Sunday, March 24, 2019

Spring Flooding

These last few weeks I've been struggling more with PTSD symptoms,  and also randomly getting blindsided with waves of grief,  or feeling unusually on-edge and uneasy. There have been some things that have triggered some of this recently,  but often I can't figure out why I'm struggling with so many hard emotions.

Today it dawned on me that this same thing happened around this time of year last year,  and the year before.

Three years ago at this time of year, I was trying to appear normal and keep everything as peaceful as possible, trying not to rock the boat while secretly walking around in a constant state of grief, terror, shock and uncertainty as I was praying, struggling, seeking help and advice, trying to make a decision, and preparing to do the hardest and scariest thing of my life while trying everything possible to avoid it.

Smiling through terror and tears,  going through the motions of daily life while feeling shattered inside. Proceeding along interacting and doing all the normal things,  while drowning in a tornado.  Just trying to survive the next moment, smile,  listen, respond somehow,  take the next step,  do the next thing, don't let on that anything is wrong,  don't poke the bear, pretend to be normal, don't show fear or anger, don't get anyone upset, don't tip the hand, try to smile, speak in a carefully controlled voice, try not to react or engage too much, don't let on.

Survive. Stay calm. Smile. Pretend everything is okay.

But it's not okay. Everything is broken.

But I had to smile, and do the next thing, and pretend to be fine.

I wasn't fine. Nothing was fine.

So I guess I'm processing some of those emotions now.


Thursday, August 16, 2018

Saying hello into the void . . .

I took my blog offline for a while and made it viewable by the author only . . . okay, for about three years. In that three years my husband and I have gone through a legal separation, the kids have grown up a lot, and life has changed rather significantly in some ways and very little in others.

Our legal separation was finalized July 23 of this year, one day before our 19th wedding anniversary. The past few years have been very difficult in many ways, good in other ways, and very much a growing experience.

Our kids are growing up. AJ is 17 now, M&M is 16, Ebee (formerly known as Baby E) just turned 13, and Nae is 4 and a half.

I'm not sure if I'm going to start blogging regularly or not, but I decided to make the blog generally viewable again for the time being, and post this update.

Most likely nobody will even see this post, but here I am. Hello, world.


Sunday, June 14, 2015

Tips for getting toddlers to cooperate while shopping

A mom on another forum asked for ideas of how to handle her toddler who was taking things off the shelves in the store and not wanting to put them back when asked repeatedly. I typed up a reply and then thought maybe I would post it here also, in case it could be helpful to others.

  • It's very helpful if you can tell kids what you DO want them to do rather than what you don't want them to do.

    For putting things back on the shelf, first try not to turn it into a battle if possible. Acknowledge her interest and feelings about the o
    bject, and make an observation about its special qualities. "Oh, you like that ball? It's really neat, isn't it? So bright and playful with the yellow polka-dots on the red ball." Or, "That's a box of muffin mix. It looks yummy, doesn't it? You like the blue box?"

    Then in a light, cooperative tone ask her to put it back and show her where it goes. You may need to physically pick her up and show her where to put it, but it's ideal if you can have her put it down without forcefully prying it out of her hand (both to avoid the battle and also just to treat her with respect).

    Sometimes a brief explanation is in order: "I know you really like that toy and want to keep it, but it's not our toy. It has to stay here at the store. Can you put it back on the shelf and say bye-bye to it? Bye bye, ball." Saying goodbye to things helps a ton for my 18-month-old.

    If she is hesitant, try to offer choices. "Do you want to put the ball on this shelf or leave it over here?"

    You can offer something else for her to carry or do to distract or interest her. My toddler loves to carry my purse or wear my watch or sunglasses. Or you can ask her to help get things off the shelf that you need to buy and carry them or put them in the cart.

    If all else fails, you may need to physically help her put it back, but sometimes you can save the day by giving her a choice: "Can you put the muffin mix back by yourself or do you need Mommy to help you?"

    Even if you end up having to wrestle it away from her to put it back, use it as an opportunity to help her identify and verbalize her emotions: "You feel sad and disappointed that you couldn't keep the ball. You really liked that ball and wanted to keep it, but it has to stay here." Then redirect her to doing something else like helping push the cart or get groceries.

    Also, with toddlers through grade schoolers while shopping, it really helps to plan ahead and make sure you are giving them things to keep them engaged, whether that be having them help shop or bringing toys along for them. Try not to shop when they are hungry or tired if possible, and bring snacks along or buy them a snack if needed. Be sensitive to keeping shopping trips as short as possible with little ones who tire quickly and have short attention spans.

    If my toddler is being too difficult to contain or keep up with in the store, I wrap her on my back and carry her that way. ;) The cart can also be used as a way to contain them and let them take a break if needed. In some situations, especially if the child is overstimulated or overtired and cannot be calmed or redirected, going to the car to let them have a few minutes of quiet to rest for a few minutes or just cutting the shopping trip short and going home may be necessary.

