Two Ways To Go Insane In Winter With Toddlers

I’m dying for ideas for indoor play during the freakishly long ice age that is winter this year.  I’m always reading the “50 Superfun and Incredibly Easy No Mess Creative Ideas for When Your Stuck Indoors for Five Months!” blog posts.  Unfortunately my desperation had led me to try some really stupid ideas.  Montessori beans

Like this one.

mont beans 2Look at this cute, pleasant, well-mannered girl carefully pouring her beans! The kids found an exhibit yesterday at the children’s museum that had a similar set up and Lola loved it.  She sat there for a good 15 minutes scooping beans, and I think she could have done it for much longer if I hadn’t interrupted her zone to go gawk at the crazy Etch-A-Sketches of President’s faces.

Abe etch

Shut the front door this can’t be for real!

I’m gonna make a bean tray!  All I had on hand was dried lentils so I set that up in a big bowl with measuring spoons and a smaller bowl for her to scoop into and let her loose.

It worked for awhile.  She kept most of the lentils in the bowls except when she tried to eat a scoop of them (Mmmm! she says with dried lentils stuck to her eyebrows and up her nose and encrusting her drool covered lips.)

Then Noah caught wind.  Within two seconds it had deteriorated into a fight over the full measuring cup of lentils.  I’m sure you can guess what happened next.  No wait, let me tell you. One full cup of lentils explodes like confetti all over…everything.  (Math question: One cup of dried lentils equals how many lentils? Answer: Five million!) Nothing escaped being assaulted by lentils.  The dog, the rug, the table the floor the counter the sofa the computer the toys you get the picture.

rice box

Look how nicely we’re playing together!

It reminded me of my rice box adventure.  This was another one of those great winter ideas.  A rice box!  Like a sand box, only full of rice!  You get a big plastic under-bed storage container and fill it with twenty pounds of rice and toys.  Put a sheet under it and easy peasy, you’re ready for action!

Noah thought this was the greatest day of his life.  The only thing he didn’t do was sit nicely on the side of the box and play.  He DID: splash the rice around with his hands like it was water; throw a dump truck full of rice across the room; drop a handful of rice on the cat when I wasn’t looking (no rice on cat!), tap dance in the rice box; tap dance all over the house with his rice covered feet.  Rice box lasted exactly one day.  (Not knowing what to do with it, I put it out on the patio whereby the cat proceeded to enjoy, ahem, said rice.)

Thank god for plastic.

What the EFF!!  Who comes up with these ideas?  Probably a Mattel marketing hack trolling the internet posing as a resourceful stay at home mom.  They know that once you try something this stupid, you’d pay good money for something like this in your basement so that you’d never have to make a toy for your kid again.

Looks like we’re putting the iPad and “Handy Hand Hand”  back in rotation until we can come out of hibernation.  And I’m gonna try to stop looking on the internet for how to be a mom.

Ha!! Not.


Adventures in Cloth Diapering…Or How I Saved the World

(Warning: This post contains lots of bad poo puns.  I  couldn’t help myself.  You can use it like a drinking game if you want.   Whenever you see a poo pun down a glass of Pinot.  Or, just down a glass of Pinot.  Still totally fun.)

I’ve been debating about writing about this for some time. First, because my story involves poo, and all the moms I know seem to have had their fill of poo stories.

Second, because I really want to keep my seat in the crunchy moms club and things are very precarious right now. I figured I was in the club for LIFE with my home birth and all. But then I couldn’t breast feed, and I nearly got myself kicked out by dropping the ‘F’ bomb on my baby. (Formul-AH!!) I made up to them and earned a probationary membership back in the club when I agreed to cloth diaper.

And third, I feel like a failure – too selfish and tired and sick of touching poo to care that I am destroying the Earth irreparably with each baby, to the tune of something like 5 tons of dirty dipes per kid. But. I couldn’t keep it up. I  gave up on cloth diapering because I did not have the patience for it or the energy to wash all those dipes or the desire to bring extra outfits with me everywhere because inevitably someone was gonna leak their shit.

