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Written by Mama Monday

Blog posts written by mamas on cloth diapering, green living, natural parenting.

Happiness FileWe all have those days that we feel…down. Like maybe we’re a bad parent. Like we’re totally failing at this “raising a child” thing. Like our kid may have been possessed by an evil spirit. Like you’re just not reaching them, whether they’re a two-nager or a real-life teenager.

Today, I bring you a tip that I learned in my college teaching classes (because apparently those incredible professors knew exactly how rough – like, how many times does a teacher consider quitting during their career rough – teaching would be).

Those sage ladies suggested taking anything that warmed our hearts – a sweet drawing from a student, a positive review, a favorite response on an assignment, a picture of some awesome kids – and putting them into a file. Or a large envelope. Or an old shoebox. Whatever it may be, this is your “Happiness File.”

Or whatever you want to call it. I like to think of it as my “You’re Doing Something Right File.” Only, in this case, it’s not in my classroom (or library, as it were); it’s my life.

When it comes to your own children, this can be your favorite happy, smiling family photograph, your child’s first hand-scrawled “I LOVE YOU, MAMA” drawing, a super-sweet inspirational card your spouse gave you…the list goes on and on.

But, to round out your “Happiness File” (or even to simplify it a bit), I suggest proactively creating your own list, possibly in a simple “Note” on your phone, with brief, everyday bits of awesomeness that your children have provided you. Here are just a few that my sometimes-sweet-sometimes-threenager boy has added to my list lately:

– I’ve caught him with one of our cats, gently rubbing his face on Jasper’s belly while saying “who’s a good baby??” Seeing that unprovoked kindness is heartwarming.

– He’s started saying he wants to be a “librarier” and give books to people (the first time he’s shown an interest in my job, which is cool since he usually focuses on my husband’s previous job in news — which is also pretty cool). His awareness is awakening.

– Seeing a picture of my father’s senior picture and declaring, “He’s Bruce Wayne!!!” (Also particularly touching because my dad passed away when I was about my son’s age. Yeah, Hadley. He was a superhero in disguise.) His connections are hilarious, and oftentimes so very accurate.

– He’s finally started openly offering kisses, using an adorable, non-selfie duck face without our asking for one. I know I’ll miss this when he’s “too big” and “too cool” someday. His love currently knows no bounds.

– He has a sweet fondness and awareness of several types of music, including oldies (he loves the Monkees as much as I did as a child) and classical (he grew up listening to it in the car with his daddy, so the fact that he can proclaim composers correctly is awe-inspiring). Seeing where his interests develop (and that they sometimes follow our own, sometimes follow his own whims) is FUN!

– I am daily astounded by the vastness of his vocabulary, the fact that he can finally control a crayon enough to color in *just one area*, his awareness of letter sounds, and his sudden ability to simply circle an answer in our “same and different” workbook. He’s catching on, and smarter than I sometimes give him credit for.

By the way, this post isn’t about bragging about my son. (For example, we’re still working very hard at — and struggling with — potty-training…so, we’ve got that going for us. ;-)) They’re genuinely just examples of the simple (and sometimes, in our own eyes, amazing) ways that our kids show us on a daily basis how incredible they are…and, in turn, remind us that we’re not doing such a bad job, after all.

Does anyone else have a “Happiness File” or other cheer-you-up trick for those rough parenting days? (Or work days, for that matter?) The cool thing is that it can be as easy as tossing some Post-It notes in a shoebox, keeping a file on your phone, or (if you enjoy getting crafty) as complicated and beautiful as a scrapbook. Just remember that the ultimate point is that YOU’RE DOING AN AWESOME JOB, NO MATTER HOW YOU MAY FEEL SOME DAYS!

Raise your hand if you were cloth diapered as a baby.

raises hand*

I was born in 1982 and, yup, I was cloth diapered in the traditional “flats-and-prefolds-and-safety pins-and-rubber pants” sort of way. It could have been because we had very little money. It could have been simply because my mother was an economical fiend (in a good way). It could have been because it was how my mother was taught to do things. It also might have been because I was the last of four and my mother wasn’t about to change up her system at that point.

