Newborn Tip: Gold Bond Powder for Umbilical Cord Stumps

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The instant you have a baby you’ll see how bizarre human conception and creation is. I mean…this life form comes out of a womb, and is connected to this crazy looking placenta. Beyond the crazy mind trip, you now have to care for the remnant of this placental cord until it falls off. You certainly don’t want it to get infected, and don’t want it to brush up on too many things so that it doesn’t irritate your new little alien.


Use Gold Bond Powder on that lovely baby stump! It’ll dry out that sucker and allow it to fall off faster than any other product. Additional tip: get it in the travel size so that it’s easy to powder the stump during every diaper change.

@the8dunlaps on baby center also agrees. She posted “my midwife always had us get a small travel size of gold bond medicated powder…and powder the cord every diaper change. She said no alcohol as it can actually preserve and make the cord rot, all of my kids with alcohol treated cords took weeks, but my gold bond powder babies (I have 6) all fell off within 2-6 days max.”

Mindy's Clothing

Learning To Be Mom

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I caught my baby’s first “mom” on video. Ironically, he wasn’t cuddled in my arms but on the floor while I tried to get in a little tune while he was in a good mood.


I’m 6 months in now. Didn’t know what it would be like on this side. I feel like I’ve travelled into outerspace or warped through a tunnel into another world. 7 months ago I was not mom. Today, I’m “mum.”

My greatest fear during pregnancy was actually about myself. Maybe it’s a little egotistical but all I could think about was how my life would change. I tried to imagine myself as a mom and it didn’t seem to fit in with my lifestyle. I like to be spontaneous and being a mom seemed like lots of scheduling, preparation, and homemaking. I like cooking but I hate washing dishes. I love wearing different types of clothing but hate laundry. There were still a lot of loose ends I was trying to fix in my life and I couldn’t comprehend how I could become a mom.

Tonight I had a revelation though. I think I could have saved myself a lot of anxiety and fear if I had just joined instagram sooner. Haha…yes. Instagram. I stumbled upon a few moms by chance and realized that there are a community of mothers just like me. For the past 6 months I’ve been trying to fit into this square of a mom I thought moms had to be. I started to wear black all the time and even contemplated getting rid of all my clothing and creating a uniform to wear everyday just to save time. Tonight, I went into my closet and had a good happy cry.

Mindy's ClothingI touched my dresses and looked at all the patterns and colors I hand picked throughout the years and felt deeply within my heart that I was still the same person pre-baby, and that I could still be “mum” in the same skin.

And then it occurred to me that my son will have a personality one day, and that he may not like the type of clothing I wear, or the lifestyle I lead. O well, I guess it doesn’t matter because he’ll always be my son whether he likes me or not. What an peculiar thought.


Why Pregnancy And Labor Education Matters

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About a year ago when I was 20 weeks pregnant, I received a bill from my hospital that was about $2,000 for one specialized ultrasound. After a quick Google search I learned that my ultrasound was standard procedure but not necessary at the time of my baby’s fetal development. I could have saved that money had I known.

If you’re like me, pregnancy will be the first big run-in with the healthcare system. The paperwork, the insurance claims, blood draws, the doctors, the whole shebang. Unfortunately, far too often, we treat the medical industry differently from all others. Most of us will do a ton of consumer research and make several visits before we buy a car. However, not many of us will look into the stats of a hospital or ask our OB-GYNs what their c-section rate is before we choose our healthcare provider and hospital for labor.   (Because c-section stats vary drastically from hospital to hospital and state to state, and so do maternal death rates).

Maternal Mortality Rate state by state from

I work as a marketing specialist in the dental imaging field. I help sell highly specialized products to dentists and see firsthand how the dental industry works. Honestly, dental practices are businesses. I don’t know why I never viewed hospitals in the same light. I guess house calls on Little House on the Prairie instilled too many fuzzy emotions about doctors in me.

