Tag Archive | "personal post"

5 Years, 300+ Videos, 1,300+ Posts. Happy Birthday DDL!

It all started with an idea to help more parents see and understand modern cloth diapers so that they could make an informed decision.   That idea became a blog and that blog became a huge part of my life and eventually, a paying job as well as a passion/hobby.

Dirty Diaper Laundry started from an idea while a new and insomniac mom laid in bed thinking of a new cloth diaper coming out and how she wished she could see it in person without driving 2 hours to the closest diaper shop.  “What if I bought it and filmed it for other moms just like me who want to see how the diapers work and what they do?”  The very next day I bought a domain name, signed up for a hosting plan, and shortly after I filmed the new Gro Baby AI2 and posted it.

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I wasn’t a blogger before starting DDL but I had created a few websites, though mostly in high school and usually about how much I loved The Smashing Pumpkins and/or my boyfriend.  I was making .gifs before .gifs were cool (I created them for message boards over 10 years ago) and had even turned my website knowledge into a job by creating and managing a restaurant’s website from scratch while still in high school- all hand coded HTML.  It was beautiful functional.  With my self-taught Photoshop/Website skills and my love of online research I dove in and started this blog, never knowing or planning it would be anything more than a fun hobby and hopefully an asset to other parents.

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I knew way more about websites than I did about videography and video editing in the beginning.  My first videos were poorly lit, low quality, and badly edited, but I kept learning about what makes a good video.  As the blog began to earn ad revenue I started re-investing the profits into a better video camera, better editing software, better lighting, audio equipment, even better tripods and other equipment you never knew I had.  From the start I wanted to give you quality videos over quantity.  I wanted videos that weren’t shaky, weren’t grainy, weren’t full of high pitched white noise or anything else distracting.  I wanted the videos to be to the point and informative and for all of my video reviews to create a cohesive library.  It wasn’t until last year that I really began exploring other kinds of videos that weren’t review based, often featuring myself in the frame (a rare occurrence for the first 2-3 years) because you guys liked them!  Then one day I lost my marbles and filmed a video about menstrual cups.  I knew I had the skills to make something really great and helpful and like with cloth diapering, I felt I owed it to women to make a quality video educating them on their choices.  That video has the most views of all of my videos!  I went there, and I’m really glad I did because I get feedback every single week from women who made the switch thanks to that video.

Overall, my stance on cloth diapering has evolved from the first post.  I was far more militant and gung-ho about cloth diapers in 2009.  I thought every mom no matter what should use them every day with no exceptions.  I’ve grown and changed since then and my eyes have been opened to situations when cloth diapers just can’t work.  Long time readers will surely recognize this softening.  I don’t think this change has made me a less effective advocate- I think it makes me a better one, and a more understanding and compassionate one.  My posts here on DDL reflect this personal change, and while I do want every parent to switch, I understand there are times when they can’t.  Maybe they CAN later, and I’ll be here to help them along the way.  Making parents feel bad about their choices is not something I want to do.  I want them to feel like this is a safe place where they can learn and not be judged for using disposables in the past or even present.

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Part of this change has been a direct result of the Flats and Handwashing Challenge, an event I started almost 3 years ago as a way to show that every parent can cloth diaper.  I still whole heartedly believe in this event and the amazing community it has created, plus the educational opportunities for cloth diaper advocates that are a direct result.  I and thousands of others have learned ways to cloth diaper for almost no money, and even without a washing machine.  Together we have performed back breaking nightly or morning diaper washes, reported on what works best, and found that it is possible but it isn’t exactly easy.  Doing this challenge teaches us all skills and compassion.  I’ve found flats to be the ultimate diaper above all others in this experience and my blog has been shaped by this as well.

 Simple can be better than easy.

I’ve also used the tiny “celebrity” of DDL to help another cause close to my heart- Giving Diapers, Giving Hope.  GDGH is a cloth diaper lending organization that a friend of mine started.  They began in 2011, and along with helping spread the word, I’ve also begun helping in a more concrete way behind the scenes.  It has become another large part of my life and my time, so much so that some days I spend more time working on their projects than I do on mine.  Speaking of… we are launching their new website design today!

Cloth Diaper Finder was another project I poured myself into because I knew the cloth diaper community needed it.  My husband was the “investor” and helped bring this one of a kind, searchable database to life.  It took months of planning and design with a programmer and it costs more to run than it has ever made but I believe in what it does and know it has helped so many families choose the right diaper for their families so I keep the money pit alive.  Make no mistake, this was the original searchable database and a project that came from 2 years of dreaming.  That’s all I will say about that one.

Is this real life?

I’m so incredibly fortunate in so many ways.  Starting this blog was one of the best ideas I’ve ever had.  It has created a job for me and taught me why I always hated working- I cannot stand working for other people, now I don’t have to.  It isn’t work when you do what you love and for the most part that has held true for 5 years.  I’ve met amazing people, individuals that are changing the world, are compassionate, inventive, thoughtful, giving, and kick ass.  Many of those people are now great friends.  I’ve taught myself skills that translated into my life in other ways.  I now have a thriving side business where I’m filming and editing videos for companies.  I didn’t see that coming AT ALL and yet here I am, being paid to create videos for businesses that I can’t believe trust me to do this for them.  It is surreal!  This has been the best year yet in many ways.  I was recently in San Diego speaking at an expo about cloth diapers (also, I can’t believe that happened!) and have other fun plans coming soon.  I almost feel guilty that I get to do this.  10 years ago my goal was to teach high school English.  Now I have a BA in History and blog about cloth diapers and edit videos.

