Friday, October 12, 2012

International Babywearing Week - Friday

Happy Friday everyone!! Today we are celebrating DAD's!  There is nothing more awwwww-inducing than a babywearing dad! Of course dad's can and do wear all types of carriers, just like moms.  However, soft structured carriers seem to be a popular choice, especially around our house.  Jay loves using our Boba.  Although he doesn't back carry by himself he loves to carry her with my help.  What do the dads in your life prefer?

Are you a new parent wanting to learn about babywearing?  Are you a veteran wearer wanting to meet others and learn more?  Join us for a sling party or other get together! The Charlotte Babywearers

Thursday, October 11, 2012

International Babywearing Week - Thursday

Happy Thursday everyone!  The gateway to the weekend!  Today we are celebrating soft structured carriers.  Ah... Soft Structured Carriers... my favorite!  Our Boba gets used on an almost daily basis... weekly basis at the least.  The thing I love most about SSC's is their ease of use.  They have a very small learning curve which is why they are a big hit with dads.  The buckles are similar to a back pack, in fact if you can put on a back pack you can wear a SSC.  Although some can be used for squishies, they really excel for older, heaver babies.  This is the one you can put your toddler in and hike all day with.

Are you a new parent wanting to learn about babywearing?  Are you a veteran wearer wanting to meet others and learn more?  Join us for a sling party or other get together! The Charlotte Babywearers

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

International Babywearing Week - Wednesday

Happy Wednesday everyone!! Today we are talking about woven wraps. The major advantage of wovens is that they can go from the first day you want to babywear to the last. They are amazingly versatile and offer infinite options. The hard thing about wrapping is... well the wrapping. I have to admit, I never got the hang of it. But we have lots of people in the group who are awesome wrappers. If you want to see more wrap awesomeness then check out Greetings from Eisenbergia

Are you a new parent wanting to learn about babywearing?  Are you a veteran wearer wanting to meet others and learn more?  Join us for a sling party or other get together! The Charlotte Babywearers

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

International Babywearing Week - Tuesday

Happy Tuesday everyone!! To celebrate International Babywearing Week, today I'm featuring a pouch sling.  These are so nice and easy!  We used one especially between the time that Turtle decided she no longer wanted to be snuggled in the stretchy wrap (such a big girl even at 3 months old) and the time she was sitting up enough to do a back carry in a soft structured carrier.  I put her in a hip carry even before she was fully sitting up.  I would put my arm around her and support her.  Although not completely hands free, it helped us during a strange few months.   Of course the big limitation of this type of carrier is that it distributes the weight across one shoulder so it's not something we use often now that she's 19 months and 20-something lbs.  But it's a great carrier to keep in your diaper bag or the trunk for an emergency since it's is so compact.

Have you ever used a pouch or sized sling?  What were your thoughts?

Are you a new parent wanting to learn about babywearing?  Are you a veteran wearer wanting to meet others and learn more?  Join us for a sling party or other get together! The Charlotte Babywearers

Monday, October 8, 2012

International Babywearing Week - Monday

Happy Monday Everyone! And Happy International Babywearing Week! Anyone planning to celebrate?  The Charlotte Babywearers will be gathering out at McDowell Park for a BYO-Picnic on Saturday and you are welcome to join.  For my personal celebration, though I've decided to post a pic every day of us using a different wrap/carrier.  It's been fun going back through my pics and finding ones to fill out the week.  Today we start with my first wrap.

This is a stretchy wrap (similar to the Moby) and it saved our sanity!  Worse came to worse, I could pop her in this thing and walk around and she would calm down.  This pic was taken on the way to our first pediatrician's appointment so Turtle would have been just over a week old.  Wrapping can be intimidating!  But it can also be awesome!  I loved that I could put my wrap on before I left the house and pop her in and out at every stop without having to re-wrap.

Have you used a stretchy wrap?  What did you think?

Are you a new parent wanting to learn about babywearing?  Are you an veteran wearer wanting to meet others and learn more?  Join us for a sling party or other get together! The Charlotte Babywearers

Monday, September 24, 2012

Weekend Happenings

This weekend was a wonderful mix of work and play, toil and tumble.  We started out fairly bright and early at the Festival in the Park, an art/craft/music festival which is a staple in our town.  After skipping it for a few years due to the crowds and the heat we decided to try it early in the morning and that seemed to be the key.  We got there at 10am, right as the festival was opening.  It was cool, it wasn't too horribly crowded and we were able to find street parking not far from the park and avoid the highway robbery everyone was charging.

They had easels set up for the kids to color on, but no matter how I held the paper, she was way more interested in coloring on the easels themselves.  Yep, that's my kid!  The rest of Saturday was spent lounging around the house, catching up on TV shows and watching movies with Turtle.

Sunday morning Turtle and I made our weekly grocery store trip.  I love grocery shopping once I learned that there are very few people at the store at 9am on a Sunday morning.  I like to take Turtle with me so that Daddy has an hour or so to sleep or just hang out by himself.

