Cloth Diapering to the Max: We are going to try them all!

Just a quick note to say that, unbeknownst to my dear husband, we are going to try one of every kind of fitted cloth diaper i can find. We have bought gdiapers, used kissaluvs with covers and Fuzzi Bunz “All-in-ones,” all fine, but now I am out to find the diapers that rock mine and baby’s socks off, and are the easiest to use, clean, travel, etc…and stay out of the landfill! Stay tuned for complete review in about a month, when I have secured all our purchases and had a chance to try them out…Moms, feel free to weigh in here…

How Facebook is changing the World one filter at a time…

I confess I don’t really remember when i first joined facebook – was it 2005? – when my NYC agent first “friended” me and I “accepted.” I don’t really remember when i started signing on regularly and enjoying people’s “status” lines changing. All I know is that this thing is a social network with wings and I am happy to climb on board. Today one of the virtual “groups” that i joined sent me an email that hints that it so much more than a social network.

Yes, the YERT group on facebook proved mighty useful during our year on the road – Several times we landed a friendly place to stay just because somebody forwarded our message. My babysteps blog automatically posts, which is a lovely thing. It’s super easy to post photos and videos and thus keep abreast of everyone’s happinesses and growing families and accomplishments. Just recently, high school acquaintances have started popping up in my inbox, and I realize I have the opportunity to kindle relationships with people I had not really known in the hormone-laced haze of high school – who I may only now be able to fully appreciate and only now realize that i have important things in common with.

There are some annoying aspects of the network, like the endless applications that show up and seem to multiply within seconds. (I thought they were fun at first and allowed a “green” application called “Lil Green Patch,” an application which asks you to “help take care of so-and-so’s plot – there’s a deer in their yard – you’ve saved 62 square feet of rainforest…” I presently have 237 “Lil Green Patch” requests and I am unconvinced that any rainforest anywhere is being protected from slashing and burning just bc i am watering my friend’s virtual garden of strawberry shortcakes. Call me a cynic, but I have just stopped watering.)

I am, however, intrigued by the Causes application. Today I was particularly elated to find out that one of the virtual “groups” that i joined has actually made a very REAL difference. It may seem small but it is a brilliant example of how, together, making some noise, we really can initiate change. The group was called Take Back The Filter: Help Convince Clorox to Recycle Brita Filters!” which takes you to this address where people could add their names to a petition asking the manufacturers of Brita filters to take back and recycle their product so that it won’t become more needless landfill. And guess what? It worked!!!
How about that? And probably it wasn’t just facebook – I am sure the website reached many more people in different ways – but that is how I found the petition and added my voice, and I am proud and thrilled to have played a little part. I enjoyed similar satisfaction during YERT when I wrote CamelBak a letter and returned our water bottles due to #7 plastic and BPA and, a few months later, learned that CamelBak was changing its bottles due to consumer requests! We were heard. And heeded.

Ah! My baby is waking up on my lap now so i’ll close but i want to encourage everyone out there that your voice can and DOES make a difference – however you use it – be it a letter, a phone call, your name on an emailed petition, FACEBOOK, what you buy or don’t buy…It’s your VOTE, and it may seem small, but it’s REAL and it’s powerful. Use it!

Oh Yes We Did… Now what do we do?

It’s hard to believe a whole week has passed since America enthusiastically said Yes we can! and elected Barack Obama the 44th President of the United States. This overwhelming vote for change, for Unity, and Peace thrilled most of America to pieces Tuesday night just as it now inspires us for the great hard work we have yet to do. America may be limping, but we just got a new PT and we can do this if we are all ready to walk a bit together. WE must support our new leader by getting off our duffs (apologies to those of us who already don’t spend much time there) and BEING the change we wish to see…there’s so much opportunity here, for our human habitat, for civil rights, for global relations…
So…what exactly do we do? Keep sending money to the Obama team as the new administration? I doubt many people can keep that up. Keep up to date on all the political goings on through our media of choice? Sorry: passive. Keep trying on a personal level to “go green” in our lives? Of course we should, but that won’t be enough. It‘s time for each of us to make some beautiful noise, if we haven’t already: contact our local representatives on a regular basis, go to town meetings, become involved in our communities, and support the new administration in its work by letting government AND corporations know that we want things to change, and how.
We now have THE opportunity to make real change happen. Let’s ride the wave!! Don’t let this opportunity pass us by. Let our policy makers know that we care, we are aware, and we EXPECT new and better laws and protections for ourselves, our children and our environment.
President-Elect Obama said we have a lot of work to do. He’s right. But his election proved to a lot of us that things really CAN change so we can all, as a beautiful woman once said to me in the NYC subway, “Be encouraged.” I, for one, feel recharged. Thank you, America. Let’s pull up our boots together and see what we can do.

