The Great Cloth Diaper Experiment Part I: Epic Fail

I wanted to write a post about our experiences–good and bad–with cloth diapering. Unfortunately, my draft was closing in on 2,000 words before I even got close to being done. So, breaking it down into several posts, of which this is the first. Will we or won’t we? Stay tuned!

My initial investment in cloth diapers took place in winter 2013–i.e., a full year before we had any idea of the Fustible’s existence (indeed, before she existed, in any form).

This involved me paying $40 to a neighbor for a secondhand Bag o’ Goodies consisting of:

  • ~12 fuzzibunz pocket diapers, soakers and replacement elastics for the legs
  • 1 almost full giant tub of Charlie’s Soap Detergent
  • Several random flip and gdiaper covers and liners
  • At least one BumGenius pocket diaper
  • 1 swim diaper
  • 2 large wet bags
  • 1 small traveling wet bag

First, I dumped the contents of this bag all over our dining room table and started getting acquainted with them. Needless to say, Sam was a bit freaked out when he arrived home and walked, unsuspecting, into that scene.

Here’s what I learned about FuzziBunz, which make up most of this stash:  Continue reading

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Seven Chances

Man must take a bride by 7 p.m. today or forego his inheritance. (Who comes up with these plots? Why does this trope resonate so much with audiences? Was this the first time it was done? Is The Bachelor starring Chris O’Donnell the MOST ’90s movie ever made? So many questions.)

I knew that Buster Keaton being chased down the street by a mob of brides was classic thing, imitated and referenced pretty much constantly since it first happened:

What I did not know is that the Buster Keaton chase actually goes on for nearly 14 minutes. Uphill and downhill. Over mountains and lakes. There are boulders. There are bees. It’s amazing.

The whole movie, by the way, is only 56 minutes long, so it’s more chase than anything else.

Unfortunately, several other precious minutes of film are dedicated to racism, including a major plot point dependent upon a servant–played painfully by a white actor in blackface–failing to deliver an important message in time and a couple of jokes that count on the audience recognizing interracial marriage as a hilarious absurdity. Nothing beyond what would probably be expected in a film of this era, I guess, but I wasn’t expecting it, and you need to know it’s there before you plunk your kids down in front of this one.

I’m not totally clear on what the eponymous “seven chances” were, but people, let this be a frickin’ lesson to you: if you are already with the person you want to be with, and marriage is important to you due to impending financial ruin (or other reasons!), don’t wait for their Great Dane puppy to grow to full size before you propose.

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Mothers Day Movies: Strangers Like Me

The Prince of Egypt. Tarzan. Mommie Dearest. Um….one of these things is not like the others?

These are three movies I watched while on leave with my infant daughter that resonate differently after you’ve adopted a child than before.

MV5BMTg0NTQ4MDU4M15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwNjk2MjE5._V1_SY317_CR5,0,214,317_AL_The Prince of Egypt: We watched this on on Easter Sunday morning because I thought we should probably do something, even though that something wasn’t going to involve church. Frankly, I’d forgotten what a beautiful and powerful movie this is…and also how many famous people voiced its characters (interestingly, this movie was recently noted as one of the few examples of Hollywood not whitewashing Biblical stories. That may be true for the animation, but the very famous celebrity actors voicing these characters are, with just a couple of exceptions, all pretty dang white and western.)

Now, I went to Sunday School ALL the way through, and I know my Bible stories, not to mention my baby gear. I know Moses’ deal. But I had forgotten how much this retelling of the story engages with Moses’ internal conflict over finding his roots as a Hebrew slave–and meeting his living biological brother and sister–after being raised as the son of the Egyptian Pharaoh.

In Moses’ case, the story is complicated further by the fact that he has a third family. In addition to his family of origin and the family that raised him, he has what in today’s parlance we might call his “chosen family,” the Midianites. He belonged to a close-knit group and had a pretty happy life as a shepherd in the desert!

In the movie, Moses’ Egyptian mother says, “When the gods send you a blessing, you don’t ask why it was sent.” Their message to him is: Don’t look, don’t question. But The Prince of Egypt forces the question, Who are you? Who are you really? Who are your parents? Who is your brother? Who are your people? Are you oppressor or oppressed? Both or neither? What happens when siding with one means severing all ties with the other?

Five thousand years later, parents and children of different races still have to reckon with these questions.

