Blog Archive

Thursday, July 31, 2014

It happened in China: Volume 2

Check out Volume 1 of It Happened in China here.

I'm back with a couple more stories from that bastion of crazy that is mainland China.

In this edition of It Happened in China, I've got for you the Yangshuo Bus Story (aka the Worst Night of my Life):

I've had some nights in my life. Whooo boy have I ever. I've drank too much; I've hurt myself; I've made an ass of myself; I've been kicked out of places; I've done things I regret. But in terms of sheer misery, discomfort, humiliation, confusion, and a nice dose of fear tossed in for good measure, nothing beats the Yangshuo Bus Story.

So no shit there I was. 

I had traveled to Yangshuo for the Chinese New Year to see the beautiful town and visit with a friend who was teaching English in China at the time. 

Yangshuo: A beautiful city to visit. Highly recommend. Don't take the bus.

We went to Guilin first, then Yangshuo; we rented bikes, saw the sights, got shitbombed on lizard liquor and kicked out of a Chinese dance club ... we did it all. And after several days, it was time for me to head back to my University in Hong Kong.

I had purchased a ticket on an overnight bus that would take me from Yangshuo to Guangzhou -- a trip of roughly 6 hours, according to Google maps. Once I arrived in Guangzhou, I would then get on a different bus to Shenzhen, cross the border into Hong Kong, and find my way back to school. It was going to be quite a trip, with a lot of connections to make, so naturally I was quite nervous (as any 20-year-old girl traveling alone in a foreign country might be).

But, the previous several days' debaucheries (combined with what I'm sure was a healthy dose of food poisoning from eating things no person should ever put into their mouth) had taken their toll on my body. I was sick as a dog and felt absolutely horrible. The thought of traveling all night on a series of Chinese buses seemed like slow torture at that point, but alas, I had to get home and the bus was how it was going to happen.

So I arrive at the bus stop in Yangshuo and get on. I am the only white face in a sea of Chinese people. This is no laowai tourist bus, let me tell you -- this bus is for the locals, and I'm being stared at by just about everyone there.  (in China, it's not considered rude to stare at anything you find interesting or different. It's just a thing that people do. So when you're white and you travel in China, prepare to spend a lot of time feeling like a zoo animal)

It's a sleeper bus full of bunks, so I pick a bottom bunk at random. I'm not entirely sure whether or not they're assigned or if I'm doing something wrong, but whatever; I feel shitty enough to just not care. Nobody's going to say anything to me either way. You don't talk to the laowai. You just stare at them.

I stuff the pocket of my hoodie with tissues to control my faucet of a nose, and try to get comfortable in my bunk. But this is quite a challenge. Not only is the bunk too short for me, but it is also coffin-narrow and I have my big travelers' backpack with me. I'm not about to put my backpack anywhere other than between my two arms, so we just find a way to spoon together in that shitty little bunk. Exhausted, miserable, and hideously uncomfortable, I eventually drift off to a fitful sleep.

A short while later, I am woken up slightly by the bus stopping and an announcement being made in Chinese. As best as I can figure, they're announcing a bathroom stop, as there is apparently no bathroom on the bus. Why would a bus traveling overnight for many hours not have a bathroom on board? I don't know. Because it's China, and China doesn't have to make sense. You pee when you're told to pee goddammit, and you're welcome for the convenience.

I am way too tired to even consider getting up and off the bus to pee at this point, so I stay in my bunk and go back to sleep. (To this day, I consider this to be in the top 10 Worst Decisions I Have Ever Made.)

Some hours later, I am woken up again -- this time by my bladder. It is full to bursting, and I have no idea where we are or how much longer this trip is going to take. I try just ignoring it and going back to sleep, but no luck. I try to wait, hoping that we are going to be having another bathroom stop very soon. But ten agonizing minutes later, I know that this isn't going to happen either.

Eventually I realize that this is not going to end well unless I take action. So I roll out of my bunk and crawl in my stocking feet up towards the front of the bus to talk to the driver. It should be noted that at this point, I speak Chinese fairly well -- not fluently per se, but well enough to function in most situations. (To this day, I consider that to be in the top 10 Luckiest Things in my Life.)

