Monday, January 28, 2008

Lighthearted Diatribe on the Economics of Diapers and Tampons

It’s nearing the end of the month, and Thursday’s shopping trip was more about comparing prices than purchasing multiple items. I bought three gallons of milk, but needed to price shampoo and conditioners as Sam’s Club no longer carries their Member’s Mark line that I’ve come to depend on. I figured that as long as I was going to be at Sam’s Club and WalMart I might as well compare prices on the two items that I’ve been thinking about on and off for over a year – disposable diapers and tampons.

It all started when my hormones when wacko. I ended up having a light “monthly” flow that went non-stop for about 6 months straight. Needless to say, I was fed up with needing to use tampons. Fed up with paying a small fortune for them, but unwilling to consider the alternatives. The last time I’d spent so much money on paper products was when my children were in diapers. Hmmmm. Diapers. I recall that when my kids were in the hey-day of diapers, a single one cost around $.06 each. (I’m roughly as old as the dinosaurs.) The tampons I was buying – the plain Jane ones in cardboard and paper wrappers – cost close to that, but I was unsure of the exact numbers.

I don’t know about you, but the thought of tampons costing as much as disposable diapers drove me nuts. Diapers incorporate high tech ingredients and coverings to deliver super techno absorbing abilities. They’re made up of:

Polyethylene Film: plastic used as back-sheet and to help stop liquids from leaking out of the diaper.

Hot Melts: used to glue the different components of the diaper, such as the pad and the elastics.

Hydrophobic Non-woven Polyethylene: used as a top sheet for the leg cuffs; it will not allow water to pass through.

Hydrophilic Non-woven Polyethylene: the main top sheet in contact with the baby skin, allowing the liquids to flow into the diaper core.

Elastic: used to improve the fit of the diaper and usually made of polyurethane foam, rubber or lycras.

Lateral Tapes: used to hold the diaper in place once it is on the baby; made of polypropylene and hot melt.

Frontal Tape: used to allow for multiple repositionings of the lateral tape without tearing the back-sheet; attached to the front of the diaper with adhesive; reduces the thickness of the poly film without the risk of potential tears associated with the lateral tapes.

Cellulose: Used for the construction of the pad. It aids in the integrity and absorbing capacity to the diaper. It comes from pine trees. Liquids are absorbed due to the capillaries in the void spaces between the fibers and the surface tension angle between the fiber and the water.

That sounds like a lot of science to me. Compare that to what it says on my Tampax box under ingredients:

cotton and/or rayon fiber, rayon and/or polyester overwrap, cotton cord, and cotton and/or cotton/polyester thread.

Doesn’t sound very complicated to me, and certainly not equivalent in cost to the process that produces disposable diapers.

And now for the results of my pricing research. To simplify things I’ll just stick with the prices at WalMart, mostly because that’s where I found the cheapest price on tampons, and everyone can shop at WalMart – no membership required. The cheapest plain Jane tampon was the Equate brand at .10 each. Tampax tampons cost $.14 each for any size absorbency.

The least expensive diapers at WalMart are the White Cloud brand. A stage one diaper (closest in size to a tampon) costs $.14 each – the same as a Tampax brand tampon. (I was right!)

Of course prices go up from there. Tampax Pearl and Playtex Gentle Glides with plastic applicators were the most expensive tampons -- $.20 each. Pampers were the most expensive disposable diapers -- $.24 each for a stage 2. Huggies’s stage 3 diapers in a large box (just think how large a stage three diaper is) cost $.21 each – or the same as a high end tampon. Can you believe it?

Despite the anger that wells within me each time I think of tampon manufactures making their fortunes at the expense of menstruating women, I’ve had a great laugh over my economic research. Mostly because my hubby is a cutie.

Hubby had a Utah Beekeepers Association meeting on Thursday at a local restaurant. Our neighbors have a few beehives and were in attendance. When Nancy asked Hubby what I’d been up to lately, Hubby told her about my research project pricing diapers and tampons. Just thinking about my mild-mannered husband having a conversation with our neighbors about the injustices of diaper and tampon pricing makes me laugh until I snort.

My pricing expose my not make a dent in the pricing of tampons, but it did accomplish something. It got at least two men (Ron and Hubby) talking about diapers and tampons. Now that’s a miracle!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Living at Break-neck Speed

It’s been a long time since I wrote a "real" blog entry. Here are a few of the reasons why:

It was the holidays. Kids home. Gifts to buy and wrap. Decorations to hang. Decorations to take down.

I caught a case of the January blahs. Not depression, just a little funk after having people home with me all day during the holidays. It really is hard for me to have everyone go to school and work. And yet, there is no lack of things to do here at home. Someone once asked me what I did with all my time now that my kids are in school all day. Truth is, I don’t have more time. And the same things need doing. I just don’t have a little friend to do them with. My advice is to savor having your babies at home. I did too much wishing away of that time in my life.