Life, man, you just never know where it will take you.

 

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This community continues to grow and change.  In fact, it already has.  I have been watching for 5 years and have seen a significant shift.  That is for another day.  As long as there is a place for me in this community and as long as I can help families with my knowledge I will do so.  I’m lucky to have Lara here helping with reviews now that my babies are no longer in diapers.  Last year was rough- everyone stopped napping and I had no time to work.  Next year I will have a child in Kindergarten and one in Pre-K.  I’m looking forward to seeing what I can accomplish with more time at my disposal.  I have big plans….

Thank you…

Thank you for reading, telling your friends about DDL, and thank you to the companies and brands that continue to support what I do with advertising and promotions.  The biggest thanks goes to my husband and kids.  My husband has supported me in this website since it began and is the one who pushes me to keep it going even when I want to throw in the towel.  He has seen the potential in it and in me when I couldn’t.  My son calls me “the best cloth diaper queen”-a title I am happy to accept.  He probably knows more about cloth diapers than most adults.

Next week is the big celebration with giveaways from sponsors like GroVia, Applecheeks, Thirsties, Bamboobies, Baby Shusher, Earth Mama Angel Baby, Molly’s Suds, Eco Nuts, Sweetbottoms, Jack be Natural, and more!  I’m joining up with The Eco Friendly Family so check back then to celebrate with us on our 5 years of blogging!

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When all else fails, blog about cats! Meet our adopted kitties, Marilyn and Monroe.

As I juggle a lot of different projects outside of the blog itself I find it harder to devote the mental energy and time to get a good post up for you guys!  So… let’s talk about cats, man.

About 3 weeks ago we welcomed two cats to our family.  Inspired by an episode of Hoarders where there were 12 cats trapped in boxes, pacing back and forth and looking neglected and miserable, I immediately drove to one of the pet stores that has a cat adoption center.  My local store works with a charity that fosters cats, and they go to the stores during the day and on weekends in hopes of finding a forever home.

I’ve wanted to get a pet for the boys and for us but the timing was never right with various travel plans, but with no family trips planned at all in the near future it felt like a good time.  At the adoption center the cats were in their cages.  Everett was sleeping on my shoulder and Fletcher was getting to know the animals.

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One kitty meowed at him.  That was the one.

There was a catch though… that cat could only be adopted in conjunction with her brother.  Uh-oh.   My son was head over heels in love with her, and she had a sweet face.  The brother on the other hand, was curled up in the corner and never came to greet us.  My “savior” complex kicked in and I knew I wanted to give both kitties a home.  We didn’t have any pets at all so adding two at once would be easier for us to do than others.  I wanted the kitties to stay together and wanted Fletcher to get the cat he loved.

We put in our application (I wrote it all out with 25 pounds sleeping in one arm) and we waited.  Fletcher cried each day for his cats and didn’t understand that it could take time.  Finally, we got the call 4 days later to bring out cats home!

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The cats have adjusted really well!  They went from their foster home and their daily cage time to a large, open home with two kids dying to play with them.  They still aren’t comfortable with the more hands on cuddling the children want to do, but hopefully they will be more willing as they get older.  They’re 9 months old so they have a little bit of playful kitten left.

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Marilyn (the shelter named them) is our girl cat, she has a distinctive mark next to her nose.

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Monroe is our boy cat, he has a gorgeous angular face with shorter hair just on the face.

Are you wondering how I can tie this all in to cloth diapering?  Well, both cats are obsessed with my light box where I do my filming and product photography.  Every time I begin working they follow so close behind I can’t even shut the door before they squeeze into the room, then I can’t get them out of my box!  They leave their hair behind so I’m constantly lint rolling it.  I was taking photos yesterday and guess who just had to squeeze in?  This pretty much sums up our new life with cats.  They get into everything, drive us batty with their antics, but they make us smile and having a house with pets makes it feel more like a home.

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Pssst… I’ve turned into the “cat lady” on Instagram, so if you love cute kitty pictures and videos and want to follow me I’m Kim_Rosas! I use the #newkitties hashtag for the cat pics!

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Where, oh where, has my menstrual cup gone?!

♫♪ Oh where, oh where can she be?!  She’s not in the drawer, behind it, or in my purse.  Perhaps my kids hid her from me! ♫♪

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Happy Birthday!  That’s what my uterus said on January 25.  What a shitty gift.  My uterus is a habitual re-gifter because she gave me that same gift on Christmas Day.  No biggie, I’ll just grab my Lunette and be on my way.  These days periods aren’t a big deal because the menstrual cup is one of those life-changing devices that makes each monthly visit less uncomfortable and less of a chore.