I crawl up behind the driver and ask him in Mandarin Chinese how long it will be before we will be making another bathroom stop. The driver gruffly barks at me to wait a moment. So I sit behind him and wait, not wanting to go back to my bunk and be forgotten. After several endless seconds, he barks again that it will be one hour until we make our next stop.

I cry out at this. "One hour?! I'll never make it! I need to pee right now!"

The driver sighs loudly and again orders me to wait a moment. And again, I stay sitting behind him, uncertain what his next instructions to me will be. All I can do is pray that they involve a bathroom real, real soon.

Suddenly, with no warning whatsoever, the driver lurches this big bus off the road and over to the side of the pitch-dark Chinese highway we'd been driving on. Before the bus even reaches a complete stop, he wrenches open the doors and points out into the black night. "Go," he says.

Remember that at this point I have no shoes on. I am the only foreigner on this bus. I have no idea where we are. I am alone. I barely even speak the language. If I get off this bus, what's to stop the guy from just driving away and leaving me here?? How do I even know that's not what he meant by "go"? If he does leave me here, how long will it be before anyone notices I'm missing? I bet it could be weeks before anyone at school thought to ask "hey, how come Patent never came back from vacation? How long did she say she'd be gone, again?"

But I really have to pee, so ...

I hop down onto the totally mysterious and invisible ground in my socks, praying I don't land in a puddle or a pile of poop or something. I pull my pants down and pop a squat six inches from the side of the bus, fully visible to anyone who chooses to look out the window at that moment. I pee and pee, carefully adjusting my angle and positioning every couple seconds to make sure I don't soak my shoeless feet with urine. When I'm finally finished, I pull a used, snot-filled tissue out of my hoodie pocket and give myself a quick wipe. And then back on the bus I go, thanking the driver profusely while cursing every bad decision I've ever made up to that point. (Especially cursing the fact that I have no penis. Do you know how easy this would have all been if I'd had a penis? Like, this wouldn't even be a story. I would just pee in a bottle on the bus or something and go back to sleep. So f*** you a little bit for that one, whatever deity makes these types of decisions.)

I go back to my bunk and spoon my backpack again, immediately drifting off to a satisfied sleep. I don't even wake up for the next bathroom stop.

When I do wake up, we're arriving at the Guangzhou bus station. Oh blessed day! One big step closer to my own bed!! First order of business: need to go to the bathroom again.

Locate the bathroom and step inside.

It is ...


Just absolutely heinous.

If you've been to any bus station, then you've surely seen how bad the bathrooms can get. Something about a bus station just turns humans into chimpanzees. But this bathroom was so many thousands of times worse than you can even imagine. I've actually described it before, in a prior post about my Chinese bathroom rating system.

This bathroom has: 
-- no doors on the stalls
-- squatter toilets in the stalls (which in this case was a blessed benefit)
-- the toilets don't flush anymore
-- there is no toilet paper
-- there is a big log of poo sitting in every toilet

So after enduring that horrible bus ride sharing a coffin with a huge backpack, sick as a dog, hating life and just wanting to go home; after feeling genuine fear that I was about to be left to die in Bumf*ck, China in the middle of the night; after using a snot-tissue to wipe my bum, I get to close out my vacation by squatting to pee on top of a stranger's big log of poo while wearing my giant heavy backpack as various Chinese ladies stare at me. And then I get to use another snot tissue to wipe my bum.


So, in conclusion, if you ever want to visit Yangshuo, China, then f*** you I'm not coming.

Here is a GIF of someone trolling a toilet seat cover robot. It just barely scrapes the surface of how hideous this Guangzhou bus station bathroom was. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

"Look how smart my baby is!" -- said every parent, ever

One of the best parts of being a parent is watching your child get smarter and smarter every day. Newborn babies can't do ANYTHING on their own, so the bar is set pretty low in terms of what they need to do to impress you. The first time your kid sees a bottle and starts crying, you're impressed. "He knew that bottle had his food in it! What a smartypants!" The first time your kid says someone's name, you're blown away. "He recognized Mike! Have you ever seen anything so amazing??!"


