emotion, experience, empathy

emotion, experience, empathy. On the PeoWriMos blog, I share some thoughts about how fiction gets us through the day.

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sunbaby diapers – a review

052Cloth diapers can be really overwhelming.

I took a leap of faith and bought 24 Sunbaby diapers before T was born, because stuffable diapers seemed like the way to go.

They’re the cheapest name-brand diapers on the market. I’m sure some would still insist Sunbabies are China Cheapies, but the fact remains: they are affordable, and I can’t judge a Mama for choosing affordable. Cloth diapering can be stupid expensive if you let it, with designer prints and accessories–especially if you don’t know where to start, and wind up trying a ton of different types before settling on something that works.

After 20 months of hard, every-other-day use and as many washes, I’m still happy with them. And here’s why:

The Bad

Most of my Sunbaby diapers look ‘sloppy’–the snaps aren’t in perfect lines, some of the seams are crooked, and at least six of the snaps on 24 diapers came off within the first couple months. I bought a pair of snap pliers to fix them.

These diapers are bulky. On smaller babies, they make for funny-looking butts. In the summer, the extra amount of lining in them makes T sweaty and sticky.

The Neutral

Only two sizes and when prints are announced, some of them disappear awful fast as Sunbaby addicts flood the website on release days. However, two sizes is plenty flexible–T wears the same size at 20 months that he did at 3 weeks, with different snap placements.

There’s a flap of fabric at the back of the diaper to prevent blowouts from crawling up the baby’s back. I’m ambivalent towards the flap, mostly because I’ve never noticed it come in handy, but it could come in handy for disastrous poops.

The Good

These diapers hold lots of poop. Never once had a blowout with these, and I can’t say that for the actual China Cheapies I picked up from a co-op, or any disposable ever.

These diapers are easy to use. Even my dad can figure them out. As far as entry level diapers go, this is a good one.

The elastic on the back and hips are longer than other brands, so they stay snug. The downside of this is that there is more fabric all around–lining, back flap, and shell.

The Great

I came to new appreciation of Sunbaby diapers when I converted one into a PUL-only shell. Essentially, I took one apart–pulled out the liner, removed the elastic, and I loved what I found:

The elastic is put in so professionally, slip-case style. That’s why they fit so well–the elastic is attached at each end, and not sewn directly into the diaper along the hip like the other diapers I have. The result is fewer pinch points, as the elastic remains uniformly tight as those chubby legs move.

Better yet, the elastic is the good stuff–a full half inch and braided. The elastic has held up so well that even though I pulled it out to remove the lining, I put it right back in.

tl;dr: Sunbabies are a great stuffable diaper. They’ve held up well to hard use, and grown up well with T.

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a (quick) scene checklist


On our writer’s blog today, because I’m procrastinating on Camp NaNo… Happy Writing!

Originally posted on PeoWriMos -- Peoria Writers' Group:

We’re one week into Camp NaNoWriMo! Did you survive the holiday weekend with your novel intact?

I didn’t as well as I wanted to, but that’s okay–seeing family was good, and helping my toddler recover from all that family (and not enough sleep) was necessary.

Now Monday rolls in with this reminder that Camp is a quarter over and I’m right where I left off five days ago. So here’s something I’m using today to get me jump-started back into noveling excitement…

A (Quick) Scene CheckList:
Does my scene…

  • have a mission or story purpose?
  • raise the stakes, escalate the conflict, or introduce danger?
  • create/show motivation, needs, or flaws?
  • evoke all five senses?
  • have dialog/internal monolog?
  • have a strong point of view?
  • have a setting that the characters use/are influenced by?
  • show us something specific and new about the characters/story?
  • have a beginning/middle/end?
  • reflect the context of the novel (foreshadowing…

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candy bar scenes

candy bar scenes. on my writers’ group blog, I talk about Holly Lisle’s great writing advice.

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fingernail dirt


Blogging today at PeoWriMos with some Camp NaNoWriMo encouragement!

Originally posted on PeoWriMos -- Peoria Writers' Group:

“Clutter and mess show us that life is being lived…Tidiness makes me think of held breath, of suspended animation… Perfectionism is a mean, frozen form of idealism, while messes are the artist’s true friend. What people somehow forgot to mention when we were children was that we need to make messes in order to find out who we are and why we are here.”

Anne Lamott, Bird By Bird

Camp is messy.

Building fires, cooking food on a stick, sleeping with spiders. Bug spray, sunblock, chlorine hair.  Raucous songfests with bawdy lyrics,  unrehearsed skits, telling jokes through quiet hour.

