Thursday, March 15, 2012

Why do I support Ron Paul?

I know some of my friends think I'm crazy, or just tactfully decide not to respond when I say anything about Dr. Paul. I want you to know why I support his cause of Liberty. I started a change in my life about five years ago. I decided that since I was now a grown-up, it was time to not be so politically apathetic. It was time to find out what all this stuff is about. You know, find out for myself about different candidates and issues before I vote. I had had too many embarrassing moments when I went to vote and discovered there were many people and issues on the ballot that I knew nothing about. I instinctively knew that CNN was not going to give me the information I needed. I wanted to get everything from the horse's mouth. I threw out any preconceived notions about political parties and started from scratch. I searched out different candidates and attended their little parties. I read books. I searched out candidates and read their websites. Almost everything I encountered left me more confused and disappointed. I remember one little "get-to-know-your-candidate" party that left me especially disheartened. I wanted to find out about issues and ideas, but all I got were photos of his pretty family and theoretical talk about alternative energy. Come on, who doesn't want alternative energy? It's not like we all want to continue to pay through the nose for gasoline to run our cars and heat our homes for the rest of our lives. I wanted to hear people talk about real issues. I began to think that there was nobody out there who I would feel good about voting for in elections. I had heard a few great candidates talk, but these were ALWAYS the kind that were running on the independent ticket and would end up with less than 1% of the vote. So I voted for these kind of people, feeling hopeless. But at least I knew that I was running against the herd that was headed in a deadly stampede off the cliff (will I die with them? Yes, but at least I am not part of the problem).

About this time, I picked up a book by Dr. Ron Paul. I had heard his name before, but didn't know anything about him. I liked the sound of the book's title: Revolution. I had come to understand that our nation was in grave circumstances and nothing short of a Revolution would help us. As I read each page, I became more and more excited. Finally, here was someone who was offering something to sink my teeth into! I knew that finally I had found someone with experience (in the medical and political fields) who was honest, intelligent, and who laid it all out in a way that no one could deny. There were no pretty pictures of his family. There was no theoretical talk that would please everyone and answer no questions. This was real. He explained our beloved Constitution and lamented how far we've come from that freedom-protecting document. He talked about wars (he has been there), why we fight, and why lately it's been for all the wrong reasons. He talked about the current mess of health care in this country (he remembers what it was like to practice as a doctor before the government got their fingers twisted up in the system, it was much better back then. And affordable.). He talked about welfare problems, and noted that in freedom-loving societies, we take care of our neighbors without being forced by the government (community charity vs. State programs and foreign aid from the government). He laid out the real issues and offered real solutions in a way that no one could deny.

I also began to study our history, the Constitution, and our founding fathers. History and government were always my worst subjects in school, but I decided to give them a second chance. This opened up a new world for me, and I began to understand more deeply our current problems. I have learned about the false notion of "liberal vs. conservative". This never made sense to me, and now I know why. The only real scale is "freedom vs. tyranny". When thinking about an issue, you need to ask yourself if this is something that gives me freedom, or does it take my freedoms away. Freedom works. This is a phrase oft repeated by Ron Paul. An example of freedom working can be found in the first settlers of the American colonies. The settlers at Jamestown started out with a socialist society (no private ownership of land, everybody shares what they have). The idea behind this was easy to understand. This was a new land, things would be hard, and they needed to help each other to survive. The results were catastrophic and many people died. Able-bodied men refused to work because they were tired of all their hard work benefiting those who didn't work. The problem spiraled worse and worse until one of their leaders threw up his hands in disgust and gave up. He assigned each family their own land and told them they were on their own. He fully expected the lazy bums to lay down and die, but the whole colony changed overnight. Instead of spending all his time yelling and reprimanding lazy people to get busy, he watched in amazement as everybody whipped themselves into shape and worked harder than they had ever done before. The colony flourished. Freedom worked.

