when it's a miscarriage...we are expected to just let go, to move on, to act like we didn't lose someone because they were never born. To talk about them is considered morbid, people might wonder about my sanity and claim that I'm not moving on even though I have. But if I talk about my Dad who has been gone almost 5 years there's nothing wrong with that. It's all just so very confusing. 

And so today I tread lightly. Fumbling between that space of remembrance and moving on, not knowing what the "right" thing to do is. Even writing this, I'm sure I'm going to get a few eye rolls at it. But it shouldn't be like this. She was a part of me and I will remember her. I don't know how not to. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Why I Will Not Shelf an Elf

Let me preface this post by saying, "Relax".  I am not a grinch, I love the holiday season, I can get as enthralled in it as the next person.  And while I have issues with the Elf on a Shelf I would never dream of begrudging someone of their own happiness or judge them for their choice.  If you are a proud Elf Shelfer, if it is part of your holiday tradition and it works for you and it makes you happy, then right on!  Enjoy yourself!  Shelf that elf until the cows come home and have as much fun as you can with it!

That being said, I'm SERIOUSLY tired of people telling me how I HAVE TO get one!  And that I'm somehow denying my children of Christmastime happiness.  If I say something as simple as, "Nah, we're not really that into it, I don't think we'll be getting one" I get greeted with, "What's WRONG with you?!  Are you some kind of grinch?  Do you buy your children Christmas presents?"  No, I'm not kidding...I have gotten all 3 responses to me simply stating that I don't want to partake, or asking that somebody please not buy us one.

And I have to tell you that before K was born and before we had the nursery fully set up for her, Wifey & I played an unspoken game with each other.  We had some old Cabbage Patch dolls that had been put into the crib.  And every day without saying anything to each other, we would take turns re-arranging their positions.  This went on for weeks without talking about it and it was hysterical.  So I can see the appeal in finding ridiculous places/position for the elf, however, these are kids we're dealing with and not twisted adult minds. Being ridiculous with my wife is not the same thing as the Elf on a Shelf, in my opinion. Unless you are childless and you get one - and I have some childless friends who do some sick, twisted things with their Elf on a Shelf.  That is hysterical and I am totally on-board!

So my friends, here are the reasons that I don't want to/won't participate in this elf business.

First of all, people break these things out waaaayyy too early.  In general Christmas in happening earlier and earlier each year.  I am a big believer that nothing should be Christmas-ey until after Thanksgiving.  It can even be ON Thanksgiving that the festivities start, but this day after Halloween thing is BS if you ask me.  Part of the reason the holiday season is so wonderful is because it is for a limited amount of time..extend it and it loses the magic.  It becomes humdrum, everyday.

Do you really want this in your kids' room?
#2.  Have you SEEN these things?!  They are creepy as heck!  I'm pretty sure there were horror movies in the '80's based on this guy!!  And if there aren't, there should be!  Clowns are pretty scary on their own, but you add Killer Clowns From Outer Space and Poltergeist to the mix, and you have scarred your children for life.  Anyone my age can attest to this.  So I also refuse to put any kind of clown in my kids' rooms because of this as well, and I think it's a matter of time before the elf's are the new childhood terror.  Look at that face!  That's the stuff of nightmares right there!  I wouldn't want my kids to wake up in the night seeing this demonic doll staring at them.  Of course it will keep them behaving overnight - it will paralyze them with fear, hereby ruining elf's and thereby Christmas in general for the foreseeable

I think this is where Elf will end up
#3.  I just don't have the time.  Our routine is so crazy to begin with, I barely have time to function normally.  Add another task to the list, moving this thing throughout the house, and there is no way.  I would forget about it after one day and that would ruin the whole magic of it popping up anywhere.

#4.  I have nothing against bribery.  I fully admit to using it myself in times of desperation (haircuts for R, bloodtests for K, etc.).  However, there is a flaw to the bribery with the Elf on a Shelf; Unless you keep it out year-round (please God, NO!) it is only good seasonally.  If you rely on the Elf to help with discipline or other learning moments, how do you function the other 11 months out of the year?  And I'm not of the persuasion that bribing your kids to be good for Christmas so they can get toys and countless other things that they don't need is a good idea.  If you subscribe to the whole Santa part of Christmas I think it's a bad idea in general to make kids think that they might not be "good enough" to have those magical moments.  Let's face it - there is a shelf-life on the Santa believing.  I'd rather my kids enjoy every last second of it that they can.  Sure, I might throw a comment here or there in desperation like, "Don't forget - Santa's watching you.  If you hit your brother again he's not going to be too happy..." but I would never want to lead them to believe that they might not get a visit from Santa, or that the only reason they should not hit each other is so that they can get presents.  It's important to learn the reasoning behind whatever behavior you're trying to deal with and get your child to listen to you, not just appease us for the reward.

