The Melanin Problem Runs Deep

seattle laos
For what seems like a cumulative two months out of the year in Seattle, the sun is actually shining without wind, rain, or some sort of mini natural disaster. I love the area we live in but the weather sucks for this desert girl. My hometown is a tumbleweed womb and it is hot for about 11.79 months out of the year. It was always hot and, if anything, we would always get a gnarly car tan. (Y’know when your left forearm gets all dark from driving?) Both thankfully and regretfully, we do not live in my hometown so my half-White/Lao children are pretty vitamin-deprived. Raising a biracial family in the Pacific Northwest means the weather literally rains on my race parade.

Raising bi-cultural/racial kids has been rewarding and interesting because of the push-pull of which genes they have. For those remaining 10 months out of the year, there is no doubt they are their father’s children especially Humnoy. With both -Noys, they looked much like me when as babies and Lanoy still does resemble me quite a bit. Would people think they were Asian, let alone Laotian? I never connected how anybody would always get confused when I told them I was ‘Asian’ when they didn’t know what ‘Laotian’ was. I got great grades in school, had a weird name, and many more stereotypes of a good Asian but still never fit in the mold of “Asian.” Forget my almond-shaped eyes, dark hair, wide nose, and all the prominent ethnic features; it was because my foremost characteristic is my skin tone. Thankfully, my children get the melanin problem too.

Summer’s here and Lao roots be so strong, I tell ya. It may have taken a couple decades of unlearning and self-acceptance but my skin color is no longer my problem. When people are paying to artificially and unsuccessfully attempt to reach the same color range as I have been born with then it’s society’s problem. My children may still experience the same problems for their presumed traits rather than their unique traits, physical or otherwise, but I hope their only problem is not having the appropriate weather to bask in the melanin from their strong, deep Lao roots.


Mixed family melanin
rat tail by the pool

What physical trait did you hate and have since embraced?

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Methyliso- what? 30 Alternatives To Avoid The Discovered Chemical Causing Baby Wipe Rashes

rash caused by baby wipes

Rashes caused by yucky commercial wipes

I once asked my mom about how they “went” in Laos and she described third-world bathroom needs much like a drunken camping trip I took with my party troupe once. Both scenarios involved dug holes and anything nearby resembling paper. I think she was messing with me but my story unfortunately is true. Now with little shitters of my own, it made complete sense to use cloth wipes with cloth diapers. Definitely more so now that new research shows that such hygiene convenience can come with major health concerns.

A January 2014 study was conducted on commercial baby wipes and its harmful reaction causing painful, itchy rashes to site of application. For users and young kids especially, that is usually their buttocks, hands, and face (hopefully not with same wipe nor in that order). According to the research, the culprit is “methylisothiazolinone (MI), a chemical that investigators believe is found in roughly half of all the wipes sold in the United States.” Wet wipes are nice to have on hand for easy clean-up for those crazy-long car trips or outings without a bathroom in sight. So, what are busy and convenience-reliant parents supposed to do if they want to avoid this risk? Well, there are alternatives so you limit your family’s reaction to commercial baby wipes:

alternatives for baby wipes chemical

Other Brands Since the affected subjects used Huggies and Cottonelle, then check out other brands. Remember, if you experience an allergic reaction from anything (not just butt wipes), stop using them. Duh.

  • Luvs wipes
  • Pampers wipes
  • Parent’s Choice wipes (Walmart brand)
  • up & up wipes wipes (Target brand)
  • Kirkland Signature wipes (Costco brand)

“Natural” Disposable Wipes I’m not sure where in history did the term “disposable” be considered of nature but this can be a good option (with one claiming 99.2%, whoaaa) to “naturally” wipe butts and such.

Homemade Disposable Wipes These? These are cool because 1) cheaper 2) Safer ingredients and 3) still convenient to wipe and toss.

Commercial Cloth Wipes If you’re (kinda) one with Mother Nature, consider the sustainability of reusable cloth wipes. There are plenty of manufacturers to make this “natural” need so you don’t have to.

Homemade Cloth Wipes  If you’re really one with The Mutha, make your own or at least find a small business that will.

