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    Celebrate Mother Earth

    We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.

    ~Native American Proverb


    Honor & celebrate our Mother Earth every day, Dear Readers. She's the only Earth we have.

    Happy Earth Day!


    Posted: Apr 22 2011, 14:56 by kelly | Comments (4) RSS comment feed |
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    Babywearing Over the Years

    Ever since my first baby was born, I was a babywearer! I didn't wear my babies 100% of the time, but whenever it was convenient for me, or when it was what my babies needed (which, if you have high needs babies, can be very often!). Since I retuned to working very soon after both babies were born (we own our own business), I started babywearing right from the start. My first carrier was a Snugli, which I bought from a big box store out of desperation a few weeks after my 1st baby was born, and we realized she didn't like the expensive organic pouch I bought while I was still pregnant, and she wasn’t going to be the type of baby who would lie or sit quietly while we went about our work My daughter loved the Snugli – I’d dance around while packing & shipping in our warehouse and she’d fall asleep. She really liked being held upright. I also had the New Native pouch...

    Aforementioned expensive organic pouch
    which she pretty much hated until she was able to sit up, and we could do the hip carry. When she was close to a year, after a failed attempt at an Infantino sling purchase...

    Babywearing in front of the White House - She looks comfy, but my neck is KILLING me
    (I bought one, wore it on one trip, ended up with a horribly sore shoulder/neck/back, and returned it afterwards. Though she loved it, I hated it. Interestingly, this sling was recalled several years later), I bought a more supportive and larger hip carry sling called the Mei Hip – which I adored.

    Yay, Mei Hip! Okay, this is a weird photo, but still. Yay!
    The mei hip is one of only two baby carriers I have hung on to for my kids "baby boxes". Somewhere in the middle of my daughter's infancy, we also bought a frame pack carrier so Adam could carry her (the pouch was too small for him and the snugli required a lot of strap fiddling to go from one person to another), and so we could hike with her (it had a built in backpack area & a bar that clicked out so you could set the pack down w/out taking baby out). We didn’t end up doing much hiking that first year, but it sure came in handy otherwise:

    Babywearing at a baseball game!
    Once my son was born, I realized quickly that I needed to carry him much more often than my first, because, if I wanted to be able to tend to my 2 year old, I had to have my hands free. My son also preferred an upright position, but did. not. like. the Snugli carrier (I find it so interesting the distinct preferences babies can have!). The Mei Hip didn't work well for infants, and while he did like the New Native, it wasn't that convenient to get on/off. A friend of mine made a padded ring sling for me which was wonderful & we got quite a bit of use out of it as a newborn – it was very supportive, held him comfortably upright, I was able to nurse in it, and it was easy to slip out of if I needed to once he had fallen asleep.

    Padded ring sling & my thumb sucking newborn

    As we moved into summer though, the padded sling was just too hot, so I was given a used Solar Veil sling, which became my absolute all-time favorite go-to sling (this is the other baby carrier I kept for posterity):

    Adam wearing the Solar Veil
    I recommend this sling to anyone who asks, as it is versatile – you can carry in many different positions, keeps cool in the summer, offers sun protection, can get wet & dries easily, lasts for years...

    Solar Veil back carry at three years old
    and is quickly adjustable so anyone can wear it. As he was nearing a year old, I realized though that the solarveil sling kept him very close, and he was getting squirmy and often wanted more freedom of motion - though he didn't yet walk, he wanted to chase his sister! I invested in the Ergo, thinking it would give him a bit more autonomy, while still keeping him close. Truth be told, while the ergo WAS very comfortable to wear, and Adam could wear it to, we never really got the hang of getting it on and off easily with a squirmy toddler, and once my son was back there, he often got “bored” and wanted to be down, or on my front where he could see me, so we didn’t get too much use out of it. Fortunately, there’s a good market for these, and we were able to sell it for nearly what we bought it. Go babywearingsharing!