But my paradigm shifted when that huge bill came, and when I stumbled upon an online forum of nurses complaining about hospital policies for changing gloves due to budget. At the end of the day, we are customers to doctors and hospitals. To make matters worse, throw billion dollar industries like insurance and pharmaceuticals into the mix. You’ve got a lot of hands in one pocket.

Yes, doctors go through a ton of training in their particular medical field. So that’s why we’re supposed to trust them right? But the truth is they can only be as good as the system they were put through, and the environment in which they work. Stories published in 1958 in Ladies Home Journal “included women being strapped down for hours in the lithotomy position, a woman having her legs tied together to prevent birth while her obstetrician had dinner, women being struck and threatened with the possibility of giving birth to a dead or brain damaged baby for crying out in pain, and a doctor cutting and suturing episiotomies without anesthetic (he had once nearly lost a patient to an overdose) while having the nurse stifle the woman’s cries with a mask.” While these stories are perhaps the worst case scenarios, the publication sparked outrage and helped improve maternity ward conditions all across the U.S. soon afterward. If you go through some of the photos posted by mothers on, you’ll notice that such harsh conditions for laboring mothers still exist today.


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History proves that there’s always room for progress, and as much as our American pride would like to say we have the best health care system in the world, we don’t. At least for laboring mothers we don’t. In fact, we rank 60th in the world for keeping women alive during labor. Yes, a whopping 59 other countries keep laboring mothers alive better than us. So if you ask me, that’s pretty damn terrible.

Now, this is not a haterade on the medical industry in the U.S. I’m simply suggesting that women who care, should educate themselves before being thrown at the mercy of the medical system. Because time is money in a hospital, and for hospital staff, that often means doing everything in their power to make labor go faster even if the laboring mother’s body is not ready. And if you do the slightest bit of research on standard drugs used in the hospital, you will learn how often times one intervention leads to a slippery slope of complications that ultimately lead to a c-section and increased chance of maternal and fetal death. In the words of childbirth activist Gloria Lemay, “Major abdominal surgery is the fate of 30% of childbearing women in North America. Cesarean section has lasting effects on women’s health and sexual lives. Modern hospitals are more factory-like than ever before. Even very well educated, well armed women find it impossible to “strike a deal” to get a decent hospital birth. Childbirth educators must tell women that going to a hospital and expecting an inspiring birth is like going to MacDonald’s and ordering a steak. No matter how you wheel and deal, MacDonald’s will never prepare a steak for you, right? Unfortunately, too many women find out too late that the system is rigged against them.”


Better pregnancy education can empower a couple financially, mentally, and physically. Education about optimizing pregnancy health, learning time-tested laboring techniques, and having information about the various routine labor interventions can have a huge impact on the success of labor and the wellness of a new mother, father, and baby.


The Serious Dangers of Cytotec for Labor

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Written by: Tina Klonaris-Robinson  from The Meah Foundation

My daughter Meah is the reason I started the Meah Foundation. I know she came into this life for many reasons, one of those reasons is that I must share our story. Inducing labor with Cytotec can be very dangerous and so I share so that women know the risks and dangers and can make an informed decision with the knowledge they have. Below is a part of my story!!!

I could never forget that night... there are still parts of that dreaded experience that are a blur to me and yet there are memories that seem so clear, they come to me at any given moment on any day. Sometimes they haunt me. Sometimes they come like a storm or a hurricane that destroys and shakes my world to pieces. How else can I describe this pain? How can I verbalize something that hurts every part of who you are, body and soul? I have cried so many tears, I have made my own river… and that river has taken me to places I never imagined, beautiful places, scary places, places that I use to fear, places that I’m thankful for and places I have yet to go to.

Meah died on March 6th 2006. The words that are etched in my heart, the words that hurt more than anything I could ever have known until that time were said to my husband as I lay on a cold stretcher in the operating room of the hospital. I did not know it at the time, but I was close to bleeding to death. I remember looking at the doctor walking towards my husband with a look of absolute pain and heartbreak.

‘I’m so sorry Curtis’, he said as his voice broke with sadness for what he had to tell him.