Back then, it wasn’t a hip trend to CD since the only diaper color available, as far as I know, was, um, white. (I still have an affinity for a cute, white-fluffed bum.) Although, seriously, haven’t they come a long way? It wasn’t really done to save the planet, either, although they were helping in that respect. Luckily, it’s definitely still an economical way to make it through babyhood (although, the price may be shocking today for those old-school prefolds-only mamas). But, for coolness factor? If you could afford disposables, you were cool. Off the charts far out.

folding diapers - Library of Congress

It’s funny how things change. One hundred years ago, it was the only method of diapering. Fifty years ago, it was still the only real method to speak of. As time went on and disposables became known, it seemed that the people who could afford it took the disposable route (all while the other mamas diligently continued CDing). Even many hospitals continued chugging along on the cloth diaper train, if you can imagine, into the early ’80s.

Today, the vast majority of parents choose disposables. It is we, the CD fans, who are the odd persons out. In a world of debating (aka full-on, no holds barred fighting) anything and everything in an online forum, somehow CDs have become yet another topic up for sometimes offensive conversation. Just today, I saw a post going off on the (inaccurate) reasons not to cloth diaper, seemingly written just to rile up plenty of upset parents. Really? If something doesn’t affect you in the slightest, you must take to the streets and shout about why you’re against it?

Old stigmas die hard, I guess, huh? The thought that cloth can break a washing machine…wow. Just wow.

But, I see the pendulum swinging, and I like the trend. From hashtags promoting the positives of cloth to incredible resources and support groups, we see more and more moms and dads trying out (and falling in love with) cloth. Others see the adorable fluff on your child’s bum and start to ask questions, and the curiosity brings them to trying some out on their own. And on and on it goes.

This is how good things happen and the word gets out: YOU. If you’ve had success, share it! If you’ve had challenges, share those, too! We can all learn from each other, and we often can’t solve our problems until we’re open about them (and often hear that we’re not the only one who have had issues).

And, when I hear those silly negative comments, I’ll just remind myself: I was cloth diapered, myself. “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.”

As I mentioned in my post last week, we’re expecting our second little one this November and we’re all super excited. Yup, even our son! As a second-timer, I can’t help but think about those popular commercials, memes and articles touting the (seemingly ridiculous) differences between first-time parenting “novices” and been-there-done-that “experts.” I don’t necessarily buy into the idea; some are naturals from the start, some have a challenging child the second/third/fourth time around — different strokes for different folks.

It has been clear, though, how different the pregnancy side of things can be this second time around. Today, I’m sharing some of my observations harboring a baby bump this time. Let’s see if any of you practiced mamas out there agree!


It feels like it’s going faster. A lot faster. It could be because life has just picked up speed since having a little guy, anyway, but I can’t believe we’re already at 21 (almost 22) weeks. Holy crow.

Slightly less attention (from strangers, co-workers, etc). Some people hate this and some people love it; I happen to be totally cool with it. I happen to have a co-worker due the exact same day with her first and there’s definitely more chattiness, questions, and advice flying her way. I appreciated the initial excitement when we made the announcement, but am enjoying the privacy we’re getting this time, including the lack of personal questions.

We already have most of the stuff we need! Be it maternity clothes, baby gear, or newborn clothing, we’re pretty much set. We’re going to round out our diaper stash, get a new car seat and buy some more wintry clothing items (hello, November in Upstate NY!), but everything else? Done! Even if we have a girl this time around, all of our 0-6 month clothing is gender neutral, and I have a sister with tons of girly clothes to share. It definitely takes a load off knowing you’re all set.

No need for a shower. Some people have a shower for every child, and that’s awesome. However, it’s not for me. We had a bit of a disaster baby shower the first time around, so even though we’re SUPER appreciative for all the gifts and support, it’s a relief not to have to relive the day. Plus, since I’m horrible at being the center of attention (says a community theater geek), this totally works for me. It doesn’t mean the little bundle of joy will be any less loved.

There’s definitely less worrying. “What was that cramp? Is it something to call the doctor about?” “What things do I really NEED on my shower registry?” “When are we going to finally finish the nursery?” Yeah, no. So far, any possible medical concern is something I felt the first time around, so I can pretty much chill about it. I also know what worked (and didn’t) for our son, so I’m aware that we can try those methods again, then adjust or buy a product if we need it rather than buying ALL THE THINGS now. Also, since we’re house hunting, we’re making plans for if we’re in this house (yup, a shared room, ack!) but also hoping for the best as far as a new home.

I guess this part is all based on a big lesson from parenting the first time around: worrying doesn’t help and flexibility reigns supreme.