Here is a brief list of some baby accomplishments that had me genuinely shrieking with joy about how smart kids are:

Audrey ate a baby Cheeto

You don't realize how much coordination it takes to eat something small -- like a Cheeto -- until you watch a baby try and do it. First, you need the dexterity and hand-eye coordination to pick it up with the tips of your finger and thumb. Then, you need to move it to your face and place part of it into your  mouth. But only part of it -- you can't put the whole thing in your mouth, nor can you put your own fingers in your mouth, or else you'll bite them or choke or something. Once part of the Cheeto is in your mouth, you must bite down on it, and then remove the remaining part of the Cheeto away from your face while you chew and then swallow the piece you bit off.

The first time Audrey attempted this, everything went wrong. She couldn't pick it up; she couldn't locate her mouth; she tried to shove it in her mouth sideways so it didn't fit; she didn't understand that she had to take a bite. It was a disaster, and she ended up crying in frustration.

So when she finally put together all the pieces of the puzzle and managed to pick up a Cheeto and take a bite of it, I was so impressed I almost posted on Facebook about it.

"This got more likes than when I graduated college!"

My niece recognized her grandfather in a distorted picture 

Here is a photo of someone pretty famous that I bet you will all recognize:

Now, what if I do something to the picture to distort it? Do you still recognize it?

"Is that ... Samuel L. Jackson?"

What if, instead of a picture of Obama, that was a picture of a close family member who you see in person on a weekly basis. Do you think you would recognize a slightly distorted photo of that person?

I don't even feel guilty.

Well, when my niece was able to point out her grandfather in an iPad Photo Booth app picture, we were all blown away. Like, look out world -- here comes the smartest kid on the planet.

"Lois, just what in the hell do you think you are doing? That is my STROKE side."

Audrey put a sippy cup into her mouth

This one I actually did post on Facebook. I had to. Two hands holding the cup, putting the end in her mouth, and lifting it up/tipping it back enough to actually drink from it? That's some genius IQ level shit.

Can YOU do that? No you f***ing can't.

My niece picked up something heavy and said the word "heavy"

No joke -- she picked up a bag that was too heavy for her to carry, so she said something that sounded kinda like "heavy" and I almost pissed myself. This kid is going places.

I'll never win one of these :-(

Audrey figured out how to get down from standing up

You read that right: she was standing up holding onto the table, and then she bent her knees and sat down on the floor without hurting herself or falling over. Don't even f***ing act like you're not impressed.

So, in conclusion, if you see your parent-friends posting things on Facebook about how proud they are that their kid learned how to blow snot rockets out onto the sofa, just try to understand where they're coming from. A kid that can blow snot rockets onto the sofa is more advanced than a kid who still needs you to suck the snot out of his nose for him, and so the parent is impressed. If you have kids, it will happen to you as well. Someday, your kid will walk up to you and say "poop" and you'll check his diaper and find that holy shit, he actually did poop! And you'll cry happy tears and call your spouse and your mother and your best friend to tell them all about how smart your kid is.

Because kids are dumb, but parents are even dumber. Don't fight it. Just let it happen.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Dinosaurs built Stonehenge. And the pyramids. And some other stuff.

Conspiracy time you guys. Are you ready for this?

How did impossible things like the pyramids get built before the advent of modern technology? How did ancient humans lift all those incredibly heavy stones? Did aliens help them out?

No, dumbass.

It was dinosaurs.

Dinosaurs built Stonehenge:

Dinosaurs built the pyramids:

Dinosaurs helped build Noah's Ark:

Dinosaurs were even involved in construction of the Empire State building:

Dinosaurs carved the Easter Island statues:

Dinosaurs have been to the moon:

Wake up sheeple.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Let the hate flow through you: More behaviors people need to STOP. NOW.

Time to let the hate flow through you, as we explore a few more things people do that make me so f***ing angry I can't even GAHHH.

Please don't ...

Argue with people based solely on information that they provided to you

The Fact Denier's interactions go a little something like this:

Ughhhhhhhhh. I cannot properly describe how much this frustrates me.