When I got back, we put on a movie for Turtle and Daddy Turtle and I cleaned up the kitchen and cooked brunch.  Scrambled eggs with cheese, sausage links and french toasts.

After brunch (which was more like lunch), we put Turtle down for a nap and crossed our fingers.  I'm hosting a babywearing meet up at my house next Saturday.  Well, the carpet in our living room was in desperate need of being cleaned.  Our hope was to get it done while Turtle was sleeping but this was the first time we had every tried to coordinate something during her nap time.  (She is terrified of the vacuum cleaner so we knew we couldn't do it while she was awake.)

 We moved everything into the kitchen and amazingly got the entire floor vacuumed and steam cleaned before she woke  up.  We knew keeping an active toddler off the carpet would be too much to ask and given the gloriousness of the weather yesterday, I met Grandma at the park with Turtle and Daddy stayed home to monitor the carpet and move everything back.

Turtle discovered the swinging bridge and was in hog heaven.  It was hilarious to watch her treat it like a set of stairs, going down backwards, standing up to walk the middle and then getting down on her knees to crawl up the other side.  I stood there and watched her go back and forth for probably 15 minutes. Soon there after we got a text from Daddy saying we could come home.

But before we headed into the house for good we broke out the sidewalk chalk to see what Turtle thought.  As she is with everything Mama thinks is going to be awesome, Turtle was underwhelmed.  I did get this awesome shot right though before she bit it on the sidewalk and we had to go inside to attend to a very broken finger nail.  

I'm so thankful for the cooler weather.  I feel like we have been sequestered inside for months now.  I'm definitely ready to get back outside!

How was everyone's weekend?

Friday, September 21, 2012

Changes... They is Happening

Wow!  It's amazing to me that it's been almost a year since I blogged regularly... a year of challenges and learning to accept limitation.  In August of last year, Daddy Turtle started back to school.  So, not only did he work during the day, but he would then go straight to school.  Four nights a week it would be 11pm or later before he got home.  That was challenging.

I still wonder how we survived those early days.  Turtle was so small and often times didn't want to be put down, so I would wear her most evenings in order to even get our stuff carried in from the car.  I lost count of how many bowls of cereal I ate standing up and bouncing her. 

It seems like a million miles away.

Now, a year later we still have the same schedule, but life is so completely different.  For one, I've learned that I cannot do it all. 

It wasn't easy!

Mama Turtle is my name, over-achieving is my game!  And it almost killed me! 

But slowly and steadily Turtle became more independent, even sleeping in her own room!  The new-found space allowed me to think, and I had a revelation... a revelation of precisely how many hours we as a family have together in a week.  And that number was scary small!  So, I decided that I needed to focus on what made us all happy.  No more wasting time on obligatory non-sense.  No more worrying about the tidiness of a house we hardly spend any time in.  This is our family and our family time and I have a right to guard it! 

This doesn't mean that we don't spend time apart.  I just took over leadership of the local babywearing group and I'm becoming more involved in other groups and activities that make me happy and bring me joy.  Daddy Turtle loves his monthly Cars and Coffee car meets.  But I look at everything differently.  I evaluate my commitments differently.  Time is a finite resource in our family.  So, my questions are always, "Is this a good use of our time?  Do we have the time and energy to participate in this activity?  How will this activity impact each family member? Have we planned adequate time to rest and recharge?"  Doesn't mean we always get it right.  Some weeks we do better than others.  But the shift in perspective has helped me see that often times, when our family gets crabby and unhappy, it's because we are being haphazard with our time.

I won't say that I'm going to start updating this blog on any regular schedule (although I hope to), but I will say that it's good to be back. :-)

And because I hate wall 'o text, picture-less posts, here are some of my recent Instagram pics to hold you over.

Planning her escape from the park.

Brushing teeth with Daddy.

Fun in the French Broad River.

Snuggles at the pediatricians office.

Happy Friday everyone!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Babywearing: The Gear

A couple day months ago ago (YIKES!), I talked about the what and why of babywearing for our family.  In a nutshell, we love it! Today I'm going to talk about different types of carriers and what my experience with each has been.  A word of caution: babywearing is addictive.  There's a reason we call it our "stash". 

1) Stretchy Wrap (Similar to a Moby)

The wrap I have was made by a WAHM (work at home mama) who is no longer in business, so although I love mine, I cannot link you to it.  Basically, they are a very long piece of stretchy material that you wrap in different ways to create the carrier. It can have a learning curve and some folks never get the hang of the wrapping part but after a few YouTube videos and some practice I found it to be a breeze.  The most popular of these types of wraps is the Moby which is sold at most of the major baby retailers.  There is also one called the Baby K'Tan which I've heard great things about too. The K'Tan is sewn so that it doesn't have to be wrapped as extensively.  There are also lots of tutorials out there for making your own.  I will say that my friend had one made and the material she chose was a lot looser than mine meaning it wasn't as supportive.  So keep that in mind when looking for material.