Some words to keep the faith now we’re NOT on the road…(borrowed from Not So Big Blog via no impact man…)

Anne from Not So Big Blog quotes from Edward Abbey, “cranky environmentalist/mystic of the desert southwest”:

“One final paragraph of advice: do not burn yourselves out. Be as I am — a reluctant enthusiast… a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it’s still here.

“So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, the lovely, mysterious, and awesome space.

“Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much; I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound men and women with their hearts in a safe deposit box, and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this; You will outlive the bastards.”

Eco-Mothering, week 6

OK so YERT finished the traveling part of the project. I left 2 months before the very end to nest and Ben left a couple of weeks out to join me and get ready for a totally natural birth with our midwife and doula at a nearby hospital.

July 18th at 2am we started having serious contractions…and labored at home for 7 hours…

July 19, 11am – After 33 hours of hard labor, 4 bags of IV saline fluids, antibiotics, pitocin, stadol, and a C-section… there emerged 6 lbs, 13 oz of beautiful Bailey Bee out of my belly and into this wonderful Life. How surreal.

That was 6 weeks ago yesterday, and I am wondering, Where did the time go?

I am recovering well, I even like my smiley little C-section scar 🙂 Bailey has gained 3 lbs and grown 3″ on mama’s milk! So, THAT is going very well. There were some other things I had planned for parenting, however, that have gone the way of the totally natural birth we hoped to have… Some of you may know that we eschewed all manner of plastic, packaging, consumerism, etc., at our baby shower in the spirit of YERT. We planned to use ONLY cloth diapers and wipes, BPA-free baby bottles if we needed to pump breastmilk, and to continue making no trash…I bought clothesline and put it up in Mom’s backyard and I swore we would NOT have a television on near our baby… it all seemed so DO-able before the birth.

Now, 6 weeks out of the gate, the truth is…parenting a newborn is no walk in the park. Suffice it to say, our best laid plans were not able to soothe our fragile nerves when lack of sleep and colicky baby had us climbing the walls after the first week… And there are some pretty cool and convenient contraptions out there that really do help semi-conscious, frayed, in love parents – not the least of which is the brilliant PACIFIER. God Bless the individual who came up with the idea of popping a rubber nipple in crying baby’s sweet little yap to calm them when nothing else can.

And so, there are pacifiers in the house, and disposable diapers and wipes for trips in the car. The hairdryer has been known to stay on for 20 minutes straight – not drying anyone’s hair at all (the most amazing tool in the colic toolbox) and I do not turn away gifts of any kind from well-meaning friends, no matter how inefficiently I imagine they were made or whether or not they were imported from possible sweatshops in China. (However, we do have lead testing sticks and are not afraid to use them.) Diapers get washed in the hottest water possible to avoid passing thrush and then popped in the dryer bc, well, we can’t keep up with how fast baby wets them if we try to dry them outside on the line. And at 3am when baby is not sleeping, we are reminded of what a comforting pal can be found in the old TV.

sigh. It’s ok. At first, I beat myself up over how poorly I was managing being an eco-friendly mom but now I am relaxing and letting myself off the hook for not being perfect…I know that some things are going to get easier and we will be able to re-introduce them as Bailey gets a little bigger.

I can hardly believe we were ever without this little girl and, though YERT seems a lifetime away, I know that what we did this last year may have more impact on her life than we could ever have imagined going in. I can’t wait to see how it plays out.

And then, there is the election.

YERTies in the family way, and counting the days….

haha well…

just thought i would check in since we have bypassed both of the projected “due dates” and I am sure there are some people who are wondering if we just neglected to make any announcement.

We haven’t forgotten. (How could we??) We’ve had “false labor” a couple of times now but are patiently waiting to see when little one wants to come out. I have stopped making predictions but I have heard that very many babes are born during the Full Moon, which would be Thursday/Friday of this week. Surely, she isn’t waiting to be a Gemini!!! haha. I have had to put the Baby Book I am building on hold…

We have been walking 40 minutes twice a day, and have tried quite a few natural labor “enhancements” but, so far, baby just seems pretty darned comfortable in there. And, frankly, I am pretty comfortable too! Fortunately, our midwife thinks our baby is not so big…so far…(though I keep thinking that the longer she is in there…the bigger she gets!)

We will keep posting. Bags have been packed for 2 weeks already, and everything seems to be ready at home…cloth diapers ready to go!!! OK baby, you are good enough to wait for. xox your mama

American farmers still burning crops. What will it take to get “old timers” on board with newer practices that will save $ and preserve the earth?