So there you have it.  I will not Elf.  Please don't try to make me feel bad about it.  By all means, if you enjoy this tradition, have fun with it.  If it works for you that's great, I would never want to take that away from you.  But don't tell me there's something wrong with me for not embracing it, and PLEASE don't buy my kids one.

Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

What To Expect When You're No Longer Expecting

There are many things in life that we as people just don't talk about.  For some, it's a matter of pride; Others, a matter of tact; And then there are the things we don't speak of because they are just so surprising and horrible that it is too difficult to talk about.  I understand the reluctance to converse about many of these things.  However, in other arenas I think it is important to speak out because it would eliminate that feeling of "alone" in some situations and better prepare people in others.

As most of you know, I recently experienced having a miscarriage for the first time.  As with many things, I was not prepared.  Of course we all know that this is a horrible experience, whether we have gone through them or not.  I don't think anyone is under the assumption that they are a walk in the park.  However, nobody ever really talks about it.  What it's like, what we go through physically & emotionally.  And I get it - it's a touchy subject.  Some women might not want to talk about it because it's too painful, and we don't ask them about it for fear of upsetting them.  I have to say that this is doing a big disservice to women.

I was absolutely dumbfounded by the number of women who reached out to me to let me know that they had been through this, some of them several times.  While I have only exchanged experiences with two of them, I have a feeling that many more have had similar experiences.  And had I known what I was in for it would have helped me immensely. A friend of mine gave me a heads up that things were going to be a bit more intense than I was prepared for, and if it weren't for that I might have thought that I was dying.  And so, I am choosing to share my story with you, in case it can help prepare you in the future.

**If you are currently pregnant, just stop reading here.  I don't want to cause any undue stress to you - this is a very happy time in your life and you should be focusing on happy thoughts and staying away from stories like this.  Feel free to bookmark this and come back later.  Also, if you just don't want gory details, stop reading here.  You have been warned. **

We made our public pregnancy announcement to the world on a Sunday.  We made it to the 12 week mark, and while nothing is a guarantee in pregnancy we felt confident now that we were past that threshold.  This was our third time around, I was already showing and wearing maternity clothes, I couldn't keep it a secret any longer if I wanted to.  And besides, most of the people I saw every day already knew.  So we made our announcement and received tons of well wishes on Sunday afternoon.

On Monday morning I started bleeding.  I had had some spotting on several occasions with this pregnancy, and every doctor assured me that it was common.  My cervix was still closed, many women have spotting, some even have what seems like normal periods and never know they are pregnant.  But Monday's bleeding was different.  I felt different, this looked different, and a part of me knew right then and there.  I spoke with my doctor, even went to the ER, and was assured that everything would probably be OK.  I had an ultrasound scheduled for Thursday anyway so at the very least we'd have more answers then.

Tuesday morning the bleeding was more intense.  I called my doctor and he had me come in for an ultrasound.  I don't know if I will ever stop hearing the tech whisper to me, "I'm sorry, but I can't find a heartbeat".  She said something about speaking with a doctor but in all honesty my ears were ringing and I stopped paying attention to her.  I didn't have to hear it from her.  When we saw the baby on the screen, I could see that she was motionless.  There was no familiar flicker of a heartbeat.  Even at 6 weeks, I could see the flash of a tiny heartbeat inside a little blob that resembled a bean more than a baby.  But on Tuesday, she was still, there was no flicker.