I support Dr. Paul because he is a candidate who supports freedom and the Constitution. Yes, there have been other candidates like him in the past, but this is someone who is running on the Republican ticket and actually has a chance to get more than 1% of the vote. This is very exciting for me to see, but also sickening to see how the mass media blacks him out (they don't have something mean to say about him, so they say nothing at all). Sickening to see how people close their eyes to the real issues and continue to vote for the candidate that is the most vague and has the prettiest family photos. Am I still running against the herd? Yes, but this time there are a lot of people running with me, and that part is exciting.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Carob vs. Chocolate, the final showdown

Do you know what carob is? You probably have heard that it's some kind of nasty imitation chocolate. Actually, carob is a Mediterranean tree that grows an edible seed pod. The pod is slightly sweet and the taste somewhat resembles chocolate. Tradition holds that the carob pods are the "locusts" that John the Baptist ate while living in the dessert.

As I mentioned, the taste is somewhat similar to chocolate, and thus it is often used as a chocolate substitute. You might have tasted some before and thought there was something wrong with it because it didn't quite taste like chocolate. Remember the scene in Notting Hill when Spike is eating some white stuff with a spoon, and says, "there's something wrong with this yogurt." And Hugh Grant says, "that's not yogurt, it's mayonnaise." And Spike says, "Oh," and smiles as he takes another bite. It's the same idea with carob. If you are expecting it to taste exactly like chocolate, then you might be disappointed. But if you are expecting carob, it tastes quite nice.

So why should you eat carob instead of chocolate? Is one healthier than the other? I thought I'd share this debate I overheard in my kitchen between the chocolate and the carob:

Chocolate: I am definitely better than you, carob, because I have my own natural fat, cocoa butter. You have to use borrowed fats (usually hydrogenated oil) to give you that creamy taste.

Carob: What? Who says you have to eat carob with hydrogenated oils? Read the ingredients on the label before you buy me, it can be any fat. Usually companies that make carob candies are responsible enough to use healthy fats. And that's only if you get me in candy or chip form. In powder form, I am fat free anyway (like you when you are cocoa powder). Speaking of extra additives, I am naturally sweet (just the right amount) and usually don't have any added sugar. You, on the other hand, are so incredibly bitter that people have to add loads of refined sugars to make you taste good.

Chocolate: Oh yeah? That's not what the Native Americans and Samoans thought. They loved drinking that bitter chocolate drink, no sugar added. Some people still even like it.

Carob: Not in this country. Only a few weird people drink that nasty stuff. Most have to sugar you up quite a bit to choke you down.

Chocolate: Hmmmph. You just have to face it that you will never be me. You can never taste exactly like chocolate, only I can.

Carob: Well, Joy's kids can't tell the difference between carob and chocolate brownies, it's all the same to them.

Chocolate: Her husband can tell, he likes chocolate better.

Carob: He likes me too, and he's learning to like me even more. Lots of people like how I taste. And I don't have to resort to mood-altering addictive drugs to get people to want more and more of me. What about that, huh?

Chocolate: Right, the caffeine. You've hit me below the belt. . . . I have no response to that.

Well, there you have it. The carob emerges as the victor (in my kitchen, anyway)!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Your pearly whites

About a year or two ago, I was surfing the 'net trying to find better natural ways to care for teeth. My teeth were randomly giving me pain, and my daughter's teeth were starting to decay (classic baby bottle teeth, even though she never had a bottle!). Somewhere during my surf, I read something about the power of your teeth to re-enamel themselves at night when they are clean. I was fascinated by this concept. Could it be true? Do teeth really produce a new protective coating on a regular basis? And if they can, then wouldn't it be possible for cavities to heal? Why doesn't the dentist ever tell you this?

Oh yes, it is possible. I read another statement by a dentist who admitted that sometimes yes, he has seen cavities heal. But sometimes they just get worse. And since he has no idea which course the tooth will take, he treats all cavities the same. He drills them and fills them.