WHERE IS MY CUP?!  I looked in my “cup” drawer and only found the cups left over from demonstration videos of the wrong size, or the one cup (I’ll leave the brand out of this because it is a personal thing, the cup works fine) that doesn’t fit me well.  FINE.  I’ll try the other cup again, what choice do I have?

After several attempts it just wasn’t working- even with the stem trimmed it was too low and I couldn’t manage that way.  My only other option was to use the tampons leftover from many moons ago.

I had forgotten how much I despise those things.  The only thing they have going for them is that they are quicker to use.  I have been so uncomfortable for this cycle and the CRAMPS!  I forgot what a pain cramps were and now I know conclusively that the cramps were not just related to my period.  That realization is a bit frightening, that something so small could impact your week in such a miserable way.

Today I find my cup, even though it is too late for this month.  Did the kids find it and use it as a hat on a tranformer?  Maybe it is in one of the 15 purses that are in my closet?  In luggage from a trip?  IS LIONEL RITCHIE HOLDING IT CAPTIVE?  God why is my memory so bad, I just used this thing last month for crying out loud!  Mom brain, that is why.

If you haven’t made the switch YET just think about my week.  It sucked… I had to change tampons every couple of hours, I have a waste basket that looks like a biohazard bin at the hospital and I think my husband now has a new appreciation for my cup usage.  It has felt so wasteful!  Not to mention the cramps…

Try my videos on menstrual cups if you still aren’t convinced that you can do it.  A general, all about menstrual cups introduction and then the more advanced and more instructional video on how to insert and remove cups (no vaginas shown.)

You can buy menstrual cups discreetly online through Amazon, or through trusted cloth diaper retailers too! (affiliate links)

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The Christmas card that almost wasn’t- featuring my son the axe murderer

I tend to go to extremes when doing certain things.  Christmas is one of those things!  I go way overboard for the Elf on the Shelf, I deck the halls as much as I can afford to, and I make sure my Christmas Card is awesome even though our list is rather short.

When thinking of ideas I decided the ’57 Chevy Bel Air that was in our possession, temporarily, would be perfect!  My head was swimming with amazing ideas, like putting the tree in the ginormous trunk and having the family in vintage attire next to the car.  Or posing next to the car with tons of shopping bags, wearing one of the vintage hats I found at an estate sale.  Or one shot IN the car with the kids’ heads sticking out of the amazing window.  All of the ideas involved trying to create a “period” photo from the 50′s and using the car.  Then… poof.  Car was already being shipped out to my Father-in-Law by my husband while I was attending ABC Kids Expo 2 months ago.

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I still had my heart set on something with vintage flair and since I would see the car again, I was going to try for a second time.  I found the perfect outfits from a thrift shop to wear and had Instagram vote on which to wear.  Then, when we were in NC for Thanksgiving, the car was in the shop.  We had hours to come up with a new plan- the next few days were all rainy and by the time it cleared up we would be back in Florida.  I was loving the cold weather opportunity to take photos and didn’t want to take them in Florida.

The next idea was to head out to a tree farm, pretend to cut a tree (since we didn’t actually need a tree!) and use them as a background.  I was going to buy a wreath there in order to not feel guilty.  Closest farm was 45 minutes from our location and we only had maaaaybe 2 hours of light left for photos.  Had we left earlier we would have been OK but someone (I won’t name names) didn’t get home when he said he would.

Hormonal me (it was THAT time) started breaking down in tears.  All of my plans were ruined.  I take these things very seriously.  My Father-in-Law promised to drive around to look for a spot to take photos but I was not thrilled.  It wasn’t the theme I wanted, we would look so silly wearing our “period” style outfits in a random place.   I was definitely, definitely hormonal and irrational.

We packed into the car and first went to a park.  It wasn’t suitable and there were no evergreens that made for a nice backdrop.  So… we made due because there was NO time.

Next hurdle?  The kid.  The 5 year old kid to be exact.  He had cried the entire 5 minute drive, and insisted he would not be participating.  Yeah right.  ”Taking pictures is SO BORING!  I don’t want to take pictures.  I want to go to Chuck E Cheese.”  I’m not above bribery when it comes to photo taking.  I know it sucks when you are a kid to be dressed and asked to sit still or not look goofy.  The bribe?  A donut.  He favorite thing in the world.  Still, he was not happy… so… we let him hold the ax we brought in case we could find a place to pretend to cut trees because it was the only thing that stopped his crying.

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I set the camera manually and made sure the aperture was wide open (This is why learning to use a manual DSLR is so, so handy!)  My Father-in-Law, a former photographer in his own right, took our photos.  The thing is… my son wouldn’t put the ax down… so we have dozens of family photos with my son the ax murderer in them.  Eventually we got a few without.  I was satisfied with the outcome, but still sad that they were just normal family photos.

On the way to eat donuts my husband redeemed himself.  ”What if we go downtown and do a few street photography shots?”  OK!  We went to downtown Pineville, found an empty street, and took about 10 photos of the family walking together up the sidewalk.  There were no modern cars parked so it has the illusion that it would have been from any time.  I still wish we had the Bel Air parked on the street but it was not available.

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With the street photos and the family shots in the park we had a card.