    Try to avoid telling a child repeatedly to do things. Ask once, calmly; show how to do it and offer choices, wait and give her time to do it, and then help her do it if needed. If you just keep saying the same thing over and over she will learn not to

    When you ask/tell her to do something, be prepared to follow through and physically help her do it if she needs help--not in an angry or punishing way, but just matter-of-factly helping her. She's still learning, and will need lots of help and repetition. :)

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Saturday, June 13, 2015

Lenny Lamb Wrap Conversion Ergonomic Carriers: Infant vs. Toddler Sizes

The question frequently comes up whether people should buy an infant size or a toddler size ergonomic carrier for their child. Just because your child is toddling or walking does not mean they will need a toddler-sized carrier. In general, I believe the rule of thumb is that children who are wearing at least 2T size clothing might be ready for a toddler sized carrier in most brands. Some brands of "toddler-sized" ergonomic carriers might well almost be called preschool-sized carriers--they're huge!

First, it's important to understand that for an older child, "knee to knee" is not nearly as important as it is for tiny ones. In fact, if you have a choice between a carrier that doesn't go all the way from knee to knee on your child vs. a carrier that is wider than the distance between their knees, go with the narrower one to avoid overextending the child's knees. Both the baby and toddler size Lenny Lamb carriers are tested to go up to the same weight (about 44 lbs), so there is no concern about the smaller size not being strong enough to hold a toddler that is between sizes.

I have a Lenny Lamb ergonomic carrier in baby size, and one in toddler size. These are wrap conversion full buckle ergonomic carriers, also known as WCFB carriers. Nae is a year old and has been walking for several months now, but the baby size is still the best fit for her.

The Lenny Lamb website has a nice little graphic on each ergonomic carrier page showing the design and measurements of the carriers. The dimensions given for their baby size carrier are 35 centimeters at the base of the panel, 32 centimeters at the narrowest point across the panel, and 40 centimeters as the height of the panel. The toddler size dimensions are 45 cm across at the base of the panel, 38 cm across at the narrowest point, and 48 cm panel height.The site also has a note that the sizes may vary approximately 2 centimeters up or down from that. From what I've heard, the diamond weave carriers may tend to run a bit larger than the jacquard weave carriers, possibly (some theorize) because they are a bit more stretchy and less dense fabric.

Unlike a woven wrap, you do not need to wash your Lenny Lamb ergonomic carrier before using.

Here is a comparison picture of the two sizes: Twisted Leaves Turquoise in the infant size is on top, while Paladins in toddler size is on the bottom. The waist bands are very close to the same size and the base panels are lined up here, so you can see the difference in the size of the body panels on the two carriers.

 Here is a photo with the bottom left corners lined up so you can see the difference in another way:

As you can see, the toddler size is very much bigger than the baby size. With the size of my kids, the toddler size would probably fit them to at least preschool age.


Monday, November 24, 2014

11 months

Baby Nae will be a year old in a couple of weeks. As always, it seems like the time just flies by. Two years ago I never would have imagined my life as it is today. We thought we were done having babies; that we had left the baby and toddler stage, not to return until our kids were grown and we either became foster parents and/or became grandparents.

It's much different having a baby this time around. Last time I had a baby my oldest was 4. After that first hair-raising attempt, I never even took a shower without locking all three kids in the bathroom with me if I was home by myself with them. Home alone with three little ones while DH was at work, I couldn't nap if any of them were awake. I could never let my guard down for a moment.

I worried a lot as a young mom . . . worried about all the "shoulds" and "must nots"--worried that I would spoil my baby by holding her too much and picking her up when she cried; worried that I would somehow accidentally permanently damage my children by making some minor unknowing mistake in the way we did bedtime or meals or whatever; worried that my kids would never learn to sleep at night or learn socially appropriate behavior; worried that my 5-year-old stealing a toy would, if I didn't respond exactly right, grow up to be a shoplifter. I knew that gentle discipline was the right choice for our family, but I worried about whether it would really "work" to raise kids without spanking or other punitive punishments. I also worried way too much about what other people thought.

Now, my older three kids are 13, 12, and 9. And, while they're not perfect, of course; they are utterly awesome, amazing, wonderful young people. They're not spoiled brats. They're generally polite and respectful, happy, and relatively responsible. They have age-appropriate struggles and behaviors, but they also seem to have skipped a lot of the problematic issues that many kids their age seem to struggle with. We're constantly working on relationship and communication skills, but overall I think we have a great family with generally good relationships. We like each other, and we generally interact gently and respectfully with each other. We are usually able to talk through and solve problems while helping everyone to feel heard, and that's important. Oh, and they aren't picky eaters, can even cook a meal, and sleep through the night. ;)

Our kids are living proof that you don't have to do everything perfectly right as a parent to end up with really great kids that are a joy to be around. :)

With Baby Nae, in many ways I feel like I was given a "do-over" with parenting a baby. I'm so much more relaxed this time around. I no longer worry about spoiling my baby; I can just enjoy her.