If you weren't there, then you have no choice but to accept the version of events presented to you by the witnesses. You can push against that story a little bit, asking things like "is it possible that ______," but you can't just outright argue with the person presenting the story because you are coming from a place of literally zero knowledge

If someone describes a situation to you and you picture it differently from how it really happened, then guess what -- YOU ARE WRONG. If I tell you a story about how yesterday the sky looked like this:

Stormy Sky HD wallpaper for Standard 4:3 5:4 Fullscreen UXGA XGA SVGA QSXGA SXGA ; Wide 16:10 5:3 Widescreen WHXGA WQXGA WUXGA WXGA WGA ; HD 16:9 High Definition WQHD QWXGA 1080p 900p 720p QHD nHD ; Other 3:2 DVGA HVGA HQVGA devices ( Apple PowerBook G4 iPhone 4 3G 3GS iPod Touch ) ; Mobile VGA WVGA iPhone iPad PSP Phone - VGA QVGA Smartphone ( PocketPC GPS iPod Zune BlackBerry HTC Samsung LG Nokia Eten Asus ) WVGA WQVGA Smartphone ( HTC Samsung Sony Ericsson LG Vertu MIO ) HVGA Smartphone ( Apple iPhone iPod BlackBerry HTC Samsung Nokia ) Sony PSP Zune HD Zen ; Tablet 2 ;

and you picture this:

... then you can't start f***ing arguing with me about what the sky looked like. Because you weren't there, you don't know, and you're just arguing to argue because you're overly confrontational and I hate you.

People who take a self-deprecating joke as an opportunity to actually insult you


This is a lesson many people still have yet to learn: if someone makes a joke at their own expense, that shows that they don't take themselves too seriously and are willing to be the butt of the joke if it gets a laugh out of others. If you take this olive branch they're handing you and use it slap them across the face with a rude comment, then you're just an asshole.

God do I ever hate people who use self-deprecating humor as an 'in' to say something bitchy.

God I hate you so f***ing much right now.

People who are so keen on opposing you that they will argue in favor of an indefensible viewpoint, simply because it is opposite to yours

Barb says: washing your hands after pooping in a public bathroom is totally optional. 
(no it's not. Wash your goddamned hands you pig) 

Barb says: it's not rude to let the door slam into the person behind you instead of holding it. 
(yes it is. Hold the goddamned door) 

Barb says: it's okay to kick dogs.
(no it's not. Do not kick animals unless they are actively attacking you)

Have you ever known someone like this? They've decided they dislike you, or they think you're an idiot, and so they have to disagree with every single thing you say? You could tell them the sky was blue and they'd have a problem with it.

My favorite thing about these people is how easy it is to troll them, though. Just invent a situation where no sane person could possibly disagree with you -- "some guy was texting while driving and he crashed into my car and injured me! What an asshole!" "Some teenager just spit on the barista's face at Starbucks because he messed up her order!" -- and then watch The Opposer try to find a way to be on the other guy's side. It's like a ballet.

A ballet of idiocy.

Assume that everyone is a hypocrite in every situation

Interactions with The Assumer always go something like this:

This jackass operates under the assumption that you've never heard of karma, the Golden Rule, or general human decency. They therefore believe that if others behaved towards you in the exact same manner that you behave towards them, you would be angry.

This assumption is, of course, based on absolutely nothing. You've never given any indication that you're the kind of person who gets up in arms over dumb shit ... so why does The Assumer think you are? Because The Assumer is an idiot, that's why.

Generally speaking, if someone, say, doesn't believe in tipping, then odds are that they neither tip others nor expect to be tipped themselves. If someone never uses their car blinker, then they probably don't expect other people to use their blinkers, either.

Plenty of people are hypocrites, and it's fun to call those people out. But not everyone is, and certainly not in every situation. So if you recognize a bit of yourself in The Assumer, then kindly shut the f*** up because you're stupid and I hate you.

Ah. I feel better now. Carry on, friends. :-)

Friday, July 18, 2014

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Stories from the trenches: More awkward parenting moments

Here are a few recent stories about my adventures in parenting:

So the other day I was cooking some baby food for Audrey, making her a recipe I'd found online for chicken with peach and brown rice. I had baked the chicken thighs, and steamed the peaches, and fired up the rice cooker to make a mixture of quinoa and brown rice (because they're both healthy and both good and I couldn't pick one so I compromised).

