A BlogHer’12 State of Mind


Before I graduated college, before I moved to California, before 9/11, I visited the Big Apple with twinkly little stars in my eyes standing so small among the smattering of skyscrapers like a forest of metal and glass.

The life that lay out before me to present day included severe road bumps, including getting thrown from my seven-year journalism career and regrouping to work another seven years in communications for elected officials.

As they say, all that’s prolog to the moment I surfaced from the subway 14 years older with a couple white hairs, a second career in politics under my belt, working a start-up pr shop with a husband of 7 years and a newborn baby in tow heading to my second BlogHer convention.

[P.S. I was born on 7/17/77. I know, creepers]

Last year, I spoke about illegal immigration as the token Republican knowing next to nothing about BlogHer. This year, I spoke about women in politics again, as the token Reep, but this time I knew all too well the exciting publishing network now as one of its syndicated contributing editor.

After running around doing some basic sightseeing around Midtown, we checked into the Shoreham Hotel with a couple hours to spare before my speaker orientation where I met the fabulous Heather Barmore, our moderator, and Councilwoman Lea Webb.

Afterward, I had an hour to burn before my next feeding with Baby Bird so I zipped through the multi-level, multi-hall expo to pick up piles of swag and meet lots of fun brands.

The next morning, I awoke with a start from the sound of my cell ringing from Nicole at genConnect confirming our interview in 5 MINUTES! Quickly, we rescheduled so I could wash the long, thrashy night beside Dagny off and collected my thoughts from my notes and soundbites scribbled down the day before.

Interview done. Just so my clients don’t think I’m always cool under pressure, I also always think afterward what I wanted to say but forgot. The white hot lights can distract you.

Thinking I would quickly jump in line for the Martha Stewart keynote was ultra silly. The estimated attendance of 4,000 actually jumped to more than 5,000 at last tally and you can tell by this room shot when she talked (rockin’ some killer orange platform wedges, I might add).

Once her chat concluded, I quickly ran back to the hotel for a little time with the fam before returning to knock out my panel.

Here’s the thing about talking politics at BlogHer… some people just don’t care.

In fact, President Obama’s opening address at BlogHer’12 wasn’t 100% adored. Standing in several lines, I heard from bloggers who felt it was overbearing to have politics thrown in their faces.

I know how much I and many in my circles eat, sleep and breath all things political, but it’s really not that interesting in the grand scheme of things for the average woman blogger.

So, I braced myself for a less than stellar attendance despite having Obama National Operation Vote Director Buffy Wicks on my panel.

So, imagine our collective relief when our little panel drew a heck of crowd asking about everything from how to handle the work-life balance to getting a campaign up and running.

You can see from the healthy Tweetstream #BH12Govt101 that we enjoyed some playful, as well as instructive discussion on the role of women in politics.

One of the remarks that struck me hard: one woman considered running for school board but feared controversial board votes would incite retaliation from teachers on her kids. Eek.

In my experience, I’ve never heard of such a thing. I recently met with a male school board candidate and all he worried about was winning.

Throughout history, women have made up just 2.2 percent of Congress – that’s House and Senate.

My takeaway: we do it to ourselves. We sit on the sidelines, we watch the men run the world while we make 80 percent of the household purchasing decisions and keep America’s families running.

In other words, we live with the decisions that impact our lives too afraid to take a stand even when it might do our kids some good. Or as my new BFF Lea said…

Despite that worrisome reoccurring theme both in my and the next day’s panel with Courtney Johnson, Romney’s Deputy Coalitions Director for Women for Romney, I walked away from the conference feeling that perhaps we inspired a few to get involved in their communities.

That night, I got to *finally* get some one-on-one time with my fellow BlogHer politicos at the chic and rather historic Flute to discuss our next big adventure at the upcoming 2012 Republican National Convention. [Stay tuned… big ideas and fun coverage on the horizon.]

Walking back to meet up with hubs who was walking the streets of Manhattan with bird, I caught a pretty mid-street shot up Times Square. So glad I finally returned to the city that never sleeps… a little older, a little wiser, a little sexier? Oh ya.

+++ Read the liveblog of our panel, “How Washington Works and How Women in the States Can Make a Difference.”

Follow me @erica_holloway.

How to use cloth diapers and keep your sanity


Before you think I’m all concerned about the environment or that I’m hyper budget conscience, let me state up front that my reason for using cloth goes beyond those two pretty good reasons.

Last night while Dagny played on my new favorite gift to myself, I stood at the counter in my laundry room in quiet reflection on my day while folding diapers. It stirred a memory of my mom.

“When you kids were off to bed, I would sit with the laundry basket on the couch and fold clothes. It was my quiet time, when I could think about my day with you and be alone with my thoughts.”

So I’m a sentimentalist. Sue me.

But I’m also pragmatic and when I shared my desire to my husband not only to breastfeed until our Baby Bird turned one, but also use cloth diapers – he was entirely supportive.

