Making the switch: Mama cloth and menstrual cups

Well, I’m pretty sure the title of this post has already scared a few people away. If not, please be aware that this post is going to discuss some of my Army latrine (or lack thereof) experiences. It might be a little yucky, so if you’re grossed out by bathroom discussions, please choose another one of my posts to read!

Before I started researching cloth diapers for my son, I’d never heard of cloth menstrual pads. It’s the same concept as cloth diapers, really. Read my post on choosing cloth diapers over disposables HEREWhy shouldn’t I have the same comfort and lack of chemicals touching my skin that my son gets? At first, the thought of washing bloody cloth menstrual pads seemed disgusting. But poopy cloth diapers seemed incredibly gross at first too, so I think I can get over my uncertainty regarding mama cloth. Just in case, though, I’m starting with cloth daily panty liners. There’s really no icky factor in that for me.

Menstrual cups just sound absolutely genius to me. I can’t believe I’ve never heard of them until recently! Even if I decide mama cloth (reusable menstrual pads) is not for me, I think I’m going to love menstrual cups!

Disclaimer: I’m about to share some gross toilet-related experiences, so please beware.

I used to be quite snobbish when it came to toilets. Growing up I avoided public restrooms or even bathrooms at others’ homes. Then came the Army. In basic training I once used a latrine that was basically a concrete hut built over a deep pit of urine. The ammonia fumes from urine were so strong, my eyes were burning and tearing, and I was actually choking. Then there are the hundreds (maybe thousands?) of porta-jons I’ve used. The ones here in the States aren’t that bad. In Afghanistan, often the doors locks are broken, and some doors even have gaping holes from shrapnel, so there’s not much privacy. Then there are the toilet tents. Basically a bunch of toilets on a platform inside of a large tent. The tent flaps can be opened from the outside, and be assured…there will be some unbelievably pervy male service member who wants to watch you on the TOILET. And the drug testing…that’s a fun one. Pee in a cup in front of someone of the same sex (possibly with Soldiers of the opposite sex walking by the open bathroom door) and then parade by dozens of people carrying your urine practically over your head. Then there’s all the squatting in bushes…squatting behind buildings while your opposite sex battle buddies overt their eyes…squatting by the tires of your gun truck while some insurgent is probably eyeballing you from the mountainside…and my personal favorite memory: using a plastic bag as a toilet and then throwing said bag with disgusting contents into a pit of burning feces. Of course previously mentioned opposite sex battle buddies are watching. I mean, seriously, guys??? You KNOW I was just using the “bathroom.” Do you HAVE to turn around and stare when I walk out of the shack and over to the burn pit???

I say all of the above to make the point that it takes a lot to gross me out now. It really does. I don’t think mama cloth is going to faze me at all. But I guess we’ll find out! I’ll be posting more soon, including a tutorial on making a cloth pantyliner or light days pad.

Have you made the switch to mama cloth or menstrual cups? Would you ever consider it?
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“17 beheaded in Afghanistan for dancing”

I woke up in a fairly good mood this morning, but when I turned on my computer to check the weather, I saw the above headline.

When I think of Afghanistan, I have a heavy heart. Not just for the American and coalition lives lost in that country, but for the people that live there. All those children. Afghanistan has the highest infant mortality rate in the world. Their maternal mortality rate is one of the highest in the world as well, and Afghanistan was recently determined to be the most dangerous country in the world for women.

I read news articles regularly about U.S. deaths in Afghanistan, and they anger me. Yes, I loathe hearing about U.S. troops being killed, especially when they’re murdered by those working with them on a daily basis.

It’s so easy to say “drop a bomb on them” or “wipe them out” or “leave them to kill each other off.”