Excuse me? What if you went to the doctor with an infected finger, and he took a look at it and said, "Hmmm, I've seen these heal before, but I've also seen these get worse. And I'm not sure what to do to make it heal, so I'm just going to cut the bad part off."

What's wrong with this picture? Are there any dentists that are trying to figure out how to help our teeth heal? Well, there was a dentist, his name was Weston Price. In 1915, he was a prominent dentist that was appointed as the research director for the National Dentist Association (now the American Dental Association). He actually did some serious research, he traveled the globe for years looking at people's teeth everywhere. Amazingly, he found that some of the people with the best teeth didn't even own toothbrushes! They were the people like the Eskimos or the different tribal groups in Africa that ate their traditional uncivilized food (no white flour, white sugar, pasteurized milk, canned tuna, etc.). He also noticed that once these people moved to the city and started eating city food, their teeth started to fall out. He researched what kinds of foods these healthy-teeth people were eating. He performed experiments on people who had decayed teeth by feeding them special diets, and their teeth stopped decaying and began to heal. His work was extensive and published in journals. So why don't most dentists talk about him and his work today? Hmmmm, good question. (Maybe the answer has to do with secret combinations of the food and/or health industries, but we won't go there right now.)

So, what can you do to make healthy teeth? The first part is easy: go through your house and locate every tube of toothpaste. Then dump them all in the trash (especially if they have flouride added). Toothpaste is full of chemicals that are just plain bad for you and your teeth (glycerin is one to avoid). Get rid of any whitening potions if they have ingredients that you can't pronounce. Keep your toothbrush if it has soft bristles. I got a natural-bristle tooth brush, it is really soft and I love it.

Now that you have no toothpaste, what do you put on the tooth brush? We brush our teeth with soap and hot water. (Hot water and soap for cleaning something, it's not really a new concept!) Rub your toothbrush across the surface of a bar of soap, don't use liquid soap. Preferably use some kind of natural home-made cold-process soap, not Ivory or Irish Springs (the homemade ones usually taste better anyway). Don't use a bar of glycerin soap, glycerin coats your teeth and takes a long time to rinse off. The amount of naturally-occurring glycerin in regular soap is okay. You can also buy special tooth soap from various places online.

Another thing you can find online are all kinds of natural potions and powders (and recipes for homemade versions) for cleaning your teeth. I have never tried any special powders, but I do brush my teeth with baking soda about once a week. I started this teeth cleaning routine about a year ago, and my random tooth pain totally disappeared almost immediately. It came back briefly when I tried using an electric toothbrush (too harsh for me), but I realized the problem and quit using it. Later I got in a flossing frenzy, but that bothered me as well, so I quit the daily floss. An oral irrigator would be gentler than floss (I have one in my Amazon shopping cart). The important thing is to listen to your teeth, respond when they complain, and find gentle cleaning methods that make them happy.

Now that we've talked about cleaning your teeth, we need to address the much more important piece of the puzzle: your diet. Brushing your teeth will not stop tooth decay, it will only slow it down. If your diet were completely ideal, you would have no need to brush (except maybe for cosmetic and kissing purposes). The ideal diet was first researched by Dr. Price, then added and experimented upon by other doctors and dentists. I recently purchased a book called Cure Tooth Decay (got it on Amazon for $26 with free shipping). It was written by Ramiel Nagel. He studied the work of Dr. Price and others, tried out some experimental diets on himself and his daughter (who had the same problem as my daughter), and wrote his findings in this book. I had looked at this book online for quite some time before I decided to cough up the money to buy it. If you are interested in keeping your teeth, you should really read this book (try looking at your local library, or borrow it from me if you live in Ketchikan). It is a great summary of the work of the dental pioneers, plus he has great advice about communing with your teeth (in an almost spiritual manner) to know what food they need and to help them heal.