The rush of emotion was immediate and paralyzing.  I was not surprised, yet I was in disbelief.  How could I let this happen?  How did I not know sooner?  How could something stop growing inside of me and I didn't notice it for 4 weeks?!  What am I going to tell K?  All the things that I had to stop ran through my head then as well.  Ridiculous things that I couldn't believe came to me in that moment.  I don't have to put K & R in a room together.  We can stop looking for a minivan.  I can give my maternity clothes back to my sister.  But could I?  Will I fit into normal clothes?  I had been wearing maternity clothes for weeks because my regular clothes did not fit anymore.  How long will it take before I can wear normal clothes?  How long do I have to walk around looking like I'm pregnant?  Will people ask me about my baby?  Can I handle having to tell people that I'm not pregnant?  Oh my God, Thanksgiving.  How am I going to get through Thanksgiving?  My family all knows that I'm pregnant and they're going to be happy and excited and I'll have to tell them all this horrible news.  And if they know ahead of time there will still be this awkward silence that nobody knows how to fill.  I have ruined Thanksgiving.  Maybe next year will be happier.  Can we try again?  Do I want to try again?  What if this happens again?  What did I do differently this time?  What if I can't get pregnant again?  What if R was it?  I'm not ready for R to be it, that was the point of Baby #3.  And now there is no Baby #3.  There is no baby #3. There is no baby...There is no baby...

When I pulled myself together we spoke with the doctor about my options.
  • There was a pill that I could take to move everything along quickly.  It would be fast but it would be intense.  That really didn't seem appealing.  
  • I could have a D&E/D&C, a surgical procedure that would take care of everything.  That didn't sound fun either, as I tend to think that surgery is the absolute last course of action for most situations.  
  • I could let things just happen naturally, my body knows what it needs to do and it will do it on its own time.  Okay, that seems like the way to go and the doctor agreed.
I specifically asked how bad things would be.  I've had an image in my head of what a miscarriage would be like, and it's basically hemorrhaging and somewhere along the lines a baby comes out as well.  I was assured it wouldn't be that horrible, that I would have some cramping and what would be compared to a light to heavy period for 1-2 weeks.  Okay, that doesn't sound all that awful.  They offered me a prescription for Motrin and sent me on my way.

The rest of Tuesday and most of Wednesday was exactly as they described.  Crampy & period-like.  Annoying, but completely manageable.  However, Wednesday night things changed.  My cramps turned into mini-contractions.  Anyone who has been through labor knows that early stage where you're just starting to feel an arc to it;  There's a build-up, a peak, and a release.  And when I thought about it, it made sense - my body has to do a very similar function as in labor, so it's not that surprising that the cramps would feel contraction-like.  I caved and took some Motrin and sent myself to bed.

At 4:30 in the morning I was jolted awake by labor pains.  Not labor-like pains.  Labor pains.  My last birth was a natural one, and I was feeling exactly the way I was with that.  The contractions were getting closer and closer together and more and more intense.  I felt a huge pressure inside my uterus and felt the urge to push, so logically I went into the bathroom.  Nothing could have prepared me for what I was about to experience, and I am thankful that my last birth was a natural one so at least I knew I could make it through transition.  Little did I know there would be 3 equivalents.

The first was right away.  The contractions came back to back with zero let-up.  It was almost unbearable and I was very confused.  It made sense logically, but I did not expect this and the doctor at the ultrasound did not prepare me for it to be like this at all.  The pressure inside me built up and there was an undeniable urge to push so I went with it.  What followed I can only describe as an eruption of fluid, blood, tissue, and God knows what else.  Definitely not a light period!  It felt very similar to that point in childbirth when the baby's body finally slides out of you.  Effortless at that point and you feel a drop as the baby and fluid and blood pass through.  It was squishy and warm and emptying.  I felt immediately lighter, the pressure was gone, and while my cramps were still worthy of contractions they were no longer on top of each other, so I had time to breathe for a while.  However, I was concerned and bound to the toilet because whatever was flowing out of me did not cease.  In fact, it flowed straight for well over an hour, all the while my contractions building again, this time more intensely than the first time.  Of course I was curious as to whether I'd be able to discern a fetus so I did search a little bit but nothing was identifiable.  Anything solid looked more like a can of jellied cranberry sauce and was much too large to be an 8 week old fetus.  And I was not convinced that the baby had passed anyway so I didn't look too intently.