‘… there was no heartbeat’.

I remember the feeling of, ‘no, it can’t be’ and I looked at my dear husband as he put his head in his hands and just cried and cried. The sound of that cry I could never forget, it comes from another place in us. Perhaps it is primal. I don’t know, but it stays with me. To this day, it is with me. My heart felt shattered and the shock of what ‘was’ must have caused the doctors give me more medication to put me back into unconsciousness. I was already under general anesthesia I hardly understand how I woke in that moment. Perhaps it was a knowing that Meah’s spirit had left her body, perhaps it was her spirit that opened my eyes. Who knows, but the very next memory I have is waking to my family and friends all around me, crying as my baby girl was put in my arms for the first time. She was beautiful. She had dark fuzzy hair and the most perfect little lips. I remember how seemingly wrong this was. Her hands and her feet were exactly like mine. Her little chest for some reason reminded me of a little bird. I touched her little body and felt a love so big, it literally tore me apart to know she was gone. I remember not being able to get sound out… like when you’re a child and a ball has hit you in the stomach so hard, you are winded or you are in so much shock of what has happened you simply have no breath and it takes time before you can get enough air in you to cry. That was what happened for what felt like minutes only I imagine it was probably seconds. I can hardly describe the feeling of holding your child, lifeless in your arms. I just remember thinking, ‘no, this isn’t, this can’t be… this must be a nightmare’, only you begin to realize it’s real.

My labor had been induced with the drug called Cytotec. I was never told anything about this drug or the dangers of inducing labor with it. I trusted my doctor and trusted that inducing early would make my delivery easier and safer. I was told that my baby was large and that inducing a week early might prevent a c-section as she’d be smaller and easier to deliver. A larger baby could mean complications and so against my best intuition that made my stomach feel unsettled and against that little voice within that kept saying, ‘don’t induce…wait…just wait’, I agreed to go to the hospital the following Monday for an induction.

The day went by slowly and there was nothing much happening until the afternoon. My contractions began to intensify and I was given a second dose of cytotec, then they broke my water. This is when everything went downhill.
Contractions became more and more painful and indeed, they became so very violent, I felt as though I had no control whatsoever!!! My contractions were literally on top of each other and I could hardly rest or take a moment between contractions to breath. It felt extremely chaotic and very wrong. It felt as though no one understood what was happening. It felt like one of those nightmares when you are trying to scream but no one can hear you. I felt alone in my fear and I was aware that I had no control in anyway. I had a deep knowing this was all going to end terribly wrong but no one would take seriously my pleas for a c-section. At least not until it was too late!

I could never describe the intense unbearable pain of what I was feeling physically, only that it was unlike anything I had ever experienced before. I had an epidural and yet It felt as though a knife had torn my insides to shreds and I could feel every bit of it… it was an intense burning pain that made me want to pass out. I felt fear in my heart and in my soul like I’ve never felt before. This wasn’t normal labor pain. Something was terribly wrong!!! This was most likely when my uterus tore in two places and my daughter’s placenta tore away from my uterine wall. This was probably when she fell out of my uterus and into my abdomen! My chest felt as though a hundred bricks were pressing on top of me and I could not breath. The searing pain on my left intensified to the point that it was unbearable. I could not move, I could only get the urgent, frantic words out of my mouth ‘knock me out, please…please… just knock me out’.

It was only after loosing my daughter in this traumatic way, almost dying myself and dealing with intense emotional and physical pain did I learn the truth about induced labor with Cytotec and other inducing agents. I never knew that the company Searl that makes the Ulcer drug sent a letter to the FDA warning about the dangers of this drug’s use on pregnant women for induction of labor stating that,

‘Serious adverse events reported following off-label use of Cytotec in pregnant women to include maternal or fetal death, uterine hyper-stimulation, rupture or perforation requiring uterine surgical repair, hysterectomy or salpingo-oophorectomy, amniotic fluid embolism, severe vaginal bleeding, retained placenta, shock, fetal bradycardia and pelvic pain.’

