Thursday, October 29, 2009

Why Kaz Cooke's Kid-wrangling is wrong about cloth nappies

Kid-wrangling is a popular book in Australia. I'm sure its lighthearted look at parenting is a pleasant relief from some of the more intense parenting materials out there. In between the amusement, Kaz is attempting to provide real information for parents. Much of it is probably sound and helpful. When it comes to cloth nappies, though, Kaz is just wrong. Before I start on why, I need to state my agreement with Kid-wrangling that cloth nappy advocates shouldn't go around making judgmental statements about those who use disposables. That being said, advocates of disposables need to do their homework before saying anything about cloth.

 I've just put my nappies on the line . . .

and it was way easier than Kaz would have us believe. We've used cloth nappies solely for four and a half months of Elnathan's life so far (excluding our overseas trip and his first two weeks). Disposables have their place, but good cloth nappies are really not that bad.

Kaz's comments are in italics. My responses follow.

They require far more labour.
If you use pocket nappies like Bumgenius it is very quick and easy. When we were in South Africa we used three different types of Huggies nappies, all with the same result: serious poo leaks that required clothing changes every time. Bumgenius have much better containment and reduce work in this way. Personally, I'd rather change a nappy than a whole outfit.

Soaking and washing them is an unpleasant, tedious task
Many modern cloth nappies don't need soaking. You just have to rinse off any poo at the time of changing the nappy, pop the nappy in the bucket, then dump them all in the washing machine when you feel in danger of running out of them.

They need to be washed with very hefty antibacterial chemical washing powders and in very hot water, and if poo stained they need savage bleaching products to look non-skid marked.
Huh? We don't own any of these products, and our nappies look OK. We rarely wash in hot water, either (shock, horror), and our baby's bot looks just fine.

It's hard to cope unless you have a whizzbang washing machine and dryer.
Our washing machine is fantastic (a Fisher & Paykel Intuitive Eco), but we don't own a dryer. We found it easy to get our nappies dry throughout the wettest Tasmanian winter for fifty years.

Cloth nappies are slightly trickier to fasten.
Only if you use traditional cloth squares! Bumgenius and some other pocket nappies are as easy as disposables.

You'll need:

about 30 to 35 nappies
try 20, I'm sure you'll be fine

about 6 - 8 plastic overpants
Yes, if you use nappies that need them. Pocket nappies like the marvelous Bumgenius don't.

Yes, if you use nappies that need them!

Rubber gloves
Why? Baby poo is not scary.

2 big nappy-soaking buckets with close-fitting lids
Try one, it is enough as long as you're not planning to soak your nappies (an unnecessary and annoying process).

bleach and antibacterial soaking powder
What are those things? We don't own them. The sun does the job.

a washing machine with a hot function
Handy but not strictly necessary, as long as you live in a climate where they'll get some sun.

antibacterial washing powder
Huh? We've purchased one box of ecostore powder and it is still going. With Bumgenius you are specifically required to use environmentally friendly detergent that doesn't contain enzymes, etc, and to use it very sparingly. If you don't, you're no longer eligible for the one year guarantee.

lots of clothes-line space and fine weather or a big clothes dryer
Neither are necessary. You can dry them inside if the weather is yuck. This is especially true of traditional cloth nappies, as they are thin cotton squares and dry quickly.

When I read Kaz's comments, I'm not surprised so few people use cloth. If I thought it would be like that, I probably wouldn't either. Kaz argues that using cloth is not necessarily an environmental improvement. If they are used in the way she describes, I agree. What many people forget is that you don't have to do cloth in the traditional way. Hey, it is 2009!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I chose South Africa

For wherever you go, I will go;
And wherever you lodge, I will lodge;
Your people shall be my people,
And your God, my God.
Ruth 1:16, The Bible

I've been asked many times, "Do you think you could live in South Africa?". This is a question I attempted to answer long before anyone started to ask me. My personal perspective is that you shouldn't marry someone if you are not willing to live in their country. This is why I chose to visit South Africa before getting engaged (you can read about that trip in the travel section of my previous blog). For me, choosing Dave was choosing South Africa.

Since making that choice, I've had many conversations with ex-pats here in Australia. These people have left much that they love in South Africa due to things they find frightening and frustrating. This has led me to feel challenged about my own choice. At times I've felt judgmental and angry with ex-pats. I now see this as a result of insecurity about our own choice to remain open to living there. I now feel secure in the fact that God has every person on a different journey. He is working different things in each family, and that is OK!

I can't know what it would be like for us to live in South Africa - no one can unless they do it! I do know that I have many limitations that could make it hard. These include only speaking one language, being a cautious driver, and seemingly having a learning disability related to keys and locking up houses! I have always lived in Tasmania near my family.