The second transition came while still in the bathroom.  This was more intense than the first one and it was more of the same.  Relentless contractions, one on top of the other with no let-up, pressure followed by the urge to push, followed by an eruption.  Again, the contractions ceased for a bit but did not disappear.  I knew we weren't done yet.  However, whatever was flowing freely out of me before had ceased, at least long enough for me to get myself back into bed.  I wanted to lay down for a bit because I was feeling woozy and my vision was starting to blackout.  It did feel good to be in bed, but I should mention that sometime between the first and second transitions, my son decided to start vomiting in our bed.  So while I was going through all of this, poor Wifey had been tending to him, and when I got back into bed finally, he was vomiting again.

My third transition came while I was laying in bed.  My son had finally gotten to sleep, but unfortunately I woke up my daughter with "the moan".  Anyone who has ever had a natural birth knows what "the moan" is.  It just happens, it is involuntary, I believe it is your body's way of dealing with the pain.  I did not want to scare her so I tried my hardest to keep it together.  She was confused and concerned for me so I assured her that I was okay and that I just had a really bad belly ache.  She climbed into bed and tried to cuddle with me to make me feel better, but it was impossible since I had started writhing with the pain.  I was struggling to remember anything from the birthing classes I took with my last pregnancy.  I just wasn't in the right state of mind to be dealing with labor; it was unexpected, I was in no way prepared because I never would have imagined that a miscarriage would be labor.  If I had, I would have spent the rest of Tuesday & Wednesday brushing up on getting through the pain.  At the peak of transition I had that urge to push and all I could think was, "Not in the bed!".  I don't know how, but I made my way to the bathroom.  This final eruption was the worst of all of them, and in fact the elimination part here was painful for me, but the contractions & cramping stopped immediately after.  I am convinced that this is when she left me.  I did not have time to look for her because I started to blackout immediately.  I rushed to get into bed but knew I had no time so I laid down on the bathroom floor instead.

I wanted to get her.  I wanted to be able to bury her, to memorialize her, to look at her and know for a fact that it's over.  An ultrasound is one thing, seeing it with my own eyes would be another.  My ears started ringing and my arms & legs were cold and numb.  My vision was still black so I could not get up.  I was truly scared because I had no idea what was going on or what was happening to me or if this was normal.  It took a few minutes but I came back into myself.  When I was ready I stood up again, and I immediately felt like I was going to blackout again.  Something wasn't right.  And K needed to use the bathroom.  I had no choice but to flush.

I wish I could have given you more respect.  I'm sorry I abandoned you, that I just left you there.  I wish that I could have taken care of you or shown you some sort of affection.  I hope you know that you were loved and wanted and that is certainly not how I wanted things to end.  I wanted to say goodbye to you.

I feel it with every part of my being that she is not inside me anymore.  After K was born, I made reference to an empty feeling that my body had.  That was nothing like this.  When K was born, my body felt used, hollow, stretched.  The life that was inside it was now in my arms, and I guess my body was missing that, that it had ghost memories of K moving around inside of it and yearned for her to be back in there.  I still have that from time to time.  But this...there was no life in my arms.  There were no ghost memories.  There was just nothing.  I wasn't used or stretched.  I wasn't searching for the familiar movements.  I was just empty.  I just went through the childbirth experience, unprepared and in my home, and there was no baby.  That is the worst part about this.  That is what nobody told me, nobody prepared me for.  How can you go through that and have nothing to rejoice in afterwards? 

I made it to the bed and called my doctor.  We decided to go to the ER since I was so woozy and even sitting up proved to be difficult.  All of the details are a blur but the gist of it is that there was a piece of tissue stuck that wouldn't eliminate and wouldn't allow my cervix to close.  They tried to remove it in the ER but were unsuccessful so we decided to go for the D&E.  Apparently I had some extra bleeding that needed to be taken care of too - I don't know if this was before or after the procedure.  I am inclined to think before because of my wooziness & the blackouts.  I wanted things to go naturally and was disappointed that after going through all of that I still had to go for the procedure.  However, the procedure is proving to be more humane than a natural miscarriage.  I still have some physical recovery to go through, especially because of the bleeding, but if you take that out of the equation, this is a world easier than just letting things happen.  For some women, they don't realize that they are having a miscarriage until they are going through what I did Wednesday night.  I can't imagine finding out that way, and I can't imagine going through that without having first experienced labor & delivery.

