Category Archives: Domesticity

Cloth Diapers

I recently had someone ask me about our cloth diaper use, so I thought it might be helpful to post our experience with cloth diapers. We actually really liked using them, though we used a combination of cloth and disposable.

So we bought two kinds of cloth diapers — fuzzibunz and Bumgenius. I’m lying — we also bought prefolds, Thirsties, and gDiapers. Sujal was not really that comfy with the prefolds (He thought they looked too giant on the newborn Che), so we abandoned them quickly, though we still used the prefolds as under-the-baby-changing-absorbers in case he had an open air accident. The Thirsties were diaper covers, if I recall correctly. The gDiapers were with the flushable liners. I found that they leaked more than other diapers, so I didn’t love them, but they were okay. I’ve since sold them.

The fuzzibunz (pocket diaper) have snaps to change the sizing — and they are fine. We don’t love them, but they are fine. The are infinitely easier to stuff than the Bumgenius. We mainly use the Bumgenius — they have snaps to resize, but the closures are velcro-like. We like that because there is the most room for adjustment with them. While the Fuzzibunz have lots of snaps for a variety of sizes, it always feels like guesswork.

Our goal is to use the cloth diapers all the time at home with the exception of nighttime. The reality is the cloth diapers work just fine at night. There were just a few times when it made sense to use the disposables at night, and we simply got into the habit. When we travel, we use disposables. When I go out in the day, I usually use disposables, but I do have two wet/dry bags so we can take cloth out. I did sadly once leave one of the Bumgeniuses in the BabiesRUs changing room and someone threw is out. (That’s an expensive disposable!) Because I was staying home, I found the washing and stuffing pretty do-able. Not sure it will be as easy once I go back to work. My thought is that we will do disposable at daycare and cloth at home. Daycare can’t dispose of solids or separate the inserts from the main part, so it would be a lot of gross work after I get home from work.

Oh — and the soap — we use Charlie’s Soap, which is great. Frankly, I’ve even started using it on our regular laundry. Once in a while, I did not to “strip” the diapers — wash them in extra hot water. Our washing machine does have a “sanitary” setting, and that’s what I’d use, and it easily did the trick. When I would do that, I would wash the diaper pail liner (we used Kissaluvs Antibacterial liners — 2, one for the wash, one in the pail) separately. When the diaper pail got really stinky, I’d sprinkle some baking soda in there.

I really wanted to buy our cloth diapers at a local store where they would help explain things, but the only one nearby went out of business. We bought a few diapers up in Northampton, MA at A Child’s Garden, but we bought the lion’s share at Kelly’s Closet online. We bought larger amounts so the prices would go down. I have to say — I think we saved a lot of money breastfeeding and cloth diapering this year!

Hope this helps! Leave a comment if you have diapering ideas and suggestions.


Breastfeeding in Public

My Che is now 9 months old. At this point, we are planning on putting all of our eggs in one basket (oo pressure, kid) — so I have this knowledge and experience that I can at least share. I hope if you are looking for some advice on breastfeeding in public that you find this post helpful.

When I began nursing my newborn, I was a bit hesitant about how and where to nurse. I knew one thing for sure — I did not want to be “banished” from a room. I didn’t want to have to go hide myself at holidays or when we had visitors, as we so often did in the beginning. I’m social. I like to chat it up. I also know that I would have a hard time merely staying at home all day. I needed to get out of the house. This, of course, involved feeding Che on the go.

At the time, I did search on the internet for good places to breastfeed. I quickly learned that this is still word of mouth type information, one can only assume because of the taboo around it.

So how did I maneuver in this new territory? When it came to guests at our house or visiting others, I would usually ask, “Do you mind if I nurse.” I think that is actually particularly generous and considerate on my part, because the reality is my kid had to eat whether anyone else liked it or not. Only once did I have a really awkward situation where I was banished to a room — a room with children in it. But in such situations, if I was not “welcome” to nurse where I was, then I’d ask my husband or someone to hang out with me. There were a few instances when I nursed privately when around older, more traditional folks, but even that was pretty rare. I do recommend asking a buddy to hang with you. I found that the overwhelming majority of people were completely fine with me breastfeeding. Even in the instances of being “banished,” several people seemed to want to accompany me into my banishment.