    Relatively comfy in the Ergo
    Now that my children are 6 and nearly 4, I look back so fondly on my babywearing years. I miss it! I always loved baby wearing because I could keep my babies close, which made them happy. I could get work done while interacting with them which made me happy. I could keep them up closer to “my level” so they could see what was going on, what I was doing, and were able to interact more with the world around them than from a “stuck” position on their back on the floor or in the playpen or bouncer seat (note: we used all these as appropriate and needed, but I found it much easier to keep my babies comfortable in a sling/carrier – I always felt more intoned to their moods when they were on my body). All told, I had EIGHT baby carriers over the years (yikes)! Truth be told, I could have gotten away with about 2 – the Solar Veil ring sling and the Ella Roo Mei Hip. And as "uncrunchy" as the Snugli carrier was, it sure did serve my colicky first baby well!
    So, do/did you babywear? How many slings/carriers did you have?
    **This post was written for inclusion in the “Baby Carrier Fashion Show Link Up” at A Ruby in the Sunrise blog. Do you have a babywearing post you’d like to share? Link up!**
    Posted: Apr 10 2011, 12:08 by kelly | Comments (12) RSS comment feed |
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    Child Safety - Is it a Matter of Parental Opinion?

    Thanks to Twitter, my attention was brought to a recent story of a single mother who was arrested for leaving her 13 year old home alone for one week, while away on a business trip. According to this article, the mother left cash, credit cards, and prepared meals for the week. Also mentioned in the article was the fact that the mother had been out of work, and she received a business contract which sent her to Taiwan (the implication being, I assume, that accepting the job was a necessity), and that permission was denied by her daughters’ school to bring her along on the trip for the week (Let’s set aside for a moment the craziness of why a parent would ever have to request permission from a school to keep their own child out of said school for a week).


    The question was posed on twitter: What’s the problem? [with a 13 year old being left home alone]


    Answers ranged from outrage at the police for arresting the mother to outrage at the mother for leaving a child alone. That there are more pressing cases of neglect/abuse that should be pursued. That there’s just no problem whatsoever. That it’s all subjective – some 13 year olds are very responsible, they can babysit other children, and a thirteen year old can even marry in some cultures or areas of the world. 


    My personal thoughts ranged from: why did the mother have to leave, did she have time to plan, did the child know what to do in an emergency, did the child have an adult checking in on her periodically  to remembering having responsibility for my younger siblings at that age (certainly not for a week, but definitely for several hours – in pre-cellphone times), and conceding that some children are more developmentally ready for independence earlier than others.


    But, above all else, the thought that kept recurring, and bothering me the most was: wondering if the mother had foreknowledge about the trip, and what the nature of the trip was: Was the trip work related? An emergency?


    It was suggested that the above questions don’t matter, in the mother's case. Yet, I submit that the why and how may truly make a difference with regards to the mother’s culpability, and ultimately whether or not she made a responsible choice. Had she ample opportunity to plan, it would have been appropriate to coordinate alternate care for the teenager.  Had she not had advanced warning, or, if she had no alternative care available (no relatives, friends, nor babysitter), then, at the very least a “safety plan” should have been readied.  Any less than these two options (particularly if the trip were a “pleasure trip” which could be postponed or cancelled) could substantiate the claim that the child was left in a potentially unsafe situation, could call into question the earnestness of the mother towards her child’s best interest, and thus may go towards validating the reason for her arrest (misdemeanor child endangerment).


    But then, what really is safe, what is endangering, and what is right when it comes to children left alone?  Does it matter how old the child is? Where the child is left? Why the leaving was done? For how long? And when do these things matter?


    What if the child in question is… a baby?


    As an addendum to the conversation, an experience was posed in which a single mother disclosed that she routinely had left her baby alone, sleeping in his crib, for a half hour while she went across the street to do her grocery shopping. The baby was known to sleep soundly for long stretches, wasn’t able to get out of his crib, and the house was within sight of the grocery store. It appears that this particular mother had no assistance or support in terms of childcare, though by her own admission, she did leave her son because she “didn’t want to” bring him with her – it was quicker and easier to do so alone, and she asserted that it was her right as his mother to make the decision based on her best judgment of the situation.