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It wasn’t until Facebook got involved that the card got more interesting.  After the family session on the park I took some photos of the boys, then a few of my son posing with the ax for giggles.  I posted the ax shot and friends were commenting on it.  One friend, Marisa, said “Have a Merry AxMas!”  Another friend, Maria from Change-Diapers, said “You received my list, right Santa?”  These were too good not to steal for my card!  I added this photo to the back right before ordering and used both of their ideas.  They get total credit, they’re both genius ideas.

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This is the first year we had someone else to take photos for us.  Our last 3 Christmas Cards were all taken with a tripod and a remote.  If you’d like to look back at other cards, here are the 2012 and 2011 versions.  We used Minted.com for our cards this year and I’m annoyed that they include their logo on the back but oh well.  They turned out very nice.

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Happy 3rd Birthday Everett!

The youngest member of our family, Everett, is the big 3 today! I can’t believe it either. He graduated from diapers to undies and recently weaned after he decided a T-Rex was cooler than boobs. everett1-3yearsforweb He has a little personality all his own. Unlike his older brother, Everett is more reserved and doesn’t open up to strangers quickly. He is slowly starting to talk more and is finally putting together pretty complex sentences. Since he has an older brother he has learned the hilarity of a good fart joke far sooner than Fletcher ever did. Dinner conversations too often involve a symphony of mouth “farts” and laughter. As is tradition in this family, and on this blog, it is time to share Everett’s 3rd Birthday video and Pumpkin Photo. Just like this blog has been a learning experience, video editing has been a long time hobby that I enjoy learning more about. Each year I use what I’ve learned through working on videos for the blog and apply those skills to make memorable keepsakes for our family. I love inspiring others to consider making their own videos and have a tutorial on how to use iMovie that was posted a few years ago. All of the birthday videos are in a YouTube Playlist as well, you can catch up if you’d like to.

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A Robot T-Rex is WAY Cooler Than Boobs {Our Weaning Story}

Because a Robot T-Rex is way cooler than boobs we are done.  Breastfeeding is done.

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We lasted 2 years, 11 months, and 21 days.  The end came so fast that I didn’t see it even though I started the ball rolling.  And I swear on my life that I never intended to “bribe” my son into weaning but that is kind of how it happened, as the story will tell.

Our very last nursing session was on the couch this morning.  I usually say no when he requests to nurse outside of naps or before bed but today I said yes after he held up his finger and said “1 minute?!” in his sweet voice.  It wasn’t anything special, in fact I recall him being on the iPad and it was just that, one minute from each side.  He was sitting to my left then he crawled over me to get to my right side.  At first, when I thought back on it I was sad that this was our last session, iPad and all, but it was fitting.

 

When it was time for him to nap I had him lay down and to my surprise, I told him that we would not be having milk-milk anymore.  I still don’t know exactly what made today the day.  The “let’s let him wean himself” thing hasn’t been happening at all so I knew at some point it would be on me to end things.

“Everett, you are a big boy.  You can lay here in your brother’s bed and take your nap.  Then we will pick him up from school.”

“Big boy, me,  Everett!  Milk-milk?”

“Have you ever noticed that big brother never has any milkies?  It’s because he is a big boy and he doesn’t need it anymore.  You are a big boy now too.  You can walk, talk, use the potty, and you can sleep in a big boy bed.  You don’t need milk anymore like you did when you were a baby.”

“Me a baby.”

“No, you’re a big boy, you just said so yourself.  Let’s try going to bed without milkies today, and tonight… and see if we can just cuddle.”  He didn’t seem thrilled with the idea… so I surprised myself even more with the next line.  “If we can stop drinking milkies then maybe you can pick out a special treat.”

“ROBOT T-REX!” he shouted confidently.  

 

After his declaration he immediately laid his head on the pillow and didn’t ask again.  He actually didn’t end up napping and came out to play but that has no bearing on the story, just my life, because I really wanted a break.

 

Tonight when it was bedtime I didn’t expect it to work and half hoped it didn’t.  I tucked him in after reading his favorite Zombie book and he asked for milk-milk.

“1 minute?!” as he held up his little finger…

“No… no minutes.  Remember?  You’re a big boy now and big boys don’t need milkies anymore.”

“Buy ROBOT T-REX?”

sigh  “Yes.  Let’s go two days with no milkies.  If we do, let’s go to the store and find one.  Now close your eyes and go to sleep.  Can we cuddle?”

“No…”

Then he laid right down for bed and didn’t protest as I got up and walked away even though, secretly,  I was hoping he would put up more of a fight.

I stayed standing at the crack in the door.  I’m working my way back to just tucking him in and saying goodnight after several miserable weeks of him protesting me leaving his side.  So instead, I compromised and now stand there so that he can see I’m there.  We talk through the crack if need be.  It isn’t ideal but better than before when his night-time tantrums and fighting bedtime antics reminded me of those scenes from Supernanny.

Then it hit me like a freight train.  We. Are. Done.  