But then I think of what I saw:

I remember this little boy who lost his left leg when he stepped on an anti-personnel mine. The Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979, and when the last Russian soldier left a decade later, Afghanistan was one of the most heavily-mined countries in the world. In 2008, more than 62,000 anti-personnel mines were destroyed. As of 2010, there are still at least 6,000 land mine or unexploded ordnance (UXO) sites, let alone individual mines. His father brought him to the local base for treatment. He came running up to the gates, carrying his bleeding little boy.

If you click on this, you can read a story I wrote in 2009 about a young Afghan woman I remember. She finally discovered she was pregnant after several years of marriage. That woman was so happy that day, that she let me photograph her without her veil. I’ve never uploaded that photo to the Internet, for fear that someone might recognize her, and punish her for “exposing” herself. (Highly unlikely, I know, but some of my writing -completely twisted- was featured on a pro-insurgency site, so they have looked at my work before).

I remember this little girl, living on the side of the rugged Hindu Kush mountains. Her father brought her in to have her burned leg treated at a small American-run forward operating base. Most villagers in the area are afraid to come here for treatment (there’s a lot of insurgent activity). I remember this father held his little girl close when she was frightened and in pain, and he looked at her with love and gentleness in his eyes.

I remember the young female English teacher, probably around 23 or 24 years old. Her dream was to move to American one day. She told me, proudly, that she never intended to marry. Very feminist words indeed for an Afghan woman!

I remember these girls and many like them. Forbidden during the Taliban reign, these girls now attend school.

I know the media rarely shows it (everyone has a boss, and everyone has an agenda), but there are good things happening there with our presence. These are just a few snapshots of many wonderful things I witnessed, especially for the women.

But I also remember the young Soldier, barely a legal adult, with a bullet hole in the front of the vest that saved his life.

I remember the wiggly, black body bags carried on stretchers to the helicopter.

I remember the silent ranks of infantry Soldiers staring at the just-unveiled memorial.

There will always be countries in dire need of saving. But can we really?

As a continent, Africa really burdens me. The Congo is a horrific place for women and girls to live, because rape is commonplace. In Somalia, about 95% of girls between the ages of 4 and 11 experience female genital mutilation (FGM). Many of you have probably heard of the Invisible Children in Uganda. The recent riots and killings in South Africa tell us of the country’s deep-rooted troubles.

It’s been estimated that more than 20 million people at one time are victims of human trafficking…most of them women and girls.

I’m not saying that it’s worth it for us to be the world’s policeman. I’m not saying that it’s worth the 2,000+ American lives that Operation Enduring Freedom has cost us (so far). But I am saying that to me, there are faces in this equation. Afghanistan is not just an evil country somewhere far away.

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I’ve been slacking

My goal is to post every day, but yesterday I was just too tired to finish my post before bed. I was trying to go to bed early, but of course Mr. Stinky Pants sensed that, and it took me 2 hours to get him to sleep. Oh well! The bright side is that he slept two 4-hour periods in a row! That’s really good for him! AND we went to Walmart last night, so I picked up my favorite Starbucks iced coffee packets. Mmmmm. I’ve had one today so far, and I think I’m gonna have another. They’re just so delicious.


Here are a few things I’ve run across today (so far):

  1. has nursing apparel on sale. I picked up a long sleeve nursing top for the fall for about $26, including shipping. That’s still cheaper than Motherhood Maternity (online, at least), and I think this one’s cuter.
  2. Houswife Mama has a blogger opp coming up for $1 a link. Blogger opps are a great way to get your blog name out their and bring in readers. If you sign up…consider putting me down as your referral, because that would be really nice of you. =D
  3. This is gross.
  4. It’s almost Women’s Equality Day. As a Soldier, this list is awesome to see.
  5. The Knotted Pineapple is now on Facebook. Their custom products are adorable, and you have the chance to win one right here next month!!
  6. The blogger opp on Jenn’s Blah Blah Blog is still open for sign ups. It’s free!

I’ll be posting a list of newborn and preemie cloth diapers a little later today, so stay tuned!

Note: If you’re a Justin Bieber fan, and I’ve offended you…oh well.

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