    Perhaps not surprisingly, the reaction to the above anecdote was far more vehement. Words such as irresponsible, wrong, neglectful, abusive were used in response.


    I admit to jumping to judgment myself in my mind.  I thought of my own possible solutions: bringing the baby along, putting the sleeping baby in the carseat & setting it in the cart while wheeling around the store, putting the baby in a sling, calling a friend to watch the baby for a half hour just in case something were to happen… 


    In her own defense, the mother of the baby asked: Where do we draw the line? Don’t we have the RIGHT to raise our children as we see fit? Isn’t parenting just a matter of opinion?


    It was these questions which really had me thinking, and is perhaps the crux of my post. DO we have the right to raise our children as we SOLELY see fit – without outside influence or suggestion or oversight? Where IS the line of when a child is truly in danger versus when is he is just in perhaps a less-than optimal situation? When should a parent’s right to make the call on that line be taken away? When does our own personal judgment about what is safe and responsible deserve to be overridden? Just because I might sling my sleeping baby in the grocery store, because leaving him in a separate space while sleeping seems unsafe – does that mean it’s the only RIGHT answer, and that a baby alone – but generally within sight IS unsafe? Or is it just my opinion, based on my experiences & beliefs?


    Certainly, each of our personal experiences and situations greatly influence us lead us to make the choices and draw the lines we do. In my life, I am blessed with a wonderful support system. Within that frame of reference, the above situations and decisions seem foreign to me, and the dangers seem surmountable and workaround-able. Yet, what if I were an unemployed single mother without family support, and a job came up which meant the difference between food on the table or not?  Perhaps leaving my self-reliant teenager alone for a week with prepared meals and money might not seem as unsafe or irresponsible as it would otherwise?


    Or, regardless of situation, would I find a way to parent to the same safety and comfort standards I hold now (in my secure and supported life situation)?  And what is right?  Is it subjective?


    So my questions to you: Is parenting just a matter of opinion? Or, is it more black and white? Maybe children just shouldn’t ever be left alone (and woe to the mother who makes the choice otherwise, regardless of situation)? What do you think?


    Posted: Apr 08 2011, 00:14 by kelly | Comments (12) RSS comment feed |
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    Filed under: Children | Parenting

    Wordless Wednesday: InstagraMania

    A few days ago I discovered Instagram. I know I'm late to the party, but where has this party been all my life? It's an instant gratification salve to my no-longer-in-art-school-and-don't-have-enough-time-to-make-art-anymore blues. I can turn any so-so snapshot into something closer to remarkable - instantly. So, for this Wordless Wednesday, the fruits of my recent infatuation:

    Me, in the sun.

    Happy sprouts on our windowsill.

    My son's curls.

    Beautiful spring blossoms.

    My daughter, peeking.

    Spring rain on daffodils.

    Adam, contemplative.

    Have you discovered Instagram? Is there another iPhone photo app that's even cooler? Please let me know!

    Posted: Apr 06 2011, 18:16 by kelly | Comments (3) RSS comment feed |
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    Filed under: Wordless Wednesday

    Sunday Spark: This Week's Awesomeness

    I love asparagus! It’s a winner in nutrition. Per cup: Vitamin K (55.7mcg / 70% DV!), Vitamin A (1013 IU / 20% DV), Folate (68.7mcg / 17% DV), Vitamin C (7.5mg / 13%), Iron (2.9mg / 16% DV), Fiber (2.8g / 11% DV), Protein (2.9g / 6% DV)... I could continue. The thing about asparagus is that it can be tricky to prepare, serve, and make appealing to children with its tendency towards stringiness or bitterness. I’ve tried several different preparations of asparagus to make it more child-palatable. Small pieces, added to stir fry seem the most likely to be eaten. But I love eating it by the stalk, and want my kids to enjoy this as well! So, last night, I went simple & just tried tossing it into a pan with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and about a tablespoonful of dark brown sugar & water. Covered, and sauteed for ~10 minutes until tender. The kids loved it, and Adam & I did as well. It was sweet with just a bit of sour to balance it out, and super tender! So if your children are shy about asparagus, you might want to give this simple “recipe” a try!