The next road to navigate: where to breastfeed in public. I think I feared more people not being okay with it. Luckily, I have not yet encountered any kind of rude looks or stares. Frankly, I sometimes wonder if many people even notice when I breastfeed. They don’t.

Initially, I looked for nursing-friendly places. I live in West Hartford, CT — so here is a run-down of some of the good local places as well as generic places. It was fall/winter when my son and I were out and he nursed often, so we went to the West Farms Mall. A lot. The bathroom off of the men’s department in Nordstrom has a separate nursing room, which is quite nice, though I preferred the main lounge in the bathroom because it has comfy couches. Nordstrom even has free wifi, though it is a bit slow.

The family bathroom in the middle of the mall downstairs is also a great place to nurse. It’s definitely not as comfy as Nordstrom, but it works.

In West Hartford Center, I found Reuben’s Deli to be particularly friendly — not just to breastfeeding, but to babies in general. The Noah Webster Library (main branch in WeHa Center) is also breastfeeding friendly. I nursed there once in a pinch — early on when I was more nervous about it. I went into the stacks and quietly nursed. Once I asked if there was anywhere I could nurse in the library, a librarian told me — you can nurse anywhere in the library. If you want privacy, you can use the parent conference room, which is in the children’s department. Let me also make a plug for the awesome facilities at the children’s room in the library!

Another great thing is if you ask, I found places were often very willing to accommodate. As my husband and I tried to open a bank account for Che, I asked if they minded if I nursed as we waited, and an officer opened a meeting room for me. Asking opens doors, literally.

It wasn’t long before I got over my nervousness about breastfeeding in public. I had a nursing cover, but it was a pain in the ass to use. I quickly gave that up. Then my favorite places to nurse where usually coffee joints or some kind of restaurant. I have nursed in many Starbucks and the like. If we went out for breakfast, lunch, or dinner — nursing was usually part of the event.

I traveled with my baby — with my husband and alone. I’ve nursed in rest areas. It was actually in New Jersey at a rest area where I realized that I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone breastfeeding in public. Then I further realized, I don’t think most people are even remotely aware that I am breastfeeding when I am. I think I just missed it when others have nursed in public. So if you are feeling nervous about it, think of that reality check.

Obviously nursing at playgroups, doctors’ offices, baby stores, La Leche meetings, etc are all welcomed and encouraged.

Once my son hit about 6 or 7 months, my public breastfeeding habits changed a bit. I still do it, but less frequently — partly because he is also eating solids, but partly because he is more aware of the world now and gets very distracted. Even so, I feed my kid on the run frequently, and it is perfectly fine.

The bottom line is that you need to feed your kid. In most states, you are protected by the law. And the vast majority of the time no one cares — or notices.

Books — the kind for kids, little, little kids

I am enjoying reading kids books more than I thought I would–well, some of them. I’m generally not a huge fan of the maudlin, poetic, “I love you” books, but I do like the more “character-driven” ones, if you can say that about a board book or a picture book.

I am really digging Mo Willems in particular. Che loves Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!, which he received as a gift. He would just lagh and laugh at it, so I also bought The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog!, Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late!, and several other books. Che also received Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Taleas a gift, and subsequently, “Aggle flaggle!” is now an expletive in our house.

I love that Willems creates characters who, though imaginary, feel real. There’s a verisimilitude to them. The pigeon wheedles us and throws temper tantrums. Trixie gets frustrated that her father has no clue what she’s trying to say. They aren’t merely characters who behave and are cute.

You can check out Willems’ website. It’s also cool that he lives in Noho. I also just read that he is going to be appearing at the Holyoke Barnes & Noble later this month.

Che also just received two books by Leslie Patricelli. She has very simple drawing, but the concepts are very fun. Higher! Higher! shows both imagination and perspective. Baby Happy Baby Sad (Leslie Patricelli board books) gives an emotional frame of reference to a child — and they are both just fun books.