There are several other differences this time around. All four kids are healthy and doing well, and our current school, extracurricular activities and lifestyle are generally a good fit for us. I have so much more help and support, between DH and the older kids who are usually glad to volunteer their help with the baby so I can shower, take a nap or just catch my breath for a few minutes. DH and I are in a better place in our marriage, and have better communication and relationship skills than we did 10 years ago. Both of us are physically and emotionally healthier than we have been in the past. That makes a big difference. Even seemingly small things like getting my milk supply regulated and discovering more comfortable and efficient babywearing methods make a big difference.

The clinical study I participated in early in 2009 was life-changing for me, and I'm still seeing a significant improvement in my health issues and neurological symptoms since removing excitotoxins from my diet. I still struggle, but it's much more manageable when I'm careful what I eat as well as doing my best to get enough rest and keep a reasonable pace to avoid adrenaline surges. Getting the EDS diagnosis has helped me to take caring for my body more seriously, knowing that any kind of physical overexertion can have permanent negative effects, since my connective tissues won't heal properly after being overextended.

I'm sure many of the above factors have contributed to the fact that I did not have postpartum depression this time around, as I did after my first two children were born. Having a healthy baby with no postpartum depression to cope with makes the whole experience of having a baby ever so much more enjoyable.

I still struggle a lot with health issues. What this means, basically, is that I have little to no time or energy for anything beyond the necessities of daily life. It takes all my reserves just to get through the day with things like meals, diaper changes, ferrying kids to and from activities, and resting between things. I do have a couple of regular social activities that I attend on a regular basis . . . a faith-based couple's home group, and a babywearing support group. Each meets every other week or twice a month; and that's about all I can handle. With that, I'm usually able to add in one or two other outings or social interactions in a week. Some weeks I can't even handle one extra activity, and other weeks I might sometimes be able to handle three or possibly (rarely) even more.

At this point in my life, though, I'm getting a little better at accepting and working within my limitations.

And all of that together means that in general I'm really, genuinely enjoying life. I'm loving this season and enjoying it for all I'm worth.

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Saturday, November 15, 2014

Tips for Selling on the Babywearing Swaps

I used to buy and sell a lot of items, mostly clothing and accessories, in various online and offline venues; and was successful enough at it that I attained eBay Powerseller status, back in the day. :) 

The basic tips for writing a good ad and selling things effectively are pretty much the same no matter what or where you are selling: Provide lots of information, be honest, and include clear, excellent photos and all relevant details about the item. Be responsive to questions and provide good customer service, make sure your descriptions are accurate, and protect yourself by doing things like shipping only to the confirmed PayPal address and keeping screenshots and good records of all ads and interactions.

When listing on the babywearing swaps:

First, read the rules! If a feedback link is required, set one up and have the link ready before posting. If there is a limit on how many pictures you can post, whether you have to list a price, etc.  make sure you understand and meet those requirements.

When selling, don't put in one dark picture and virtually no info. and expect it to actually sell. "I have this wrap, I don't know what it's called, and I think it might be a size 6 but I'm not really sure" isn't going to generate much interest.

Try to include as much of the following information as possible:
Post at least 3 or 4 really good pictures (one in the OP and three in the comments allowed in the first 15 minutes after posting without counting toward your two bump a day limit, if you're selling on certain babywearing swap Facebook pages). Try to include a flat photo of the wrap, an action shot, a close-up of the weave/pattern and a pic of the most significant flaw if any (with a note that you can PM pics of any others, or will add them to your listing later). Bring in extra lamps if you need better lighting, or take pictures in daylight. Pay attention to what's in the background of your photos . . . clutter in the background can detract from the photo and may turn people off from your listing.

Details about the item: Try to include the brand and pattern name, color and name of colorway, fiber content (i.e. 100% cotton,  a  70/30 cotton/hemp blend,  etc. ) and any other relevant information. If you know or can find out the weight in g/m2, that is information that will be very helpful to potential buyers.

Size, measurements: 

Include the size in whatever system the wrap or carrier manufacturer uses, standard number sizes if applicable, AND meters. Always measure the wrap and give actual measurements in case it was sold to you as the wrong size, shrunk when washed, or whatever. It doesn't hurt to add the size in inches too, just to cover all your bases. 

The width of a wrap is measured straight across the grain from one rail to the other, not along the tapers.  

