Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Cloth diapering... the geeky way to cover a bum.

Squid wears cloth diapers. And not diaper-service cloth diapers. We wash them ourselves. Cloth diapers? Isn't that gross? Yes, it is. That is, if you consider saving money and the environment gross. Also, for my dear SCA friends, how cool is it to use cloth diapers just like Ye Olden Dayes? I don't recommend a chain maille diaper cover, though.

Seriously, you can spend over $500 in the first year on diapers and wipes for your wee one's bum. You can get pretty much everything you need to cloth diaper for about $200. We have probably spent a bit more than that, but that's mostly because we have tried a few different types before settling on something that works well for us. That leaves more money for books and conventions and Spock ears.

We use pre-folds and PUL covers most of the time. My two must-haves are Econobum Diaper Covers and Snappi Diaper Fasteners.  There are bunches of ways to fold a diaper, so I'll let you research Google on your own. The hubby and I use different techniques and both claim that ours is superior. I have not noticed a difference in leaking or other messes, despite which one of us changes the diaper. And Squid dislikes diapers right now, regardless of how they are folded.

So, why Econobum? Because they are cheap, easy, and do exactly what they claim to do. They provide a waterproof cover for the cloth diaper that you can use pretty much the entire time your tot is in diapers. They have snaps on the front that allows the cover to grow with your child. They aren't fancy. They don't come in pretty colors or cool patterns. But they are the most reasonably-priced and they wear pretty well. We've been using pretty much the same ones for the last year or so, and they are still in one piece (even after not following directions and regularly throwing them in the dryer because we are washing diapers at midnight and don't have time to let them hang-dry). We tried other covers, but most only accommodate a range of sizes before you have to buy new ones. And they cost more. Sometimes twice as much. The ones we use cost around $8 each. We have about 7 or 8. It's more than enough to get us through 3 days of  diapering between wash loads.

 Snappis are a gift from the gods. Seriously. I have no idea how the heck our forebears diapered using pins. I tried it a couple of times and worried endlessly that I would stab the wriggling infant with the diaper pin. Snappis take away all that worry and are very secure. It's a flexible y-shaped fastener with teeth on each end. The teeth grab the cloth, the arms stretch and hold it snug. A miracle if there ever was one. Here's a video showing how to use them:


 They come in two sizes - infant and toddler. My only complaint is that we seem to lose them a lot. They should sell them in 5 packs or something a bit more convenient.

Do any of you cloth diaper? What items make your cloth diapering experiences successful?

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Friendly Neighborhood Squid

There are moments in parenting when it seems that all your hard work and effort have not gone to waste. All the pieces fall into place and you get a sense that your child will be just fine. Despite molars coming in and some general toddler crankiness, last night was one of those moments.

First, we'll flashback to almost a year ago. We were at a bookstore, having a rare family day out. Whenever we go to a bookstore or other nerdy sort of place, we buy Squid something she wants. Not at every store we go to; we do our best not to spoil her. But, we want her to associate bookstores and comic shops and conventions with fun and special stuff. It's a little Pavlovian, but what the heck?

That day, Squid found a Spiderman plushy that she fell in love with. Being the dutiful geek parents that we are, we bought it for her. And, being the fickle child she is, her love for it had waxed and waned over the last year.

Now, every time she brings me the plushy, I make it dance and sing the Spiderman theme. Over the last several days, she has been obsessed with this ritual. Throughout the day, I am handed a stuffed Spiderman with the assumption that I alone can make him dance and sing. Last night was no different. She handed me Spidey, I waved him about, singing, "Spiderman, Spiderman. Does everything a spider can..."

I wanted to make sure I was singing the song correctly, so I asked the other half for some help. He was pretty sure we had it right, but his Spidey senses were telling him there were more verses, so he went to the interwebz for help. Not only did he find the lyrics, he found a Youtube video of the original cartoon's opening theme.

As soon as Squid heard the song, she grabbed Spidey and ran to the living room where Daddy was playing the video on his phone. She smiled and danced and when the song was over, signed and said, "More... more!" So, we played it again. And again. And then we finally decided to see if Netflix had the cartoons. Which they did. And which she was entranced by.

Yup, the kid will be all right.

Monday, January 21, 2013

He's Not My Captain!

From time to time (or, you know, every day), Squid does something that cracks me up. She had a keen sense of timing and usually does this right about the time I'm considering selling her to gypsies. Last night was no exception.

Yesterday was a long day for the Squid. She spent the night with her Aunt Kris while mommy and daddy worked. After I picked her up, we had to rush to church so I could help run a fund-raising crepe brunch. After that, it was a nap at home, then off to a spaghetti dinner fund-raiser for our neighbor who was paralyzed in an accident last year.