As I mentioned, I have been pleasantly surprised by how fun some of these books are. I also like to embellish the stories, of course. Check them out below:

Baby Che

Okay, so it’s been just about five months since I had my baby, and I haven’t posted anything about him nor the experience of new motherhood. hat’s partly because it’s daunting — there’s so much to say, and partly because it’s really personal. But let me say this — I love that little dude so much. He really is a great joy.

One of my fav photos

The Quintessential Mother-Child Photo

The Happy, Snuggly Family

Been Back Almost a Week

I have been adjusting to the time difference, and I thought I was pretty much back to US time, but yesterday was a tiring day, and today I am going to see Springsteen. I am a little worried about how I am going to manage to stay up. I can usually make it to 10:30 or 11, but we will be in traffic for a long time, too.

Anyway, woke early this morning and began checking out a few expat blogs. I read a bunch before I left for India and found Our Delhi Struggle, which I liked. I’m following them on Twitter, not that I check my Twitter feed often, which pisses Sujal off to no end. I went on Twitter this morning to make a snarky comment or two about the movie to which I was dragged last night, kicking and screaming, District 9. (Why bring your wife, who hates sci-fi movies, to a sci-fi movie, with a bunch of dudes? Just go see it with the dudes.) Nonetheless, The ODS folks posted a link to another blog, Same, but Different. They are either expats who once lived in Poland as well, or they are Polish expats. I could not tell, because it kind of sounded like they were ragging on Poland a bit. What is it with the Polish and India? I swear, it is a marriage made in heaven, and I should know. 😉

Ultimately, that blog lead me to American Expats in India, and I really loved their photos. Honestly, I really miss being in India. Yes, I was on vacation, and that makes anyplace really awesome, but there is a certain busy-ness, a buzz of activity, that makes India vibrant. I also miss being around my sister and her family.

Sweet Home West Hartford

I’ve been home now for going on five days. I have been somewhat jet-lagged, but not too badly. The temptation is great for me to merely lounge around in my last week before school, though I have plenty of work to do. My fans beckon for me to finish the tales on my travels (and by fans, I mean Leslie and Lesa).

It’s My Birthday!

I just had a lovely birthday. Sujal and I initially had plans to spend the day in Northampton, one of my favorite towns ever. Alas, plans did not pan out. Sujal has not been feeling well the past few days.

We decided to grab breakfast around here — drop by Harry’s Pizza because they have a great breakfast on the weekends, and we hadn’t been there in awhile. The website says they serve until 2PM on Sundays. We got a late start and arrived at about 1:20. Sadly, it turns out the changed their hours. After driving a round a bit, Sujal and I settled on bagels at Bruegger’s, which, frankly, hit the spot. Then we did a little B-day shopping. I got a cool Eagle Creek travel purse (I love Eagle Creek bags!!), and Sujal got a Travel duffel. We picked up a cake and went home to do some tidying up around the house.

At six, we met up with our friends Joe, Lara, Rita, and Mike at one of our favorite restaurants, Bricco. Delish! Then everyone came to our place for cake. It is so lovely to spend your birthday with friends and loved ones. I could not have asked for a better day!!

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It’s Official — We’re Staying!!!

So I haven’t wanted to write about this publicly until now. Sujal lost his job at Fanzter in November, which is a pretty scary thing considering he is definitely the breadwinner of our family. He interviewed with Newsweek in New York City, where he would have had a very attractive position working on their website. We went to NYC several times, but I just really did not want to move. I’m not much of a city gal — I really value space and quiet, to items that are at a premium in NYC and its environs. So to make a long story short, he turned down the position.

He was also interviewing at ESPN, and I am thrilled to say that he will be starting back at ESPN in January! Woo-hoo! While I have always maintained that I don’t love Connecticut, apparently, I do! Truth be told, I prefer small towns, but over NYC, I apparently love the suburbs. I love suburban Connecticut. There I set it. I truly am The Connecticutian. I love our house. I love our life. Could there, be improvements — of course, but things are pretty damn great. I’m also very happy at my school. It’s tough to begin at a new school. It’s like being a first year teacher all over again, and I like what I have established at my school.

