Monday’s Mama is Crunchy AF.

Introducing Rachel Barry from Pretty in Baby Food. You may already know her, as she is an AMAZING resource for all things Natural Parenting on both her own blog, Pretty in Baby Food, and the soon-to-be-released Guidance Guide website. You can also find her on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. She is full of knowledge AND often hosts giveaways. She is definitely worth your follow!

Seriously, you guys, if you wonder about anything baby wearing, cloth diapering, baby feeding, traveling with baby, or basically any 2017 mama concerns, Rachel Barry is YOUR GIRL. Don’t let her cute name fool you — Rachel Barry is not actually an anthropomorphic strawberry. Nor is she a character from Glee.

20160511_194540

But she probably DOES spontaneously sing throughout her daily life because Rachel is mom to one beautiful and rambunctious toddler (and toddlers love songs). She is also currently pregnant with her second child. Rachel is a natural parenting and cloth diaper advocate. Her hobbies include dreaming of long walks on the beach while drinking her cold coffee during the day, writing while her daughter naps, and cruising. Her dislikes in life are doing the dishes, cleaning, and laundry. (Except diaper laundry. That’s her favorite. 😊)

Rachel answered a few questions for me here and OF COURSE she took the opportunity to school us some more. Thank you, Rachel!

 

1. What would you do with thirty whole minutes all to yourself IN A ROW every day?

Oh man! This is like the holy grail of alone time. I would probably make myself a cup of coffee, and read or write. (Sometimes I might use it to use the bathroom alone while also reading or writing. Ya know. TO see how my husband feels when he get’s to go to the bathroom. Haha!)

2. I love that you use cloth diapers. Why do YOU cloth diaper and what is your most favorite brand out there? (I know. That is two questions. I cheated.)

Haha! I cloth diaper because it saves my family money. In the first year alone of cloth diapering I have saved my family almost $1,000.00. The second reason I cloth diaper is to reduce trash. I was tired of lugging 4 bags of trash to the curb every trash day. By switching to cloth diapering I have been able to get it down to 2 bags of trash on trash day. Many people don’t know but disposable diapers can take up to 500 years to degrade in a landfill where as a cloth diaper when thrown out can take 6 months to a year depending on what fabric it is made out of.

As for my favorite brand that is a tough question to answer. As a blogger who reviews cloth diapers I have a lot of different brands of cloth diapers in my stash. I have specific cloth diapers for day time, nap time, and night time. I also have specific colors for when my football team plays, and certain holidays. I can say I prefer cloth diapers that are made of natural fibers such as cotton, hemp, or bamboo. 😉

3. It’s the PTA Bakesale: homemade, store bought, or NOPE? 

I am not quite there yet, but I am more inclined to lean towards NOPE. (This might change depending on how involved my children want me to be.) Right now I would rather just donate money then bake something. With food allergies I would not want to leave anyone out or accidentally make something that someone was allergic too. If they wanted me to sell cloth diapers door to door to help raise money I would probably do that in a heart beat. Hahaha! 

20170315_210811

Rachel is super smart and very generous with her knowledge. Pop on over to Pretty in Baby Food and soak up her wisdom.

A Friday for Remebering.

Babystar and I are out of town this week for a funeral. It’s not the sad kind, except that all funerals are sad. My Uncle Frank lived to be 91 years old and was in good spirits but also in pain when I saw him last year. In fact, the wake was a little too serious this afternoon because the man who would make everyone laugh was lying in the casket instead of telling stories, joking with the adults, and lovingly teasing the children.


This guy.

I had this lighthearted learning-to-count post scheduled for tomorrow, but instead I am in a hotel room with my sleeping toddler in a town full of memories and so instead here is this.
(Turning forty and then a family funeral is making me soft. We will return to our regularly scheduled sarcasm shortly.)

So. Me. Nostalgia. 

I was a Teen Mom before it was capitalized. I had my first child at the so very young age of nineteen. This was 1996; MTV still played music videos and books still had paper.
There was no Teen Mom television show; there was no 16 and Pregnant. There was no Facebook, no Instagram, and no Twitter.

There. Was. No. Internet. Can you imagine? We still spelled out all of our words. OMGLOL.
Ok, there was a tiny bit of internet. We had America Online and we paid by the minute and the chat rooms were (mostly) full of creepy old men. Computer games were on floppy disks. We still addressed our emails like old-fashioned letters.