Yet, like weddings (ladies, you know what I’m saying) the research to make this undertaking happen fell on my very capable shoulders.

If you’re considering cloth diapers for your babies, for whatever reason, then feel free to use what I’ve learned:

  1. It’s all about the diaper pail (or a white 12.2-gallon Hefty trash can with an easy one-touch locking lid). Not one cloth diaper pail on the market got the full cloth-diaper mommy seal of approval – they were all too expensive, too small and too faulty. I have a second trash can on the other side of my changing table with odor-locking bags for wipes and other trash.
  2. It’s really all about the diaper pail liner. Toss aside those fears of pre-soaking diapers in the pail. I scooped up one of the best reviewed liners on the market by Blueberry. It’s said to withstand months of hot washes without the liner cracking which just leaks into your trash can (gross) while being affordable and pretty cute. It fits perfectly and snugly in my Hefty trash can with the elastic drawstring. Just dump the entire load and your bag into the wash. Voila!
  3. Smell. Ya, I know you’re worried about smell and so was I. All the “diaper pail deodorizers” also got terrible reviews from some of the most well-known brands. Then, I found these amazing little Citrus Circle Diaper Pail Deodorizing Discs which comes with a couple doo-hickies to adhere to the inside of the lid. I’ve replaced them every three weeks or so. So cheap, smells great.
  4. Diaper covers or all-in-one insert diapers. It’s all about you. We’ve got a couple of the all-in-ones with the inserts, one of which we plan to use for the beach, and they’re very convenient. But the covers can go through 2-3 diaper changes provided they’re just wet. In either case, you’ll also have to decide buttons or velcro. Again, we have both because baby waistlines don’t necessarily conform to the evenly distributed buttons. Just make sure to reattach that velcro to each other before tossing in the pail – it sticks to prefold diapers like… well, you know. Lots of makers to choose from in the diaper-making world – we stayed local with Baby Frenzy in El Cajon. They offer a 15-percent local discount. All diapers are stitched together by hand at the store and if any of the diapers need repairing, they’ll do it for no extra change.
  5. Prefolds – so cheap, so versatile, so not like disposables. It’s amazing, but you can buy three dozen Gerber prefolded diapers online from Babies ‘R’ Us for $53. You use these with the diaper covers and fold them to your liking. When baby needs a change, just replace with a clean one and drop the used into your pail. We also use ours for burp cloths or lay under her whenever she’s on her back to protect against leaks. Unlike a disposable, you will get a little opening in the back when baby moves around no matter how tight you make the waist. Wet leaks probably annoyed us for two days until we got the hang of it. NOTE: You have no idea the power behind those chemicals in disposables. My first wet and dirty changes with Baby Bird amazed me; I realized how much fluid and waste she really passed. It was a lot more than disposables would lead you to believe. But because of the discomfort, we know when she’s wet right away and there’s less fear of a rash.
  6. Laundry, laundry, laundry. It’s unavoidable. You must wash cloth diapers at least every two days, sooner if you have a dirty diaper in need of a soaking. Here’s where I thought cost would really kill us, especially with a baby-bottom friendly detergent. However, I found this highly rated Charlie’s Laundry Soap that sells 80 washes per container for $12.99 on Amazon – and cloth diaper mommy’s love it. You cannot use softener on diapers because, like towels, it reduces absorbancy and Charlie’s is specially made for this reason. We like Charlie’s so much that we now use it on all our clothes. There’s no smell, the clothes get clean and even with my sensitive skin, I’ve had no breakouts.

Pros: very affordable and eco-friendly.

Consumer Reports estimates that disposables can cost around $2,500 by the time kids are potty-trained. All told, we’ve spent about $250 so far. The only thing we could expect to buy more of that’s aside from other related costs before she’s trained is wipes and deodorizing discs.

Cons: not as convenient and time consuming.

If you don’t have a private laundry room, that could make the washing process a bit more complicated and two working full-time parents probably cringe at the idea of more laundry.

One final thought: Some believe, as my mom does, that a little inconvenience now leads to less inconvenience later.

It’s a controversial debate in the cloth vs disposable world: Do cloth diapers speed up the potty-training process?

Some say yes believing that the discomfort and awareness of being wet or dirty help connect the dots faster for kids.

We’ve all seen how the disposable diaper industry has expanded their lines from diapers to pull-ups and variations therein seemingly to keep kids in some form of their product longer.

After a couple months with cloth, I can tell you that’s a very convincing selling point for parents.

So perhaps the contributing factor of earlier potty training for cloth parents is wanting to be done with the whole diaper scene.

I’m not going to tell you it’s the most magical experience ever or that every parent should stop buying disposables today. Do what’s right for you and your family.

But if you’re interested, for whatever reason, it’s not only possible but can be a very rewarding experience and with just a few tricks of the trade, you can do it and keep your sanity.

Got some cloth diaper tips of your own? Please share your tips or blog posts in the comments below.