Advantages: This type of wrap is perfect for those little squishy babies.  It snuggles them into your chest and is a perfect place/position to sleep in. I would wrap the fabric before I left the house so all I had to do was pop her in and out at each stop.  Finally, carrying Turtle so close to me detered random people from wanting to touch her.  Major score during cold and flu season!

Disadvantages: Turtle was a winter baby, so it wasn't a big deal for us, but I've heard that these types of wraps, especially the Moby brand can be very warm in hot weather.  These carriers are NOT sutable for back carries, because of the stretch in the material.  Finally, because of the length of the fabric, it can be a challenge to wrap it on the go without it dangling in a dirty parking lot.  Again, though, I just wrapped it before I left the house and wore it all day long.

Bottom Line: This is my absolute favorite type of carrier for little squishy babies.

2) Woven Wraps

A woven wrap is a long piece of material that is wrapped in different ways to create different carries.  Unlike the Moby style, they are not stretchy allowing for back carries.  In an effort to save money, I attempted to make my own which might account for my lack of mastery of this type of carrier.  Or it could be that I was trying to learn to do back carries with a very wiggly 3 month old who just.wouldn't.stay.still! I think given a little more time, a little more pratice, and maybe some help from someone who had done it before, I could have really liked this type of carrier.

Advantages: Front carries, hip carries, back carries the options are endless with this type of wrap.  It can be used with tiny squishies up to toddlers. 

Disadvantages:  The wrapping can be intimidating, although there are many, many YouTube videos out there to help.  I wish I'd know about our local babywearing group.  I might have found someone who could have helped me figure it out.

Bottom line: If you can overcome the intimidation factor and master the wrapping, this type of carrier is fantastic and can last you a long, long time. 

3) Slings

I've had three slings over the time I've been babywearing.  I started out with a Seven Sling brand that a friend gave me as a shower gift.  It was beautiful, and I am so glad she gave it to me.  I wasn't planning on getting a sling but I was so glad I had it when Turtle decided she was done facing towards me in the stretchy wrap.  The sling allowed her to sit up and look out at the world and I will admit I used it in a hip carry before she could really sit up on her own.  I just cradled her in my arm.  I would also fold her legs up and face her outwards.  It was invaluable when I went for my cousin's wedding! (photo on the far left)  Turtle was sitting up nicely, so I was able to pop her on my back and take pics of my cousin getting ready.  But I noticed that over time, Turtle's legs would turn red.  It was like the sling was cutting off circulation to her legs.  So, I started looking for something else.

I ran across a Munckin brand sized sling at a consignment store in our area and scooped it up.  It had padding around the leg area and is actually my favorite.  The only thing I didn't like about it was that the print was kind of boring, and at that time I thought that mattered.

So, when Peanut Shell adjustable slings came up on my favorite discount site Zulily, I decided it was the perfect birthday present.  I thought the Peanut Shell sling would be prefect because it was adjustable, allowing Daddy Turtle and I to both potentially wear it.  The problem is that the buckle that allows it to adjust hits right on my shoulder or shoulder blade and I never felt it was especially comfortable.  Additionally, since it was adjustable, you couldn't fold it over to tighen up the top "rail" (the term for the differnt edges of the fabric used in baby wearing).  This made it hard to do back carries which are my favorite.

Just a few weeks ago, I was able to score a Maya Ring Sling at a consignment sale.  I haven't used it much and don't have any pics yet, but I'm really enjoying it and really wish I'd had one during that "doesn't like being carried face in but too small for a back carry in a soft structured carrier" phase.

Finally, although I never owned one, my good friend has a Balboa Baby Sling that I've used before.  It is a very nice sling made from sturdy fabric in beautiful prints.  The thing I didn't like was that both "rails" (the long sides of the sling) were elastic.  This makes it easy to get baby in and out of the sling and is comfortable on the baby's legs, but means that you cannot do back carries with it and you have to be very careful if you have an archer or a jumper like Turtle.  They can buck right out of it, if you don't watch them.

Advantages:  Can be used from infancy through toddlerhood.  No extensive wrapping required and the learning curve is pretty much non-existent.  Slings are easily portable so they are great for quick trips and for keeping in the diaper bag as a back up.

Disadvantages:  The one shoulder design can become uncomfortable after a while and once the baby gets to be heavier.  I find slings to be uncomfortable for long outings or those involving lots of walking.  Sized slings cannot be used by two people of varying sizes.  Not always completely hands free.

Bottom Line:  This is my favorite carrier for quick trips and for stashing in the diaper bag as a back up.

4) Soft Structured Carriers

This is our work horse.  After borrowing a couple carriers from our local babywearing group, I decided to invest in a Boba 2G.  Why did I chose it? Personal preference.  It seemed to fit me the best.  It could be passed between myself and Daddy Turtle without a belt extender and truth be told, it was the first SSC I tried and it was the one I was use to.