There were no DVRs. My son (and later daughter, born in 1999) watched Blue’s Clues on VHS cassettes like every other child of the Nineties. (Babystar watches Blue’s Clues on my phone in Target if she hasn’t had a nap.)

As regular readers know, just as my two children of the LAST MILLENNIUM were headed off to college, I had a brand new baby in 2015.

Back in 1996, the doctors would have called mine a Geriatric Pregnancy. In 2015, it was no biggie. I was an Old Mom, but so was everyone else.

(Um, who coined geriatric pregnancy? Because that person is clearly an asshole who has never met a pregnant woman.)

Raising babies in the 1990s and raising babies now is mostly the same but also ABSOLUTELY COMPLETELY DIFFERENT.

We still need to take care of the babies in utero.

I remember the excitement of the sonograms in the 1990s. We had one grainy black and white sonogram at the beginning of the pregnancy to check out the heartbeat and then one later on in the pregnancy to check the fetal progression (and usually find out the sex!). They were very exciting and you got a nice snapshot of a blurry black and white semicircle so you could try to figure out which side was the head.

In 2015, I had SO MANY SONOGRAMS. It felt like they lasted for hours. They were definite twenty to thirty minute ordeals. I remember wishing them over so I could go pee. The technicians checked out every little tiny part of baby in utero, which is AMAZING. Science is amazing! But it also took forever (to me), as I was expecting a quick slimy belly time and ‘ok there’s a baby cool beans’ and then boom, done.

We still need to birth the babies. 


Back in the nineties, my labor was induced with my first two babies because they both went past their due dates. My son was only five days past his due date (and it was a first pregnancy!) when the doctor insisted I head to the hospital for induction. He called me high risk solely because of my age and my poor little baby boy was born jaundiced after over twenty-four hours of labor — including over two hours of active pushing. After he was born, the doctor reached his arm into my body to pull out the baby’s placenta. (Yes, you read that right and it hurt more than the actual birth. Also, I’m sorry for that godawful visual but I LIVED it.) The nurses weighed and measured and bathed and swaddled my son before finally handing him to his father (not me) and I had no idea that there was any other way to do this childbirth thing.

I went to a different doctor when pregnant with my second child. My daughter was induced at ten days past her due date, but other than that the labor was easy. I’m sure it was just luck, because ideas had not changed much in two years and I still had never even heard the term ‘Birth Plan’.

Thankfully, we know much more about childbirth now. I think both the medical professionals AND the parents are much more informed. My doctor and I agreed from the beginning that we would not force baby to come before she was ready. I have heard from friends (and strangers on the internet) that babies are not even really considered late until two weeks past their due date. My placenta was delivered by the doctor. My baby was placed on my body as soon as humanely possible (she had an issue but it was resolved in minutes) and we had skin to skin contact, which we now know is as important for parent-to-baby microbe transmission as it is for parental bonding.

I have read that some parents are choosing to delay the cutting of the cord for a few minutes to help baby transition earth-side. I know that a lot of people are choosing midwives and doulas and home births. I love that there is a conversation between parents and the medical professionals. I love that we now know more about our options and have choices and voices as parents.

We still have to feed the babies.


In 1996, I took my jaundiced son home and a nurse came with us to set him up in what we lovingly called ‘his nightclub’. He had to spend almost every minute under ultraviolet lights with his eyes completely covered and the rest of his body completely naked. We were told to take him out every two hours to baste him. (Just kidding. We had to feed him and clean him and clean the dishtowel lined baking pan in which he laid. Lay? Lie? You know what I mean.) The nurse helped me with breastfeeding but also brought us ready made bottles of Similac from the hospital and encouraged supplementing ‘so mama could get some sleep’.

His bilirubin count came down and he was out from under the lights within a week, but the resulting nipple confusion from the bottles that we were encouraged to feed him made breastfeeding difficult. I know that NOW. I did not understand what was going on back then, so I kept offering the bottle when he had a difficult time at the breast. No one told me to stop.

I was much more successful nursing my second child, but again, I think it was luck. 