 

The hot tears sprang up and I held in my crying because he was not yet asleep.  His eyelids were halfway open and he was almost there.  As soon as they closed, just one minute later, I let it out.  I ran to my husband and hugged him.  He knew too.  I wanted to take it back.  I’m not ready.  This is my last baby and suddenly, I’m done.  No more breastfeeding and no more babies.  I’m in a new stage of motherhood and life.  One full of homework, T-ball practice, and fart jokes.

I’ll get past the sadness soon and see the positives- the freedom that lies ahead as my children grow older.  The hope that one miraculous day I can drop my boys off at their grandparents’ house and take a small vacation with my husband.  And I will sleep for days… I don’t care where we go as long as the bed is comfortable.

Tonight?  Sucks.  I hate it.  I’m mad at myself for even starting this and proud of myself too.  The timing is right with a trip to see family next week and then I’m off to Vegas next month for work.  Everett was ready too, or else it wouldn’t have been so darn easy.

Either that or he really, really, really wants that Robot T-Rex.  

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Technology Keeps Our Family Together

For all the times I curse the invention of the smart phone and the 24/7 connectedness that threatens to swallow my life, I’m also just as thankful that it exists.

Both of my children were born in a state that was a solid 12 hour drive from our closest relatives.  In the early days we stayed connected by taping videos on our phones and uploading them to YouTube- then emailing a link.  This was how we shared our son’s first smiles, laughs, and steps.  Soon enough, FaceTime entered out lives and we were able to connect with family like never before.

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Facetime from the laptop while they sang Happy Birthday- 12 hours away

What once was a one-sided relationship became a dynamic interaction between my children and their grandparents.   Before FaceTime, my kids hardly knew their grandparents and saw them infrequently due to the distance between us.  Suddenly they could speak to them, and the grandparents got front row seats to their biggest moments.  Fletcher had his Aunt, Oma, and Pawpaw watch him blow out his birthday candles when he was 2.

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Watching the boys open Christmas presents

We opened Christmas gifts while Oma and Pawpaw looked on.  They’ve watched the boys ride bikes in the street, even saw Fletcher ride his two-wheel bike the very day he learned how.   When Everett took his first steps I FaceTime rights after to show them.  One time, when I was very ill and spent the day trapped in the bathroom, Everett called Oma from the iPad and she was able to interact with him while I couldn’t.  It was a little peace of mind that she could keep an “eye” on him and entertain him since I hadn’t been able to much at all that day.

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Tea Time with Oma

Today I brought my phone to Fletcher’s school and invited Oma to the Grandparent’s Tea so that he wouldn’t feel left out when none of his grandparents could come.  Of course, I’m sure his Oma was just as thrilled to be able to attend.  She went as far as making her own cup of tea to enjoy while they chatted.  The school said it was a first for them (I did ask permission yesterday and tested the signal to make sure it worked) and the other grandparents were looking at me strangely- but who cares?  It made two people very happy.

There are days that I wish all of our devices would disappear.  I know I am distracted by them, my kids use them more often than I want to admit, and at nights there are days when my husband and I are each on our phones vegging out instead of talking to one another.  Then I remind myself that before these were invented we did the same, just less comfortably.  We are the generation raised on computers.  I’m older than the Internet, sure, but I came of age at the same time it did.  I was making websites in high school and spent late nights with the “uh-oh” sounds firing off while using ICQ.

My kids say “lets call Oma!” and they really mean “Facetime.”  They often get confused when on the phone and try to show people things, assuming every call is a video chat.  This is their normal.

Life is lonely more than it isn’t when you live so far from all of your family.  I would rather be back in NC where the rest of my technology challenged family members could spend time with my boys and I.  At least some of our family will use the “internet machine.”  For the rest, I send them all a DVD of each boy, each year with their birthday videos to catch them up on all of their milestones and big adventures.  Soon, I’ll be making a 3rd and 5th year video (!!!) to ship out.

So thanks, really really smart people (Steve Jobs and co.) for creating technology that can make a few hundred miles disappear for 30 minutes a week.  Life wouldn’t be the same without it.

 

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Weaning or Potty Training? Which would come first?

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The question posed by a family member “when will you be done nursing?” was shortly followed by “when is he going to be out of diapers?”

and I didn’t have answers to either one of those questions.  With my first son the weaning came first because I was pregnant again and gently led him to that decision over the span of a few months because the pain was increasing.  Since he weaned fairly early at 18 months I never considered I would nurse past potty training because that event was so far off for us.

This time things are different.  I’ve gone past 18 months with Everett, then we hit the two year milestone… that is when I started thinking “Am I going to be nursing a ‘child’ wearing underwear?”  The thought is a bit uncomfortable and certainly a foreign one to myself and most Americans.  I’ve only seen babies wearing diapers at the breast.  Nowhere except the sensationalized Time cover have I seen what is obviously a child capable of using the toilet on his own still who was still nursing.  Photos and real life don’t often reveal what happens in our homes when our babies turn into toddlers, and even *gasp* preschoolers who are still breastfeeding.  The topic is taboo and quite frankly, children of this age aren’t nursed in public because their needs are not all nutritional.  The comfort and peace of nursing is just as important, if not more, than the nutrition of breast milk; they can eat and drink at the table and don’t need the milk to feed their hunger.  I haven’t nursed in public for probably a year, although I have nursed at other places than my home, including when staying with family.  I knew what they were thinking… that he should have weaned by now… but this time they kept quiet.