I share my story so that women may learn from my experience. I did not know then what I do now but with that knowing, I ask that you take the time to educate yourself of all the options available and that you learn the risks of an induced labor. Learn the dangers of cytotec for I am one of hundreds if not thousands of women who have been affected by this drug. It pains my heart and I become so very angry, every time I hear of a new death associated with Cytotec. Almost 8 years later, I am still plagued by the memories, the pain and the trauma of that dreaded day. I will never stop hurting for the loss of my baby daughter Meah who died as a result of the improper use of Cytotec and the inability for my doctor to recognize those life threatening signs in a timely matter.

This should never have happened to me or to anyone else and so it is my hope that as I continue to share my story, women become more aware of the dangers of medical interventions and instead trust their bodies to do what they have been doing for thousands of years. I had an unscarred uterus and it was the most traumatic experience of my life.



Please share my story with as many people as you can who may not know the dangers of this drug and may unknowingly agree to have their labor induced with this drug. I wish I knew then what I do now… had I read the hundreds of stories of horrific complications associated with this drug, I never would have given my consent to have it used on me. Dr. Marsden Wagner once told me it is like playing Russian Roulet… you never know who this will affect and why. I have met too many families who lost their loved one to Fluid embolism to the brain, another side affect of this drug. Yes, the risks are real and for doctors who use it and never had complications, you are lucky. For those of us who have traumatic birth experiences, we can tell you, it is not worth it. Please do the research. I just want women to know the real risks, to know what has happened to too many women and babies… and make an informed decision based on this.

Here’s a great article written by the late Dr. Marsden Wagner… a voice and advocate for all of us who experienced adverse reactions to Cytotec.

Blessings and love,

Tina Klonaris-Robinson

Elimination Communication and Infant Pottying Video

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Where’s The Auto-Update For My Brain?

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I just had the craziest, most jam packed months of my life. I gave birth at home after a complicated labor, began raising a child, started working again, and had to deal with a ton of health issues from loved ones. On days when I got to snuggle with my chubby baby and hit snooze, I felt like a billion bucks (cuz let’s face it, a million doesn’t cut it nowadays). On other days when my mom wailed in pain, when my husband was bedridden, and a messy household with unprepped foods faced me, I felt completely bankrupt.

Life’s been an intense whirlwind and I’ve been on this hunt. On a mission to prevent cancer, to cure illness, to cure disease, to live holistically, to be healthy, to be happy! There’s so many places to go, so many things to see, so many products to buy, so many subjects to learn. Go to church. Go to the hospital. Go to the acupuncturist. Go to chiropractor. Talk to the holistic nutritionalist. Buy the best vitamins. Don’t take vitamins. Take fermented cod liver oil! Reverse osmosis your water! Remineralize your water. Research your air. Eat non-gmo organic. Drink soursop! Soak your grains. Don’t eat meat. Okay, eat a little meat! Eat the organs. Don’t eat too much. Eat constantly.  And the latest one, don’t use your cell phone too much and stop using your wifi! And stop smart meters or you’ll get crazy radiation. They cause headaches, nausea, thyroid issues, vertigo, and a whole host of other issues and could lead to death. HOLY SH**!

They’re everywhere. The demons. The free radicals. The greedy corporations.  They’re out to get us and we have to keep away. There’s so much to solve but all I can think about is the pile of clothing in my closet. The pile of clothing that sits there…and the other pile of clothing I stuffed in underneath all my other clothes to hide it all out of view. I thought once I became a mom all my stupid flaws were supposed to go away. I was supposed to become this amazing person. I was supposed to know all the answers. How much is the baby supposed to eat at 3 weeks old? Let me just search my mom-oogle database and let you know….AH. That doesn’t exist? My brain isn’t set to auto update when the baby’s born? Sh**…how am I supposed to parent then?