Oh, at first it’s fun. I convinced my husband to let me invest in the whole shebang up front because we were going to “save so much money,” and then had a grand time spending $500 on the cutest little diapering things you ever did see!! CD moms (that’s ‘cloth diapering” moms to those lay folks out there) call CDs “fluff.” And little baby bums look so friggin‘ fluffy cute in huge ass cloth diapers with patterns like dollar bills on them!1mos-RagababeEasyAIO1-1

First one I tried was gDiapers, probably the most widely recognized CD.  I put it on Noah and it was so adorable. He instantly became a gBabe! Pictures, pictures. He was gonna be an Instagram sensation! gDiapers would want him for their spokesbaby!

Within an hour it leaked. I hopped on the internet. I spent hours reading gDiaper blogs and getting to know the ins and outs of the gMom community (yes, I am a gMom now!!) and ordering my gDiaper diaper bag so that everyone who saw me would know that I am gDiapering.

Ok, of course, user error. I tried again with Noah and put the leg holes in the crease and “made a seal” and made it tight but not too tight and let him loose. Leak. Back on the internet, doubled up the inserts, leak leak leak. I tried that sucker 5 or 6 times and couldn’t get it to work. I am bombing at this already and it’s only the first day.

Now I’m on the internet reading the “I hate gDiaper” blogs and going, yeah! Those suck! No wonder I couldn’t get it right! And start researching other cloth diapers with a better reputation. After hours and hours and hours of research I decide that BumGenius diapers are what I need. I order 15 of them. These are great because they are one size fits all and so Noah and Lola will both be able to use them and I am saving so much goddam money Mat is gonna buy me a diamond because he is in such awe at my frugalness!

I also order a cloth diaper pail because you can’t use a Diaper Genie, duh! I order cloth wipes because you can’t cloth dipe and toxic wipe. I order a special cloth wipe warmer because you can’t just go using the disposable wipe warmer! I order flushable liners so I don’t have to touch poo!  I order special detergent to wash my cloth diapers in because you cannot use regular detergent!

Noah gets it first. It’s orange, his best color, and adorable, and I take more pictures of his cute behind. In 90 minutes his diaperIMG_0242 IMG_0243 has leaked all over my pants while I read to him. Back on the interwebs. Some people birth heavy wetters, it seems, and I happen to be one of them. I ponder the likelihood that this trait is genetic while I search in vain for a pair of cleanish non-holey replacement yoga pants.

Change every hour! the helpful CD forums say. This makes cloth diapering more inconvenient than my still out of shape pubococcygeus (I hate Kegels) muscles but okay. Nothing more I’d like to do all day than spend my leisure time changing (and washing) two cloth diapers every hour.

Wash them better! Okay, buy some special stripping detergent to strip the special cloth diaper detergent I already bought. Nope. No go.

Load that baby up with extra inserts! I layer two, then three inserts together and now, once they get slightly soiled, they turn rock hard and bulky and Noah can hardly utilize his legs and is walking like a robot. A freakin‘ cute fluffy butt robot, but a robot nonetheless. The layers stop the leaking but.  Not winning.

I finally make this happen by using gDiaper inserts in the BumGenius diapers.  So we go on our way for a little happy while. I’m washing all 15 diapers each and every day and letting them air dry every night all over my dining room chairs.

How do you handle the poo? I heard often when I told (bragged) to people I was cloth diapering.  Gotta get your hands in the poo, no way around it.  Little baby poo, like Lola’s was at the time, tends to be water soluble so it will just wash out in the laundry. But Noah’s poo was toddler poo. This had to be dumped into the toilet first and flushed and then the diaper could be washed. But who has ever had a kid that does awesome perfect poo patties every time that just flip right out into the toilet? Not me!

Near the beginning of this escapade Noah takes a truly nasty poo. This is not a flipper. Now some CD moms have this handy sprayer that attaches to the toilet that you use to spray the diapers off. This is the one thing I did not invest in, because hello, I bought the flushable liners that are supposed to take care of this for me.

My choices are: A) dip the whole thing in the toilet with my hands and let it soak out, or B) wash it in the washer twenty times and hope that the poo comes out and doesn’t poo-ify every load of laundry I ever do from here to eternity.