Once it was all cooked, I put it in the food processor and pureed it. Dipped a spoon into the still-warm puree and tasted it. Delicious! I mean really, truly, delicious. I was blown away. So I thought to myself "I should make something like this for us to eat, too."

But here's the thing: in that moment, I wasn't picturing a nice dinner of baked chicken thighs in a peach reduction served over quinoa and brown rice. No, I was picturing a big sloppy bowl of dinner puree. I legitimately believed that it would be a good idea to cook this exact same meal for me and Jesse to eat. I mean, imagine how good it would be once I added some grownup-friendly spices to it?

I bet it would make a fantastic sandwich spread, or ... or ... a dip! 

I could bring it to a potluck with a bunch of celery sticks to dip into it! I'd be the hero of the potluck!!
So ... no, then?

Another day, I'm in the kitchen cooking something or other while Audrey crawls around on the floor finding things to play with. She's quite easily amused at this age, so I just have to check her every so often to make sure she's not gotten into something dangerous.

I don't hear any noise for a minute, so naturally I get concerned and turn around to look for her. I see her kneeling in front of the refrigerator making out with her own reflection.


She's mine for sure.

So we're at a home brew beer festival. No babysitter available, but no problem -- we'll just take separate cars and I'll stay sober and take Audrey home early while Jesse camps out with everyone else (since he's the home brewer, after all). Not a big deal -- Audrey is a very well-behaved and calm baby, so as long as she has a blanket and toys to play with, she's happy.

I set up the play zone and sit down on the blanket with her. It's hot as hell out, so I'm dressed in this adorable little peasant skirt and a tank top, with my hair in braids. I look like the epitome of carefree young motherhood, sitting there on a picnic blanket on the grass with my skirt spread around me, playing with my beautiful baby daughter as my husband fetches me a sampler glass of delicious home brew.

A friend I haven't seen in a long time walks into view, and I smile warmly at her, thinking "I bet she's totally blown away by how beautiful and natural this looks. I bet she's totally jealous of me right now. I look like I should be in a magazine."

And just as I raise my arm to give her a wave, Audrey shoves her entire hand into my nose and mouth, hard. I mean she pretty much gave my face the shocker -- two in the beak, three in the cheek. I'm surprised I didn't get a nosebleed from it -- her pinkie must've been halfway to my brain.

I do not think that my friend was jealous.

Audrey's at an age now where she's not quite so into cuddling. I mean she still wants to be touching me a lot, especially when she's tired (which results in a lot of games of "play with this toy by shoving it against Mommy", "play with this toy while flopping across Mommy's lap", and of course the favorite "play with this toy by hitting Mommy with it"), but she won't sit still long enough to actually enjoy a decent cuddle. She's always got something going on, somewhere to be, some toy to shake at nothing.

So this morning, after her breakfast bottle, I was holding her close and pressing my cheek against hers. And she just sat there, calm, quiet, letting me enjoy this little cheek-to-cheek cuddle-fest. I thought, "this is so sweet. I'm so glad she's letting me do this."

And then I smelled it.

Yep, the only reason she was sitting so quietly and letting me cuddle her so nicely was because her focus was elsewhere. 

Kid only cuddles me when she's shitting.

Because of the hot weather this past week and weekend, I decided Audrey deserved a kiddie pool to splash around in to cool off. But of course all the local stores were sold out of kiddie pools ... so I improvised and bought her this storage bin to use instead:

I do what I can, you guys.


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Totally legit product reviews: Cloth diapers! Alvababy, Kawaii, bumGenius AIO, and Swaddlebees Simplex AIO

Time for another round of Totally Legit Product Reviews, in which I give an honest but also kind of ridiculous review of products I've used!

Today we're here to talk about CLOTH DIAPERS. We've been using cloth dipes on baby's bum since she was 3 months old or so, and I've used several different brands. Here's my review and recommendations:

bumGenius Elemental All-in-ones and Swaddlebees Simplex All-in-ones (AIO)

If I'm being honest, I have no choice but to admit to being a pretty lazy motherf***er. If I'm in a situation where I can pay more money to make something easier for myself, then I will gladly do so because doing extra work is for chumps. ("But then why would you cloth diaper at all? Isn't that more work than disposables?" you ask. And I reply shut yer mouth, your logic is not welcome up in here. Also, check out this post which explains why I decided to cloth diaper. Hint: it was because of poop).