With my last little sweetheart, I was inundated with the benefits of breastfeeding before baby was even born. I had a Feeding Plan in place while still pregnant. The nurses at the hospital all checked to make sure baby was latching well, and even kept the baby in the room so I could feed her every two hours (or more) from the moment she was born. I took a breastfeeding class before leaving the hospital, where I asked about pumping so others could feed the baby while I slept. The woman teaching the class told me that was a horrible idea and if I wanted her to, she would be happy to speak with my husband to make sure that he didn’t feel like he had to ‘have a turn’ feeding the baby. (Um, I was just wondering if I would ever sleep again, but the message was definitely received. Hard no.)

About six weeks in, my sweet little baby started having screaming fits at night for over an hour. My firstborn did the exact same in thing 1996: the doctor called it ‘colic’, and it lasted for almost a year. In 2015, the pediatrician put ME on an elimination diet to see if something I was eating was affecting the baby. The baby was indeed sensitive to dairy via my breastmilk for almost the first year of her life. I now think that my poor baby boy had the same issue twenty years ago, but the doctors didn’t know to even try removing dairy from his diet.

Per the doctor’s recommendation, I started my firstborn on cereal at four months and he was eating jars of Beechnut by six months. Twenty years later, I read for hours the benefits of Baby-Led Weaning versus purees. I decided to feed this baby purees because she had no teeth by the time she seemed interested in food at seven months old. I made all of her pureed baby food myself to avoid preservatives and whatever other scary chemicals are in ready made baby food. I know IN MY HEAD that ready made baby food is fine and certainly more healthy that it was twenty years ago but the information overload really got to me so I felt like I had to make all of her food in order to be a good mother. The mommy guilt is strong these days.

We still need to raise the babies.

The internet is a wonderful and terrible thing. I love reading Mommy Blogs and being a part of parenting groups on Facebook. I can now get advice from literally hundreds of people within minutes. Twenty years ago, we had a handful of baby books and our friends and family to turn to for answers. Your friends and family generally won’t tell you the worst case scenario every time, but you can ALWAYS find that on the internet. Dr. Google is terrifying, irresistible, and always available at 2am when that last thing you need to do is freak out over your child’s symptom that is probably fine but might kill them immediately. My 21st century baby often had pretty severe dyschromia, which is like marbled skin tone, as an infant. The internet told me that it was totally normal except sometimes. She might be fine or she might need emergency medical treatment. Of course I called her doctor in the middle of the night who told me to get offline immediately and that I would not be able to miss it if my baby became limp and needed to go to the ER. I have tried with mixed success to stop searching baby’s symptoms, at least when the sun is down.

My firstborn’s first birthday party was a few friends and family bringing gifts and eating a cake that I made from a boxed mix and decorated myself. The cake was kind of ugly but no one really cared and I barely even noticed. Including sodas and paper plates and napkins, I probably spent $50.

Today I would post that cake on Instagram with the hashtag #PinterestFail.

Thanks to Pinterest, (and also thanks to having a much older sister that loves Pinterest), my millennial baby’s first birthday party was gorgeous and themed and crafty and we all drank out of mason jars and the entire house was decorated and we spent HOURS on DIY crafts and STILL spent $500. I love Pinterest but I also kind of despise Pinterest.


I totally let the 90s babies drink soda, but only Sprite because it didn’t have caffeine. I can count on my fingers the number of times my two-year-old has had juice. JUICE. She had never had soda. Maybe when she’s eighteen.

I remember telling my two older kids how big they were on their first birthdays and turning their car seats around so they could see the world. I will rear-face this toddler until she can convince me, via Powerpoint, why she is old enough to forward-face.

I dressed my first two babies in baby clothes. Baby clothes with Winnie-the-Pooh or ladybugs or dinosaurs or cutesy flowers or some other type of childish motif. My 2015 baby wears rock band tees and handmade pants made from organic cotton and purchased from an independent shop on Etsy. (And Cat and Jack from Target because we are basic/AWESOME like that.)


In the nineties, we worried about how much tv to let the kids watch. Now we have to decide if the toddler can play with our phones, our tablets, our laptops. I personally do not let my toddler play games on my phone or iPad but I GET WHY PEOPLE DO. I totally love that she can video chat with her grandparents and other relatives that live far away. It makes everyone seem closer. That helps, this week. And all the time. But also this week.