As for potty training… we have hit several bumps on that road.  Each time I started our diaper free adventure (I like the 3 Day-Method) Ev would get sick and we would have to stop.  Without comparing children (which parents always do…) I knew that my first son was already trained by now and had been for a few months so the expectation has been that we would already be done with that phase of life.

So here we are. The question has been answered- “Would Everett wean or potty train first?”  

 

Everett and Mom, age 2.5

Everett is officially out of diapers and the nursing is going strong with no end in sight. I am so thankful to have come this far because, as some of you may recall, Everett was very ill for over a week and breast milk was about all he was getting and nursing was one of the new things that could calm him down during what was obviously a painful experience.

The potty training thing has been in the works for months, but again, he has suffered from the flu, two bouts of a stomach virus, and then his Strep/Cat Scratch Fever/ HSP so each time I would begin the process he would suddenly fall ill. For a while I was suspicious that he was getting sick on purpose to get out of it! I expected the blessed event to be much more difficult and involved. Instead, he practically potty trained himself. After being shown the potty once and getting the “song and dance” that befits such an occasion, he was on track to continue each time he needed to go. He has had a few accidents but we are only using diapers at night- even his naps and outings are dry now!

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Now what? I don’t have plans for weaning quite yet. Everett still seems like such a baby to me despite him now wearing tiny little underwear. He is the reason we keep going, even though I love our nursing time together, he is holding all the cards here.  I used to say I couldn’t breastfeed a baby once they got teeth (before actually becoming a parent), then it was “when they are old enough to ask for it” (a gem passed down from family), and now I have stopped having any expectations. We will be done when we are done.

evmomenough

Not Mom Enough… just a Mom

I enjoy sharing our breastfeeding journey here on the blog because I know how many mothers need to see it. Please be respectful of our family and, if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all.

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Time To Get Personal- “Hi, I’m Kim and I Used to Be Poor.”

I have a pretty amazing life, a beautiful home, two incredible kids, and a handsome husband who has worked hard to move up in life and provide his family with everything we have.  I don’t have anyone to thank except him, and myself.  We made this happen.  While, in our lives, I’m sure events transpired that were “lucky” or “fortuitous” that helped us get here but we are the result of hard work.  Our lives exist because of that work.

Since there have been a few remarks about how fortunate I am, and how “out of touch” I am with those I am reaching out to help with the Flats and Handwashing Challenge, I thought today was a good day for a back story.

Kim today is pretty different from the Kim of 20+ years ago.  I didn’t live in a house until I moved in with my boyfriend (current husband) during college.  No home I’ve ever inhabited had stairs, and it was never permanently anchored to the ground.  I was a trailer park kid.  I’ve lived in plenty in my lifetime, some pretty sad looking, and some that are the “cadillacs” of mobile home parks, with paved roads (NOT DIRT!), and back again.  I recall using a rusted mattress on our front porch, that was basically only rusted and sharp coils,  as a trampoline when I was 5.  We were poor, and a little white trashy too.  We were never rich, but it was only towards my adolescence that things got worse.

About 5-6 years old

About 5-6 years old

Thanks to a string of bad luck our family was thrust into a period of Hell that I’ve tried to block out.  In fact, most of my life between the years of 10-18 are a blur.  A haze of misery and disappointment, rage, pain, and depression.  My mother re-married a very nice man when I was in sixth grade.  We loved him.  But he had recently started suffering from a severe form of Epilepsy that disabled him to the point of not being able to work, and for years, he could hardly function due to the severity and frequency of his seizures.  The Epilepsy was triggered by a head injury from a fight (over my mother) while they were dating.  To this day he still suffers from it but over the years he has gotten better at recognizing his aura and doesn’t drop like a fish in public places (my chorus concert, Wal-Mart, etc) and injure himself as often, or as severely.  He can reach a safe place in time.

We were poor.  My Mother had a hard time keeping a job because she was also trying to care for my step-father, who was very ill, and would lose each job she had.  We didn’t have insurance or income.  Diseases are expensive and paying for the medications my step-father needed took everything and more that we had.  We relied on food banks a lot to eat, and were often on either Welfare or other public assistance programs.  Sometimes we had medicaid (which is the only reason I had braces- a real life changer), but often we didn’t.  And yes, I’ve eaten welfare cheese.

I won’t go into a lot of detail, but things got way worse.  Both of my parents became addicted to prescription and street drugs.  I was essentially raising myself during these years.  My grandmothers made sure we had food in our cupboards in the worst of times but neither really knew how bad things were.  I would wake up for school and see my mother and step-father and other random people already awake, looking quite cheery.  The smell of burnt metal and acrid smoke would still be in the air, needles and paraphernalia were poorly and hastily hidden when I entered the room.

The only reason I didn’t lack certain things was because my mother and step-father were, how do you say, helping themselves at department stores.  It took a while before I realized how my mother came to posses such nice things.  At that point I began refusing her gifts.