This morning I received an email from Arkansas farmer Norwood Creech, whom YERT corresponded with while seeking out rural farmers in the South. She wrote with great concern about “old time” farmers burning off crop stubble (rather than turning it under as compost).

There no evidence that charring fields improves soil fertility – in fact, most research shows that soil degrades much faster with charring – not to mention that burning entire fields very obviously pollutes the air and adds to the CO2 load in the atmosphere. Below is Norwood’s letter to me that I promised I would post for everyone to think about… along with her plea for ideas about how to sway people away who are clinging to this wasteful, damaging, antiquated practice. Please feel free to pass it on:

Julie,
The farmers are burning off their wheat, again.
This process is not “more better” than rolling the stubble into the ground. Burning is the ways of the old timers. However, it also seems to be the ways of the misguided and uneducated. The first 2 photos are from our roof top here in Lepanto, AR. We are seeing 8 of these [burns] plus some, every evening now for the past 5 days. And that is just in the evening… about when the wind dies down and the smoke started from late fires settles. I am talking acres and acres of these wheat fires, burning rapidly and some even make their own clouds!

As for the picture of the burn with the flag.. The farm to the right of this one burned their wheat off last year and burned up a pick up truck in the process. Fortunately this year, it looks as though they have learned from their mistake. However, this farm to its left was intentionally burned. Fire department even had to called. It almost reached a trailer home. Farmers should not play with matches! I live in the country but it sells like a dirty city. Black ash clings to the edges of the house. None of this can be good for anyone. Not to mention global warming. In the fall, after the rice crop gets cut, some burn that too. Note that rice puts a silica in the air that can shred your lungs…. None of this burning makes sense to me, How can I get this addressed and perhaps stopped? Norwood

Here are some links for further reading:

Costs of Stubble Burning

Up in Smoke – Lost Opportunities when Stubble is Burned

Managing Natural Resources – Stubble Management

P.S. Ben is telling me that this is my hundredth blog for YERT. (He likes numbers.)

June in KY: ever more pregnant lady looking for the right caregivers…

…and finding it! What a super pickle to be in – having to choose between several really positive options – especially when it comes to health care! My only lament is that we can’t use all of the caregivers we found…

So…where were we…Since I was dropped off by the boys in Kentucky at the beginning of May, I have nesting and researching like mad for the best place to give birth – the best birthing options, the best prenatal care, and the best pediatrician for our new baby (who is coming in just a few weeks now)!

Some may recall, we originally planned to give birth at The Farm – a licensed midwifery Birthing Center in Summertown, TN, with midwives who basically wrote the books on midwifery in this country. However, at some point around my 6th month, I began having 2nd thoughts – partly financial, partly emotional – and Ben and I started talking about finding a midwife to have a homebirth in KY, as well as a doula (Greek – a labor coach).

From personal referrals and information on a local website called Birthcare Network, I found and interviewed several midwives and doulas, as well as people who had either homebirthed or given birth naturally in hospital (just keeping my options open). I continued reading as many books and birth stories as I could get my hands on, and watched an eye-opening documentary called The Business of Being Born (feature length – you can watch it free here) two days in a row, trying to get a handle on my own hopes and fears and expectations about birth while husband, Ben, was still off on his tour of environmental duty through YERT’s last remaining states…

As I mentioned before, while it is not illegal in KY to give birth at home, it is illegal for a midwife to be hired to do so without a license (Licenses for midwives haven’t been offered in KY since 1976.) …And doctors are discouraged from supporting homebirths also for legal reasons. What it came down to is that birthing at home in KY means taking pretty serious risks that neither Ben nor I felt willing to take. Ben said to me, finally, “You’re not going to get hero points for giving birth at home.” And my deepest feeling is that if we ended up somehow being in the rare 1% of cases where something does go wrong, and anything bad happens to our baby because of it, I don’t see how I could ever forgive myself. I needed the backup to feel safe.

So, there it was. As I discovered that my comfort level was not going to include homebirth, I at first felt rather disappointed in myself and what I considered to be my lack of courage and faith. But then friends and family kept rallying behind me and I started looking into Clark Memorial Hospital’s Birthing Center. Just across the river from Louisville (in Jeffersonville, Indiana – a 15 minute drive), Clark seems to offer the natural birth we are looking for, with the medical back-up we want in case of emergency. Mom and I toured the facilities last week, and I must say that I was encouraged. Though the labor bed seemed a bit skinny to me, I was happy to learn that it’s specially designed to break down so that laboring moms never have to be in a horizontal position (the worst position for giving birth as it defies the Law of Gravity – the most important law in facilitating birthing!!). I was mesmerized by the giant labor tub in the Natural Birthing Room…

The last thing I found – which maybe should have been the first – was a natural birthing class, to get us ready for the big push…. We fortunately found Bethany Collins, who was able to offer us private Bradley classes (I have been going by myself, Ben will join me next week) that we will kind of cram into 8 concentrated sessions instead of the usual 12. Bethany also happens to be a doula very familiar with the nurses and midwives at Clark, having assisted many births there and delivered there herself, so I am thrilled to have her with us, and feel like we are in really great hands.

