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The other day we watched the hilarious DVD that came with our Ergo baby carrier. We popped it in the DVD player for the hell of it, and we were not disappointed; it was crazy.

The plot was selling Ergo not as a baby carrier, but as a “lifestyle.” Most of it was shot in a yoga studio and at a natural foods/superdooperorganic market. I could probably write about 20 pages about this video, but I will try to stick to the highlights.

My favorite portion was the part where several individuals who were clearly yogamasters in their own right did a series of gnarly, human-pretzel maneuvers with real babies. The goal was to show how one can change the position of the carrier and baby simultaneously and in mid-air. Front to back, back to front, back to side, side to side (actually they didn’t do that one, serious oversight there) were achieved by parents popping their arms out of their sockets and babies dangling precariously as a tornado of snaps, straps and buckles whirled and re-arranged around them. Now I love the Ergo carrier, don’t get me wrong, but I never attempt this shiz without a spotter, and I’m a former gymnast for chrissake. These yogi peeps were serious cowboys. My favorite was a lady who said (I’m summarizing) : I used to worry about the baby falling out, and I’d only reconfigure the carrier over a soft surface, but now I’ll do it anywhere. I’ll do it over concrete! I do it over concrete all the time! I was just waiting for her to come out with, “Hell, I’ll do it over a pack of dobermans!”

Those moves were gnarly though. It reminded me of standing at the Kittery Trading Post buying snowshoes (back in the no-babies days when I used to blow my tax refund on snowshoes and ferrets) and the shop assistant holding out two pairs of snowshoes to my husband and I, saying, “If you’re going to do something gnarly, you’ll want these, but if you’re going to do something really gnarly, you’ll want these.” We opted for the shoes more moderate in both price and gnarliness (as I mentioned in an earlier post, we’re not cool, if you didn’t already figure that out from the fact we used to keep ferrets) and blew the rest of the refunds on something else I’m sure.

So Ergo is as gnarly as I get these days, and based on what I saw on that video, I’ve got no game whatsoever.

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Drat, we’re down to the elitist diapers. I hate it when that happens.

Months ago, some kind-hearted friends gave us a big bag of diapers in varying sizes their little tot outgrew before they could be used. Most of these diapers were of the expensive, super-eco, biodegradable, chlorine-free variety, which got me excited because I love anything free, especially things that are expensive. Oh, and green. Sigh. I would love to me more green, if only I were wealthier and more elitist. Anyway, I was all pumped to try these Prius-driving, rich people dipes. Then I pulled them out of their bag (which is not biodegradable, fyi) and cringed. They do not make a good impression.

First of all, they are of a sad brown color from the lack of chlorine. You would think this doesn’t matter, I mean they’re going to hold poop, right? But it does matter. It matters big, yo. They look dingy and cheap. Actually, they look and feel a lot like the chafey brown waxy toilet paper we had to use in Catholic school. I’m all for offering it up to God, and all that, but I think the twins are a little young to start working off their original sin.

I might overlook their sad appearance if they worked. They don’t. I swear, the pee just goes right through them. A bandanna’s got better pee retention than these jokers. And the poop? Well, you can just imagine. No, you don’t have to, I’ll tell you. The elastic portion of the dipes that’s suppose to fit snugly around the legs never attaches correctly. Its all slack, all the time, and the poopey leaks out, leaving excrement mudd puddles to deal with wherever the little cherub sits.

Now that I’ve run out of functioning diapers, I’m left with these flimsy, non-business-holding, no better than your grandmother’s hankie, I’m green because I can afford to be and can hire a poor undocumented worker to change them every 5 seconds so I can keep up appearances, diapers, and not even a prayer of keeping the poop at bay. Does anyone know the patron saint of poopey diapers? Have my years of using scratchy brown Catholic school toilet paper and my twins day and a half use of eco-diapers bought us some divine intervention?

Okay, I’m having way to much fun here, so I better wrap it up. He he, I kid (a lot) about greelitists and their wares, but I am, believe it or not, fully supportive of all things green. It just gets my organic goat when people get sanctimonious about it, since at this point green is a lifestyle that few can truly afford. Therefore, I don’t think people should be waving their eco-products around like bling (that means you, people who drive their Priuses like BMWs, and BMW drivers, you stop it too), and lecturing others from atop their free-trade, free-range high horses. When eco diapers and cars and everything else are sound and affordable, we should all buy them. Until that day, stop flagellating yourself over filling landfills with dirty diapers, Mommies of the world. Not only are eco diapers too expensive, they are crap. Literally. You’ll waste more water, energy, and time cleaning up after them. Instead, pray for a brighter, greener future. Invest in the science that can make it happen. Volunteer at organizations that clean up our open spaces. Buy the green products that you can afford, that work, and don’t listen to the Prius-driving greelitists, what do they know, their diapers are poop.

Parents of children with stinky neck cheese: know that you are not alone. I originally wrote this post during the Civil War (2008) and all these years later (2017) it is still getting hit like an M-Fer. I said it then and I’ll say it now: clearly this is a serious issue that needs further discussion.