For this reason, I started out with a stash of all-in-one cloth diapers. "I don't know anything about cloth diapers," you say. "I thought this was a humor blog, actually. So I have no idea what 'all-in-one' means." Well, it means that the entire diaper is one piece -- like a disposable, except ... cloth. So you put it on baby in one go; you take it off; you run it through the washing machine and the dryer; then you put it away. There are no additional steps. It's just a regular ol' diaper that is made of cloth with waterproof fabric on the outside. And it fastens with snaps instead of that velcro-y adhesive you find on disposables.

The snaps look like they'd be tricky but they're really not. Even on squirmy babies.

I started out my diaper stash with a dozen Bum Genius Elemental AIO diapers, which is the diaper in the picture above. From the side, they look like this:

These diapers are wonderful and I love them. The only potentially annoying thing is that when you're spraying poo out of one into the toilet with your amazing toilet poo spraying jobber ...
This thing is not optional for cloth diapering, by the way. Unless you like touching poo with your hands. You freak
[It's a bumGenius diaper sprayer.]

... sometimes poo can sneak between the layers, and without going into details let's just say this is "something of an inconvenience."

The other bummer (ha!) about the BumGenius AIO diapers is that they're pretty pricey -- $25 each. And unless you want to be washing diapers every single day, then you're going to need ~20 of them to be happy. Yikes. [note: this is still cheaper than disposable diapers over the entirety of a kid's diaper years, and it's especially cost-effective if you plan on using them for multiple children]

My other favorite AIOs are the Swaddlebees Simplex. They work pretty much exactly as well as the BG. If you put a gun to my head and demanded I choose which one I like better (and why the hell would you do that? What's the matter with you?!?), I would probably just pee everywhere and not really give you a definitive answer.

The Swaddlebees are constructed a little bit differently than the BG, in that they have this big long flap thingamajig, whose purpose is to give you options for what kind of fabric you want against baby's bum. 

I was going to label the flap, and then I was like "seriously? How dumb do you think these people are?" So I gave you the benefit of the doubt. Hopefully you are able to locate the flap on your own.

The flap has a fleece side, so you can lay the flap on top and now your baby's tush is resting against fleece, which helps them to feel dry. 

Or if you just want organic cotton touching baby's arse, then you can tuck the flap inside the diaper. I read somewhere one time that the fleece side is more likely to cause diaper rash, so I've been tucking it in compulsively and have never once checked to see if this is necessary for me to do. It's likely that I've wasted hours of my life doing this, for no benefit whatsoever. Especially since the diapers later in this review have fleece interiors, and they've never caused a rash. Yep, I'm an idiot.

Now, tucking in this flap is an extra step in the process. I pull the diaper out of the dryer, feed my hand all the way through the pocket, and pull the flap through to the other side like so:

This takes roughly 4 seconds to do. On the plus side, it means there are no pockets or crevices for poo to go hide -- the poo always just sprays right off into the toilet. 

So, pros and cons of the two different AIOs: bumGenius dipes require zero extra steps to get them ready to put on baby, which is nice. And they're $1 cheaper apiece. But the Swaddlebees make it impossible for poo to get into crevices, and they come in super cute designs if you want to turn your baby's bum into art: 

They're both great and I'm very happy with both diaper styles.

So anyway, there I was, happy as a clam with my stash of fancy expensive AIO diapers. But then, there was The Happening and it all went to hell.
The Happening: there was a new hire at Audrey's daycare, which led to some shenanigans with another baby who also wore cloth diapers, and once the dust settled after all the shenanigans, four of my fancy diapers were gone. Missing. Into the f***ing wind. And if you've been paying attention, then you remember that 4 diapers * $25 per diaper = I AM VERY ANGRY.

The fact is, when you send stuff to daycare, you send it with the HOPE that it will come back home to you ... but you dare not do more than hope. So after learning this lesson the hard way, I decided to invest in some inexpensive diapers to use at daycare. Here's what's up with those:

Alvababy "Colorful Snap Diapers with Double Gussets"

If you clicked the above link, then you probably noticed that Alvababy's website looks like it was designed by your cousin Darryl for his sophomore web design class in high school back in 2001. "Does my computer have a virus now?" you ask me, with a bit of a judgey tone. To which I say ... probably not? 