Life moves at break-neck speed. Bug is heavily involved in basketball. The girls take piano, and Beans is taking a pottery class. I’m on the district PTA board and also work with the student council at Lou’s school. (She’s on the council. It’s fun but also requires time and energy.) I have 2 ½ callings at church. I teach Gospel Doctrine every other Sunday, meet with the Activity Day girls twice a month, and play for the choir every week. (The choir accompanying isn’t official.) Laundry never stops piling up. Dinners don’t make themselves. Children need near-constant reminders to get their jobs done. Snow falls and needs shoveling. I have a dog that needs walks and more training. Exercise is a must.

I’m finding that I don’t feel that urge to write and share everything that’s happening to me. Life still happens, but I’m sharing more with my husband and kids. Hubby and I have recently discussed at-home moms, the number of callings women have versus men, financial goals, political leanings, Presidential candidates and the state of the Federal Government. Bug and I have discussed why some people swear, setting realistic goals, the importance of having fun. Personal hygiene and future make-up techniques are topics that Loula Belle is interested in. I’ve been trying to help Beans better express her feelings and we’ve discussed why that’s important. I guess I’m figuring out how to communicate what’s most important to me to those who are most important to me.

I’m writing more in my health and fitness journal. And then I’ve been re-reading what I’ve written as a means to better understand why my weight loss has been stuck for so long. I’ve also spent a lot more time reading and digesting everything that crosses my path on health and fitness. I’ve realized that reaching my weightloss goal isn’t a selfish pursuit. A healthy momma is a happy momma. Plus, I figure that I can better serve the Lord as a fit woman. When Hubby and I hit the years where we can go on a mission together, I don’t want to be held back by health problems. So I’m living in the NOW but planning for a healthy future!

I’m also trying to put Elder Dallin H. Oaks’ conference talk into practice. I’m evaluating what’s good, what’s better, and what’s best. Don’t worry. I’m not going to stop blogging completely. It’s part of how I get my journal writing in. When my blogging slacks, so do my journal entries. I’m trying to find balance.

My girls both got new WebKinz for Christmas. For the uninitiated, children can now buy plush toy animals that come with a web access code where they can virtually play with their pets. This is my girls’ favorite activity lately and has eaten into my own computer time.

I believe naps are important.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Youth Skit on Individuality

Character Connections – January 2008
Individuality – Amelia Earhart

#1 Student: (“flying” around the front of room with arms out like a plane) Guess who I am?

#2 Student: The Little Airplane that Could?

#1: No. I’m a person -- one who really did a lot of flying.

#2: One of the Wright Brothers? The Red Baron? The President of the United States?

#1: (stops “flying”) No, no and no. But you’re getting closer. I’ll give you a big clue – I’m a woman.

#2: So you’re a woman who spent a lot of time flying. Hmmmm. I give up. Just tell me.

#1: Okay. I was trying to get you to guess AMELIA EARHART – the first woman to fly solo over the Atlantic. That was 1932 – a time when men mostly dominated the air industry. She’s what you’d call a real individualist – someone who stood out by being herself.

#2: An individualist, huh? Does this have anything to do with our character connection trait this month? I know it’s INDIVIDUALITY. But I’m not exactly sure what INDIVIDUALITY means. Everybody is a separate individual, so shouldn’t everyone possess INDIVIDUALITY?

#1: You make a good point. Everyone is unique, but not everyone is happy being unique. Haven’t you noticed that there are an awful lot of people who try to be just like someone else? You know, follow the crowd. They’re missing INDIVIDUALITY. I guess you could say that it’s really being comfortable in your own skin.

#2: So Amelia Earhart felt comfortable in her own skin?

#1: Did she ever! Unlike other young girls of her generation, her mother sometimes let she and her sister wear pants while they were growing up. You could say she was a bit of a tomboy – climbing trees, hunting rats with a .22 rifle, “belly slamming” down sledding down hills. She also kept a scrapbook of newspaper clippings about successful women in predominantly male-oriented careers such as the film industry, law, advertising, management, and mechanical engineering.

#2: So if we want to have INDIVIDUALITY we should be like Amelia Earhart?

#1: No, silly! You can’t have INDIVIDUALITY by being like someone else. You have to be 100% yourself.

#2: I think I’m getting it. If I want to demonstrate INDIVIDUALITY I simply be my own, wonderful self. That’ll be easy. I’ll eat nothing but _______________________, only wear clothes that are my favorite color – _____________. And since I have to wear shoes, next time I buy a pair I won’t bother to consider what’s fashionable or cool. I’ll just walk up and down the aisle waiting for a pair to call my name. Who knows, maybe a pair of rubber farm boots will shout, “Hey, ___________________ let’s go tromp through some mud/puddles.” Yes-siree, INDIVIDUALITY is definitely for me! (Tromp off the “stage” pretending to wear rubber boots.)