Women need to know that this is what it's like or could be like.  Not to scare them, not to worry about a miscarriage, but to be prepared.  Had I known, I would have done things differently and might have even opted for the procedure from the beginning and avoided all of the pain and mess.  I don't know, maybe not.  But I would have at least known what I was in for.  I hope that this information helps someone, even if it's just to know what could possibly happen.  Every woman is different, every pregnancy is different, every birth is different, so I imagine every miscarriage is different.  But according to the doctors I spoke with after (and there were several), this is actually a fairly common and expected experience.  A miscarriage is exactly like labor and delivery, your body needs to do the exact same thing so you should expect a similar experience.

I can't express enough gratitude to everyone who helped us through this.  My cousin HR for taking me to the hospital so Wifey could stay with a sick R, for being the alcohol & donut fairy on Tuesday, and for helping us out so much with everything.  My friend JS for giving me a heads up that things would not be as simple and easy as the ultrasound doctors made it seem, and for her continued support through everything always.  My friend EM-G, for dragging herself and her two kids to my house on Friday to help me through my required complete bedrest part of recovery.  Having to take it easy is hard enough, total bedrest is ridiculous!  My in-laws for coming on Sunday to help out with the kids after Wifey had to leave to run a conference. 

I'm glad that I told people about our good news so that I'm not dealing with the bad news in secrecy, because I don't know how we would have gotten through this otherwise.  And I know that we're not entirely through this yet either.  There's still a long emotional road to conquer, but I know I am not alone.  I think it's important that we speak about this, so feel free to share your story here too if you want to contribute to the dialogue.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Why So Excited For "Back to School"?

We are quickly approaching that time of year where summer is winding down and those with appropriately-aged kids prepare to head back to school.  This always saddens me.  Yes, when I was younger I looked forward to starting school again & seeing my friends, some of which I didn't see all summer, but I was always sad to see summer go.

And now as a parent I'm even sadder.  These lazy days of cuddles and sunshine and swimming and grand adventures will come to a close as we start the hustle & bustle of required schedules.  Of course the cuddles & adventures won't go anywhere, but we will have somewhere to be at set times and my daughter will be away from me for several hours of the day.  And while I know it is important for her to function in a world without me on her own, I miss her when she's gone, and I don't like that we can't do whatever the day brings us to.

And we're just in preschool here!  I'm really not looking forward to Kindergarten where she will be away from me the whole day, every day.  I'm actually dreading it.  Yes, I can let go and let them do their own things but I don't like being away from them - I miss them when I'm not around them.

So it is hard for me to understand the parents that get super excited about "Back to School" time.  They celebrate and can't wait until it's here, as though having to spend 3 months with their own children is some kind of torture.  And the commercials are appalling...parents literally jumping around and cheering while their less than enthused offspring roll their eyes or look sad in the background.  I have the same reaction as the kids in those commercials & ads - Disgust.  Sadness.

I understand that children can be exhausting and that sometimes we ALL need a break from them.  And I really hope that is what these parents are meaning - that they just need a break and are a little stressed-out.  Because if anyone is really that excited to be rid of their children then I have to ask why you bothered to have them in the first place?  And some people fare better when on a strict schedule, especially with kids, so I'm hoping that these parents are just happy to get back into a more regular routine.  I am not and will never be one of those people - I loathe schedules, having to be somewhere at a set time, and determining every minute of every day in advance. I like to feel the day out & see where it takes us and have it open so we can choose to do things on a whim. But that's me and not everyone can live like that, so my hope is that these overjoyed parents are just happy to have a routine back.  I hope.

But not only that - I like being around my kids (most of the time)!  I like doing things with them and seeing their little faces and expressions and excitement as they learn and discover and experience new things.  I like being with them when they have these experiences and seeing it myself.  I like being a part of their world.  It is not a burden to have them home with me or to be "forced" to entertain them as other parents feel they are.  There are tons of parents out there who WISH they could be home with their kids all the time but can't because they are forced to work.  I am taking my time home with them as a gift and I am trying to enjoy every last minute of it because I know it's not forever.  If I could wrap this all up in a package and keep them toddlers forever I would.  And as September approaches and I know that school will begin again, I am saddened to think that that means less time with my baby girl.