The bottom line is, Connecticut, you can’t get rid of us! I am the Connecticutian: Hear me bore — I mean roar!

On a side note, Sujal found this great song by Jesus H Christ & The 4 Hornsmen of the Apocalypse.


It’s Sunday evening, and I have been cleaning out the kitchen cabinets. We got new dishes, Santiago Square green dishes by Dansk.

Our new dishes

Those of you who are close to me know that I have been obsessing about dishes for quite a while. I’ve been wanting nice stoneware dishes, so I’ve done a fair amount of research. When I was in Buffalo, my mother and I went to Niagara-on-the Lake for her birthday. While there, we stumbled upon a Dansk store that was going out of business, selling dinnerware for 40% off. Woo-hoo for Sujal and me!

Another really cool part of that trip was that my mother and I saw two foxes. Here is a great shot I got:

I wish we had foxes in our yard. Foxes are the best.

Anyway, so I had to clean out space in our cupboards. Afterward, exhuasted and coaxed by my husband, I am now watching a documentary on fonts — Helvetica specifically. When he came and asked me if I wanted to watch a documentary on fonts, I rolled my eyes but was silently a bit interested. If he’d told me it was about helvetica — well, I’d have probaby said no. I’m not a fan of font without serifs. I know that probably sounds funny to most of you, but what can I say? I’m a serif girl. The documentary, Heletiva, was somewhat interesting, though I was writing this post through most of it. It goes through the genesis and life of the font. One aspect I found specifically interesting was one woman saw a correlation with helvetica and “right” politics. She associates the Vietnam war with helvetica. Check it out if you are: a. into documentaries b. into helvetica c. into design d. into font.

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Domestically Challenged, Yet Improving

The Armoire

I have to say I am pretty damn proud of myself. I am generally quite domestically challenged, but this week, I made myself a jewelry “armoire.” I tend to be a bit frugal, while husband dear tends to be a spender. I hem and haw over making a big purchase. “Pre-shopping” is a full-time hobby of mine. Just ask my friends who got to the mall with me. They come home with bags, and I come home empty-handed after trying on a ton of clothing. Then I may go back and get one item. Well, I have been wanting a jewelry armoire for close to a year. (This one is nice, too.) But I go to JC Penney and check them out. Sometimes they are on sale. Sometimes I have a coupon. Yet somehow, it always seems like an insanely frivolous purchase. Granted, if we stopped eating out for a week, we’d recoup our loss.

Anyway, my birthday recently passed (35 — yipes! I’m officially middle aged, which is obvious when I now have to check the 35-50 box). I asked for the armoire. Sujal did not want to buy it, mainly because he did not think it would match our future bedroom set. Sometimes I wondered about the quality of the armoires. They can seem to be shoddily made. So I did not get one.

My friend, Rita, is doing a little eBay selling project. She has a closet full of wares to sell, so I was peeking through. She had this Ikea unfinished pine cabinet. When I saw it, I figured I could buy it off of her, stain it, put in some hooks, and then I’d have a fancy armoire! Basically, I just wanted one for my necklaces, so I could actually see what I have instead of keeping them in a tangled mess in little boxes. So I did just that. I went out and got some stain — oil-based — oops! I stained that puppy. Don’t worry. It has character. There are my finger marks on the top. Then I put in twenty-six little brass hooks.

We were going to hang the cabinet on the wall, though we are afraid of hanging things on the plaster, because we don’t really know how to. We’ve looked into it, but we’re always afraid the walls will crumble. And frankly, it looks damn good! (If I don’t mind saying so myself!)

The Garden

Then, Lara came over to take some flowering weeds off of our hands. The flower beds are the bane of my existence. The weeds are winning! So we dug and dug, pulling out Black-Eyed Susans, Lily of the Valley, and other flowering weeds that I don’t recall their names. Lara also had this great idea to “kill” weeds. If you weed an area where you want nothing to grow (at least for a bit), then lay newspaper down and mulch over it. The newspaper is biodegradable, so it won’t hurt anything, But the weeds can’t grow through it. I did this decent sized section, and next year, we can plant grass there!!

The next big home improvement task: taking down a border in our living room and painting lots of walls.

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