Tuesday, December 30, 2008

In My Computer's ClipBoard

Writing the previous post I was amused to note what was saved in my computer's clip board (from several days ago): http://www.bbc.co.uk/cbeebies/inthenightgarden/. I really am a Mum now!

What's in a Name?

One of the reasons I enjoy this blog (even if I don't post much) is that it has led me to find lots of other interesting women in science/science mother blogs. One of my recent favourites is Two Women Blogging. Reading it this morning I found this post Things I Could Do Without: Old Not-Quite-Friends Edition. Now I'll confess to being someone who likes sending Christmas cards, and I got an interesting insight in what that might to do other people from that post, but I like getting them, so I will continue to send them.... perhaps more selectively in the future though...

Anyway the thing which really resonated with me in that post was the comments about the labeling of mail. I also have not changed my name to match my husbands and remain confused at how hard this concept is to grasp for people. We have the added complication that the combination of our two names is vaguely obscene sounding, so it always amuses me when people decide to go for the hyphenation route! My favourite though is the Drs. HisName and MyName. I actually don't really care how I'm addressed, but I am amused at the variety people come up with!

All this is minor compared with state confusion over the names.... Once when travelling into the US there was a minor problem with my documentation and I was brought round to a back room to have it checked further. My new husband (a US citizen) was not allowed to accompany me as "we did not have the same family name". At the time this was a bit concerning, but not really a big deal. However we're travelling to the US this week and I do now have some questions about my status, so I would say it's 50-50 that this will happen again. I think I'll have to insist that husband and little one (at the end of 10+ hour flight) *will* come with me this time though.... Surely they can't be within their rights to separate a mother and child simply because we have different last names?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Why I like Cloth Diapers

I promised a post a while ago about why I like cloth diapers. So here goes...

1. I'm doing my bit for the environment.
OK so there's actually been some debate about this. There was a British study which suggested that using cloth might not actually be better for the environment than disposables which was widely cited as a reason not to feel bad about disposables. As I understand it, the argument went that the amount of water/energy needed to make a single disposable was about the same as it took to wash a single cloth diaper. Cloth diapering advocates around the world complain that the study wasn't fair - it made unreasonable assumptions about the washing habits of cloth using parents, had them tumble drying their diapers, using old fashioned terry toweling, and basically didn't survey enough of them to get a real answer... I still don't know what to make of the study. But I still think that using cloth has to be better for the environment than disposables. I'm happy that my daughter's disposable landfill pile is so much smaller than the average.

2. It saves money.
This is undeniable. There is a large initial outlay, but then you're pretty much set, especially if you get one-size/expandable versions. You can even use them for future children.

3. It's got to be more comfortable. Paper vs. cloth on your bottom. I rest my case.

4. Cloth diapers are cool. OK on this one maybe I'm a bit weird, but cloth diapers are pretty cool. The ones I like are one-size and have worked well since my daughter was 1 month old until now (22 months) which I think is a testament to great design. They come in lots of different colours, and just look better than disposables. In the summer little one can sleep just in a diaper and t-shirt and looks adorable. They use all sorts of super modern ultra-absorbent but quick drying cloth too. I just love the collision of an "old fashioned" method with new materials.

5. It's supposed to speed up potty training. The theory goes that because the cloth isn't quite as absorbent as a modern disposable the child feels more when they wee and so is potty trained sooner. Sounds good to me. :)

So why don't more people use cloth? I'm not really sure as you might guess, but here are some downsides I have found:

1. They're a bit bulky. Those tailored toddler jeans might not fit (why does a little girl toddler need tailored jeans though?). Sometimes I buy up a size in clothing.

2. You have to wash them and possibly assemble them. You can see by a previous post that sometimes this is a bit of work. More on that later. But we don't have to buy a stack of disposables every time we go to the supermarket, so we gain there... The kind we have need to have the absorbent bit taken out for washing, then stuffed back in. This is a bit tedious - but you can get versions which don't need this - and I generally do it in front of the TV.

3. Poop is scary. I would argue it shouldn't be for any parent, but I think some people just don't like the idea of dealing with poopy cloth diapers. We have flushable liners now we have a toddler which work well most of the time (breast milk poop is water soluble and can just be put in the wash with everything else). There are those occasional loose poops though which are a bit nasty, but I assume no worse than disposable blow outs.

4. You can't buy them in the supermarket. But you don't need to buy them all the time, so all the online stores actually work very well.

5. The initial cost is high. But you can slowly build up you stash of cloth diapers and use disposables to fill in between washes. Soon you will think disposables are a huge waste of money. :)

So here's my guide to cloth diapering. You can find a wealth of information on the internet so it's going to be brief.

1. Don't panic when you read about all the different kinds (prefolds, pockets, all-in-ones etc.) and all the acronyms (AIO, WAHM) and brand names. If you want things that work like disposables you want either pockets or all-in-ones. The difference is that pockets you stuff with the absorbent stuff (into a pocket!) so you can alter the bulkiness/absorbency, while all-in-ones have that done for you.

2. Start slow. Just buy a couple and see how you like them. It's OK to use a combination of cloth and disposable. We still do. I's also OK to have lots of different kinds of cloth. We mostly have one kind (BumGenius One-Sized) but that's just because when trying others I've never found one I like better.

3. Take a break if you get stressed out. It's OK to stop and start. Have a break when things seem too much, then go back to it. OK this kills some of the cost savings, but you still make out as long as you use them more than once or twice!

Ironically I'm writing this today with a daughter in disposables at daycare. Our washing machine broke. It took one diaper before it sank in and we realized that this meant we should stop with the cloth until it was fixed. Cloth diapering and doing washing at the launderette is a little too much for us! Hopefully the machine will get fixed tomorrow and we'll be back on track, but actually I'm thinking of taking a break over Christmas anyway what will all the travel and family visits. And the excitement of the week - little one pooped in her potty. So maybe we'll be starting to phase all this out soon anyway.

Blog posting rates...

The scientist in me wonders if blog posting in general, or just my blog posting is inversely proportional to happiness in research.... I've been quite happy lately. I like my new place, I have some interesting new projects to work on, and so I've been very busy at work. So not much time for blog posting...

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

the 5pm seminars

I'm tired of getting some attitude and feeling mildly guilty for missing a lot of talks and meetings at work. The problem: people in my department have a knack of scheduling these things late in the afternoon, at 5 or 5:30pm. This just doesn't work when you have kids that need to be picked up from school/daycare! Of course, I can always arrange for Boyfriend to pick up Chatton on these days, but with our crazy lives as postdocs, that's really not always possible.

The other problem here is that I'm the only female in my department with a kid. And the few guys who have children all have stay-at-home wives as well. So really there's nobody else to fight this battle with me. It's probably the wrong attitude, but I almost make a point now of not going to any talk scheduled after 5pm, a kind of "hunger for knowledge" strike if you want.

At my previous institution, the weekly physics seminars had been pushed back from 4:30pm to 4pm for this very reason, to allow people with families to attend without having to leave half way through. I thought this was a great sign of respect, and a little gesture that made me feel not so much out of place as a grad student-mother. So I know that it can happen, which is probably why I'm especially annoyed at the situation here.

Anybody in the same situation with solutions to propose?