What else is in the book? I really can't write everything in this blog post (I don't have room). But I will sum up a few things I've learned. Dr. Price's studies said that people who had healthy teeth ate regularly from at least two of these following food groups:
1. Raw dairy products from grass-fed animals.
2. Organ and muscle meat from fish and shellfish.
3. Organs of grass-fed land animals (liver and kidneys, mmmm).
4. Creepy crawlies like bugs and insects.

Foods to avoid are: refined foods (white flour, white sugar, white rice), too many sweets (even fruits), hydrogenated oils, pasteurized & homogenized milk products, processed & packaged foods, junk food, fast food, caffeine, soda, farm-raised fish, and basically anything else that you consider regular store food.

Okay, now you're thinking, "What? I guess I need to move to a farm and start producing all my own food, because how else am I going to get that kind of food? And I'm not eating bugs, yuck!" (I agree with you on that one, I'm not eating bugs either.) Well, I used to feel that eating right would be absolutely impossible, and if possible then way too expensive anyway. But one thing my grandma always said was that grocery bills are cheaper than doctor bills. How much do you/could you spend at the dentist? Or doctor? Remember, healthy teeth are a sign of a healthy body. And what kind of price tag can you put on your health?

I am a super cheap girl with a really tight grocery budget, and I live on an Alaskan island that has not one single cow (and definitely no grazing pastures), but I am doing what I can to eat less store food and more traditional food. I have taken small steps to help me get closer to my goal. We got chickens so we don't have to eat factory eggs from the store anymore. I bought a copy of Nourishing Traditions, an awesome cookbook that teaches how to prepare whole foods in traditional ways, like soaking whole grains and fermenting your own sauerkraut. (Plus it has great recipes for things like mayo and ketchup so you won't have to buy those ready-made full-of-junk things at the store). I started getting the organic produce box from Full Circle Farm (flown up on Alaska Airlines from Seattle) and somehow squeezed that into my food budget every other week. And my most recent conquest was scraping enough money together to get a shipment of meat up from Thundering Hooves, a nice place that has their own pasture-raised meats. We ate some steak the other night, and I am never settling for the disgusting store meat again! My next goal is to overcome the dairy problem. No, there are no cows in Ketchikan, but there are goats! My husband is building the goat shed, and we are talking to all the owners of pregnant goats in the area, arranging our future purchase of two or three dairy goats, yay! My other goals for this year are to get a good garden going and to catch more seafood to fill our freezer.

Yes, it is a process. No, it isn't easy. It's not easy to completely change almost everything you know about cooking and so-called healthy food. But yes, it is possible. And yes, my family and I are worth it!

One easy thing you could do to get started is to take a supplement. The book recommends Green Pasture's naturally fermented cod liver oil and high vitamin butter oil. You can buy them separately or combined in one bottle. A spoonful a day will give you the most important nutrients from two of those four food groups: grass-fed dairy and seafood organs. The supplement is no substitute for a healthy diet, you should still avoid all the refined foods and too many sweets. I'm thinking about ordering the cod liver oil/butter oil combo. It would help pack some powerful nutrients into my family as we work towards a better diet (and are waiting for our goats). And we have been snacking lately on some homemade raw liver pate, let me tell you it is yummy. My kids really like it.

Wow, this post got really long. My parting words are, read the book. It will fill your mind with logic and clarity and hope to make your teeth (and whole body) a healthy, healing machine.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

One Man's Trash . . . .

I thought it would be fun to post some pictures of other people's trash that has ended up in our home as a treasure. So many useful objects are thrown away just because they are viewed as useless. Here are some ways that our family has turned trash into treasure.

First, the ever important glass jar:

I don't like plastic, so glass jars make an excellent (and free) replacement for all those little rubbermaid containers in the fridge, freezer, and pantry. I will sometimes make a purchase choice because it comes in a nice big glass jar that I know I can re-use. Adams peanut butter comes in awesome big jars. I also love getting those big gallon jars of pickles and olives. They make great jars for sprouting wheat, etc. The other day I was at Tongass ("the" store downtown) and they were selling gallon glass jars for $12. Wow, who would pay that much for an empty jar?? Think about that next time you go to toss a glass jar or bottle in the garbage.