Neither are acceptable scenarios, so I chose C.  I know I need a sprayer for this job, and where do I have one? Aha! The kitchen sink! So I bring this double-pounder to the sink and start spraying. And bits of poo start flying.

You know that moment where you realize you’ve just made a terrible decision, but there’s no taking it back?  Like hypothetically, when you sent that pic to your new boyfriend’s phone, but you don’t know him well enough to know that he for sure won’t show his best friend?  Or in fact, you do know him somewhat, and what you do know points to the very likelihood that he will show his best friend? Hypothetically?

That’s how I felt.  I immediately realize this is a horrible idea, but I’m in deep doo doo now and there’s no taking it back.  I need to just bear down and get it done.

I eventually manage to get most of the poo off the diaper, but now the drain is stopping up and the sink is starting to fill with poo water.  What do I do?? I’m gonna have to use the garbage disposal.  I reach over with my elbow because my hands are biohazardly contaminated and flip the switch and shoot poo water up into the air and all over the counter. I have in effect now just used my sink to blend up a splattering poo milkshake. Omg I will barf right now!

The whole kitchen smells like a bloated rotting carcass and invisible poo particles are swirling through the air and landing on everything within five feet! I make a quick inventory of everything within five feet. All of Lola’s bottles, nipples etc. Vomit in my mouth. Bananas, apples, Mac and cheese still in the pot from earlier. I realize then that I myself am covered not only in invisible poo particles but actual poo particles and I would pay big money to stand in an acid bath right about now.

I finally get the poo dipe in the wash and throw away or bleach the shit out of everything in the vicinity including myself. The entire house has floating invisible poo particles in it that make it smell like a dirty gas station bathroom and even though it’s ten degrees outside I bundle the kids up and open all the windows. I wipe myself down, take a (mouth) breather, and recoup. That was seriously nearly the most disgusting poo experience I’ve had, though since I can think of two other poo experiences of mine that are horrific as well, and don’t involve children, I strangely start to feel better about this whole thing.

And yet. I still continue to cloth diaper! If I can handle that I can handle anything! At this point Mat and my babysitter are sort of not really into this yet, especially after my poo milkshake mishap, and so I have two diaper pails going, two wipe warmers, and two different piles of diapers to choose from. I ask my mom if I should bring the cloth diapers on vacation to Phoenix and she says – I’m paraphrasing here – Fuck No.*

So I’m still buying disposables and I’m still researching for hours searching for the perfect cloth diaper to convince everyone I have not lost the rest of my mind by trying this. After checking out several other brands, I do end up finding the holy grail of cloth diapers. Ragababe.

These are highly rated on all the diaper blogs and raved about on the forums and I must have one! Or 15-20 to be exact. I go to the website and end up on the ordering page where to my chagrin there are five or six paragraphs explaining exactly how, in 10 Easy Steps, I too can get my hands on one of these buggers.

It seems that Ragababes are the shit, and everyone wants them, and the tiny little mom-run company cannot keep them in stock. You have to sign up for their Facebook page where they will notify you of the date of the next stocking. The website then explains how you must go to the website a few minutes early with your trigger finger ready, constantly refreshing the browser until the slated time, because if you, say, have to deal with a screaming baby whose brother just now wanted to use his bulldozer to bulldoze her butt out of the way to make room for his burgeoning rail line you will miss the start of it and within seconds they are all sold out.

Shut the front door.

Who has time for this? Well apparently a lot of people. Including me. And I score! One diaper! And let me tell you, this diaper really is miraculous. It came in a cute hipster print and can be DRIED in the DRYER and actually holds up to my heavy wetter’s best shot and I fall in love.

Now I have to get many, many more. And I can’t. I follow the 10 Easy Steps to no avail. They hardly ever stock Noah’s size so he’s out. I finally do manage to get a couple in Lola’s size and they make me fall even harder. I’m becoming obsessed! How do I get more of these? Now my BumGenius are total has-beens and I can’t even stand to look at them. I’m looking lustily at thenull_zps62abd1cb photos of the out of stock diapers on the website. Pink leopard! Newspaper print! Camouflage! My babies’ butts would be the envy of the town.