Wipe Solution The key to get the proper clean is moistening. Components of good moistening are: 1) soap (cleanses), 2) water (cleanses and dilutes), 3) some sort of oil (“glides”), and 4) essential oil (antibacterial or aromatherapy, optional).

Confession: we have been using bathroom cloth for months now. Yup, for the entire family, adults and all. With convenience, there will always be risks. Fortunately for me, I have peace of mind that I am not only contributing to literal planet waste but also I can control what my family’s bodies use for their hygiene needs. The frugality is nice, sure, but it also doesn’t leave me desperate when that last roll of toilet paper tissue is lingering on by a ply. I just wash along with the cloth diapers and fresh, clean wipes for our butts.

What about cloth wipes scare the shit out of you?

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This Is What A Laotian Four-Generation Gap Looks Like

20131228-020004.jpgFour years after his wife died, he still is living in the home where he relocated his entire family from war-torn Laos in 1979. His eldest daughter would bear a daughter as her eldest as well. This daughter would go on to have her own children. Within same home, the 81-year-old Laotian patriarch has been able to get to know the newest generation of refugee descendants and holiday visits are a time where this four-generation gap meet.

He would call her “Ee Theek Noy” (“Little Girl Theek”) because everyone knows how she looked exactly like her mother as a baby. Theek is the family’s first female grandchild and now have some -noys of her own. My grandfather is lamenting how Lanoy shares my baby traits of peach fuzz hair and many tears in new environments. While she is basically frightened of anyone other than my boobs, Lanoy has still somehow connected with Paw Tao Yai (“big/great grandpa”) just at the cutest distance.

The state of the octogenarian’s health leaves very little windows of interaction. My grandfather is mostly resting his aching body in his room once shared with the love of his life and comes out to eat his meals. When we visit, he interacts with the great-grandbabies by kissing their heads and warning them to stay away from the stairs in a cute, soft great-grandpa way. He would have to get so close to each great-grandchild as his increasingly clear-colored eyes are failing to differentiate which -noy he’s kissing. Like I said, Lanoy is not very fond of unfamiliar faces so she doesn’t immediately reciprocate Tao Yai’s affection. When she is ready though, this is what Laotians, four generations apart, look like:

Laotian great grandfathe and baby r.jpg

What generation are your kids?

Not Pictured: Most Memorable Moments Of Home Birth

From start to finish of my almost precipitous home birth, there are so many things I had to think of like trying not to poop, breathing, and pooping anyway. Thank Buddha for my doula of MamaEarth Doula for not only writing out the details but also capturing my birth story in photos. Apart from pixels and filters, I was constantly reminded about the day we became a family of four in other details.

The best memories about #homebirth | TheLaotianCommotion.com

Tub Every time I grudgingly stick two dirty, cranky kids into the bath, I relive that day. We went without a birth pool and kicked ass with our bathtub. When I get mad that Humnoy squirted his bath toys spouts at me, I remember how he came to greet me in the first stage of labor. I remember how the littlest soon-to-be-big brother was so concerned and sweet and curious all at once. Seeing the littler of the sibling pair now trying to climb over the ledge of the same vessel she arrived into the world just nine months prior is more scary than sentimental but still emotional.

Towels Funny story: I’m the worst home birth prepper evar. I had the birth kit, sure, but missing things like extra-extra linens for the massive postpartum bleeding that I repeat every time I pop out a child or completely necessary things like a warm receiving blanket for newborn Lanoy. I had only a few of each. My awesome midwife made do and handed me a brand new chub all wrapped up in our bathroom hand towel. When this very towel comes into rotation at our sink, I remember how she nursed for the first time wrapped up in TJ Maxx discount fluffiness.

Bed Lanoy didn’t take to the breast right away though– newborns assumedly still amniotic drunk. She eventually nursed after I hobbled my ass over to the bed with cord still attached, pulsing (duh). I love to sleep so you know all the feels come flooding back when my little brood and I take cosleeping naps or read bedtime books in the same spot where she was weighed in at seven pounds and four ounces just at the foot of the bed. We rarely do but when we get a chance, we get to relive a family nap much like the day she was born. I have the hemorrhoids but everyone else was tired. Ok.

