Thursday, November 12, 2009

Conversations with myself

woman watching the sea

     • This thought was inspired by a Twitter conversation with @CarryonCalmly. Sometimes I go to The Shape of a Mother and enjoy the acceptance of diversity. When I was pregnant and waiting....waiting...for the stretch marks, I was a little horrified, however. I hoped to see more women who came out the end of the nine months unscarred and perky. It rarely happens. I keep thinking my stomach looks like something that came out of a special-effects shop. At least, with sites like that and admissions like mine, you know you're not alone.
      Speaking of which, I mentioned to Sam the other day: Won't it be weird when my boobs go back to their real size once I stop nursing? And how they won't be as full across the top (I pantomimed the curve to show what I meant) and how my nips won't stick out all the time? And Sam said, Did they not used to stick out all the time? And I had to remind him that, yes, they were like little turtles in their shell unless they were coaxed out by temperature change or other incitements. He had forgotten what my non-breastfeeding boobs looked like. I should have taken more pictures.
      And when I say "go back to their real size," of course I have no idea if they'll be a new size entirely. They were a 36DD and are a 36I as I breastfeed. But, as my mother says, she's now a 36Long.
      P.S. Ruth of @CarryonCalmly suggested a frugal way around the specialty bra dilemma for large-busted mamas: If you can't find the cup size you need, buy a larger band size, which automatically scales up the cup size, and then sew the band smaller. Must experiment.

     • I love petroleum jelly. I often call it Vaseline as a shortcut, but I'm too cheap even for that kind of name-brand luxury. I buy store brand. It costs, like, 69 cents on sale, and a tub will last nearly, if not quite, forever. There's a little one kicking around my parents' house that belonged to my grandmother. Makes you wonder what little historical particles have become stuck in there, like flies in amber.
     I love the moist, goopy feel on my lips, and I use it as a quick fix on cuts that aren't a big enough deal to bandage, and I smooth it over my raw nose when I have a cold for some protection from the tissue assault, and I sometimes get ambitious and grease up my feet before putting on socks and hoping for soft, sandal-worthy tootsies. But mostly it's the lips. I apply it compulsively, all day. I get agitated over the feel of my lips if they don't slide across each other when I smack them. I used to carry along a tub with me until one time the plastic on the bottom cracked, and a hot summer day made it melt and leak out the hole and seep into my car's front-seat upholstery. Now I make do with carrying colored lip gloss in my pockets for daytime outings and save my petroleum jelly addiction for private.
      When I was in elementary school, one of my classmates was perpetually smeared in Vaseline — a huge glossy ring all around her mouth and nose, like see-through clown makeup. I never did find out why — maybe combating some sort of eczema — but figured it was at her mother's orders. Fortunately, our class was mostly nice; we had only two outcasts with whom no one would be friends, and she, even with her greased-up face, wasn't one of them. Sometimes I wonder if I look like Vaseline Girl.
      Awhile ago I found out that some people, thoughtful people who would know, don't like petroleum jelly. I don't want to flit around finding links, so if you don't know what I'm talking about, you can search for them yourself. Basically, it's petroleum-based, and it's kind of the leavings of the petroleum process. So there's a double whammy. I guess. But I really, really like it. I tried to ignore the messages, thinking maybe they'd go away.
      But, being a good eco-girl, I've been trying to find a substitute. No luck so far. Lip balms are too solid. My lips don't feel drenched. I've tried breastmilk (yes, I have!). I've tried jojoba oil and coconut oil. Someone mentioned Un-Petroleum Jelly, which I will have to scope out. Clearly, all these options, except for my dear breastmilk, cost more than my store-brand fix. I don't mind paying more in some ways, but it is quite a lot more.
      When we were moving, I found that I had stocked up at some sale or other. I did a calculation of when I last remembered buying petroleum jelly, based on the store name on its label. I determined that I have enough petroleum jelly on hand to last me until I'm 38 or 39. Unless someone can give me a very, very good reason to throw away my stash now, that's 5-6 years left of my favorite before I have to find a suitable replacement.
      Why fret over something when you can just procrastinate?
      After writing this, I was wandering through PCC in my leotard (because I do such things) and saw a tester tube of Un-Petroleum Jelly. It cost $5.99, but it felt nice on my lips. Tasted a little weird, though. I read the ingredients list and approved of them all. Hmmm...procrastinate and be cheap, or spend money and get something coconut-oily?

     • When I posted a request for guest bloggers, I had two feared outcomes: that no one would respond, or that 100 irrelevant and spammy people would respond. Instead, I have half a dozen lovely readers and writers who have volunteered, and I'm so excited.
      Sam saw my post and suggested that he could do a guest post, too. I almost kicked myself. Why didn't I think of that! After mentioning it, he's become a little cagey about what he might write about. I just hope it's not an exposé of my real-life parenting — "Hobo Mama: The mother behind the mask."
      P.S. Don't think that half a dozen + Sam is my limit. If you're still interested in guest blogging, now or in the future, please shoot me an email: mail AT The times I'm busier come in waves, and I can regularly use other voices to fill in the blanks.
      Plus, I'd love to guest blog at some other sites if anyone wants a reciprocal agreement. Maybe not till February, though. November's NaNoWriMo, December's Christmas sales, and January's our excise tax return. I have to do it right this year so I don't get audited again.

     • I keep wanting to read my NaNoWriMo novel to find out how it ends.