No classes to take and generally there’s less prep. It might have only been for six weeks, but our weekly birthing/parenting classes provided by our hospital (plus all the driving) was helpful, but a bit of a pain. It’s a relief not to have to do it all again! Ditto that when it comes to all the additional reading-up we did. Sure, we’ll probably be refreshing our brains when the time draws near, but we know which book(s) we trust and can skim the chapters we need. Way simpler.


I’m sure I’m probably missing one or two (or ten) here, but these are the differences in my case. I know a lot of moms get more lax about their prenatal diets, belly pictures, and keeping up on what fruit their nugget most closely resembles, but I’m pretty similar on all of these fronts. (I only had a couple of belly pics, and look to be on-par with this baby. ;-))

But, what about you? What would you add to the list? (Or subtract?) I know a lot of people have a second shower or learn their baby’s gender (so might have to buy a bunch of gender-specific clothes or nursery stuff). Or there are those who have a high-risk pregnancy the second (or third or fourth) time around, so are dealing with far more worries than the average pregnancy.

Greetings to all Thirsties blog readers and users out there! A quick introduction today before jumping right into my first post – my name is Megan, and I’m over-the-moon excited to be chatting with you here. I hope that my topics and experiences will speak to you on many levels as we take this journey together. I look forward to getting to know you and hearing your own thoughts in the comments!


As a soon to be second-time mama, it’s sometimes hard to admit that I didn’t succeed at everything the first time around. I never got the hang of babywearing. My disciplining voice is still far from the gentle parenting resources I’ve read and admired. And, the biggest “shoulda-coulda-woulda” parenting moment of them all: I failed at cloth diapering.


For the cloth diapering pros out there, you may be chuckling to yourselves. After all, what’s so hard about cloth diapering? Once you get the hang of it, it’s so easy! You’re making it harder on yourself by not CDing. Yes, I’ve heard it all and, yes, I believe you. Yet, it still simply didn’t happen for us the first time. We had a fluffy-bummed child maybe a dozen times in total.

I think that we had a lot going against us from the start. We had a colicky little guy who put me, his father, and his grandmother (our angel who has watched him during the week from two months onward) through the wringer; the last thing I wanted to do was add the learning curve of CDs to the mix. The rigors and unexpected challenges of breastfeeding took their toll on my energy level and, at times, my sheer willpower to exist. Returning to work sapped me of any emotional joy for longer than expected. Plus, there was the fact that I was also a bit of an outcast as far as friends and family in terms of wanting to cloth diaper, who weren’t exactly supportive.

In addition to these pretty personal reasons for getting a big ol’ F in cloth diapering, I found that there were three overarching, overwhelming main reasons I didn’t stick with it:

* I put all my eggs in one basket. After doing countless hours of research (you all know I’m not exaggerating!), I decided to purchase a good amount of diapers being touted by my favorite bloggers. Yup, all one brand, all one style. This works for a lot of people, but in our case, with a chunky monkey son (10+ pounds at birth), the brand didn’t fit his thighs and the AIO style took FOREVER to dry. I later tried a sample box with a variety of styles, which is an awesome idea in theory, but I think I already felt like I was drowning and had invested tons of money. Enter “overwhelmed” status, stage right.

* I didn’t give myself a starting time. I wasn’t quite sure when I’d start CDing; just that I would, at some point. I had tons of gifted disposable diapers to use up first and never really set a date. Finally, I did a couple of cloth diaper tries, but for whatever reason (habit?), I’d go back to the old ‘sposies. Without a clear, official start date, I never committed. I guess it’s kind of like a relationship; you literally can’t move forward until you have your first “real” date.

* I allowed myself to let the white noise win. Y’know those countless hours of computer time I mentioned above? Any vast amounts of research are bound to fill your head with information: some incredibly useful, some not helpful or just irrelevant, and most simply white noise. The white noise, constant questioning of CD types/styles/troubleshooting and so forth, definitely left my head spinning. I was ultimately overwhelmed by it all.