    (Okay, I'm not a food photographer, but trust me, this was yummy.)
    Scala & Kolancy Brothers!
    This week I discovered Scala. If you saw the movie Social Network, you may remember the girls’ choir version of Radiohead’s Creep in the trailer… that’s Scala. I’ve been surfing YouTube & iTunes like a maniac looking for more by them this week. I’m hooked. It’s a mix of chorale voices (awesome) with 90’s alternative rock (also awesome); sometimes a cappella, sometimes with piano. Think: Sinead O'Connor, Depeche Mode, The Cure, Nirvana, Bjork... pared down to its essentials, hauntingly performed, how can you beat this?
    The Value of Being Not-Awesome!
    Amber at Srocel.com posted this more than a week ago, but it’s still on my mind (and I subscribed to email updates, so I’m still getting the inspired comments to her post). Amber talks eloquently and honestly about her feelings on blogging frequently, even if you’re not sure that what you’re posting is “awesome”. She says, “The other big thing I’ve learned through blogging, and really through everything that I’ve tried, is that the way to get better at something is to show up.”

    (Amber, who is, awesome)
    I commented at the time, that I usually only manage about one post a week, because I’d read somewhere that you only ever want to give your readers MORE, not less – you know, basically an aim-low approach, as not to disappoint. I do find that I often wait and wait until my post is “just right” before posting; and sometimes, in that wait, I end up not posting at all. Maybe the moment has passed, the thing I was blogging about didn’t seem so important. Sometimes, it’s because I’ve lost interest, or I’m just not sure that it’s awesome enough. Through repeated visits back to Amber’s post (because her readers leave such thoughtful comments!), I am coming around to the point of view that maybe more is better. Even if the more is less. There are several bloggers whom I read every day where I’m just so glad she posted SOMETHING, even if it’s not something I’m that interested in, or agree with, because the act of reading content in a voice I enjoy is… enjoyable. Inspiring. Relaxing. Not sure I am ready to make a commitment to daily blogging yet, but her post certainly was thought provoking. If you find yourself often with your finger hovering over the publish button, you might want to
    give her post a read.
    Roller Skating!
    Adam & I took the kids roller skating this Saturday.

    (First time standing in skates... note the death-grip)
    It was the kids’ first time, and our first visit to the skating rink in… (wait for it…) ~23 years. Yeah. The fact that we’re old folks aside, this was the most fun I’ve had in a long time!

    (Yes, I'm skating backwards, photographing myself. Yes, I'm a hazard to the roller skating population at large.)
    Perhaps what was best about the whole adventure was the fact that it had a distinct air of timelessness about it. The place was the SAME place we’d been to as kids, it still looked the same, the rental skates were the same brown & orange, they even played (some) of the same music (okay, they didn’t play In the Air Tonight, but they DID play Michael Jackson. I was satisfied). There were still a handful of people who were amazing skaters, some teenagers who hung out in groups in the middle of the rink, newbies clinging to the sides, and loners hanging back on the edge when the DJ switched to the “slow songs”. They even hosted a round of Hokey Pokey. And yes, I remembered how to spin & jump on my skates. I also fell (once). Overall, I highly recommended this as an afternoon family outing!

    (Our 3yo skating by himself!)
    The kids both started off without ever having been on skates in their lives, to within about two hours skating independently – and loving it!

    (Skating with Dad - no hands!)
    Also? Skating is a FUN way to exercise (and I'm not one who typically uses those two words in the same sentence). Now, I just need to buy my own roller skates. Seriously.
    So... What was awesome about your week?
    Posted: Apr 03 2011, 15:29 by kelly | Comments (0) RSS comment feed |
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