     • I volunteered to make a spreadsheet for our babysitting co-op so that we could easily keep a running calculation of our points.
      It turns out I have no idea how to do such a thing. I have an idea and then immediately discard it as impractical or unhelpful. I keep staring at the blank spreadsheet and hoping the solution will come to me in a vision.

     • I wasn't going to publish this today. I was going to wait until I had something more meaningful than a paean to petroleum jelly.
      Oh, well.

Photo courtesy magda s on stock.xchng


Rachel said...

OK, that trick with sewing the band size smaller? I was JUST wondering about that the other day in a clothing store, which per usual did not have anything in my actual size. My eyes keep being drawn to the bras that look like they have the right cup size, but the band is of course several inches too big. So I was inspecting the thing wondering whether it would work to just shorten it up in the back.

I just wonder if there's a better way to gauge whether it is in fact the right cup size than just eyeballing it. (Safety pins in the dressing room, maybe?)

Kara said...

Oh, the trouble with petroleum jelly...

I am not a big fan myself (I'll say for eco reasons, but it's really more of a texture/sensation thing shhhh), but I do have troubled skin, mostly on my hands. I've ordered some shea butter stick stuff for using on my excema from The seller is very friendly & helpful, and she has some lip products with natural ingredients. HTH!

Jenny said...

I know what you mean about the Vaseline. My mom used to keep a big tub in her kindergarten classroom and would hand it out on q-tips to kids with chapped lips. I used it myself until I found something better, which is lanolin. The same stuff used for nipples. They only sell it in a $5 tube, but it's so big that I, for one, could never use it all on my boobs. I read in the Lansinoh reviews that it's good for chap stick (kids and adults), among other things. (Some of my friends use it to re-lanolize their wool diaper covers.) Anyway, I love it. It's thicker than Vaseline and it stays on longer. The one drawback is that it's not vegan, if you care about that. (I don't.)

Missy said...

i have a similar obsession with the palmer's cocoa butter swivel stick. i have warm fuzzy memories of stealing my sister's stick because she's the coolest. they're also good for dry chapped skin all over. i find them in with the african american hair care products.. actually, i mailed my sister one a few months ago because she hasn't been able to find one (i guess i owed her anyway). and they're usually less than $2.50 and last forever and a day.. dunno why so expensive on amazon..

Anonymous said...

I make my own lip balm: melt in a double boiler (not too high a temp. b/c the wax can catch on fire) equal parts beeswax and almond oil (or olive or any other nice oil), stir then pour in a tiny wide-mouth jar or a used empty cosmetic cream jar.

You can also add flavoring to it at the melted stage like lemon or peppermint or whatever.

Lisa C said...

Thanks for entertaining me.

My pre-pregnancy boobs were perfect. Now they sag, but you know what? I still really like them!

I love Vaseline, too. Yes, I call it Vaseline even though it's the store brand. Nothing keeps the moisture in like it does. I also use Burt's Bees lip balm, and I like it a lot, but it doesn't do quite as good a job. And it IS so great for soothing a sore nose. Even though it's a petroleum by-product, it's considered to be totally non-toxic. I'm curious about these other lip balms mentioned, though...

Geezees Custom Canvas Art said...

In am totally with you on the petroleum's a wonderful thing!

Olivia said...

I like Carmex for my lips when I really need long-lasting moisture, but I don't know the ingredients. Could be as bad as petroleum jelly. For my feet and other chapped areas of skin I use Bag Balm.

Swistle said...

It seems like by using up a byproduct you're being GOOD for the environment. What else is going to be done with it? Dumped in the trash? You are bowing to mother earth! And so am I, when I use petroleum jelly on my poor children's sad, sad winter skin on the advice of their pediatrician who says petroleum jelly is Teh Bomb.

Bibliomama said...

We use Prevex -- it's a glaxal base -- but only because I can't stand the feeling of petroleum jelly. I have a hysterical dislike bordering on terror of having greasy things touch my hands. I can't even use body butter because it's called butter and... ew!
(Not quite the intelligent, insightful comment I was hoping to repay yours with. I should probably be barred from commenting on P.D. days)

Anonymous said...

I love Un-petroleum Jelly!!

amy friend said...

my lips cracked and peeled (ew!) after my little guy was born...and the only thing that worked was burt's bees medicated lip balm. all the other natural/bee balms did nothing. i tried them all since my friend at a health food store provided me with free samples!

Rambling Rachel said...

I think I know how you could create that spreadsheet. Let me know.

I'd like to see how your guest blogging goes. I can't volunteer but wish I could and really want guest bloggers.

I'm hoping to get a new job and my fantasy is that I'll only work during the work day. Then I can blog at night!

Lauren Wayne said...

I am so glad people gave all these great recommendations & comments. I wondered if anyone would bother responding to a post on Vaseline! :)

Rachel (#1): I just did the eyeballing thing, because I had a squirmy 2-year-old in arms and didn't want to try it on. I still haven't, but I'll let you know if I chose correctly! And if the trick works.

Rachel (#2): Before I forget, I would love your spreadsheet help. (email: mail AT And I could guest blog for you sometime next year if you want it!

Bibliomama: My post wasn't insightful and intelligent, so I take full blame/credit for random comments! I normally don't like greasy, so why do I loooove petroleum jelly? We may never know.

Olivia: I think Carmex has petroleum jelly as a base. But I'm not judging, because I use it, too, straight up!

Lisa: Yeah, I figure that if petroleum jelly were routinely causing infections and such, they'd pull it.

geeksinrome: So. Cool.

Swistle: I am bowing to Mother Earth! Yes, I am.

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