I’m trying to be the best mom I can be with all the information available. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed, to want to give up, and to ignore it all. But I can’t. The sickness, the pain, they just keep rising all around me. And there’s still new moms who need information about birthing that might not otherwise come across alternative information.  I would have had a painful labor if other moms didn’t share their wisdom with me. I would have had a terrible time breastfeeding. I would have freaked out with the first diaper change. But I really didn’t. And honestly, it’s been a breeze raising my baby. And my labor? It was the most beautiful time ever that I want to be a surrogate. (Some parents may want to stab me for admitting that). I’m not here to show off.  I’m here to say that I was scared shitless before I became a mom, but that’s why I asked questions. And miraculously, moms I knew all around me flocked to support me with little tidbits of information that helped save my sanity and the happiness of my marriage. Although it’s depressing learning about PBDEs in my couch or trihalomethane in my water, I can’t give up. It’s a fight to help bring balance and order to a world that is trying so hard to modernize, make money, and progress without taking the time to really monitor the harmful, long term effects of our decisions. If I give up, I’m giving up on myself and the world that my baby will grow up in. I can’t stop being optimistic for him. I can’t stop being optimistic for moms facing labor and the crucial first few days of parenthood. Because at the end of the day, I wouldn’t be here without the support of mothers around me and the support of a caring, passionate online community of mothers, fathers, activists, and educators. And so I must tread on…though there’s so much information to learn, so much to discern, so much to share, I can’t stop. I just have to organize just one piece of clothing at a time and eventually that closet will be clean (I hope).

5 Month Newborn EBF Exclusively Breastfeeding While Working

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10 Baby Items You Don’t Need To Buy New

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The first and last time I watched “Hoarders” was when TLC ran a marathon.  3 episodes back to back resulted in a  desire to gouge my eyes out and scrub them. This past weekend while I cleaned out my garage of old knick knacks, I recited, “I will not be a hoarder. I am not a hoarder.” I also thought about how painful and wasteful the process was.  I spent time buying useless crap, just so I can waste more time eventually sorting through it all so I can throw it away to make room to buy more crap.

Where I live, it’s the norm to create a baby registry. In fact, makes it so easy to make one because they have a pre-set category list of all the glorious baby contraptions people have invented over the years. They practically force you into adding all these products you never even thought of. What they don’t tell you is that many of these items are either unnecessary or can be purchased second hand. OR if you’re like me you’ll get as many hand-me-downs as possible.

Products that are great 2nd hand:

  1. Baby items made of fabric like baby clothing, burp cloths, blankets, towels, bibs, even gently used cloth diapers! 1405967472199These items can be used over and over again as long as you wash them. If you want to naturally stain remove, leave the cloth out in the sun after a wash. Reusing clothing helps the environment. The production of fabric and clothing in our society has one of the biggest footprints of all commodities. According to the U.S. National Center for Biotechnology Information, cotton, one of the most versatile fibers used in clothing accounts for a quarter of all pesticides used in the U.S. In fact, pesticides used for cotton in the south is the main reason why inorganic arsenic is found in our white and brown rice. Aside from the environmental impact of cotton cultivation and the financial implications of sustaining cotton government subsidies, labor practices to keep clothing costs low often force workers in developing nations into difficult conditions with low wages.

    In addition, all the transportation back and forth to produce cotton into thread, then thread into fabric, then fabric into clothing, and eventually clothing for the consumer, wastes so much coal and oil! Reuse cloth as much as possible. It’s cheaper for you and better for the planet.