Fast forward three years. For our second child, I am once again committed (actually, more so) to giving cloth diapering a serious try. I’m learning from my mistakes. Given the issues I had and the lessons I’ve learned, my goals have now evolved:

* Keep research wiser and more concise. Sure, I’ve joined a few cloth diapering communities on Facebook, but I’m doing well at tuning out the white noise and sifting out the gold-filled wisdom nuggets. From the best cloth diapering sites (which give a great, SIMPLE rundown of the CD types and brands) and reliable reviews for certain CDs, I feel I’m better able now to mute all the unnecessary white noise. Plus, I don’t have as much time these days to endlessly scroll through every CD website known to man. #toddlerchasing

* Know thyself and chill out. If this is your first time at the rodeo, cut yourself some slack. Heck, if it’s your 9th time, do the same. I know full well that I won’t feel like CDing in the hospital, or probably the first couple of weeks or so. Given the little one’s size (apparently, we grow ’em big), I’ll use that as a gauge and mark on the calendar the exact date that CDing will commence. I seriously need this kind of reminder to keep myself on track…and, yes, I will laugh at myself one day for doing that. Oh, and I’m reminding myself that one time falling off the wagon (say, tummy troubles strike or we’re traveling for a long while) does not a failure make!

* Get others on board. My husband is a total supporter of cloth, but his knowledge pretty much ends there. I don’t blame him for not spending HOURS researching; our brains just don’t work the same way and his interest isn’t quite as deep as mine. So, after sifting through so much info, I feel that it’s my job to let him know the basics and have a chat about how everything will go down. Just as he was uber supportive in breastfeeding, I hope that he’ll help by stepping up when we receive the negative responses or curious questions. Also, by talking with family (and knowing that there are online support communities – yay!), I hope to surround myself with the support to succeed this time.

* Variety is the spice of life. I don’t think I’d be good at getting a variety pack of diapers after the little one comes and having to make the decision on brands/styles at that point. I wouldn’t feel prepared enough. Instead, I’m reading the message boards and sites for what will fit a variety of needs and what get the highest ratings, overall. After reading those solid mama reviews, I’m now pretty confident about growing a stash that’s practical, economical, and varied. (Although, if I hear the word “resale” one more time… What postpartum woman feels like selling, packaging and mailing ANYTHING? Just not something I enjoy, even on a normal day! ;-))

And, for the record, for everything I feel I “failed” at, there are a hundred more parenting wins we are glad to say we nailed. What are YOUR parenting wins, cloth diaper-related or not? And did you find your vibe with cloth diapers easily, or did it take some trial and error to get it right?

(And I’m still determined to babywear this next little peanut like a fiend the second time around, too.)

This is a re-post from July 23rd, 2012 by Elizabeth A. McKenzie

So here’s a little secret: I used to be a certified massage therapist. I actually only practiced massage for two and a half years or so, though because though I enjoyed doing it, I I found it was hard to support myself, pay off of student loans and pay rent because I couldn’t physically do 40 hours of massage a week. I ended up taking a part-time nannying job to supplement my income and a few years later, I found an incredible full-time nannying gig that I couldn’t turn down. And I haven’t done much massage since….except of course, trading shoulder rubs with my husband or massaging my babies.

Foot massage

My favorite type of massage to practice is Swedish. The long sweeping strokes from the end of the appendages, up towards the heart, are supposed to help with circulation, promote relaxation and depending on how much pressure is used, to ease muscles stiffness and tension. It’s also great to use on babies.

Touch is something that is highly important between a baby and his parents for bonding. It’s the most powerful gift of love that a parent can give to a newborn whose world has gone from warm, dark and safe to bright, noisy, too cold or too hot. Touch from a parent can be reassuring, comforting and the first way your baby experiences your presence.

When massaging my baby I like to use a mild massage oil. Almond oil, coconut oil or even olive oil will work quite well and will not hurt baby if he gets his hands in his mouth. Or you can buy specially formulated massage oils for use on babies though I never thought there was any need to spend the money on them.

Sitting in a draft free area, I’d undress baby down to his diaper, lay him on a towel across my lap and start gently massaging a small foot and gradually moving up the leg, towards his core with long, even strokes. Then I do the same for the other foot and leg and then move on to the hands and arms, always starting at the end of the appendages and imagining that I was pushing the blood back towards the heart. I’d also massage his stomach, clockwise from top to bottom, which is the direction that helps push what ever is in the bowels (stool or gas), out instead of in. This often seems to soothe a gassy or colicky baby. Another massage trick to relieve gas is to bend the baby’s knees towards his belly and move his legs as if he were riding a bicycle.

Tonight Cooper is having a hard time settling down. After I wrap up this blog I am going to break out some massage oil and give my little a guy a relaxing foot and belly rub. I have a feeling my big guy watching the news in the den will want his feet rubbed too.

Do you massage your baby? What oils or lotions do you use? Did it work to soothe your little one?