So much activity and so many people to entertain made the Squid tired, but also a bit over-stimulated, which makes her not want to sleep. On top of that, I found out she's getting a new molar, so her jaw hurt. A lot.

So, bath and jammies and snuggles were in order. It has become a bit of a ritual to watch an episode of Star Trek while giving her a neb treatment and after reading her a story or three. She was squirmy and had no interest in sitting still and getting ready for bed. She wanted to watch her signing video (for the millionth time) and kept trying to get me to understand what she wanted by making me sign "baby" (in case I didn't get it after 20 minutes of her signing "baby signing time".

I tried everything I could think of to get her to sleep. Finally, I decided to hold her and rock her while watching Star Trek: TNG.

I can't remember which episode it was. It might have been the one where the proto-Vulcans think Picard is a god. Inevitably, Picard uses his famous catchphrase: Make it so.

Squid wasn't taking any of that, though. She scrunched up her face, pointed at the tv screen, and said, "Noooooo!" She was very earnest in her refusal to make anything so.

Shortly after, she was placed in her crib, where she continued to sign for about 20 minutes before passing out.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Neither Princess nor Pawn... Thoughts on Gender Neutral Parenting

The spouse and I practice gender neutral parenting to a certain degree. That's not to say that Squid doesn't have cute, girlie dresses and toys. It's just that she also has stuff that's labeled "boys".

Trying to avoid shoving your child into one of two categories set up by our society's gender dichotomy is difficult. Everything seems to be pink or blue. Toy stores divide their aisles into boys and girls. And the assignment of gender to a toy or article of clothing is often completely arbitrary. Most character shirts end up in the boy's section, whereas girls get cupcakes and kitties silk-screened onto their shirts. I even saw a stack of shirts at Old Navy in the boy's section featuring Blue from Blue's Clues. Blue is a girl, but apparently since she is blue and concerns herself with problem-solving, she must be for boys.

Over the last 18 months, we have been teased for trying to raise a tomboy and chided for "confusing" our daughter. I'm not sure how she can be confused by the idea that she can wear whatever she wants, regardless of what section of the store it came from. And I'm pretty sure that she will understand that she is genetically female, since we do bathe her and change her clothes on occasion.

What really amazes me is that people think we would do otherwise. I am a paramedic, which is traditionally viewed as a man's job. Our friends include a number of gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendered folk. Gender or sexuality is not a top priority in choosing friends for us. Neither was it a top priority for us when we decided to have children. We chose to wait and be surprised when she was born, rather than learn the sex half-way through.

Recently, someone posted a far more eloquent article about gender neutral parenting. But what it mainly boils down to its that I don't want to constrain my daughter in that manner. I have brought this amazing creature into the world. Why would I want to limit the scope of her passion and enthusiasm? I am already charged with setting rules and teaching her proper day-to-day etiquette. There's precious little time to concern myself with what color toys she plays with.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Let's Do This

OK, blog is a go. Of course, now that I am actually writing it, I have no idea what to say. So, for starters... Here's a pic of me and Squid when she was 5 weeks old:

Yes, that is Patrick Stewart and LeVar Burton from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Her first big outing was to Wizard World Chicago. She was not terribly impressed. But, Patrick Stewart said she was one of the most beautiful babies he had ever seen. In that frickin' awesome accent. I swooned a bit. Yes, I am deliberately trying to raise a geek. I figure, if other parents can encourage their kids to play football or dance, I can encourage my kid to read comics and watch sci-fi. And if Squid chooses to play football or dance, I will encourage that as well. But, she's 18 months old and has few choices right now.

A little note on why we call her Squid. My daughter is adorable. She has these huge eyes that take in everything she sees. In fact, her eyes are the first thing people notice when they see her. Also, she put up a fight when she was born. She was, quite literally, ripped out of my body. She spent her first few minutes screaming bloody murder and fighting off the nursing staff that was trying to assess her. She didn't calm down until Daddy came over and held his new baby girl. This scene in Men in Black was the first thing I thought of when I got to hold her myself:

So, you all have some background. I hope to post pretty regularly here. My goal is to mix my own parenting experiences with product reviews and general updates on my fantastic kid. If you have any suggestions or feedback, feel free to share it. And please come back and remind me to update this thing!

I leave you with a picture of Squid and John Freaking Barrowman:

Coming soon!

I've ignored this blog long enough. I'll soon be making actual use of this space. Check back in the coming weeks as I add new, real blog content.