When Daddy Turtle went back to school it left Turtle and I on our own in the evenings.  Turtle wasn't one for playing by herself around that time and would scream if I set her down, so I have no idea how I would have gotten anything done without this carrier.  I would put her in it in the mornings to load up the car and put her in it again in the evenings to unload.  I cleaned with her in it, made bottles, did laundry, and even crafted.  It's been to everything from the renaissance festival to the farmers market and the grocery store.  I wear her mostly on my back unless she is really tired and then I'll switch her to the front.  Given her weight though, I find it hard to carry her on my front for very long.  Even if we are using our stroller, this carrier is always close by.

Advantages:  Easy to use.  Quick to put on.  Daddy approved.  Very comfortable for long days.  Truly hands free.

Disadvantages:  Carriers are bulky so not something you can pack in a diaper bag.  Finding the perfect fit is a process with all the buckles and straps.  Switching from one user to another is like having your drivers seat settings changed.

Bottom Line:  This is my favorite all around carrier.

5) Mei Tei

I don't have much experience with the Mei Tei's, but I'm still going to include it because it's a great carrier.  Mei Tei's are a hybrid between a wrap and a soft structured carrier.  A friend gave me one a few months ago and I especially like it for front carries.  As I said before due to Turtle's weight, I have a hard time carrying her in a front carry for very long.  But with the mei tei, I'm able to pull her in closer to my body making her weight easier to manager. Since you can do a high back carry with a pre-sitting infant, I think I would have greatly benefitted from having one around the time Turtle decided she didn't like the stretchy wrap.

Advantages:  The straps allow for easy adjustability especially between different wearers. Allows for lots of different carries including a high back carry.  Usually cheaper than soft structured carriers.

Disadvantages:  Requires more "wrapping" than the soft structured carries which can be intimidating.  More involved to put on.

Bottom Line:  An excellent carrier option which I look forward to gathering more experience with.

So, after only 4 months in my drafts folder, this post is finally finished!!! What are your favorite wraps/carriers and why?  Want to learn more?  Local to the Charlotte Area? Join the Charlotte Babywearers Group and attend a meeting.  We'd love to see you!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Babywearing: What and Why

I realized the other day that even though I've talked a lot about babywearing and the gear I use, I've never dedicated a whole post to the topic. So, today... ta-da! Babywearing!

If nothing else, motherhood has challenged my sense of control. So many things have not worked out the way I anticipated... not that that's necessarily a bad thing. Babywearing has been the one major exception. When I was pregnant I dreamed of being able to carry my baby as much and for as long as possible. I imagined the bonding it would give us and the convenience it would allow. I have not been disappointed! I loath being told and refuse to tell others what they "should" do, but I do love to share our experiences!

First a little bit about babywearing. Like everything, it has its fundamentalists. Those who believe that strollers, swings, bouncy seats, and infant car seat carriers are evil. Those who believe that parents that use these tools are lazy and uncaring. I AM NOT ONE OF THESE. Babywearing has been an enjoyable experience for myself, Turtle and Daddy Turtle and has even saved our sanity at times. I believe the principles and gear are things new parents should be aware of so that they can know what their options are. I feel for the brand new mama in the mall, carrying a fussy newborn in her arms while trying to push an empty stroller. I wonder if she knows about all the options that are available to her. Today I'm going to start out telling you a little about babywearing (as I see it) and what my experience has been, and then I'll tell you a little bit about the different types of carriers and what has worked for us in the next post. Disclaimer: This is nothing more than OUR experience. Hopefully, it will be helpful to someone somewhere, but there is no judgement implied for any parent who does things differently than we do!

For a thorough overview of babywearing, you can see this Wikipedia article. In a nutshell, babywearing is as old as human kind. As a central part of the Attachment Parenting model of child rearing, it has experienced a resurgence in popularity, but it's far from a new thing. Whether doing domestic tasks or gathering nuts and berries, parents have had to juggle child rearing with performing their daily tasks. Babywearing was born out of necessity and is seen in many indigenous societies even today. It is also purported to have bonding benefits as well as calming benefits for the baby. I believe these to be true, but only on a baby to baby case. Some babies want to be held and rocked, some need their alone time. Even Turtle got touched out sometimes and just needed her space. On the other hand, though, in our modern world of baby gear for every situation, it can be easy for a baby to be placed in a infant car seat in the morning, remain in the car seat while running errands or shopping, remain in the car seat during a lunch out, then having fallen asleep in the car seat be placed directly in a swing and gone a majority of the day without being held. This is an extreme case of course but you can see the potential problem.

We actually opted to not purchase an infant car seat because I was so committed to babywearing. I wouldn't go that far if I had it to do over again (those seats are so much easier and more convenient during those early weeks when they are so floppy) but I really loved carrying her. Turtle has always been a snugly little one so babywearing was a perfect fit. In fact during the height of her colicky days, when I had reached the end of my rope, I could always take her to a mall, pop her in a carrier, and walk around for as long as I wanted. As soon as she was in the carrier, she would fall asleep! It was magical. Then after Daddy Turtle started going to school 4 nights a week, my soft structured carrier was the only way I got all our stuff carried in the house or anything done in the evening.