Speaking of food storage, here is my next batch of buckets waiting to be filled with beans:

Two years ago we ordered a bunch of bulk food for daily use and emergency storage. Of course we then needed something to store them in, but couldn't afford to buy the necessary storage buckets at the local hardware store. So I started begging for used buckets at the grocery store deli across the street. I usually have to wash out the chocolate frosting or buttery garlic spread before I can use them, but I'm not complaining because they are free. Plus, I feel good that I am keeping them out of the landfill.

This is the pride and joy of my cluttered entry way, the patchwork wool rug:

I made it with shrunken wool sweaters, most of them gotten from the thrift store. Okay, I admit that I shrunk most of them myself, on purpose, to make the rug. And I paid money for most of them. But buying things at the thrift store does keep them out of the landfill. The thrift stores around here regularly gather up the things that don't sell and take them to the dump. Shrunken wool sweaters usually don't even get put on the rack at the thrift store, they just throw those donations right in the garbage. I finally convinced the thrift store down the street to set aside all their wool things for me instead of throwing them in the trash. I'm super excited about that, as I love crafting with recycled wool.
This wool rug was super easy to make. I cut apart the sweaters on the seams and shrunk them by throwing them in the washer and dryer. I then cut squares and sewed them together with a zig-zag stitch on my machine (no seam allowance, just sew the zig zag right over the edges). I made it double-thick to make the rug nice and heavy, but it is still small enough to throw into my washing machine. The rug has taken a lot of abuse in my wet, muddy entry way for two years and has held up beautifully. I've only washed it twice, as wool is very resistant to stains and spills. (I do vacuum it regularly.)

On the other side of my front door is this black rubber mat for wiping off your feet:

I wanted to get one of those huge industrial welcome mats that could really clean your shoes and wouldn't blow away in the wind. Of course I didn't have the money for that kind of purchase. I started thinking of what I could use to make my own mat, and then I remembered some of the junk that Chris brought home from the airport. They had replaced some of the conveyer belts at the airport, and the mechanic disposed of the old ones (brought them home, of course). We used some of it as flooring in the chicken coop, and I thought about making those tire sandals with some of it as well. But most of it was just rolled up and waiting for some useful purpose. It dawned on me that I already had a perfect rubber mat, I just had to cut a length and put it on the front walkway. I don't think my kitchen shears will ever be the same again, but the welcome mat is working wonderfully.

And now, here is the chicken coop you've been wondering about:

I had to put a picture of that since it mainly constructed with trash. You can see that the fence around the run is made with pallets. The floors and walls of the coop were also made from pallets. The blue-green siding was used and sitting in the yard of a construction company (we gladly took it off their hands). The lumber used in the construction was taken from our own living room ceiling. We even used the wood panel siding that we ripped off our living room walls to line the inside of the coop. The most expensive part of the coop was the chicken wire which sells for $50 a roll here! You'd think it was made from solid gold.

Last but not least, I can't blog about trash without talking about the stuff I pull out of the actual trash can in the produce department at the grocery store:

No, it's not the chickens, but the lettuce that they are trampling (it was fresh yesterday). We have twelve chickens (until recently we had 18) and we supplement their diet with a healthy supply of garbage from the produce department across the street. My daily jaunt to the back rooms of the grocery store, with kids in tow, to dig through the trash cans for choice pieces of broccoli and apples has given new meaning to my life, to say the least.

Enjoy your day, may the trash be with you!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Cleaning the Bathroom (without scary chemicals)

I want to say "thank you" to everyone who has told me they love my blog. I don't know why you do, since I only write something once every six months! I constantly have ideas of what I should say, but finding the time to sit down and type is another story. I don't know how other moms can find all that time to blog. They must stay up all night.