Freezer Every time I reach in the freezer (uh, daily), I’m reminded of a postpartum savior clank with inertia. My bottle of placenta pills are happily stored in the freezer next to ice packs, forgotten bottle of vodka, and homemade chicken stock. Birth of the baby is one thing but lest us not forget the afterbirth, where you have to deliver the placenta. My doula did her doula-ing and presented me with a bottle of my own happy pills! I pop a placenta on days where I go to the freezer with intention for that vodka.

It’s everywhere; I can’t really escape the fact that I had my birth in my home with my home’s resources. It is easy to forget that memories aren’t just in pictures and made-for-event things but the random, everyday items. When the toddler mom tantrums at the same spot where he kissed his baby sister for the first time trigger popping all the placenta pills, I just stop and try to remember by just looking at myself, at my kids, at living. These memories trigger that day’s unique moments so much more than all the detailed photos would.

What is a unique detail do you remember from your birthing day?

You can find me tweeting my hatred for pants on twitter, filtering the shit outta mom lyfe on Instagram, pinning food I’ll never make on Pinterest, and being a SEO creep on Google+. Check out our family Youtube channel.

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A Breastfeeding Love/Hate for Weddings

pregnant bridesmaid.jpg

It’s that time of year again: WEDDING SEASON. That time of year where everybody is getting married off. Where you get to see your old party friends before you never see them again until the next pair marries off. It’s a lot different now that I’m a breastfeeding mom with two littles pawing at my bra. Last year, I was an actual bridesmaid and I made it being gone from Humnoy for an entire day. I was decently pregnant and my milk had dried up but it was still very hard being apart. This year, we were invited to a wedding that we plan to attend at the end of August. Lanoy will be at the tail end of six months around the wedding. We may or may not have started baby-led weaning by this time but as you know, BLW doesn’t mean they’re eating much of anything. I will still be exclusively breastfeeding her so  I love and hate weddings.

I love weddings because they’re friggin’ fun as hell. Free food, free music, free mostly everything and hanging with people you love. Did I mention that they serve food? Anytime someone offers me food, I am all over that shit like it’s my second dinner. When I mentioned it to GH about his final say for our official RSVP, he was surprised I was going to opt out because she’ll only be six months. He saw it as an opportunity to have a ‘date night.’ I had never thought about that because a) Mom brain, b) breastfeeding baby, and c) what’s ‘date night?’ The super awesome thing is that the wedding is back in my hometown, where I would leave the kids with my mom, who I have still have not spoken to with her recent tirade on my failure with my success. Bright side is I wouldn’t have to talk to her when I drop off her beautiful grand babies. My mom’s house is also a 7-minute drive from the venue. Also, a few hours kid-free? EEEEEEE.

I hate weddings because they’re a lot of work. Wedding guests aren’t allowed to say that, are they? Whatever, I said it. Being a breastfeeding wedding guest is even more work. Being a breastfeeding guest at a no-children-allowed wedding is tough shit. With the wedding less than two months away, I have no pumped milk or even any idea how to give the baby the pumped milk. Humnoy didn’t take the bottle for a few months when I returned to part-time work. This part literally terrifies me and also kicks my ass into high gear to put my pumping milk tips to practice. There’s also the thing of looking halfway decent as a wedding guest. Weddings aren’t a place for spandex capris or a sloppy bun.

image courtesy saludoimage.com

I’m torn. I mailed off our RSVP excitedly as I imagined a night of alcoholic drinks and dry-humping my husband on the dance floor like old times. I then realize how little Lanoy will still be by that time. God, she’ll only 7 minutes away. Once I leave because no one can calm her down like my tits can, it’s unlikely we’ll come back unless NSYNC is performing or something. She’ll also most likely sleep most of the time I’m gone. PER USUAL. Why am I still even thinking about this? WTF is wrong with me; there will be food. I’m such a goddamn mom.

How did you prepare for your first time away from a breastfeeding baby?

My Babies

Since I’m beyond tired to keep up with actual blog content like the long overdue birth story of Lanoy or deep insight into motherhood with two littles under two, here’s some photos of my two kids. Enjoy.