We do have a stroller which I love and Turtle loves to ride in it as well. We have also been using grocery carts since she was able to sit up, but babywearing has always been a part of our routine, and I don't see that changing any time soon. There are plenty of times were a stroller is more of a hassle than a help. Crowded festivals for instance. Daddy Turtle and I love the freedom of being able to strap her to one of our backs, the other carries the diaper bag and we are off stroller free. We also use it a lot when running quick errands where getting a stroller in and out of the trunk would be a hassle.

You know I'm a gear junky so I'm sure you're asking the question, "What do you have in your stash?"  I'll tell you about that tomorrow. Have a great week everyone!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Working With Whatcha Got

For months now I've been looking for ways to organize our life.  Before our life got so crazy (i.e. both parents working 40+ hours a week away from home, daddy in school 4 nights a week, 4 day a week single-motherhood, etc. etc. etc.) I could deal with the disorganization.  I had time to muddle through the morning looking for my keys or searching for that one pair of jeans that make my thighs look skinny.  Then everything changed, and after spending weeks and months underwater, I finally realized that one of the main problems was a lack of organization. 

One of the things I hated was that everything and its brother ended up on my dinning room table.  My purse, Turtle's diaper bag, the mail, shopping bags, the PJ's Turtle wore to grandma's that morning (or god knows which morning), no less than four pairs of shoes of all sizes, and during the winter at least three jackets and/or cardigans. 

Exhibit 1

Exhibit 2

This began to grate on my nerves.  Especially on the weekend when I'd have to push everything off in order to have a simple family meal and made it hard to pack the diaper bag in the mornings without fighting with half of my house.  For a long time, I've loved the look of a beautiful Pottery Barn style "mud room". I've dreamed of having an entry way were shoes, bags, mail, etc. could be dropped and one could shake off the outside world before entering into the sanctuary of our home.  Unfortunately, when you are moving from an 800 sq. ft. apartment, every house looks big and I neglected to hold out for my mud room. 

But I was determined not to let reality get in my way.  So, I started looking around my house to figure out how I could work with what I had.  My first thought was to move the dinning table into the "formal dinning room" off the kitchen (which had since been used as my craft room) and make the little dining nook into the mud room.  But with more thought, and input from Daddy Turtle (who's exact words were, "isn't that going to look weird?!?!") I decided that might not be the best idea.  Then I thought about using the formal dining room where my crafts were, but that seemed to out of the way of the flow of traffic.  Plus it's carpeted and if you're going to have a place to kick off your shoes it seems better to do it BEFORE not ON the carpet.

Then one day out of the blue, I saw it... this tiny unused doorway between our kitchen and our formal dining room.  It's right near the side door where we enter through and wasn't being used for anything other than the trash can.  In fact it had been blocked off with a baby gate for months and no one had even noticed the loss of that doorway. 

So, I started sifting through the images I had collecting on my Pinterest boards of beautiful "mud rooms".  I knew I wanted somewhere to sit and take shoes off/put shoes on, a bin of some kind to wrangle shoes because it's delusional to even think they would get placed neatly on a shoe shelf in my house; a shelf of some kind to put baskets or boxes filled with hats, gloves and scarves; and hooks to hang things like purses, keys, and the random baby carrier.  Something like this.  Only in a space approximately 34" wide and on a shoe string budget.

Then, one day while window shopping at IKEA with my friend, I found it.

$20 baby! Booyaa! And this past weekend, Daddy Turtle hung it for me.

I told him I "probably" wouldn't post this picture, so shhhhh! But how cute is that?! I couldn't NOT post it. Turtle wanted to be right by his side the whole time (i.e. under his feet).

Once the self was up, I started moving things around... an ottoman we were using as a baby gate in the living room became my bench, and a fabric bin I had in the other room became our shoe wrangler.

The next day I added a little piece of art my bestie gave us as a house warming gift and some boxes for the top.

There's still a few other things I'd like to do to the area like getting a smaller bench to make it feel less bulky and I have a couple sturdier hooks I want to mount so that the diaper bag can be hung up as well, but for $20 and a vision, I think it's not too bad. And it really does make things easier to organize, and on a busy, hectic, pre-caffeine morning, that can make the difference between retaining my sanity and losing it!

Have you had an "work with whatcha got" projects lately?

Thursday, April 19, 2012


As you can tell from my lack of blog posts over the last 6 months or so, there has been a whole lot of surviving around our house and not much thriving.  For a long time there I felt like I would take a deep breath on Sunday night and not exhale until sometimes Friday evening.  Gradually, though, over the last few weeks, I've noticed something changing. Like surfing, I feel that I've finally caught the wave of our current life.  And to follow the surfing metaphor one step further, I've learned that the harder I try to control and direct our lives, the more frustrated I get.