Eventually their lifestyles caught up with them.  My mother overdosed in the middle of the night, my step-father and I followed the ambulance (I didn’t have a license but had learned to drive a stick in case I ever had to take over when my step-father started to seize) and we learned that she was in a coma.  She died, but was brought back.  I went to school the next day because I was a lawyer in a mock trial I had been preparing for for weeks.  It was my time to shine, and I did amazing.  Later that day I was called to the office because my mother woke up, and was picked up by family members and taken to the hospital.

We were eventually kicked out of our home… there was a raid… other illegal activities had happened that resulted in a long investigation and arrests, though no charges stuck and my step-father didn’t do time.  I was “homeless” and shuffled around from family member to family member, trying to stay in my district because I didn’t want to lose my friends.  I settled in with my grandparents and credit that time with them for saving me from a dark place of hatred and resentment.  I was seething and of course, blaming my parents for making my life abnormal.  Every teenager craves to be normal and accepted.  I kept a good front going in school and no one knew except the closest friends, what really went on.  Even then I didn’t like for people to see where I lived, the car my family drove (when we had one), and what my life was really like.  I was poor…

I’ve lived without power, without air conditioning during the blistering heat of North Carolina summers in, what is essentially, a heated tin can.  I’ve slept under many blankets and relied on kerosene heat when we hadn’t paid the power bill and it was winter.  I’ve had to heat water on a kerosene heater and had to flush toilets with a bucket, and pee using a lighter in a dark, windowless bathroom.  I’ve lived with roaches (lots of them).  I’ve gone hungry because of pride… I didn’t want people to know I qualified for free lunches so I didn’t eat lunch.  I would read a book in the hallway or nap in the library.  Eventually, I was able to pay for my own lunch when I got a job at 15 years old, working late nights washing dishes and stocking a salad bar.  I got a loan from my grandmother that enabled me to afford a (really, really shitty) car, I paid my insurance and cell phone bill, started buying my own food, clothes, and music.  I worked illegally, got paid under the table, and therefore “laws” didn’t apply and so I could do late shifts on school nights and work more hours than allowed for my age.  I wouldn’t change it for a thing because it is how I earned my money and survived.  In fact, I was “adopted” by the people I worked with and the patrons.  I lived to work and I have the best memories of my “work family” who came to replace my real one.  It was my home.  Eventually I started working two jobs, and between them I logged a lot of hours and started providing myself with very nice things, because I could.

My second job was at Outback in High School

My second job was at Outback in High School

I graduated high school and counted the days until I would live on campus.  I graduated college, while working full time in retail and had worked up to a supervisor position, married my husband, moved to NY with him, and we started our family.  I was fortunate enough to quit my job there and stay at home with my first son, then my second, and that afforded me the time to start this website.  Now we live in Florida in a home we bought (all credit really goes to my husband) and a home I’ve worked my butt off renovating.

So you see, I have no idea how “the other half lives.”  And that is right, I don’t know how the homeless, truly impoverished, hungry, cold, desperate live.  We were never THAT bad.  We came close, but we had a safety net in the government, disability, and family.  And I’ve never been poor while having children and can’t imagine the stress of trying to provide for my kids when there is no money.  But the majority of Americans are like me, like I was, with enough to scrape by most of the time.  We never had a baby in the family (I’m the youngest of my mother’s, my step-father had 4 other children but none were babies when they married) and I don’t know what we would have done in our hardest times.  I do know that we had the tools, and the time, to have made handwashing work.  Funny thing though, we were poor and had a washer and dryer.  I suspect a lot of other poor families do because poverty is diverse and includes a wide range of families from the poorest, to the almost poor.  We weren’t having such hard times when my mother re-married, but it got that way.  Things happen in life, situations change, and sometimes you do what you have to do.

I’ve come a really long way from my former life.  Sometimes it feels like it never happened and that I started to exist in college.  As much as I distance myself from the past I’ve been shaped by it and want to help others who are having a tough financial time.  I am not forcing anyone to try this but it is an option.  It works, it helps, and I am thankful I don’t have to do it myself and won’t be ashamed of the fact that I don’t have to.

 

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That Time I Flashed a Male Nurse

There really isn’t a great way to write a post about your 2.5 year old son being admitted to the hospital and it is even harder to title.  It all started last Sunday (7 days ago) when Everett started screaming in pain at about 1 am.  He was awake most of the night crying out and I spent all night trying to comfort him.  All day Sunday it was the same thing and my husband and I took turns walking him around to keep him happy.  While we first thought it was teething pain related we decided to take him to urgent care since he was grabbing at his ears to rule out an ear infection.

photo-115

Instead we got the news that he had strep, double ear infections, and lymph node infections.  He spent the next week in misery.  He didn’t walk at all except on a handful of occasions.  Most of the time he was in the BobaAir or in our arms.  His pain and misery were so bad that even just cuddling on the couch to watch TV wasn’t enough to keep him happy.  To stay sane all week I went out as much as possible to just find a reason to babywear him and walk around shops.  This was my daytime coping mechanism.  At night it was nursing, singing, and cursing under my breath because I was exhausted and getting no sleep.  I won’t lie- I was feeling very sorry for myself.  I didn’t want to, but I was the parent he wanted and clung to 24 hours a day.  My husband could rarely hold him and definitely couldn’t comfort him at night.  As sick as he was I knew he was hurting but I was a little resentful that I was the “chosen one” and hadn’t had a break in a very long time.

