Friday, March 28, 2008

The Diaper Debate

Check out this article in Slate about the diaper debate (cloth v. disposables.) I love it! It concludes, that all things considered, cloth diapers are greener than disposables, although as you can see, it's not as clear cut a victory as one would initially guess. I love cloth diapers, and the fact that they are good for the environment is only one small piece of it. They minimize diaper rash, they save us a lot of money. They double as everything from dust cloths to changing pads.

Other "green" ideas for baby care:
Using washcloths whenever possible in lieu of baby wipes
Using any and all second hand clothing available (big shout out to the Peter Collins family for this one... we're essentially set on girl's clothing for the remainder of Z's life)
Making baby food at home
Using natural cleaning products
Allowing household items to double as toys (no matter how many fancy baby toys I put in front of Zosia, she always prefers to play with a pot and wooden spoon)-- this is good for learning too!

That's all for now!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Multi-Generational Homes

Next month Ben and I are going to be staying with my parents for a few weeks up to a few months. The logic behind it is impeccable-- we will be able to save money while looking for houses locally, will have help with the baby, etc. On one level, I am welcoming this time as an experiment in the age-old practice of multi-generational homes. I imagine that the majority of the world still practices this sort of living arrangement... certainly there are many families on our street here in Somerville that have many generations living in a double decker (possibly even the majority of families on our street?).

On the other hand, there are some things about multi-generational living that challenge the core of my American values. Didn't I work for 18 years to earn my independence? Isn't part of American life defining oneself from one's parents? Aren't adults supposed to view their families of origin with contempt and bitterness over unhappy childhoods? Those of you who know me can imagine that these American values challenge the way that I try to live my life-- in the context of community.

So I am trying to approach the coming months with a different mindset. Living at my parent's house is going to be a practice in living in a diverse community. Two older Polish folks, two young liberal Americans, one baby, one dog, and two cats living in community. I'll let you know how that goes.

On Resurrection

I love this piece in Slate this morning. The article explores the significance of the fact that Jesus' actual body rose from the dead-- not just his spirit, but his real fleshy body. Some highlights:

"The ancient Jewish and early Christian idea of personal resurrection represented a new emphasis on individuals and the importance of embodied existence beyond the mere survival or enhancement of the soul, although there was debate about the precise nature of the post-resurrection body."

"Historically, then, how Christians have understood Jesus' "resurrection" says a lot about how they have understood themselves, whether they have a holistic view of the human person, whether they see bodily existence as trivial or crucial, and how they imagine full salvation to be manifested."

So, this morning I'm taking a few moments to think about resurrection and bodies.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Natural cleaning products?

A week or two ago, I resolved to start using natural cleaning products. This decision was made based on the fact that our bathroom cleaner literally makes the skin on my hands peel off on contact, and the fact that Zosia is getting herself into all sorts of situations in which she is in direct contact with various household cleaners-- for example, suckling on the floor. However, I am extremely skeptical of the "natural products" industry, and basically feel that big companies are just trying to make money off of well intentioned folks by slapping a "natural" label on the front of things and marking it up several hundred percent. So, I have started the journey of trying to use household cleaners that are cost effective, effective at cleaning, and mild. So far, here are a few that have worked:

1:1 vinegar:water solution to clean floors
Straight baking soda to scrub the tub and the range-- not as quick as comet, but gets the job done with a little elbow grease
A few drops of tea tree oil in the laundry with our cloth diapers to make them smell fresh (with some detergent and some borax)

I'm in the process of searching for and testing other natural items, so I'll post any progress here! Any suggestions?