For a long time, I found myself catching the rhythm of our life for a day or two and then it would change, and I would spend the next two weeks trying to force the new rhythm to sound like the old one before finally giving in, just in time for the rhythm to change again and the cycle would repeat. Slowly, I began to see that this desire to control things was what was tripping me up the most. For a while, the word I would use was "surrender".  I was learning to surrender to what was instead of try to make it be something it wasn't. But I struggled with the negative side of the word. Sometimes I felt like I was giving up, sacrificing what I wanted and needed for what was. Like a losing army, I felt like I was surrendering to defeat.

But something happened a couple of weeks ago. I decided to plant some flowers around our mail box.  I know, you weren't expecting that were you?!?! One of the things that causes me stress is our front yard. It's gone from not-all-that-great when we first moved in to omg-do-they-own-a-rake? (Why does it bother me? Because I worry about what other people in our neighborhood think. But that's a discussion for another self-reflective blog post.) So, one day I decided that I was going to take advantage of the beautiful weather we are having and the fact that Turtle loves to be outside and make things happen! And what do you know, with a trip to Home Depot and some help from grandma (gardening advice and babysitting) I got this...

Is it perfect? Absolutely not! Is there a ton of dead grass behind it that seriously needs to be replanted? Yep.  But you know what, it's a step in the right direction, and crazy schedule or not, that's the only way things happen. If I spend all my time being overwhelmed then nothing gets done. So, instead of feeling like I'm surrendering to defeat, I feel like I'm riding a powerful wave. Instead of sitting out at sea getting pummeled by every wave that comes by, struggling to stay afloat, I can catch it and let it propel me. Just like some rides are better than others, some days/weeks are better than others. But that's ok.

And you know what I've discovered, I like working outside.  Which my mom found not surprising at all seeing that her mom, my grandmother, loathed cleaning the house but could spend days outside weeding and planting and tending to her plants.  I guess it runs in the family. So, now I have a list of things that I want to accomplish outside. One project at a time.  One day at a time. One wave at a time.

p.s. One of my favorite blogs Young House Love really deserves some recognition here.  Their recent posts about their landscaping efforts have really inspired me. I encourage everyone to check out their blog!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Toddle Along Tuesday

I'm doing something different today and linking for Toddle Along Tuesdays hosted by Growing Up Geeky and Love, Lattes and Lullabies.  I came across both of these mommies on the bump message boards, but have never linked up before.  This week though, the theme was A Day in the Life.  I did a post on this back in October and it's one of my favorite posts.  Although it's quite a few months old, I'm surprised by how similar our life still is.  Thankfully, Turtle is now less klingy so I don't have to wear her as much, but other than that, the routine is pretty much the same.  So, without further ado, here is the original post.  Maybe soon I'll do an update.

A Day in the Life of a Working Turtle Mama

What about you? What's you day like?

Monday, April 16, 2012


I have a new love and her name is Instagram.  I've been familiar with the app for a long time. My cool iPhone owner friends had it and I loved seeing all the cool filters it used to make crappy cell phone pictures look kind of cool (or stupidly retro, depending on your persepective, hehe).  So, after waiting almost a year, the Android app was finally released last week.  Three days before I got my new iPhone. ... isn't it ironic, don't you think. (hehe. I'm a dork, I know it.)

So, not familiar with Instagram? Basically, it's a social network based around sharing pictures.  I love the "real time" aspect of it. Often times, the Pioneer Woman (for instance) will post what is going on on their ranch and it makes me feel like I'm there. It has also challenged me to take and post more pictures even if it's just from my phone.  Seeing that there are some major gaps in my photographic documentation of Turtle's first year, I'm thankful for anything that encourages me to take more pictures.  Plus this new phone (iPhone 4s) takes much better pictures than my old, stupid EVO did.

So, what do these Instagram pics look like? I'm so glad you asked!

Here's Turtle taking in all the action last weekend before the Bobcats vs. Hawks basket ball game we went too. She loved the hubbub of the pregame stuff.  And she is fearless! We are going to have to get a baby leash soon because she is getting fast and could be lost in a crowd very easily.

Here she is a couple hours later.  I have no idea how she was able to sleep through all that noise, but she did.  So, it no longer surprises me that she regularly sleeps through the tv I watch in the evenings.

Here are a few from Easter.  I got her a dress even though we were only going to our friends' house.  I figure she'll wear it for Mother's Day too.

She liked playing with the eggs but not so much "hunting" them.  And even though she watched me put gold fish in them, she still didn't seem to care.  Oh well, next year.


And finally, my two favorite people in the world! 

I suspect you'll be seeing a lot more Instagram pics on the blog from now on. Happy Monday everyone! It's going to be a great week!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Bringing Home Baby: These are a Few of My Favorite Things

So, I've shared some of our favorite things at different stages throughout this first year, and may of them have been very useful but only for a short time.  There are a few things that have been consistently useful and I don't know how we would have survived this first year of parenthood without them! Note that these are in no specific order!

My Turtle Necklace

This was my gift from Jay for my 1st Mother's Day. I knew when I started back to work that I needed something that I could wear so that I could carry my Turtle with me. I've worn it every day for almost a year now and besides my engagement and wedding rings this is my favorite piece of jewelry.  It's the strongest chain I've ever seen because it has stood up to a year of pulls and tugs from Turtle and all her little friends. 