Anyway, the idea for this post came when I was over at a friend's house who also has two young children. We were talking about what we do during that precious solitude of nap time. She said that she usually cleans the bathroom, because then she doesn't have to worry about her kids breathing in or playing with the cleaning chemicals. I didn't say anything, but I thought, wow, I would never waste nap time on cleaning the bathroom! First of all, the best time to clean the bathroom is when the kids are taking a bath (since you're probably in there watching them anyway). Second of all, who says you need scary dangerous chemicals to clean the bathroom? Is your bathroom some kind of bio-hazard site where you need to don protective clothing and a gas mask before entering? Or is it just another room in your house that you frequently enter barefoot (whether it is clean or not!)? Seriously, cleaning the bathroom does not have to be dangerous or expensive. I was surprised to read this in something as mainstream as a Martha Stewart mini mag: she said that it was just fine to wipe down the bathroom with a rag and hot water. I frequently follow her advice when the vanity looks a little grubby. I grab a wipe from the back of the toilet, wet it, wipe down the sink & vanity, and toss the wipe into the diaper pail. We wipe down the counters in the kitchen with water all the time, why not the bathroom?

Of course, sometimes you need something a little more powerful than water in the bathroom. Baking soda is my best friend when it comes to scrubbing down the bathroom. Simply shake some on a rag or scouring pad and scrub the tub or toilet. This is so convenient for me since I always have baking soda in my shower (for washing my hair). I frequently scrub down the tub while I'm showering. What could be easier than that? And here's a tip I got from Ellen Sandbeck's Green Housekeeping: use a plastic mesh bag (like the ones that they use for oranges or onions) as your scouring pad. These work better than any scouring pad you can buy, and they are free. I have one of these hanging in the shower for when I feel inspired to scrub.

And when it comes time for rinsing the tub, nothing works better than my toilet sprayer. The hose is long enough to reach over to the tub and hose it down with powerful force.

Baking soda also works well for scouring the toilet and vanity. I sprinkle some inside the toilet bowl and scrub it with the brush. Vinegar is another good friend in the bathroom. I usually use it to mop the floor (with a rag and a foot, not a mop. I haven't used a mop since I lived in Costa Rica. No mops there and they get along just fine.) You can also use vinegar instead of baking soda to wipe down all the fixtures. It doesn't have much scouring power, but it is a good general cleaner with anti-bacterial properties. You can also use it to clean the mirror, but water works just fine for that. For a spotless shining mirror, get two microfiber cleaning towels (look in the automotive section at your store as they frequently sell them as car-washing towels). Wet one towel with hot water and scrub the mirror (or window). When it looks clean, take the second dry towel and wipe the mirror until it is sparkling and dry. Tada! Who needs Windex? When I clean the bathroom, I usually start with the mirror, then use the towels to wipe down everything else, ending with the floor.

My cousin Laurie should remember that my other favorite tool for cleaning the bathroom is the vacuum cleaner (don't do this if the bathroom is wet). If the floor & vanity are dry, plug in the vacuum and use the hose attachment to quickly suck up all the hair, dust, dirt, hair pins, small bath toys, etc. When I am vacuuming the floors, I try to remember to quickly run the hose through the bathroom as well.

Finally, for those who are germ-o-phobic and feel the need to sterilize the house on a regular basis, you can do this without scary bleach. Get two misting spray bottles and put white vinegar in one and hydrogen peroxide in the other (both very harmless and cheap). Both of these chemicals are good cleaners by themselves, but together they make a powerful sterilizer that is more effective than bleach. Please DO NOT mix them in the same bottle; if they are allowed to mingle together they produce harmful fumes. When you want to sterilize a surface, mist it first with vinegar and then with peroxide (or in reverse order, it doesn't matter). Then wipe the surface dry with a rag. I read this tip in Green Housekeeping as well. I'm not a germ-o-phobe, but sometimes I like to sterilize if someone has been sick (or if the bathroom just seems really gross). Vodka is another good sterilizing cleaner. I've never used it since I'm too nervous to go to the liquor store to buy some! And I have no idea how much it would cost. But I've heard it makes a very effective bathroom cleaner. Please comment if you have used it.