I search and search and find there is a black market of resale Ragababes on eBay and a couple of other sketchy sites and these things are going for like 25 more bucks than the original $35, which is nearly twice as much as the $19 BumGenius diapers. Should I? I shouldn’t. That’s stupid to pay 60 bucks for a diaper. Right?

I nearly fall under the eBay auction spell but I manage to control myself. I don’t buy. Because at this point I’ve also realized the dirty little secret of cloth diapering. It really doesn‘t save you that much money. It takes a bunch of tries to find the right cloth diaper, and besides that freak Ragababe these things don’t resell well or at all, so the money spent on dipes that don’t work is a loss. And if you do find something that you like, you want them in every freakin‘ color and design they come in because just like tattoos and Gucci bags, what you’ve got doesn’t satisfy you for very long.

In the end I never did get enough Ragababe love to be able to fully extract myself from clingy, psychotic BumGenius. And I started to loathe the BG. Because I could deal with just about anything with the diapers, but in the end my kids just started…smelling. And I couldn’t figure out how to stop it. Apparently, once the diapers have been used a few times they start retaining this excrement smell. And as soon as your kid pees even a little, the diaper lays on a full-frontal assault of the senses and reeks, and also makes your kid reek even once the diaper is off.

You are supposed to be able to strip these with the fancy stripping detergent to solve this problem, but it never worked. I did more research, tried a few other things, washed the shit out of them, and eventually gave up. Because even with cute little fluff butts, my children will not be the envy of the town if they permanently smell like a bloated rotting carcass. That smell was truly the last straw.

From here, after eating crow with my husband and returning the diamond in my mind, I put my stash of cloth dipes in storage and decided to try some eco-friendly disposable diapers. Research, internet, blah blah blah, I find some that are made in Turkey with paper lining and wood pulp absorbing pellets on the interior. Perfect!

Except. Since these don’t have super-absorbing powers of the “toxic” crunchy mom Unapproved Huggies you are technically supposed to change them more often. Didn’t totally figure this out until we went to our good friends‘ one year old’s birthday party. They have an awesome farm with awesome huge bouncy slides for the party. Noah is bouncing and sliding and having an awesome time. But, the thing with paper, as opposed to say plastic, is that when it gets wet, it doesn’t stretch.

Noah’s three hour old diaper – I mean you try to pry a two year old away from a huge awesome bouncy slide to change his eco-dipe – rips in half and all the millions of pee-soaked wood pulp pellets spread from the top of the slide where Noah is launching to the bottom where he ends his descent. Next is a frantic evacuation of the contaminated, formerly awesome bouncy slide.

Fortunately, our friends conveniently had a leaf blower in the shed, and Pete frankly seemed almost giddy to be able to break it out to blast all of Noah’s wood pellets from the scene of the crime. Also conveniently, as aforementioned, these are made of wood will biodegrade and not harm the environment. So, you know.  Points for that.

And I thought I was ostracizing my kid when he smelled like a carcass. So, we are back to Huggies. These babies can last for 12 hours straight and will withstand all the excremental abuse my kids can throw at them. I get them super cheap at Costco. I sold my Ragababes for more than I paid for them, on eBay, and am saving up for a nice new diamond.

I think of all the hours I wasted researching, then washing diapers. I could have solved world hunger with all that brainpower! Well. At least I could have spliced together someIMG_1081 cute kitten videos. I have reconciled myself to the fact that I am leaving the Earth full of trash generated by my spawn, and am trying to find ways to make up for it. Like buying recycled toilet paper. Mat’s not pleased about that, but I think he’s happy we aren’t washing poo cloths.

I realize that to keep from losing my mind I had to drop my expectations of what I can and can’t do. (Sense a theme?) I may not be able to save the world, but I have saved my sanity, which makes my world, and the people that inhabit it, a better place.


* My mom had the experience of cloth diapering in the 70’s without much choice. Like, the kind of cloth diapers with safety pins and plastic covers. Seriously? Sharp pins that will stab your child in his or her genitals? She can’t for the life of her understand why I would choose to cloth diaper. I print out lots of informative articles on the subject to bring with me to Phoenix.