Thirsty Thursday: Thirsty Mama, Nagging Baby

About Thirsty Thursday:

There is a day in college that was hailed as the day to be a higher education pupil and partake in academia with integrity and enthusiasm. A day that would go in the books, Facebook pictures, and hopes of a feature on textsfromlastnight. It’s the most popular weekday in college where you could drink yourself stupid because, you guessed it, it was Thursday. Being a mom is a lot like a bad hangover and you always smell like bodily fluids. I’m living like I’m drunk all the time and my wingman is Humnoy. If you can hang, then grab a red cup (of breastmilk) and a deck of cards (phonics please) to pre-funk on Thirsty Thursday.

The first feature of Thirsty Thursday is the parallel universe of having a baby and a college project/homework/assignment. There just so happens to be a project you have to present on Monday, according to your neglected student planner. While you know you should be working on that damn project, you go out and can’t shake that nagging feeling the entire weekend. There is something tugging at you during every girl-group-holding-shot-glasses photo opportunity or beer pong tourney. Something that whispers sweet-everythings in your ear telling you you’re a failure and your parents are (even more) disappointed.

In normal, Laotian Commotion Family style, we spontaneously substitute our craving for a delicious soft drink with beers that were sitting in the fridge. I naively support the myth and believe it will boost my milk supply, whatever. As I’m trying to enjoy an adult beverage, I get a little tug of nags from a little person, who is persuading me to give him the only alcohol I’ve consumed in months with the flick of a pen. This nagging entity is a bit more prevalent (and cuddly and boob-grabby) than my studious obligations three years prior.

Haha, I'm being a Debbie Downer!

Put the lime in the coconut

Breathalizer

Cursing spells on my drink

Do you get to drink if you wanted to? What non-child activities do/es your child(ren) make it difficult for you to enjoy? Did you notice how we’re both shirtless?

Sh*t Mainstream People Say When You Don’t Want Kids

main·stream/ˈmānˌstrēm/
Noun:
The ideas, attitudes, or activities that are regarded as normal or conventional; the dominant trend in opinion, fashion, or the arts.

From pregnancy activities to interest of homeschooling, all my choices in motherhood are due in large part to because everyone is, well, not doing it. In addition to creepily rubbing my pregnant womb, strangers and especially well-meaning friends would offer their advice – generally unwanted, of course. “Normal” has evolved into ignoring the biological and instinctual cues as parents for the sake of conforming or convenience.

Here is my experience with shit mainstream people say about…

Choosing to Be Child-Free

Remember that option on MySpace with basic information such as your marital status, body type, and even your income? There was an option to list your “children” with Yes, No, or Someday. I clicked the “Love kids, but not for me” category. I was proudly child-free because kids complicate things and steal your life’s ambitions. With a mention of this, I get my share of sympathetic brows and heartbroken frowns and usually,

You’ll change your mind.

This isn’t Denny’s where I can change my order. I don’t care to eat the Sizzlin’ Skillet and you say I will eff up my day by going without the Sizzlin’ Skillet. Everyone else gets the Sizzlin’ Skillet and I’ve seen how messy it gets and if you touch it, you’ll get hurt. I like the idea but the Sizzlin’ Skillet is just not for me. You go on to say the Sizzlin’ Skillet has finally entered meaning into your mundane existence and that you always dreamed of the Sizzlin’ Skillet since you were a little kid. Love ‘em, but kids were not for me. The ironic thing is that a child-free person totally could change their mind and have kids later down the road. Well, dang, what happens when you aren’t really impressed with parenthood and your kids are hellions and now want to fulfill your dream of backpacking in Europe? Not very many options there, buddy. All I had to do was get knocked up to show that you were right all along. I actually would love a Sizzlin’ Skillet if a Sizzlin’ Skillet were Humnoy and dessert were busted myths of mainstream parenting. Sizzlin’ Skillet is pretty bitching and my life does have a whole new meaning. Now, I dream of having more Sizzlin’ Skillets with a dash of unconventional to complete my crazy meal.

What shit did mainstream people say about your life before having kids? Have you always wanted kids? Do you have people in your life that are child-free? How are they now that you have child(ren)? What mainstream parenting horror stories did you de-bunk?