More to point, the notion that your children are nothing but an inconvenience to you saddens me.  The idea that you are so happy to be rid of them disgusts me.  I don't understand people who desire to get away from their kids so much.  I know a lot is said out of jest and for comic relief - at least I hope it is.  But think of the message you're sending to your children when you say that, even if it is just for laughs  You're literally telling them that you don't want them around and that you'd rather have someone else deal with them.  You're telling them that they have somehow made you dislike them, that have have done something to make you not want to be around them anymore.  That they are so awful that you're actually celebrating their departure.  That might not be what you mean or your true feelings, but that's how they're going to take it.  That is not fair to any child.  None of them should feel like their parent doesn't want them around.  Is any joke worth the kind of damage that could do to them?

Believe me, I understand stress.  I understand needing a break.  I understand feeling like you're going crazy and that the kids are making you that way.  I really do.  So take a break.  Get a baby-sitter and go out with the girls/guys.  But don't take it out on your kids, especially not for the sake of a joke.  I for one would be very happy if these ads stopped showing up.  You can still advertise for school supplies without making the kids the butt of the joke.

Monday, May 13, 2013

The End of my Nursing Journey

Mother's Day 2013

Some of you will find this hard to believe, but yesterday, Mother's Day, was probably the last time that I will nurse R.  It is probably the last time I will nurse anyone.  And it is a very emotional time for me right now because I'm having a hard time letting go.

The reality of the situation is that he was probably ready to be done months ago but I didn't want it to end.  My wife & I are in a face-off about whether to have a 3rd child or not, me on the pro side with her on the con.  I guess a part of me was waiting to see if I could convince her to let me have another baby and I knew I wouldn't be able to so I held on to the "baby" that I have.  The "baby" that will be 2 in 21 days.

My nursing journey has been quite the roller-coaster ride and I am sharing it in case it can comfort anyone else out there going through something similar.

It all started with a "we'll see".  It's hard to believe how different I was back in the days before I got pregnant with K.  Becoming a mother really changed me and how I view & interact with my world.  Although you could never have convinced me otherwise, I was not ready to be a parent and I had no idea what I was in for.  I did zero research on breastfeeding but knew that it was recommended.  I remember thinkiing that I'd give it a try & see how it goes and if it didn't work out I would be OK with bottle feeding.  I laugh at at that whole line of thinking now, knowing how hard the first round was for me and knowing how committed to nursing I'd become.

At some point in my pregnancy someone declaired that I'd never make it out of the hospital.  That breastfeeding would be too hard & I'd give up.  Someone else said outright that I just couldn't do it.  Well, that's all it took for me to be 100% committed to this.  Challenge accepted!  Can you believe that?  THAT is what ignited the fire in me?!  I still didn't take a breastfeeding class, didn't even read any pamphlets, thought I'd figure it out.  It's what we're designed to do, right?  My hubris is laughable from where I am standing now.  If I only had known that I would struggle so much maybe I would have read something or checked out a website.  Maybe I would have sought out LLL or HMN before K was born so I could have had built-in support.  But I didn't.

My first day home with K
K is born and the feeling is overwhelming.  Something inside me has been forever changed and now I need to do whatever is best for her.  Breastfeeding it is.  Due to the type of birth I had with her and the lovely side-effects, I opted for even more drugs afterwords which I now know caused many problems for us when it comes to nursing.  She was not very alert so she had a hard time even locating my breast at times.  When she did she had troubles latching.  When she finally did latch it wasn't a good one and she would fall asleep mid-feeding.  It was a mess.  She lost weight, she would wake up every half hour to nurse and fall asleep 10 minutes into it and so I felt like I was ALWAYS nursing her.  I was tired & stressed and we all know that stressed mom = stressed baby = nursing problems.  I didn't even realize that I was making everything harder on us by not knowing what to do.

After 2 weeks, still losing weight
& getting to know each other

With all of K's weight loss, they told us to suppliment with formula.  I was devastated.  Not only did I feel like a failure as a woman and mother (remember, this is what we're designed for!) but I felt like I was letting myself down and most of all K.  I didn't want to do it.  I didn't want to give her some foreign, laboratory-made suppliment when there was no good reason that I couldn't nourish her myself.  Lucky for us (or unlucky because of the additional stress it caused), K wanted nothing to do with the formula and refused to eat it.  When she did she had violent vomitinig reactions (which we now know were because she is allergic to the dairy that is present in formula).