I used to print out photos from actual cameras that used actual film and send them with Christmas cards to our far away relatives. Now I can send pictures via text or email or social media. The extended family definitely feels more close. Babystar met a lot of new (to her) cousins this week so I suspect the FaceTime will be flowing. Are we the Jetsons? I think maybe we are, so why doesn’t my car fly?

I also FREAKING ADORE that today my phone is also a camera. AND it records videos! Twenty years ago a video recorder was at least the size of a tennis shoe and maybe the size of a pair of heavy boots. I have a few albums of baby pictures of my first two children, and a few videos from Christmases or school plays. I have literally over ten thousand pictures and hundreds of videos of Babystar already.

And I took a few of her playing with her new cousin-friends at the wake today. 


What is it going to be like raising a teenager in another fifteen years? Will we have self-driving cars by then? Please tell me we will have self-driving cars by then.

xoxo 

The Target Baby Box Rocks My Socks.

I love the Target Baby Box ($7.41 with tax). I really appreciate the ability to try out baby products without a huge investment. Ok, I MOSTLY appreciate getting a package of fun little travel size products in the mail for less than $10, but I like the trying them out thing second best. Or maybe third best. I like getting mail, I like having little cute bottles to tote around, and I like being able to try out the products without a huge investment. Oh, and I also like looking at the pretty gold box all wrapped up like a present, and I like that the $10 coupon that is included that makes it basically free. MORE than free, actually. I would be silly NOT to buy the baby box. Plus, of course, I get the opportunity to try out new baby brands or products that I otherwise might not have purchased.

(I totally have an image of Steve Martin sitting in front of a Christmas tree on that burgundy chair on Saturday Night Live, and reciting his Holiday Wish skit. I hate that skit. I know that most people love it, because it is included in the ‘Best of SNL’ Holiday Special every year. But Steve Martin annoys me and I am not sure know why. I think it’s because of Shop Girl. He played such a sleazy guy in that film, which he himself wrote and likely cast. So maybe I don’t like him because he is a really good actor? I like The Jerk, Parenthood, Father of the Bride, Roxanne, and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. I did hate him in Little Shop of Horrors but I think that was kind of the point. Anyway, I realize that I just basically ripped off a SNL sketch and I wish I had at least recreated one that I liked.)

The most recent Target Baby Box came with $20.54 of baby things. I know this because one of my brilliant college student children did the math. Check out the breakdown.

Method 4x Concentrated Laundry Detergent

Method 4x Concentrated Laundry Detergent Free + Clear

  • 53.5 oz for $12.99
  • 8.1 oz for $1.97

 

 

Baby Dove Rich Moisture Tip-to-Toe Wash

Baby Dove Rich Moisture Tip-to-Toe Wash

  • 13 oz for $5.99
  • 1.8 oz for $0.83

 

 

Mustela Hydra Bebe Body Lotion

Mustela Hydra Bebe Body Lotion

  • 10.14 oz for $12.99
  • 1.69 oz for $2.17

 

 

Cetaphil Baby Gentle Wash With Organic Calendula

Cetaphil Baby Gentle Wash With Organic Calendula

  • 7.8 oz for $4.29
  • 1.7 oz for $0.94

 

 

Philips Avent Freeflow Pacifier (0-6 Months)

Philips Avent Freeflow Pacifier (0-6 Months)

  • 2 pack for $5.49
  • 1 pack for $2.75

 

 

Honest Company Hand Sanitizer Spray Lavender

Honest Company Hand Sanitizer Spray Lavender

 

  • 2 oz for $2.99 (FULL SIZE)

 

Triple Paste Rash Ointment

Triple Paste Rash Ointment

 

  • 2 oz for $7.49 (FULL SIZE)

 

Seventh Generation Baby Wipes Free and Clear

Seventh Generation Baby Wipes Free and Clear

  • 64 ct for $2.99
  • 30 ct for $1.40

 

 

TOTAL VALUE $20.54

PLUS the Baby Box included a ‘$10 off of $50’ Target baby coupon. Do you know how easy it is to spend $50 in the baby section at Target? So easy. So so so easy. So basically, the Baby Box is free even if I don’t use any of the cute miniature products.