Going to camp means you’ll get dirt under your fingernails. Maybe even paint in your hair, too, and that’s okay, because whatever you’re making is fun to make and yours to enjoy. Nobody expects you to bring home a masterpiece from summer camp–just some stories and a promise that you had lots…

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bad advice

Advice is a tricky thing.

I gave some bad advice recently. I didn’t mean to, of course, it just happened. A writer in my local NaNoWriMo chapter asked a broad question with a vague description of what she meant, and I gave her the “best” answer I had.

Which of course, was the wrong one.

Our group kept chatting–more information came out about the specifics and how those changed the best answers. I was wrong. It was bad advice.

We live in a culture that wants you to believe you need all the answers. Now. Give the wrong answer quickly and loudly, and you’ll be better received than if you research the correct answer murmuring.

With a few exceptions (the medical field and law), anyone can authoritatively give advice. In fact, despite laws that prevent the sharing of legal and medical advice outside of certain circumstances, many people are happy to say “oh, you can just do this.”

Problem is, when you get bad advice, you’re the one to deal with the consequences of acting on it. In the end, our actions belong only to us.

I’ve let this roll around in my head for a few weeks. not just how I can give out better advice–when I choose to give it–but how I can decide whether I actually know enough about a situation to correctly asses whether or not I should be giving advice in the first place.

Again, it’s tricky. Since I host a writing seminar once a month, there is pressure for me to answer any and all writing questions. After all, if I’m qualified to write up a three hour presentation on aspects of fiction/wordcraft, then I must be qualified to follow up with a Q&A, right?

Right. Problem is, one extra piece of information can change the answer.

The question becomes, when we’re asking for advice, what all do I need to include in my question to get a good answer?

I use this all the time when I run into problems in a story. I’ll open up my NaNo group chat and start typing away at the question or problem I have. Before I’ve gotten to the actual question, the answer has made itself clear to me… because all the time spent articulating the problem makes me realize I was stuck on the wrong thing or that I know what I want the answer to be.

Here’s some tips for getting good advice:

  1. Be honest with yourself about the answer you want. Questions that require a crystal ball–no clear-cut answer–are unfair for everyone. No one can look into the future and tell you which path will wind up being the right one. Should I do this, or this? Sorry. Getting advice on that is probably not going to make you feel any better about making that decision.
  2. Choose someone qualified to offer advice. Personally, I’d be happy to answer your fantasy fiction questions all afternoon. But don’t ask me about romance or literary frau-frau, because I have no idea.
  3. Refine the question and choose relevant background information. This is probably the trickiest part, because how do you know what’s relevant? The answer, for me, is keeping the question in the back of my mind for a time. Oh, and google.

How about doling it out?

  1. Check your qualifications. There’s this pressure to avoid saying “I don’t know,” and just to wing an answer, but honestly, it’s really okay to say so. Better yet–it’s fine to say, you really need to ask a lawyer/veterinarian/dietitian about that.
  2. Check your bias. We all have opinions and beliefs that form our world-views and how we respond. Being aware of these biases can help shape the answer, and alert the person seeking advice that we’re coming from X perspective. I’m not saying don’t include your bias–in fact, quite the opposite. I seek advice from certain parenting communities because their answers will skew toward my style, and when I offer advice in those communities, they know where I’m coming from, too.
  3. Ask probing questions. Make sure the person seeking advice is truly asking the question they meant to ask, and get all the relevant information you can to give a solid, confident response.

What advice do you have about advice?

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no bake energy bites, super cocoa edition

recipe adapted from Gimme Some Oven

Super Cocoa No Bake Energy Bites

1 c old-fashioned oats
2/3 c coconut, shredded
2 tbsp chia seeds
4 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 c natural creamy peanut butter
1/2 c flax
1/2 c chocolate chips
1/3 c honey
2 tsp vanilla
1-3 tbsp whey or yogurt, if necessary

mix. if mixture is too dry to ball, add the whey. roll into balls. eat.

the “roll into balls” stage isn’t actually necessary. i may or may not be guilty of skipping this stage and eating it straight from the storage container. just sayin’.

these are quite filling. i love that. the peanut butter and honey give the cocoa a rich, almost heady taste, and it satisfies even my worst chocolate cravings. this recipe is flexible, too! chia seeds are optional, chocolate chips can be substituted with nuts, nuts can be added, whatever you feel.

enjoy :)

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