I was at a loss.  I had a baby who was losing weight, breastfeeding apparently wasn't enough for her and she refused to drink formula.  What was I going to do?!  Thankfully, our pediatrician is amazing.  She could see how much I wanted to be able to nurse K and she could see how much I didn't want to give her formula so she worked us through it.  It was a lot of pumping, a lot of nursing, a lot of Fenugreek.  Lanolin & cold gel packs were my best friends since bloody, cracked nipples were a daily occurrance.  I quickly learned which nursing pads stuck to scabbed nipples and switched to cloth ones almost instantly.  A friend of mine recommended and ultimately signed me up for HMN.  This saved me in many ways and helped me through the rough patches along the way.

Eventually it got easier; There was less blood, I stopped taking pain medication so K was alert and could focus on what she was doing, I stopped being paranoid about nursing in public and found ways to be discrete.  In the long-run, K was a champion nurser.  She loved her Mommy time and nursing sessions were long and frequent.  She probably would have gone until she was 3 if I had let her, but we stopped when she was about 18 months old because nursing her & being pregnant with R proved to be more than my body could handle.  So weaning her had some difficulties and we had to adapt.  I felt like I was taking something away from her and had guilt about it, even though I knew I was doing what was best for myself & my then unborn baby.

Minutes after R was born
R's nursing journey was different from the first second.  His birth was basically the exact opposite of K's.  There were no drugs, no crazy pain meds, and I was prepared to nurse.  There wasn't a question in my mind if I was going to be able to nurse him, I just knew that I could.  He was a very alert baby and latched on moments after birth without difficulty.  He was a chunky baby and had no issues gaining weight (at least as an infant).  I didn't have any of the pain or blood that I did with K because his latch was great and he was a fast nurser.  Where K would nurse for 30-40 minutes at a time, R was done in 10.  I didn't have to pump with him at all, though I did because the amount of milk I produced was ridiculous!  The second time around I had no jitters about nursing him in public; I knew what the comments were going to be and how to deal with them, and I had already perfected the art of being discrete so if anyone had a problem with it it was their problem.  Nursing him was just natural and easy - it was what it was "supposed to" be like.

Snuggles with R
Staying true to form, where K would have nursed forever R lost interest a while ago.  He did have some weight-gaining issues as a toddler so although he did start to self-wean it was recommended to continue nursing him to keep the extra calories in him.  Truth be told he's been fine for a while now and I was paranoid he's lose weight again if I stopped so I just continued.  I know that for the past few months it has been me offering it to him and not him searching for it.  And while he never spent a long time nursing, these more recent ones have been even faster, only minutes at a time.

So yesterday I decided that he was probably done and that I would stop offering it to him.  But I didn't want it to just end like that.  I wanted to have some kind of final send-off, knowing that it may be the last time I nurse anyone ever again and this is closing a huge chapter in my life.  I thought it was appropriate that it be on  Mother's Day.  So after our guests left, after our deck was painted (yes, we pained our deck on Mother's Day), when my wife was playing a game with our daughter in her room, I sat with R on the couch and nursed him for the last time.  I made sure to pay attention to those last few moments and remember what it was like.  Him reaching up and touching my face gently, smiling up at me as I cradled him in my arms.  Him trying to stick his feet in my mouth as only a nursing toddler does.  I cried a little bit as I stroked his hair and told him that this was the last time.  When he was done, as if he knew I was going through something, he grabbed me and gave me a strong hug, saying, "awww" as he did it.  Then he smiled at me, jumped off the couch, and played with his toys.  Just like that, it is over.

It's crazy how difficult and complex breastfeeding can seem and then also be one of the easiest things to do as a parent.  My body made & fed both of my children.  I was the sole reason they were alive for the first months of their lives.  It is amazing what nature can do if you let it happen & nurture it.  I am so grateful for the stubbornness of my 20's that kept me determined to succeed at breastfeeding.  While I am happy to have full control & ownership of my own body for the first time in almost 5 years, I am sad to have to say goodbye to some of the sweetest moments you can have with your baby.  I am so happy that I got to experience them, and that I knew enough to cherish them

Whether you have one child or six, nursing is definitely a journey.  Sadly, mine has come to an end, just when I thought I had perfected it.  It would be nice to have another child, knowing what I know now and how easy & amazing it can be, but that is just not in the cards.  And so, my 5th Mother's Day as a nusing Mama is also my last day as a nursing Mama.  It is definitely bittersweet.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Cloth Diapering 101: Part 2, The Wipes

OK, so I'm the worst blogger ever!  Three months between blogs that are part of a series!  Oy!  I'll try to be more on top of this going forward.