Alvababy is based in China, so you'll want to use PayPal to purchase because otherwise your credit card will probably get declined (because seriously, CHINA), and the shipment will come via DHL all stuffed into a too-small envelope like your mom in her prom dress (ha!) ... but I assure you, it's legit.

The Alvababy diapers I bought are called all-in-two, which means they're like an all-in-one except you need to stuff an absorbent pad thing into the diaper before baby wears it, or else it's like wearing non-absorbent but waterproof underwear (which sounds incredibly unpleasant, actually). So imagine the Swaddlebees Simplex diaper, but that fleece flap isn't attached (the flap on the Alvas does attach with a single snap, and I always do this, but I don't think it actually confers any advantage and I really ought to stop doing it).

To "stuff" the pocket of the diaper, you need to feed your hand all the way through the diaper to grab one end of the flap, like so:

Also, in the background of this picture, you'll see my baby's butt in her Swaddlebees Simplex "Baby Blooms" diaper. Because when you wear cloth, pants are optional, baby.

Once you pull the end of the flap through the pocket, you have to tug on both ends to get it to lie flat:

... and then you're good to go. Note: when baby is still small so you have the diaper snapped down to a smaller size, this is a giant pain in the ass. Like, you don't even understand. It's a HUGE PAIN IN THE ASS. You are trying to make a strip of fabric that is one length fit into a pocket that is a different, shorter length. "But how is that even possible?!" you ask, incredulous. And I say that it is possible, but you will hate it.

But, the diapers don't leak and they cost $7 each. I hate them passionately and refuse to use them at home ... but that's because I'm spoiled. My AIOs are like the Cadillac of diapers, while the Alva diapers are base level Honda Civics from 2003. They do the job, but there are no seat heaters and the windows are manual and the doors on the passenger side don't open from the inside anymore so you have to get out and let all your passengers out individually like a chauffeur.

Naturally, I prefer my Cadillac diapers.

Also, sometimes when you have them snapped down to the smaller size, they will unsnap as you pull the tabs to actually do them up. Like, you're wrestling a squirming baby and trying to get the damn diaper done up, and then you hear a little click as the diaper is like "haha f*** you!" and snaps itself out to '20 lbs and up' size. 

But they are $7. Did I mention that fact? Well, in case I didn't: they are $7.

Oh, and they will often turn completely inside out in the wash. Because ... the universe hates you and wants you to kill yourself.

"Go take a hot bath with a razor lol nobody will miss you."

However, once your baby is large enough to wear the diapers snapped all the way out to the largest size, it's pretty much smooth sailing. And by this point, you will be a master at stuffing the pockets so it will only take ~5 minutes every other day to stuff all the diapers while your baby crawls on you and knocks over your neat piles.

Wow, that baby is certainly ... muscular.

Kawaii One Size Snazzy Minky

The Kawaii diapers are also pocket diapers like the Alvas. They look almost exactly like the Alvas. I even bought them in the exact same fabric, so there's no point taking another picture. Just scroll back up to the one above and look at it some more.

But there are key differences -- in other words, I hate the Kawaiis too, but for very different reasons.

The Kawaii dipes I bought were $7.75 apiece, and like the Alvas, they work fine and don't leak and I have no problem with them from a functional perspective. As far as stuffing the pockets, though, they are a different kind of pain in my ass.

Unlike the Alva, which has openings on both ends to stuff the flap through, the Kawaii only opens on one side. This makes it much more difficult to get the flap into the pocket.

First, you have to grab the flap and hold it in such a way that it will hopefully stay flat as you stuff it into the diaper. And then start shoving your hand into the opening.

That's what she did not ever say.

Don't give up! Keep wiggling your hand, trying to hold the absorbent pad flat as you work your way to the top of the diaper!

Hey look, you made it! I always believed in you and knew you could do it.

Now you have to grab it from the outside and try to pull it until it lies flat.