Key takeaway: You can have a loving family, a good job, plenty to give and plenty to do, and still need to come to terms with where you come from. Sometimes that means embracing it all, but sometimes it means choosing a side. Choosing not to look is not an option. 

Oh, and by the way, watching a desperate mother float her baby down the Nile in a basket is one of those things that feels a lot different when you’re holding a tiny baby that seems to have drifted out of the reeds and into your world.

Mommie Dearest. This is one of those movies that I knew (“NO WIRE HANGERS!”), but I didn’t really know. I knew it was the film version of Joan Crawford’s daughter’s memoir. And I knew Crawford’s children were adopted. What I did not know was that the first 15 minutes of the film would be dedicated to Crawford being rejected from all legitimate paths to adoption, and that her boyfriend would ultimately buy her a baby of dubious origin. And then she would do this again. (And again and again and again, though that’s not in the movie.)

The thing is, Joan Crawford as she is portrayed this film should have been rejected for adoption. Not for the weak-ass reasons the agency gave–that she was a divorced working actress–but because she was a dangerous and terrifying person for a child, or anyone really, to live with and depend upon. It’s basically Sunset Blvd. all over again, except in this story she’s responsible for and at the same time deeply threatened by the children she has taken into her home, especially her oldest daughter.

These independent humans with their own minds and wishes and personalities are utterly incompatible with the hermetic universe that Crawford has elaborately constructed to (barely) hold herself together. But she’s not just a black and white villain, either. She is an extreme example of a highly successful, famous, wealthy, deeply insecure, possibly mentally ill woman used to exerting a great deal of control over her world, who desperately wanted a baby to “complete” her life experience, and couldn’t adjust when said babies didn’t conform to her rigid expectations. It’s gut-wrenching, to say the least.

Key takeaway: All parents need to come to terms with the fact that their children are individuals, not clones, accessories, or personal do-overs. But I suspect this may be especially true for adoptive parents, who may have spent more time imagining the perfect miracle child to fill a perceived hole in their lives. Most of us are not like Faye Dunaway’s Joan Crawford. Thank God. But we parents, all of us, are susceptible to this kind of thinking, if on a much smaller scale. We force our will, our weakness, our fears on our children at our peril (and theirs). 

The opening scene of Faye Dunaway going through Crawford’s morning toilette is incredible, and sets you up with a knot in your stomach and pretty much all you need to know about the main character:

Tarzan

MV5BMTIxNzY1MDg2Ml5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMDgxMDEzMQ@@._V1_SY317_CR3,0,214,317_AL_In the Disney version of this story, baby Tarzan is rescued by Kala, a gorilla whose own baby was killed by the same jaguar that killed Tarzan’s parents (got that?). As Tarzan grows up, his emergent human traits awe and distress his simian family. Tarzan, too, constantly wonders whether he really fits in with this tribe. Kala and Tarzan play a game where they count all the ways they’re alike–two eyes, two ears, one nose, one heart. It’s a sweet effort but so insufficient–after all, likenesses like these put them in the same category as the murderous cat that killed their loved ones. What I like is, the movie shows both sides: game comforts Tarzan and Kala to some extent–but they also both see how it falls short. When they hold their hands up to one another, it’s obvious that they don’t “fit.”

When explorers of mixed intent arrive on the island, Tarzan for the first time recognizes “Strangers like me” and begins to lead a double life between the jungle and the shore.

The most ridiculous shortcoming in the story is when Kala finally decides to reveal “the truth” about Tarzan’s origins to him. “I should have told you long ago….” she says. Told him what? That he’s a different species than the rest of his family? Like, this is known, right? Yeah, that answers a lot of questions.

While watching this, I was thinking, “Wow, this is really dark and violent!” (The death of the villain, in particular, is pretty brutal). But, compared to what? Mufasa being trampled by wildebeests? Gaston stabbing the beast and falling off a castle? Eric fricking stabbing Ursula in the belly with the prow of a ship? So…yeah. It’s just your average, run-of-the-mill Disney death stuff here.

And one day before Mothers’ Day you may find yourself bouncing around with a babe in your arms and You’ll Be in My Heart shuffles up on the playlist, and you will find yourself blubbering and unable to stop.