What it is:

For those of you who didn’t get here via search engine and are ignorant to the silent, worldwide epidemic that is baby neck cheese, a little background. Baby neck cheese starts when milk dribbles down from baby’s mouth and settles into the many folds of her neck. This can happen while baby is drinking milk, or spitting up, both of which happen a lot with babies. That milk/spit-up is very stealthy. It slinks way down deep into a fold and hides there, maturing, staying so quiet you don’t even know its there until it starts stinking. By the time it fully ripens to cheese, which, depending on climate, may only take an hour, that stench is enough to wake the dead.

Why it forms:

This problem would not occur if babies had necks. Sadly, they do not. Babies have chubby round faces that sit right on their shoulders, with only cavernous folds in between. These folds are Cheddar Gorge, and at their depths, Cheddar Caves. The real Cheddar Caves are made of carboniferous limestone, and once concealed the complete skeleton of a man for 8,000 years. That’s how deep they are. That’s what your dealing with, yo.

How to Diagnose:

You know your baby has neck cheese when the stench emanating from baby’s neck is enough to resurrect an 8,000 year old man. What type of cheese does it smell like? This is a topic of hot debate in my household. My husband thinks it smells of Roquefort, and I’m inclined to agree, but just for the sake of argument I like to say that it smells of a sharper, 10-years-past-perfect Camembert. I’m open to further discussion, however, if there are any Fromagers/new parents reading this.

Aside from smell, if you would like more criteria for diagnosis (though after whiffing the region I cannot imagine you would need further proof), you can also note the appearance, which not surprisingly is curd-like. In appearance and not smell, it is Feta-esque.

Environmental, Behavioral, and Anatomical Causes:

Baby neck cheese is a hornet’s nest of causes and factors. First you have the behavioral issues: babies are messy eaters and spit up at lot. Then anatomy comes into play. Without a neck, the milk/spit-up cannot roll off, and has no where to go but deep in the folds, which function as tiny, infant fromageries. Next, we get screwed by the weather. The warmer, moister climates really set the stage for cheese cultivation. We live in a jungle for chrissakes, so we get hit harder than most.

Treatment and Cure:

Treatment depends on the length of the ripening process, and the sensitivity of your baby’s skin. Before the situation can be fully assessed, you must ferret the cheese out with liquid soap. Use baby soap. Baby skin is already delicate, and after suffering through cheese ripening, it really doesn’t need further insult. I suggest using a soft washcloth for this portion of the process. Not to get too graphic, but if you use your hand, you will never get the smell out. For real. Once the cheese is excavated, examine the fold. Is it red and irritated? Is it uncomfortable for your baby? If you have any concerns at all, contact your baby’s Pediatrician because it could be a yeast infection. Gross, but true. If this is the case, the doc will prescribe a lovely anti-fungal to clear it right up. We used Burt’s Bees diaper cream as our go-to treatment, and several commenters swear by polysporin. Most of the time, however, you can just loosen the curds with baby soap, mop them up with a washcloth, and baby’s good as gold until she gets the cure. The cure for baby neck cheese is growing a neck. When the folds cease to exist, the fromageries close up shop. Their time is odorous, but brief.

Prevention:

Not bloody likely! I’ll revise. If your baby is a messy eater, or frequent spitter-upper, and you live in a warm, moist climate, you’re f-ed. Your baby’s neck will be stinking it up with the rest of them. There are things you can do, however, to minimize the problem. Wisdom I will share with you from trial and error. When my twins were born, not long after we moved to this jungle, my husband and I found we we’re unaccustomed to the climate, and unaccustomed to the twins, for that matter. The girls had neck cheese so thick you could spread it on a cracker. We used a three prong method to attack the problem: bathe more often, burp more often, use oil. Method #1: Bathe the baby every day. With twins, this is really exhausting, and the baby books will tell you that a baby really doesn’t need a bath every day, but when that baby has neck cheese, she really does. And baths are fun! Even when you’re hallucinating in your exhaustion (especially then!) they are fun. Just suck it up and scrub those folds, dammit. Method #2: Burp more often. More burps=less spit up=less possibility of cheese. Need I say more? Method #3: Oil. After the bath, dry your baby completely and give her a nice soothing baby message, rubbing the baby oil deep down in every fold. This seems to help. I have a theory that the oil makes it harder for the curds to attach to the neck. There is only anecdotal evidence to back me up on this, as there has never been an in depth study on the prevention of baby neck cheese (I’m as good as it gets, kids), but I’ve found it to be effective, so give it a go!

Well, that’s all I’ve got. I welcome any comments/suggestions/questions/employment from all you suffering parents out there.

P.S. 2017 update. We no longer live in the jungle, which is a bummer, because our daughters never learned to swing from vines and build radios out of coconuts. We left, alas, before any coconuts were juiced by electrodes; we missed New England. I’ve taken down most posts I wrote in the jungle (my kids may learn to use the internet one day), but I leave neck cheese up as a public service. And also as a bit of shameless self-promotion:

Need words, by any chance? While I no longer write on my blog, I do write copy, articles, and anything else you might need. I’ve written about Bayesian statistics, developing nations, baby calculus and baby neck cheese. I fear no subject. I’m also writing a book. It’s not about neck cheese, but almost as good.

Thanks for reading, and good luck with the cheese. Here’s my email, just in cases:
jungletwins@gmail.com

-Chris