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We went to the doctor’s 5 times, each time either for a shot for his treatment or because he was still miserable and we needed answers.  By Thursday, after a fluke morning of normalcy (I mean, he looked cured and I announced so to the world!) he was miserable again after his nap.   We felt he should have been better so we took him to the doctor again.  They said he still had strep and needed a new type of medicine.  At least we thought we knew why he was still so sick.

Friday afternoon Everett was still as upset as ever.  It has been hard trying to be fair to Fletcher who is the picture of health.  We went out back to put our feet in the pool and Ev sat unhappily in my lap, but Fletcher was thrilled.  I took Ev’s socks off to have him put his feet in and noticed something really odd- the place where the elastic on the sock had been was bright red and raised up.  It looked very painful.  He screamed at me taking off his sock so we went inside.  When I went to remove his shorts soon after to change his diaper I saw that his legs and feet were covered in tiny bright red spots.  I assumed they were ant bites at first which didn’t make sense because he hadn’t walked outside at all and wouldn’t have been exposed to any ants, especially that long to get covered in bites.

photo-111

A few hours later it was obvious that the feet and legs were swollen and that even the slightest touch to that area resulted in screams.  Welp, time to go to a doctor again.  The urgent care doctor immediately diagnosed him with HSP.

Henoch-Schönlein purpura is a condition that causes small blood vessels, or capillaries, to become swollen and irritated. This inflammation, called vasculitis, usually occurs in the skin, intestines, and kidneys. Inflamed blood vessels in the skin can leak red blood cells, causing a characteristic rash called purpura. Vessels in the intestines and kidneys also can swell and leak. -via Kids Health

The fact that he has been fighting a losing battle to various infections for a week probably lead to the HSP.  The doctor informed me that “It will only get worse before it gets better” and to look forward to his pain and the rash/swelling increasing over the next 3-4 days, and it lasting 1-2 weeks.  There is no treatment except steroids to relieve the joint pain and swelling, but I was informed this was only for the worst cases.  We were sent home with a prescription for yet another type of antibiotic just because, and nothing to help the HSP.

Even with that scary diagnosis Saturday wasn’t looking too bad.  The symptoms from the top half of his body had eased away and, if he were sitting still, Ev was pretty happy.  He went for his nap easily and I was looking forward to a semi-normal Mother’s Day that didn’t involve my son being in misery.  After his nap he woke up miserable once again and I noticed that his left lymph node in his neck had grown to a golf ball size.  Why?  WHY?  WHY was this still happening?

photo-112

We decided, after speaking with our doctor on the phone, that it would be best to take him to the Children’s ER and skip Urgent Care.  It was a relief to see doctors looking at a possible reason for all of his symptoms to rule out anything much more serious.  He was once again in a lot of pain, and new pain was seen in his lower back.  We feared it was internal.  An IV was hooked up to hydrate him and a little pain relief was given.  He perked right up and became a new boy on the pain relievers and I was crying happy tears to see him feeling something other than pain for the second time this week.  It was decided that he should stay overnight.

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Staying in the hospital with my 2.5 year old wasn’t how I envisioned my Mother’s Day.  I was looking forward to a much deserved morning of sleeping in (I haven’t slept all week, I’m a full time pacifier all night because it is the only thing that gives him comfort and helps him sleep) and a home cooked breakfast. Instead I was woken at 7 am (and every 2 hours all night for vital checks on Ev) to have more of his blood drawn.  Then he had an ultrasound and chest X-Ray all before 10 am.  I didn’t even get breakfast!  No one offered us any food at the hospital and by the time my husband got there I was starving.  He came with gifts at least!

photo-113

Everett has gone up and down in spirits.  For a few hours he seems pain free, then suddenly he will be in terrible pain from the HSP.  It spread to swelling in his head yesterday which caused a bad headache.  By the end of the night he was feeling much better though, and by this morning he woke up happy.  Overnight he got a good amount of rest, so did I.  I woke at about 4 am to a male nurse leaning over us checking Ev’s IV and my boob was casually out of my shirt because at some point Everett had released it from his mouth.  I was half asleep so luckily the shame didn’t register and I tucked it in and zoned back out.  This morning he is playing with 2 rubber duckies and a jet and as happy as can be!

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Once again I repeat how grateful I am to still be nursing.  He has had maybe a full meal combined if you add up the amount of food he has eaten in the last 7 days.  He would always nurse but getting food in him has been a challenge.  I also owe my sanity to the BobaAir.  If it weren’t for babywearing I couldn’t have kept his screaming to a minimum all week.

I’m hoping they send us home today, but as of now there is no confirmed diagnosis for his lymph node swelling and the best guess is Cat Scratch Fever.  They won’t treat the HSP with steroids until the lymph node problem is solved because that would make diagnosing it impossible.  I’m looking forward to seeing Ev make a full recovery soon.  Thanks for the many well wishes and positive thoughts you have all been sending since I started posting updates on my facebook page and twitter.

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