I Heart You Valentine’s Day

The first Valentine’s Day I spent with Katya she was 4.  I thought it would be so much fun! to make crafty Valentines together for her daycare class.  It goes without saying that I also wanted to impress the other moms at the daycare so they knew that this little girl who lived with her daddy really did have a mommy-type female in her life that did things like make obnoxious  Valentine’s Day cards to show up the other kids….moms.

I found an awesome Valentine in Martha Stewart magazine, and broke out the construction paper, hot glue gun, craft scissors, lollipops and glitter.

I had forgotten how much I love ideas but hate execution.  I also had assumed incorrectly that Katya had the crafting skills and maturity of a teenager.

She, of course, was unable to weild scissors in any productive capacity.  Scalding hot glue was obviously off limits.  The one thing she did have fun with was the glitter.

Comedian Demetri Martin says this about glitter: “The thing about glitter is if you get it on you, be prepared to have it on you forever. Glitter is the herpes of craft supplies.”

You all know what happens when a pre-K gets ahold of glitter.  I won’t go into the gory details.

Anyhoo, this left me with the project basically all to myself in the evenings after Katya went to bed so she didn’t have a fit over not being able to “TOUCH GLITTER EVER AGAIN!” or eat any of the lollipops.

Fortunately I started this project a week in advance.  Because it took me, no exaggeration, the entire week of evenings to finish the MFing things.  About 12 hours total.  I hate you Martha Stewart.


Like these but with more glitter. And blood sweat and tears.

This year I bought Katya a cute little box of DIY Valentines from Target.  I trusted her skills a bit more.  These came with letter stickers and shapes stickers.  I did one or two with her and then left her to her own devices to make a batch of cookie dough (and eat it.  I suppose I sort of do sound all Martha Stewart-y with all the crafting and baking and what have you.  But truly I made  this batch entirely for myself to eat raw. No sharing.  And Martha Stewart is all about sharing her bounty.  side note- or other people sharing their bounty with her?? Digress.)

I came back and realized my mistake.  She was super excited about the stickers, but was having trouble with placement.  So she then stuck just the first letter of the person’s name to the thing and then a letter K.  For Katya.  I asked her how she would remember which one was for who.  “Duh, S for Samantha, mom.” um, ok.

Also, she lettered out Valentine’s Day like so:






which is so totally not how I’d do it but fine.  I wanted to sort of spruce things up a bit though (why the ef do I care??) so I broke out the infamous hot glue gun and started gluing Hershey’s Kisses to each one.  Why, god?

So I hope that all goes over well and the Kisses don’t fall off randomly and then some kids gets Kisses and some don’t and the ones that don’t start talking shit about Katya.

This is the ecard I made for my future self.


Happy Valentine’s Day!



Swim With the Fishes

I’m what I like to call a Pisces Parent.  

Pisces – Imaginative and sensitive; escapist and weak-willed.

If you happen to be a Pisces or know one, you can probably relate.  I’m actually a big fan of lists and schedule and plans, and I make a lot of them.  I just don’t like to stick to them.  They feel too restricting,

whereas I like to float around in a dreamlike state, seeing where the whims of the world will take me. (While I’d like to believe that I leave myself open to the whims taking me to the park to sketch flowers budding or some such BS, they usually take me to the computer where I waste my day on Facebook and reading Real Housewives gossip. Digress.)

This doesn’t exactly bode well when you’re trying to parent two young children.  It’s especially frustrating at the grocery store, where for some reason I continually play a game with myself called Let’s Guess What’s on the Grocery List.  This game involves writing out an extensive list of all the imperative items and then keeping it in my purse the entire shopping trip, so that I can test my brain muscles (I’m home with a  toddler all day, this is it for me, babes) to try and remember everything on the list.

I usually take a pause while I’m paying to whip out the list and congratulate myself on a game well played.  Ground black cumin from India, check! Artisanal Spanish Manchego, check! Take that, list, BOOYAH, you thought you could outsmart me.  Bread, peanut butter, yes, spaghetti…



I forgot the flippin’ spaghetti, which just happens to be the main reason I came to the store and an integral component of my recipe for tonight, entitled SPAGHETTI.  Damn it!!!!  And there’s no way in hell that I’m going back to grab the spaghetti and then waiting in this ridiculous line again while the extremely old and incredibly slow cashier pecks away at my stuff for 20 minutes and then takes another 20 to bag it all up.  We’re just having meat sauce tonight, kids!