Whether we live in South Africa or not, I've already lived out some of the consequences of my choice to marry someone who comes from another continent. We've spent two months in South Africa since our first trip together in January 2007, on two separate trips. We've together pursued the adventure of taking a tiny baby overseas. I've seen townships, tribal lands, bullet laden security guards, spectacular scenery, and lots of elephants! Friendships have multiplied.

More than that, the problems and joys of South Africa have captured my heart in ways I never expected when I said "yes" to my husband. I've found that I love the place, yet wondered if I am crazy for not dismissing it as a basket case. I want our son to somehow be both South African and Australian, to remain connected to both places, but wonder if it will work out like that. I've felt smidgen of the despair of yet another political disappointment, and a touch of the fear of crime that many cite as the reason for their departure from the country. We've longed to do more for those who are suffering, particularly orphans, but found the obstacles to this discouraging.

We are content in Australia, but remain willing to trade it in for a more unpredictable continent. God will be working his purposes in us wherever we go. Where we are physically is not as important as the relationship we have with God. Wherever we are there are opportunities and difficulties that we are called to make the most of, with God's guidance. God is at work in South Africa, and it is exciting to remain open to the possibility that he may have a role for us there.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Elnathan's new seat

Elnathan is six months old next week. He now enjoys trying to sit up to play, but doesn't have the balance to sit alone yet. Today I went to mother's group and saw this handy solution - the washing basket seat! Supervision is required, as unbalanced little ones can end up slumped against the sides. Some padding would also help, perhaps a blanket or quilt to soften the sides of the basket. My friend at mother's group had placed a doona over the basket for padding.

Respecting God's creation

Lindsay has written an inspiring post about caring for the environment - Free to Be Green. I love her point that respecting God's creation is demonstrating respect for God himself.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Great idea for family Bible time

It was inspiring to read one woman's account of how she included Bible reading in her day with three small children. I love reading about little ones learning from the plain old Bible - no simplification and no pictures - Wow! God's word is powerful, even for preschoolers.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Turning the tide against euthanasia

I recently watched Turning the Tide, a documentary about euthanasia.

I appreciated the interviews with people who were disabled, suffering from chronic pain, or caring for vulnerable people. The documentary presented the classic arguments against euthanasia, including the idea that we need to help people to feel they have dignity and worth. After watching this, I felt that we need to do more for those who are living in aged care facilities. Many of these people feel they do not have worth because they do not enjoy caring relationships.

Occasionally, not often enough, I go to visit my step grandmother in a home for elderly and disabled people about 20 minutes from where we live. She seems to enjoy a good life there despite her pain. She has lots of friends, a lovely room, and caring staff. On my last two trips I've also taken the time to visit a man from our church who suffers from MS.

Here Elnathan is pictured with his step great-grandma. Babies are a wonderful asset when visiting an aged care hostel! Maybe we can contribute a small amount toward valuing those members of our society who are vulnerable. The best argument against euthanasia is suffering people who are loved, content, and cared for in their pain.

Friday, October 9, 2009

A lovely testimony

I enjoyed re-reading a lovely testimony of how one woman gained A New Heart for Homemaking.

Those who are rich

Do you ever think of yourself as rich? If you are like most Australians, I doubt it. We have grown to think of the rich as those who have million dollar houses, boats, and a couple of European cars sitting in the driveway.

The Bible encourages us to think differently. My McArthur Study Bible defines "rich" as those who have more than they need to live upon. If you are reading this on a computer right now, chances are that you are rich according to this definition. What do we need in order to live? Basic food, a few pieces of clothing, and shelter. So 1 Timothy 6:17 - 19 applies to us:

Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold of eternal life.

In the second week of our recent trip to South Africa, I felt an immense conflict in myself about how rich I was and how little I did in this world. I was so obviously rich in a place where many are obviously poor, and it seemed like the only people I ever talked with were equally rich . . . what did this mean for who I was and my place in the world?

Then God comforted me. He reminded me that God had given me these "things" that make me rich. He had given us the money to not only own a car but also hire one, to not only own a home in Tasmania but also hire lovely places to stay in South Africa. Yes, this was luxury. Yes, God had given it. Given it to enjoy, not to feel guilty about.

I don't understand why there is so much inequality in this world. The Bible says that God decides who will be rich and poor (see 1 Samuel 2). I don't understand why he doesn't even things out more! However, it is not my job to question God. It is my job to be grateful and obey. That means being ready and willing to give, and actively pursuing a lifestyle of good works. This is basic to my place in the world as one of those who are rich.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The reversal of hope

Today I came across another prayer that reminds us of why God sometimes does not answer our prayers in the way we hope. Read Most Richly Blessed and be reminded of God's priorities for our lives and our hopes.