To sum up, remember that there is a powerful advertising force out there to convince you that you need their products to clean your bathroom (and the rest of your house). They have a lot of money invested in you and your purchase power. It's time to show them you don't need them. It's time to phase out all those expensive cleaners and stock up on harmless and effective (and cheap!) alternatives like baking soda, peroxide, white vinegar, and maybe some microfiber towels. Your pocketbook and the quality of air you breathe inside your home will start to improve. Not to mention you can find something more exiting to do during nap time, like writing a new post on your blog!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Out and About with Cloth Diapers

When you use cloth diapers on your baby, is it 24/7? Or is it strictly an at-home operation? I admit that when I was a new mom, I had an unexplainable fear about being out of the house with a wet (or worse) cloth diaper. I put a disposable diaper on my son whenever we left the house. Before long, I realized that toting a dirty cloth diaper back to my house in the diaper bag might be easier than finding an acceptable place to deposit that used trashy diaper. All I needed was a good wet bag for storing the wet (or worse) diaper until I got back to the diaper pail at home. At first I just used plastic grocery bags or gallon-sized ziploc bags. They did the job just fine, but they weren't very reusable (or fashionable). Then I made my own wool wet bag with a felted wool sweater and a zipper. Wool wet bags work just like wool diaper covers, and should be washed by hand. I now also have a PUL wet bag, this is very waterproof and highly durable in the diaper wash. And fashionable, like this floral "Icky Bag" from Petunias. You'll find lots of other wet bags on etsy, check them out.

My other fear of cloth diapering away from home was that I couldn't bring my wipe warmer full of warm, wet cloth wipes. I realized this wasn't that big of an issue, I just packed dry wipes and a small squirt bottle of water. My own Klean Kanteen water bottle also works fine for wetting wipes. Usually we are changing diapers in a bathroom anyway, so I'll wet my wipes in the sink.

Now when I leave the house, I just make sure I have enough diapers & covers, some wipes, a wet bag, some water, and we are good to go! Oh, is your diaper bag not big enough to hold all those things? Get a bigger one. A grocery tote works fine too, that's what I usually use.

A small wetbag is fine for short outings, but what do you do when you are away from home overnight or longer? Get a bigger wetbag! This wetbag from Wee Ones by Jajoc holds about 20 wet diapers. I made my own diaper-pail-sized wet bag from a yard of PUL fabric and a draw string. It is large enough to hold ALL my wet diapers, and therefore large enough for any trip. As long as I know I'll be near a laundromat (or better yet, grandma's washing machine) at least once every three days during the trip, we are good to go. Just make sure to bring your own detergent as you never know what you will find in grandma's laundry room. One more thing, if your trip is longer than 3-4 days, try to NOT leave any wet diapers in your diaper pail at home (they'll be super yucky by the time you get back). When I pack for a trip, the last thing I do is wash and pack all the diapers. I usually have one or two dirty ones by the time we leave the house, I pack those with me also in the wet bag. It's not a big deal to pack dirty diapers with me, as I know I will soon be adding to that wet bag. Besides, I never want to leave behind ANY of my diapers since I want to use my entire working stash on the trip.

What about when you are camping, far away from any washing machine, or even running water? I have taken cloth camping and lived to tell about it! It was actually quite easy, but all my relatives at the family reunion looked at me with awe and respect (or maybe they just thought I was crazy). The camping trip was only four days, so I made sure to pack enough diapers to last the whole trip. I packed every single diaper I could find. I even packed things that could be used as a diaper in a pinch, like cotton baby blankets. I just didn't want to run out, as I wasn't planning on washing diapers in the nearby lake! Also, as there were no toilets for rinsing out diapers, I brought some flushable diaper liners that I could drop right into the pit toilets. These were wonderful, I highly recommend them for any vacation with cloth diapers.