(Mat read this and asked me, do you really do this on purpose?  Which of course, I don’t…sort of. The complete version is that most days I forget about my list until the very end of the shopping trip when I’ve been at the store so long my chin hairs have grown back.  At this point I’m afraid to pull it out because it probably will require me to step out of the 10 person line and push the screaming baby one mile to the other side of the store and I am lazy.)

Pisces parenting affects my life in other ways too.  I’m airheaded and lazy (my laziness is covered extensively here and in most of my other blog posts, as a reference.)  This definitely leads to lots of disorganization, and often costs us extra money.  Like the time I ordered my plane ticket for Noah and me to travel to Phoenix for Thanksgiving, but then decided to change the flight to arrive early and surprise my family.  I decided it was too much trouble to actually review the confirmation email. So it was only when when I was packed and ready to go, and went to check-in online the morning of my flight that I realized instead of changing the flight to a week early, I had rebooked the same flight I was already on  5 days away and paid $175 for the privilege.  (Surprise!  I’m an idiot.) That was a fun day.

The disorganization also leads to lots of unfinished projects around the house.  For instance, I pulled out a big pile of Noah’s clothes that are too small…and left them in said big pile on my bedroom window bench, never having packed them up.  That was a few months ago, and now its time to do it all over again.  Pretty soon I won’t be able to see out that window, but then neither will Mat, and I’m hoping it will bother him enough that he’ll pack the shit up for me.  Then I realize he’s a Pisces Parent too. Eff.

Unhung wall art, pictures that were printed but never put in frames, laundry that’s never seen the inside of a drawer.  Our house can often be a crazy place.  When I was in AZ recently, Janet gave me a tour of her home and the organizational tools she uses to keep things in order.  (Things I regret: asking Jan for a tour of her organizational tools.  There’s a guaranteed way to remind myself what a complete and utter lazy a-hole I am.)  One of her ideas is to have a big basket, and every day she goes around the house putting things in the basket that are out of place, and then she takes the basket full of things and puts them away.  This is brilliant! So I bought myself a couple of baskets.  I’m sure you can guess how this fun little experiment played out.  There are now baskets overflowing with crap all over my house.  I never can get to the second part of the project.  You know, the finishing part.

This fun keeps on going, and I’m sure that people who don’t know me well think I may be an idiot.   (People who know me well already know this.)  Katya was sick last week and so I emailed the teacher to ask about homework.

She wrote back – Mrs. Bets, the homework can be found on the school website, and here, again, is Katya’s password.

She wanted to say – Valerie, you’re an idiot. It’s 6 weeks until the end of school, and Katya’s been absent on 5 different occasions, and you still have not figured out the effing online homework system, even though I tell you every time.  Pull it together, sister, you’re setting a bad example!

I’ve tried implementing a planner to save me some chaos.  Elisabeth has a great mommy planner in which she keeps track of schedules, appointments, meal plans, recipes, etc etc etc.   I will be organized like her!  So I bought one.  I get really excited every few weeks or so and break it out and write down absolutely everything I could ever want to get done.  I feel so organized just writing it down! Herein lies the problem.

Soon, I start playing a new game with myself.  Let’s Guess Which Day is the (Fill in the blank – birthday party, pap smear, kindergarten graduation, etc.) I am often correct, but sometimes not.  But then, I figure, I’ve just saved myself a trip.  The issue is that once I get my brain vomit down, I’m afraid to open up my planner again to check on the date because then I have to look at the list of 107 things that I am no longer excited to get done, and that makes me depressed and feel lazy, which of course we’ve covered already.  Moral:  The excitement for me is in the writing down, not so much in the getting done.

Second Moral:  If you only open your planner every few weeks, lots of stuff actually falls off the list.  It’s amazing!  You can sit on your ass and things get done around you.  Your husband calls the plumber, your sister buys the joint present for your mom, the bank eventually sends you a reminder and/or process server.   People are pissed, and may not want to hang out with/do business with/count on you ever again, but hey, tradeoffs, folks, tradeoffs.