  2. Glass drinking bottles for babies. Simply sanitize by washing and boiling them. Then they’re like new! You will, however probably want to buy new baby nipples.
  3. Infant accessories like shoes, coats, hats. These products are pretty much just for looks on a baby so they are typically gently used and like-new even 2nd hand.1405967418187
  4. Baby toys and books. Babies outgrow toys and books so fast. Most toys you can wipe down and sanitize easily for reuse. Many old, classic baby books are the best!
  5. Playpens. These are great 2nd hand. However, first look up the model number for any recalls. Make sure  there are no dangling cords, all fabric is intact, and there are no tears or holes.
  6. Baby furniture and decor like mobiles. Baby furniture can be expensive. Plus, you don’t need to buy furniture made exclusively for babies when it comes to dressers and a nice cushiony sitting chair. Remember to check for recalls and check the integrity of 2nd hand purchases to ensure baby safety.
  7. Baby bathtubs. Just make sure there is no mildew or smell.1405967386412
  8. Baby rockers. They’re great to place baby in occasionally when you need a break. However, they don’t need to be new as long as there are no recalls and the products is still in good working condition. Typically the seats can be washed to get rid of any stains.1405967447736
  9. Baby carriers. Again, check for recalls and make sure the product is in good working condition. Make sure all seams are intact and so on.
  10. Diaper pail. You can actually just use a garbage pail with a lid. You may be curious about poo smell. First of all, once toddlers make their nasty poos, no “magic genie” diaper pail will mask the odor. It will STINK. The World Health Organization actually suggests poo be shaken into the toilet even from disposable diapers to reduce the risk of spreading disease from human waste. So start shaken them poos into the toilet! If you’re like me and use cloth diapers, you can use a regular waste bin with a reusable cloth liner for absolutely zero waste. Then once the baby is out of diapers you won’t be stuck with a baby diaper pail but a regular garbage pail you can use around the house.

Re-using and repurposing baby items  helps keep money in your wallet and breaks the chains of consumerism. (Baby product companies will hate me but oh well..that’s why I don’t have ads on my site). Our small changes collectively can make huge changes world wide that ultimately help protect our environment from dirt to air. So the next time you’re at target just think about this image


and repeat after me: “I will not be a hoarder. I am not a hoarder.”


Essential OIls during pregnancy and labor

How Aromatherapy and Essential Oils Improved My Labor & Pregnancy

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At 8:30am on February 7, 2014, I was face down in my master bedroom with very strong contractions. My midwives had me in an inverted position to encourage baby to turn. His heart rate went down during several pushes indicating he was not in an optimal position.  Codan-web-054


In the midst of so many unknowns, I had to remain calm. If I stressed I would release cortisol into my body which could cause baby to stress and could also stall labor. I needed be at ease and allow my oxytocin to flow naturally so that my cervix would continue to open up and baby would come out peacefully. In the most vulnerable moment of my life, my doula came over with a wet towel with peppermint essential oils on it. I inhaled and immediately I was able to breathe more deeply and I refocused my energy to the positive affirmations from hypnobabies. My baby was born just a few hours afterwards.

Combined with a healthy diet, mental and physical preparation, and a loving birthing team, essential oils can be a powerful aid during labor. You may have heard of oils like frankincense which were used in the biblical times. Essential Oils can cause hormonal and enzyme responses making the body more sedated, stimulated or relaxed depending on the type of oil. Pain can be relieved, wounds can heal, inflammation and spasms can cease. They are used aromatically, topically, and for some high quality grade oils, they can be ingested. Oils like lavender and neroli can help ease anxiety, calm the mind and body, and oils like lemon and mint can help energize and boost energy.

Here are a few uses for essential oils for labor and pregnancy:

  • Nausea and morning sickness during pregnancy- You might notice that your sense of smell is heightened during pregnancy. That whiff of garlic or strong cologne might send you to the toilet to hurl. Whatever it is, you can utilize an aromatic diffuser or even a drop of oil in a bowl of water to help bring a good, natural scent in your living space. If you diffuse antiseptic oils like tea tree, lemon, and lavender they will also cleanse your environment of harmful airborne bacteria. For nausea, add 7 drops of lemon to 1 ounce of a carrier oil like coconut oil, and massage it over the abdomen.
  • Headaches-Lavender and peppermint are great for headaches. At the first sign of headache, place a drop on your temple and use a cool compress on your forehead.
  •  Night terrors and insomnia- I had some of the craziest, most vivid dreams while pregnant. I also had a fort of pillows around me to help cushion my uncomfortable, growing body. Neroli blossom or sandalwood can soothe the mind and emotions.
  • Difficulty breathing-Peppermint is used as an inhalant to open respiratory passages. It’s also used to calm an upset digestive tract and when used on muscle spasms will tend to release those as well.
  • So much more!  There are a ton of different types of essential oils for so many various uses.