As I said, I have never washed diapers by hand while roughing it, but I have heard of people who have! If you do, just be sure to bring biodegradable laundry detergent, a clothesline & clothespins. Don't wash or rinse diapers in a lake, but a running stream should be okay. Also, you might want to leave your thick all-in-ones at home, they might never dry! Opt for some quick-dry fitteds or even flat diapers instead. You also might find that your camping destination is near a town with a laundromat. A quick mid-camping drive to town might be in order. Some campgrounds even have their own laundromat, check around and find one for your next camping trip.

So, next time you leave the home, don't forget your cloth diapers! Whether it be a quick play date or a two-week cruise, it can be done. And it's really not that hard!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

72 hour kits and cloth diapers

Last monday night for Family Home Evening we went through and updated our 72-hour emergency kits. We have a bunch of MREs (fake army food) and divided them up between four backpacks (including a super tiny backpack for Lola). We got the MREs from a family that moved south. There is a lot of food there, but no dates on it anywhere. Chris mentioned that it could be surplus meals left over from Desert Storm or even the Vietnam era. We sampled one of the pieces of fortified snack bread (it was heavily smothered with a packet of strawberry jam to make it palatable). Wow, pretty gross. I could tell it was food that you would eat to keep from starving to death, that's all. So now my new plan is to get real food from the grocery store (tuna, saltines, fruit roll-ups, granola bars, etc.) to use instead of the MREs. Then rotate that food every six months. I've heard of people that do the rotating at conference time. The family gathers around the TV (in our case, the online audio stream) for two days to listen to the prophets council while they have a picnic-type feast on all their emergency food. That sounds like it could be a fun family tradition (but not if it involves MREs). So I need to stock up some good emergency food.

We also went over some lists I have collected over the years of what should be in your 72-hour kit. (Here is an example list, there are many other lists online.) We inventoried what we already had and made a shopping list of extra things we need, like light sticks (waterproof, just in case we have to hike through the woods in a downpour at midnight, you never know). I pulled out the little hygiene kit I made for myself a few years ago. Wow, I don't even use most of that stuff anymore (shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, deodorant). I should dump all that stuff and just put in some little containers of baking soda & vinegar! And maybe one bar of soap. Another thing on my list is to make copies of important documents (birth certificates, insurance policies, etc.) to bring with us if we ever have to evacuate.

One of the things I have been struggling with in the emergency kits is what to do for diapers. Lola is still in diapers and it could be a real bummer if we didn't have any for her. Disposable diapers are the natural solution in an emergency situation, but I just can't bring myself to buy those trashy diapers. I just hate them. Plus, if I had enough trashies to last for 72 hours, then what? Things might not be back to normal yet. I could grab some cloth diapers from the normal stash on the way out the door, but chances are rare that I would have a whole clean stash. Usually about half of them are dirty. And chances are that in an emergency situation I would be down to about 3 or 4 clean ones. Finally I came up with a solution that would work. I'm going to get flat diapers & pins to use for the emergency kit. Flat diapers are super easy to make out of cotton flannel sheets, receiving blankets, or those ten yards of white cotton birdseye that are buried somewhere in my sewing room. Then I'll make a few (five or six should be plenty) waterproof PUL snap covers. The beauty of this system is that the flat diapers can be folded to fit any size of baby. Then they wash easily and dry quickly. The covers come in three different sizes, if I have another baby I'll just make sure that I have the right size of cover stashed in the kit. I will also include laundry soap, clothesline, and clothespins. And possibly a bucket for washing. I'm sure we'll want to wash more than just diapers, this will be useful for washing our clothes, too!

We have everything stashed close to the front door so we can be out of the house in a hurry (if necessary). Chances are pretty rare that we would have an emergency here that would send us packing on foot (or canoe?). Most likely we would experience something that would have us housebound without power (like a big snow storm). But if our house is on fire or we have to evacuate from the path of a REALLY big tsunami (big enough to make it over Gravina Island), then we are ready!