Universal Paci Clips

We are a paci household. I know it's controversial but pacis help reduce the risk of SIDS in the early months and I decided a paci would be easier to wean from than her thumb. These are by far my favorite paci clips. The loop on the end (as opposed to a snap) allows it to be used for any type and brand of paci. We continue to use these even though we are working on weaning her off the paci.

Paci Wipes

These are in my must have category. We never go anywhere without them. I've been known to lick her paci and give it right back to her, but there are times when I don't even want to put it in my mouth, like when it falls on the ground in the Target packing lot. YUCK! These are a lifesaver. They are food grade so there's no worry about harsh chemicals. And now we use them for toys and all kinds of things.

Paci Holder

These are invaluable and one of the first things I bought after Turtle was born.  There is nothing that will make a new mom loose her schmidt faster than listening to a screaming baby while she digs in a cavernous diaper bag for an itty-bitty spare paci. We've had a few different brands and I don't really have a preference. Just, if possible, look for one that will hold more than one spare.

Circo Jeans from Target

We have had at least one pair of these in every size. The elastic waist band makes them easier to work with and they fit Turtle better, and you can't beat the price ($6 a pair).
Hand-Me-Down Clothes

We have been the thankful recipients of lots of wonderful hand-me-down clothes and they have really saved us. Children's clothes are amazingly expensive. And having to buy an entirely new wardrobe every few months is overwhelming. For this reason I highly recommend accepting any and all clothes! Whenever I get a new batch, I always go through them right away. I sort them into the different sizes and pack them back up in clearly labeled boxes or bags. (Nothing fancy, I just use a Sharpie to write on the outside of an old diaper box or white trash bag.) Then when she gets ready for the next size, I go through what I have and pull out and wash anything that is seasonally appropriate. When she outgrows a size, I pack it up again, in clearly labeled boxes or bags that way it's easier for the next person.

Baby Center is my go-to website for most of my questions. I love that it seems to be very balanced and not biased. It gives different perspectives and advocates very few hard and fast rules. It will cover the "old school" rules while also discussing newer research.  I've used it for everything from developmental milestones to how to start solid food.

Veteran Mothers

More than anything else, I have been so thankful for all the veteran mothers in my life over the last year. Those first few weeks are brutal in that you are trying to make decisions on whether a behavior is normal when you have no idea what normal looks like for your baby! It's nerve racking. I don't know what I would have done without my friends, especially my mom.  I'm so thankful to have such a close relationship with my mom. Watching her with Turtle, watching what she was concerned over and what she wasn't helped me hone my instincts so much.


So, to wrap up this series, here is my best advice to prospective or new parents out there.

1) Trust your instincts! All the books are great but know that the "right" way is what works for you and your family. It might feel like you don't have any instincts, especially those first few days and weeks, but know that you do. You just have to be quiet and listen to them. Oh, except for the one (as my friend says) that will occasionally tell you to eat your young, or sell them on Criagslist! :-) That one is normal but it means you need a break as soon as possible.

2) Remember that your baby needs love first and foremost. Give him or her that and everything else will fall into place.

3) Judgement is a part of being a parent.  No matter what you do someone will judge you for it. Breastfeed, formula feed, co-sleep, sleep train... someone will have an opinion about it. So, make the decision that is right for you and your family and the heck with anyone else. Stay far away from controversial parenting topics on the internet (people get brutal) and feel free to use the hide, unfriend, and block features of social networking sites.

4) Things WILL NOT go as you plan. Some things will but some things will not. That's ok. The sooner you surrender to what is instead of trying to force it to be what it was supposed to be, the easier life will be. Also, my experience has been that as soon as I get comfortable with Turtle's routine or rhythm then she will change it. The harder I try to fight the change, the worst it is for everyone. And sitting around with moms of teenagers and even my mom who has adult children, it seems that change is the only constant in parenthood.

5) Parenting is super hard on a relationship. Just like they say the first year of marriage is the hardest, the first year of parenthood is super hard too. I was surprised at the strain it put on my relationship and we have a pretty solid one. We are still working this out so I don't have any real advice on how to make it better, but know it's going to be hard so you're not surprised when it sneaks up on you. And there is no shame in couples counseling. You don't have to be on the verge of divorce to go. In fact it's much more effective if you don't wait that long.

5.1) Allow your co-parent to struggle. That's how you learned too. Rescuing my husband (in my case) was one of the worst mistakes I made early on. It killed his confidence and communicated to him that I had no confidence in him either. You learned how to change a diaper or what needed to go in the diaper bag by trial and error. Let your partner do the same. If he or she forgets something, it's ok. You'll improvise or run by the store and they will learn just like you did. And resist the urge to criticize the way he or she does things. Just because it's not your way doesn't necessarily mean it's wrong.