You can purchase essential oils through a variety of sources. You want to make sure you find a high grade oil that does not have synthetic additives. Here are a few reputable sources:

You will want to make sure you use the oils correctly. For instance, during a time in your labor if you need energy and are feeling lethargic, don’t use a calming oil like lavender. You would want to use lemon or peppermint to help revitalize and energize your body. Do your research and try the oils out before your labor so you know how your body reacts to them!



It’s actually ‘The Newcott Scoop’

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If I ever decided to start a career as an identity thief, I would be fired immediately. Any plans to use a stolen credit card would be foiled not by a terrible forgery or an awful disguise, but just by the clerk simply asking for my name.

“I can’t remember,” I would tell him after an uncomfortable silence.

I can’t remember names, and a face to me is even worse. Even my own. Every morning I look into the mirror and think, “Hey, what’s Josh Groban doing in my bathroom?” (In case my wife was wondering, that’s why you hear “You Raise Me Up” coming from the shower every day).

This is why I don’t take it personally when someone forgets my own name. Frankly, the world is a much friendlier place when you apparently have an early onset case of Alzheimer’s.

“Do I know that guy?” says every person I encounter on the street. Answer: No, you don’t. You were just waving at the person behind me and I decided we must have been old buddies from high school and gave you a hug.

I don’t make many friends that way, and there are probably a few warrants for my arrest because of it, but the friends that I do make I be sure to remember.

PREVIOUSLY: The Newcott Scoop: We’re here to party

On Monday I celebrated my 27th birthday, which is really an unremarkable number. I don’t think even IHOP bothers sending you a coupon for a free “Rooty Tooty” when you turn 27, so I was surprised to hear a knock on my front door.

“Is that my surprise party?!” I asked my wife, again, for the sixth time that day.

After she answered me with only a blank stare, I decided I should probably tone down my excitement a bit.

Little did I know that a surprise party was indeed in store for this big day in the form of my father-in-law unexpectedly arriving to spend the night.

Beth and I usually have an open-door policy with anyone who is willing to enter our slightly litter-box scented home, so the visit wasn’t unwelcomed. Although, I usually do appreciate a little notification beforehand to deal with said litter-box scent. I was informed that he did call an hour ahead of time, but that really isn’t much of a heads-up considering it’s a three hour drive from SLO.

“Wow, I can’t believe you came all the way here for my birthday,” I said to him.

“It’s your birthday?” he replied.

Although this man was partly responsible for my wife existing, I must admit I have only really spoken to him a handful of times. I knew him in a way that was different than anyone else I had ever met, in that I did have his name and his face memorized, but not much of anything else.

Thankfully this time I got to know him a little bit better. I suppose that’s bound to happen when your father-in-law needs to wash the only pair of pants he brought and your wife forgets that the dryer is broken.

As he stood in our living room in his boxers, watching through the window his pants fluttering in the breeze, I briefly considered taking mine off as well to talk to him on his own level.

I decided against it.

People are more than just faces and names, they come with experiences, with baggage. Sometimes they have lots of baggage, and sometimes only one pair of pants.

My father-in-law has only one pair of pants.

Somehow, just knowing this made me feel like I knew him far more intimately, maybe too intimately. I really couldn’t wait for his pants to dry.

On his way out the door he stopped to write me a check for my birthday. I told him it was unnecessary, but he insisted and wrote one anyway.

Gratefully, I accepted it, and only once he was gone did I realize who it was made out to: Mr. Zac Northcott.

So maybe when it comes to names, I’m not the only one.

With that in mind, maybe I should formerly introduce myself to you, the reader. My name is Zachary Newcott, and you’re reading the Newcott Scoop.

Zachary Newcott is a multimedia reporter for the Visalia Times-Delta/Tulare Advance-Register.

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