Key Takeaway: 

Snazz Matazz

This is my first week back in the office full time. And yesterday, my co-worker told me I looked “snazz matazz”:

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“And with a kid on my arm I’m still an exceptional earner” ~Britney

  • Luna Claire dress, purchased at a boutique in uptown Normal, IL, gift from my mother-in-law ca. 2014. This dress has a super wide neckline and low cut back. In the past, I always found this a frustrating reason not to wear it. I have to have excellent posture all the time or it slips off my shoulders, and I HAVE to wear a tank top under it. But today, I discovered that this is a feature, not a bug. Is it unexpectedly hot out? Just push the neckline off your sholulders, shimmy out of the bodice, and and tie the sleeves around your waist. Boom!
  • Navy “tami” tank top, Old Navy, 2013. Because it’s necessary, as above.
  • Purple 3/4-length-sleeve shrug, Coldwater Creek, 2007. This was purchased to wear over a strapless dress for my college graduation. Waste not want not! Don’t remember the last time I wore this, but it comes in handy. Just dug it out of the “summer box” was reminded of its existence last week..
  • Navy tights, Meijer or something, 2014. By the end of the day it was waaaaaay too hot for tights, but needed them in th echilly
  • Purple Doc Martens, Oxford, 2013. Don’t leave home without ’em!
  • Babe! 2015. This is after we picked her up from daycare, where she was stripped of her long-sleeved onesie layer and socks. Who needs ’em?

Normally navy and purple is probably not a thing I would do. But I followed the dress’s lead and we all survived.

Ready for My Close Up

Sunset-Boulevard-1950-Wallpapers-2In case you couldn’t tell, I’ve used my leave to watch all the movies I always wanted to watch and never got around to. And also all the movies I never knew I needed to know about. Sunset Blvd., of course, falls into the first of these categories.

I watched Sunset Blvd., Mommie Dearest, and Grey Gardens all in the same week, which is…um, a lot to take at once. I recommend them all but, you know….maybe spread them out a bit.

Movies about making movies are simply the best. So are movies about complicated women who have won and lost everything.  I can’t believe I’d never seen this one before.

The beginning, when William Holden is hustling for work, dodging the repo men and pitching stories to studios, all with a noir-style “this is how it happened” voiceover..it’s just fantastic. I meant to just have this on while I puttered around–feeding the babe, making dinner, whatever, but five minutes in I was rapt, just staring at the screen, elbows on my knees.

And then he stumbles into Norma Desmond’s decrepit Gothic mansion on the very day she’s holding a funeral for her dead chimpanzee (yes!), and things just escalate from there. The pipe organ! The parties and non-parties! Her eyes! Her obsession with playing Salome! Whole movie studios keeping up an elaborate charade to avoid upsetting her!

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“There’s nothing tragic about being fifty. Not unless you’re trying to be twenty-five.” ….said a 32-year-old dude.

It’s all the more poignant, of course, because Gloria Swanson, who plays Norma Desmond, basically lived the character’s experience: a silent film star who worked closely with Cecil B. DeMille, Swanson made 28 movies in the 1920s (not to mention 28 credited roles before 1920!)…and 4 in the 1930s. That hard turn also indicates where she herself hit her 30s, so this might be as much about women aging in Hollywood as it is about changing taste and technology. Not that that makes it better.

Other than the utterly iconic last scene, I will say this is one that fell apart for me a bit as it trudged on. I just wasn’t that interested in William Holden’s love connection with young writer Betty Schaefer, though I guess it gave him some motivation to try to escape Gloria Swanson’s clutches. And once we were deep into the drama, the first-person narration started to feel less like noir-y stylishness (stylish noir-iness?) and more like lazy storytelling. Meh. It’s also possible that I just started getting distracted by chores, by baby, by a tempting nap, etc., and didn’t give some of the middle bit my full attention. Or maybe it’s just the genre…I found that the same thing happened when I watched Double Indemnity.

Still, now that I’ve seen it, it feels like an important hole has been filled in. This is one of those movies that is referenced so much, and that everyone knows enough about to get by: the main plot, the ending, a couple of key scenes or lines (“I am big! It’s pictures that got small”).

I think the reason I was so drawn in right from the start is that there was just so much more to it than I knew or expected: it was cleverer, weirder, funnier, darker, sadder, scarier, bigger, just MORE than I’d counted on. It’s a pretty weird thing for a classic this classic to exceed your expectations, but this one did.

If you’ve always pretended that you’ve seen Sunset Blvd. but never really bothered (or assumed you didn’t need to), just do it already.

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“You there! Why are you so late? Why have you kept me waiting so long?”

Next up, All About Eve?