5.2) Try not to keep score. It's suuuuuuuuuuuuper hard not to some times! Especially the more sleep deprived you are. If you need help or feel like the other person isn't pulling their fair share then just communicate that. You don't have to justify if by pointing out that you've changed the last three diapers and they have only changed one. Communication, negotiation, and compromise are going to save your sanity and possibly your relationship.

What to check out the entire series? Here it is:

Bringing Home Baby:

A Pregnancy Must Have List

A Newborn Must Have List

A Newborn Nice to Have List

A 3 Month Nice to Have List

A 6 Month Nice to Have List

A 9 Month Nice to Have List

A 1 Year Nice to Have List

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Bringing Home Baby: A 1 Year Nice to Have List

Protable High Chair

This thing is AWESOME! I bought one for Grandma's house instead of getting a second Fisher Price Space Saver High Chair like we have.  Well, we found ourselves stealing it every weekend and decided to just invest in a second one. They are great for everything. They are more stable (read harder to wiggle out of) than the restaurant high chairs and soooo easy when at someone else's house.  It can sit right on the floor or be strapped to a chair, and it folds up easily so travel is a cinch!  Highly, highly recommend!


Just because I love baby wearing doesn't mean I don't love me a nice stroller. In fact I'm kind of one of those geeks who watches YouTube videos from the big baby gear expos to see what cool features are coming out with next years models.  One of the main reasons that we haven't really had a good stroller up until now is that I knew exactly which one I wanted and didn't want to settle for what we could afford at the time (that's how I got stuck with a crappy second hand stroller. One of the only second hand purchases that I've been unhappy with). So, just a few weeks ago I was able to purchase my dream stroller... the Britax (LOVE them!) B-Agile.  At $250-ish it's on the cheaper end of the stroller spectrum (relatively speaking). It rolls and folds like a dream! If you've never seen one in action then I highly recommend hitting up your local Babies R Us or Buy Buy Baby. The one handed fold alone will sell you on it. The only thing I wish it had was a reversible handle/seat so she could face me but she doesn't seem to have any issues with it and that feature tends to add quite a few hundred dollars to the price tag. This should last us for as long as she needs/wants to use a stroller and additionally, if we were to have any more kids (god forbid!!) we could use it as a travel system.

Baby gates

Baby gates are EXPENSIVE! So, keep that in mind when you are doing your post baby budgeting! We were given an inexpensive wooden gate which although useful is difficult to open and close. So, as soon as our finances opened up we invested in a really nice, foot pedal operated baby gate for the most highly trafficked area of our house.  We then used the inexpensive wooden gate in an unused door opening and an ottoman to block the last opening. We really need one for the top of the stairs but at the moment I just don't put her down to explore upstairs. Seeing the I need to do a good deep clean up there, it's probably for the best.  My best advice is to look at the layout of your house and figure out how you want things to flow. Do you want to block off just one room or just part of the house or if you have a single level you might not need any gates at all. You don't necessarily need a lot of gates depending on how you set it up.

Steamer Basket

My mom and I both have one of these at our houses and they get a LOT of use! We both got ours at the grocery store too, so you don't necessarily have to order one or go to a specialty store. Since Turtle is now eating mostly table food, this makes dinner quick and easy! I can throw some fresh or frozen vegetables into the basket and then drop the basket down into a pot with some water in the bottom and in within a few minutes she has healthy soft steamed veggies. Love, love, LOVE it!

Fisher Price Laugh and Learn Kitchen 

My Aunt, Uncle and Cousins gave Turtle this toy for Christmas and it has become her favorite! She can open and close the stove a hundred times a day. I think it's about to drive Grandma crazy! It has so many different things to do that it keeps her occupied and she has yet to lose interest in it.

Baby Einstein Count and Discover Treasure Chest  

I'd had my eye on this little toy treasure chest for a few weeks and decided that Daddy and I would give it to Turtle as one of her birthday presents. It has been a HUGE hit! Turtle is currently in this stage where she loves to put things into other things and take them out again, so I figured she would like this. She has even figured out how to put them through the slot in the top which I didn't expect. She has also learned how to put the coins in her little purse. Girl's learning early!

New Diaper Bag

I'm currently in the market for a new diaper bag. I love my Vera Bradley and will continue to use it as a secondary bag but it seems to be simultaneously too big and too small. And because of the length of the straps it's hard to carry when I have Turtle on my back which is a lot. I bought a diaper clutch thinking that would solve the problem but I find I need more than just diapers and wipes when I'm out. I need a toy and possibly some food, etc. So, I'm going to go through the bags I have in the closet to see if I have something that will work before I decide to spend money on a new baby specific diaper bag. We'll see how the search goes.

Soft Structured Carrier

As for baby wearing, our Boba 2G soft structured carrier is still our work horse, but my friend gave me her Mei tei style carrier that she doesn't use any more and I've been playing with and liking that as well. It's more comfortable for front carries (which Turtle only tolerates when she's very tired) and might end up being my husband's favorite because the ties mean it doesn't have to be readjusted to go between he and I.

I'm going to do one last post in this series. Everything so far has been age specific. To close out I want to look at the things that we have used for most of if not the entire year.