In this second installment, I'll be talking about wipes.  Back in February of 2011 I wrote about The Great Wipe Debate.  It's amazing for me to look back at this post & see how much I have learned since then!  For those of you who read the initial blog, my methods & opinions have since changed on cloth wipes.  For those of you who didn't read the old post - don't bother.  I'll start fresh here.

BumGenius Flannel Wipes
Many people debate over whether or not to use cloth wipes or not.  I am finding that most of the time the people who don't use them don't because they haven't found the right combination of cleanliness, ease & portability.  When I started with cloth wipes, I received a tip to use baby washcloths instead of actual flannel cloth wipes because they were much cheaper.  BIG mistake!  I used the washcloths for a while and wasn't very fond of the results.  They were very harsh on my baby's skin and often time led to a small rash because of that.  So if you're trying to save a buck while cloth diapering, don't do it there!  Get the flannel wipes!  As with all things cloth, the initial expense is greater than with disposable but the overall savings will win out in the long haul.  They are about $1.00 a wipe and are usually sold by the dozen.  The first flannel wipes I bought were BumGenius flannel wipes but you can buy good flannel wipes on any cloth diapering site. Or you can save money and make your own if you're handy with a sewing machine. 

So how do these things work?  What do you do with them?  Is it worth it?

Overall I'd say that yes, if you are using cloth diapers cloth wipes are worth it.  If you're using cloth diapers & disposable wipes, that means possibly digging through mess to dispose of the wipes or putting a mess to the side.  With cloth wipes, you just toss it all in the pail together and its done.  No digging, no separating, no wondering what to do with a poopy wipe while you get another one because your child's bum isn't clean!  There are many different ways you can make cloth wipes work but the most important thing here is to find what works best for you.

California Baby Diaper Area Wash
In order for the wipes to work, they need to be wet or you have to use some form of spray.  So you must first decide what you want to use.  Many diapering sites sell wipe solutions.  Here's where you can save a few bucks and make your own.  Get a spray bottle & fill it with water & some mild soap - just a tiny bit.  It can be anything you're comfortable using on your baby's bottom.  Or just plain water works fine too.  The second thing you want to decide is how to use said solution.  You can either pre-wet wipes so they are ready when you need them, or you can spray the wipes as you need them.  In my experience, it is just easier to have wet wipes on hand because you never know when you're going to need them, it's one less thing to have to worry about during diaper changes, and you don't have to carry a spray bottle in your diaper bag.  Let's face it - you're already carrying enough in there!

Huggies travel case with cloth wipes
If you decide to spray on demand, simply spray the wipe or your baby's bottom & wipe the mess away.  I'd recommend having 2 spray bottles - one for home and a travel one so you can just leave one in the diaper bag.  If you want to pre-wet the wipes, you'll need a waterproof container to store them in.  Some people like wipe warmers for the house - any wipe warmer will do.  I just use a travel wipe case, again any case will do.  I think mine came with a package of Huggies wipes, so if you have one of those laying around from your disposable wipes you're set!  Just wet some wipes with your solution or just water, put in the case & you're good to go!

A little tip here...I have found that if I have wet wipes sitting in a case for more than 2 days they get a funky mildew smell to them.  So at the beginning of each day I take out the number of wipes I think I will use for the day, wet them in my sink, wring them out and put them in a travel case.  If I need more I can always wet more.  If I don't use all the ones I wet, they are OK for the next day.  After a week or so you should be able to guesstimate the number of wipes your baby will need for a day.

But what do I do with my poopy wipes?

Easy.  After the diaper change is over, just toss the used wipe into the diaper pail or wetbag and wash with your diapers.  That's it.  I know it might seem impossible that all of that yuckiness will wash off of the wipe but it will, I assure you.  When I am out & about I keep the dirty wipes wrapped in the dirty diaper in the wetbag so that when I deal with everything at home I'm not reaching into a bag filled with poop and it's easily tossed into the diaper pail.

That's about it for wipes!  Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.