Just like with the Alvas, getting this pad to fit when the diaper is snapped down to a smaller size is likely to drive you to homicide. But unlike the Alvas, the Kawaiis never turn inside out in the wash. So, pros: never inside out, and they're fleece so they feel nice and fluffy and I want to wear one on my face. Cons: $.75 more apiece, and a bit harder to stuff.

What's my final answer?

Favorite: bumGenius Elemental All-in-one, because they are the only true "no extra steps" diaper. Pull em out of the dryer and slap em on your kid's butt. Yeah sometimes the poo gets in the crevices, but meh, that's why I have a washing machine.

Second fave: Swaddlebees Simplex AIO. 4 extra seconds out of the dryer, but no poo crevice issues. And they have omg-so-cute patterns, which are great when it's summer and pants are for peasants.

Tie for last place: Alvababy and Kawaii. Look, I don't regret buying these, especially for daycare. If a few go missing over the next couple years, I really will not miss them. As for which is better? I'd say do what I did, and buy half of one and half of the other. That way, when you're stuffing diapers after washing them, you can diversify your pissed-offness, which is invaluable in preventing ritualistic backyard diaper fires.


There you go! Hope you enjoyed this review. Next post, we'll be back to our regularly scheduled bullpoop, I promise.

UPDATE: It is now October 2014, three months after this post was first written. When Audrey started drinking water and juice from a sippy cup, she started peeing much more voluminously, which caused the Alva and Kawaii diapers to leak when she had a big pee. The Cadillac diapers have still never had this problem. But, I just had to start double stuffing the pockets on the cheap diapers, and no more leaks. Problem --> solution --> life goes on.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Animated GIF Friday! Giraffe goes clubbin'; learns life lesson

Now that I've learned how to make animated GIFs, that's pretty much the only thing I'm going to do for the rest of my life because it's the greatest thing in the world.

For today's animated GIF (which I'm thinking of making into a Friday tradition), we have a giraffe celebrating the weekend with a bit of hard learning:

It took me like fifteen minutes to make this so you better like it.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

When my baby learns to talk ...

... I hope she talks exactly the same way that I talk for her right now.

Part of being a parent is talking to your baby allllll the time. Because when you talk to your baby, you get to pretend you're not talking to yourself. And that helps you to feel sane.

But of course, for you to REALLY feel sane, you can't just talk at the baby -- the baby needs to answer. Which is a problem, because babies can't talk. 

"Nobody can understand a f***ing word you're saying, Andrew."

But it's an easily remedied problem: you just talk for the baby, in a slightly different voice from your own, and then carry on full conversations like a totally normal non-crazy human being. It's great.

And in my imagination, Audrey talks in a very stiff, formal way. Like we're business associates or something. One of my greatest hopes as a parent is that when she eventually learns to talk, she picks up these speech patterns. Imagine a baby actually saying things like:

(when she is playing aggressively with something or making a lot of noise by herself)
Me: "What are you doing?"

Audrey: "I'm doing baby stuff, Mommy, and quite frankly it's none of your business."

(when changing a modestly poopy diaper)
Me: "Did you do a poo?"

Audrey: "It's just a little turd, Mommy. Very reasonably-sized, if I do say so myself."

(when she tries to grab the tube of Butt Paste to play with during a diaper change)
Me: "Do you want to play with your butt paste?"

Audrey: "Yes. I would like to have it. You know how much I enjoy playing with it."

(when she rips her stiff felt shapes out of her play book and shoves them in her mouth)
Me: "Are you eating your shapes? Are they good?"

Audrey: "Yes Mommy. They have a nice flavor and an excellent texture. I prefer the red triangle, but the blue oval is not without merit either."

(when she tries to play with something dangerous/large/fragile)
Me: "No, Audrey, you can't play with that. It's not for babies."

Audrey: "Agree to disagree."

(when she crawls up behind me and grabs my leg)
Me: "Oh hi! What are you doing over here?"

Audrey: "Just checking up on you, Mommy. Making sure you're not doing anything you're not supposed to be doing."

(when she grabs a handful of my skin and squeezes it as hard as she can, which is quite painful)
"Ouch! Don't squeeze Mommy's skin like that!"
"Sorry, but I don't answer to you, Mommy. I'm an independent spirit and I do what I like. You can just deal with it."

Please, Audrey, please talk like this.