Because the truth is, I’m not going to use all of these products. I will give some away, like the Avent pacifier and the Triple Paste rash ointment. They are fine, I just don’t use them. I will use some right away, like the Method laundry detergent and Honest Company hand sanitizer spray. That 30-pack of Seventh Generation wipes is currently in my diaper bag. I will save the Mustela lotion to try after further research. And I will likely toss some immediately. We already know that the grown-up versions of Cetaphil and Dove contain some very suspicious ingredients, and so far I assume the same is true of the baby versions.

But did I mention that the Target Baby Box has POLKA DOTS!?

Target Baby Box

RAISING BABYSTAR: $20,435.30

My Milkshake Brings all the Glares to the Park.

This week is World Breastfeeding Week AND the beginning of National Breastfeeding Month. I guess it makes sense to double down on this one. 

Ahhh, breastfeeding. The sweet nourishment of mother’s milk to the quietly nursing angelic baby barely visible from underneath the stylish and tasteful blanket draped gently over the modest lady’s shoulder.

FUCK THAT NOISE.

I am nursing a two year old ToddlerMonster. Well, not currently, because there is no way I could type and nurse a toddler. Or a baby. Or a newborn. Well, maybe I could type and nurse a newborn, if I was typing on my phone. Which is a big NO-NO. 

(Never look at your phone while feeding your baby. Only look at your baby. In fact, never look at your phone or anything other than your baby ever or your baby will grow up to hate you. But don’t spoil your baby. But also, it is impossible to spoil your baby.)

When I was breastfeeding my newborn, a small number of horrible people glared at me for not covering myself. The baby was small and I was not. Her head was still smaller than ONE of my breasts. But it was summer and newborns like to eat constantly. And like most people, my newborn baby did not like anything covering her face while she ate. Even if she did, I had to hold her and hold her neck so she didn’t die and how on earth would I have kept a cover on a wiggly newborn baby? Plus, I was postnatal and hormonal and BURNING UP and I didn’t want any more layers on myself, either. 

Luckily I was mostly too tired to care about the glares. And what would I have done about it, anyway? In hindsight, I maybe should have carried around World Health Organization brochures or something, but honestly, it’s not like I was going to stop feeding my baby and walk over to someone to confront them for giving me a nasty look. But it did make me feel awful, so thanks, jerks.

Ok, to be fair, MOST of the people I encountered either averted their eyes or gave me a knowing smile or even told me that I was doing a great thing. 

At least, that was true while the little nurseling was still a LITTLE nurseling.

Last year, my older baby was still nursing frequently, and we were out in the world much more often. Strangers often asked her age and told me that I would stop nursing once she got teeth.

EVEN THOUGH OUR DOCTORS TELL US THAT BABIES SHOULD NOT HAVE COW’S MILK UNTIL AT LEAST AGE ONE. Was I supposed to switch my ten month old to formula so strangers could feel more comfortable being around us?

Next came the jokes about how I should stop before she could ask for it. First of all, that doesn’t even make sense. I was so HAPPY when she could ask me for milk. I taught her the sign for milk so that she could tell me what she needed even before she could say the word. Because do you know what sucks? Trying to figure out why a crying baby is crying TOTALLY SUCKS.

Now that my toddler is two, she not only asks for milk but demands it. Sometimes (often) while simultaneously trying to pull my shirt up, because she knows where mommy keeps the milk. I usually tell her that she can have milk when we get home, but if she has fallen on the playground or been trampled in the soft play room, she gets her milk right away. Because I am her mother and mama’s milk comforts her. She gets hugs and kisses and sometimes milk and that is fine so stop glaring at us or shielding your four-year-old son’s eyes because that makes YOU the weird one, by the way. 

Last spring, as I nursed my almost two-year-old in the Lobby of Somewhere, a mother that I had never met before told me that I was doing a good job. She said my toddler looked so natural straddling my lap and nursing and she could tell that we were old pros. And then she called me a good mom. I know that the other judgmental strangers shouldn’t bother me but they do, so I am very thankful for that woman. I think of her whenever I face negativity for nursing my toddler; I think of her often.

I have heard and read that I am selfish and narcissistic, that I am ruining my toddler emotionally, and even that I am confusing her sexually.

SERIOUSLY?

I have some questions for the Haters: How would you like it if I made disgusting faces at your child when he was sucking his thumb? How about if I said very loudly, right next to your child, ‘little girls shouldn’t eat apples because only babies eat apples’? Or maybe I should use my sweetest voice to directly tell your two year old that he is too big to wear diapers and he should be a big boy and leave mommy alone. 