We are now down to the last few weeks, and I am just making my decisions and phone calls, so that everything is as ready as it can be. Today I went to meet the doctor who is going to be our family doc as well as baby’s pediatrician, and couldn’t be more pleased. I didn’t even know that family practice doctors – who literally take care of the whole family, from newborn to aged- still existed! I liked him immediately, and am really looking forward to feeling actually CARED FOR by a trusted physician. I’m sure I will write more about him as we get to know him better.

So, there it is!
I am about 35 weeks pregnant, seeing how long I can ride the crest of 190 pounds (zoiks???), walking a couple of miles every day (during which I experience Braxton Hicks contractions pretty much constantly), eating mostly healthy (though not always getting in my greens or my 85 recommended g of protein), enjoying baby squirming around in belly, still able to sleep for the most part (though that is getting interesting), and almost finished organizing the upstairs where Ben and i and baby will be making our home in Mom’s house for the next year or so.

Where is YERT? I hear they are on their last day in Wyoming, headed tomorrow to Montana and Big Sky Country. I am wishing them well, and trying not to feel too sorry for myself for being without my babydaddy and for missing those gorgeous states I’ve never been to…
On the days where I feel like I am doing this all alone, I just have to think of my wonderful, supportive family and beautiful friends here who are absolutely terrific, and to remember that Ben is doing all he can to help preserve what’s beautiful for our little one.

Yes, I feel a little lonely, waiting to share this amazing time with the man who made it happen…
but he will be home with us in a week, and it is all going to be so worth it!!! Wahoo!!!

Action Alert: NO-Impact Man needs our help! (particularly New Yorkers!)

For those of you who are unfamiliar, “No-Impact Man” is Colin Beavan, a New Yorker who began an experiment over a year ago to make NO IMPACT on the environment. He and his little family have been living as sustainably as possible ever since, and he has been documenting the whole thing with daily blogs…this comes down to toilet paper, people. He is serious, and his experiment is fascinating!

Now, Colin is meeting with NY Congressman, Jerrold Nadler, intending to impress upon him the importance of timely change based on science instead of politics. This is the kind of thing we all need to be doing but don’t have the time or the energy or the will or the focus, with so much going on in our daily lives, and Colin has made it his mission. Thank Goodness.
Support is fast and easy by email. Just go to the blog, read the prewritten letter of support and, if you are on board, PLEASE sign your name to the end and return to him via the email he provides. I urge you to join me in supporting what, I believe, is a very good cause.

Thank you for your efforts, beautiful people!

julie

KY: YERTmama’s first foray into growing food in the backyard…

Mom has always had flowers, since I can remember, which she took very good care of: lilies, iris, tulips, pansies…

But Dad planted a garden, with radishes, carrots, beans, tomatoes, squash, zucchini, canteloupe, pumpkins, even corn! I remember the first time we all helped him seed…and the first time we pulled up the mutant carrots… But Dad cared about that garden as well as for it. He watered it, tended it, and then we would bring in the bounty. Only thing was, Dad didn’t cook. And neither, really, did Mom. I am trying to remember eating this gorgeous bounty but, aside from swallowing soggy things boiled in bacon and salt water, which is how you “prepare” vegetables in the South, I do not recall ever eating any of these wonderful fruits of our labor at anything near their natural form…

Today, Mom and I had to go buy a tea kettle to replace hers that started spewing water all over the stove. On the way home, we had to wait for a train so we killed time at St Matthews Feed & Seed store. I thought to myself: It’s now or never, and walked straight over to the tomato plants. Real food. Plants you can grow which make no garbage and keep giving you food. It’s miraculous! I have grown plenty of plants in my house but, other than herbs, I have never bought and planted plants to grow food for my family. This is a first! We bought cherry tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, cilantro, lemon mint, and seeds to start green beans.

“You don’t know if any of these seeds are GMO?” I asked the store lady. “Huh?” “Genetically modified – these are just seeds right, they haven’t been messed with or anything?” She looked at me like I was asking her to bicycle to the moon so I took our little packet of seeds and thanked her, then we paid and skedaddled. The little plants are waiting hopefully outside in their pots for the day, coming soon, when I will put them in the real ground for them to take root and start really growing…like the baby in my belly…

We can grow things. That’s amazing.