It’s the same thing.

RAISING BABYSTAR: $20,361.20 (imagine if I was also buying formula!)

HEY BREASTFEEDING MAMAS: Have you encountered any static for nursing your little one? If so, how do you handle it? I don’t really want to be confrontational; I just want to feel comfortable feeding my child in the world.

Two Years in (and out of) Cloth Diapers.

I wrote about cloth diapering after a year in cloth already, and it is full of good information that is all still true.

All of the lessons I had learned still apply: diversify your stash, buy a diaper sprayer, resist the aftermarket (if you can and want to but at least be aware of it but maybe don’t completely resist the aftermarket because I will hopefully be selling some diapers within the year).

I still wish that I had used covers and flats for the HUGE money savings. Especially now that Babystar is wearing so many disposable diapers (yep) while the pretty easy-to-use all-in-ones sit quietly in the drawer.

Cloth diapering an infant is super easy and almost fun. The only downside is the extra laundry but I was doing laundry anyway. In fact, I barely had time to get dressed so there wasn’t really extra laundry, since I never changed my clothes. Infants have like one hundred diaper changes per day. (Ok, maybe fourteen-ish.) I enjoyed seeing my sweet newborn baby in cute cloth diapers and if there is any way at all to enjoy changing diapers, CARPE THAT DIEM.)


Cloth diapering a growing but relatively stationary baby is still pretty easy. Yes, the poop gets grosser, but the volume of poop is still reasonable. You know, for poop. And sure, it smells bad, but y’all, toddler poop smells REAL BAD.

Ok, I’m going to stop talking about poop now. Probably not forever, though.

The biggest challenge I’ve faced in cloth diapering my toddler is all of the tiny adventures every day. Between parks and libraries and soft play rooms (and Target), we go ALL of the places ALL of the time. Toddlers gotta GO, man. Babystar will just put on her shoes and head to the door talking about a ‘bye-bye.’ With no regard for pants.

When she was smaller, the diaper bag was mostly full of diapers. Cloth diapers and wet bags for the dirty ones take up a lot of space, AND REMEMBER, you have to carry the dirty diapers around with you at least until you get back to the car. (And they are heavier  once they are used.) Now that she is a person with opinions and advanced nutritional requirements, the diaper bag is full of snacks and her water bottle and my water bottle and at least two changes of (bigger) clothes and sunscreen and bug spray and sunglasses and books and probably some toys that she MUST HAVE but will not play with and there isn’t much room left for the cloth diapers. (And the disposable diapers are SO LIGHT. But yes, they will sit in a landfill until the end of time so I still try hard to use the cloth at home and during our shorter adventures.)

I use a cute striped Steve Madden backpack as a diaper bag. It has a lot of pockets but it was NOT AT ALL made to be a diaper bag. It looks like it belongs on a trendy tween in 2008.


I bought an actual diaper bag long ago that I literally never use. It isn’t a backpack and I NEED my hands free. The actual diaper bag is cool in that it will hang on a stroller but Babystar refuses strollers with me: this is the hidden downside of baby wearing. So maybe the answer for me is a better backpack-style diaper bag? Does anyone have recommendations?

I haven’t added in the cost of diapers in awhile (but they are still on the list). We bought the giant Aldi pack for $10.89 and I ADORE that price. The diapers are fine, but they do not at all work for overnight use. As long as you change the diaper after each pee, they are fine. Just beware of blowouts. I usually buy Target brand Up and Up diapers. I had been buying them by the 28-pack but after a good look in the mirror, I started buying the larger boxes. It’s a great deal at $14.99 and the diapers work well for Babystar. We never have overnight leaks and blowouts are super rare. (I’ve bought two boxes since the beginning of June. I have a bunch left so I’m maybe doing better than I think with the cloth.)

I guess my only new lesson is to be prepared for the bulkiness. I know I need a better diaper bag and a better system. I am loathe to buy a crazy expensive diaper bag now that Babystar is already two, though. But a better system could be free! Maybe I can pack less in the diaper bag and have a wet bag full of more emergency rations in the car?

MAYDAY MAYDAY: Do you cloth diaper a toddler? What are your tips for diapering on-the-go?

 RAISING BABYSTAR: $19,550.73