Measure length with soft tape in hand along the rail, like this video shows. Since most wraps with tapers are shaped like a parallelogram /======/ with both rails slanting the same direction, the length should be the same on both rails. If your wrap has atypical tapers, be sure to note this and give the measurements of both rails.

I've seen more than one wrap listed as a size 3 from a manufacturer that doesn't make size 3 wraps, because people didn't measure and double-check what a size XS in that brand was the equivalent of in meters. And then it sat unsold because people know XYZ company doesn't make size 3 wraps and the ad doesn't disclose whether it was chopped from a longer wrap or not.

Laundering/storage details and condition. Is the item unwashed and unworn, in excellent used condition,  or what? Buyers will be interested in knowing if you are a smoke- free home, if you have pets that might get dander or hair in the environment (this really only impacts people with severe allergies),  what type of laundry detergent  has been used on the wrap,  whether wool shows any signs of felting, and any flaws or signs of wear on the wrap.

Obviously, disclose any significant issues/flaws. Better to overdisclose minor or non-issues and give buyers confidence in your honesty than to not disclose something you think is a minor issue but the buyer things is significant.

 Weaver's knots,  pulls, stains and broken threads, slight thread shifting, etc. are all things that should be disclosed although they are usually minor issues (or in the case of nubs/slubs/weaver's knots,  usually non -issues but still a good idea to disclose). Actual holes in the fabric, significant thread shifting or signs of wear, fabric that has been bleached or a wool wrap that has started to felt are safety issues that can make a wrap unsafe to use. Depending on the issue it may be necessary to sell the wrap or carrier for scrap if it's not safe to use for carrying a baby any more. You don't want an injury to someone else's baby on your conscience. Also check to make sure it's not a recalled or unsafe type of carrier,  such as a bag sling or a ring sling made with the wrong type of fabric or rings to be safe for babywearing. (Here's a quick guide to safe and unsafe materials for babywearing.)

 If the item has been altered in any way,  be sure to disclose what was done and who did it. This includes dyeing and chopping. If it's dyed, state the type of dye used and/or the company that dyed it. If it's chopped,  be  sure to include information about whether it was done with blunt or tapered ends,  if/how it was hemmed,  and whether tags and middle markers have been moved. If it's a wrap conversion carrier or ring sling,  state who converted it if you know the converter. If you did it yourself or it was done by someone not well known in the babywearing community,  be  sure to include information relevant to the safety and quality of the work,  such as the brand of hardware such as sling rings or buckles used,  type of  fabric,  type of thread, and method of stitching (for example,  a ring sling sewn with three rows of stitching with Guttermann all-purpose thread at the shoulder;  or whether shoulder straps are sewn with X-boxes,  bar-tacked, or what).

Don't try to be cutesy and say something like, "I don't allow my dog to smoke in the wrap" unless you want people to think that you smoke in the house and let your dog sleep on the wrap. :)

Price. MMARO (make me a reasonable offer) without a starting price makes many buyers want to run the other direction. Even if you're wanting trades only, many forums require that you post the approximate trade value of the item. 

It's a good idea to check around and see what other similar items are selling for in the current market. Start by googling the name of your item and checking the swaps to see if any others are for sale or have sold recently. If the same item is currently available at clearance prices from several retailers,  you're unlikely to be able to sell it on the swaps for full retail price even if that's what you paid for it. Nobody is going to pay $35 plus shipping for your used Infantino mei tai when they can go to their neighborhood big-box store and pick one up for $16 and have it instantly, unless it's customized a special way or something. If it's an item that is in high demand, takes some breaking in,  or ships from outside the country some people may be willing to pay a few dollars more to get it faster without having to worry about customs and international transaction fees,  or to have the breaking-in work already done for them.

Make sure you include common search keywords for the item in your listing, including all possible terms for the item and the brand name fully spelled out as well as the nickname or acronym (like Didy for Didymos) if there is one, but try to weave them subtly into your listing so it doesn't look like just a list of keywords.

Also be sure to post in the correct album or forum. Not only does this help the sale groups run more smoothly;  it also makes it easier for people to find your item if they're looking for something specific.

Post as much info as you can in the original post -- brand, colorway, fabric content, actual measurements of length and width, weight in g/m2 if you know it, any flaws, laundering methods and whether you're a smoke/pet free
home, etc.
Including lots of info in the OP cuts way down on the amount of questions, and makes your listing more appealing to buyers by making it easy to find the information you want.

Then if you don't like having to constantly worry about your listing,  you can just let it sit until it sells, knowing it's where people who are looking for it can find it. Just make sure to respond promptly to any questions/inquiries. When/if you bump, try to do it by adding another pic or some bit of relevant information about the item. Again, be aware of the forum's rules about frequency and type of bumping, and abide by them. 

If it sits there for several days or weeks unsold, take a look at whether your price is reasonable for the item in the current market, look to see whether there's anything that might turn off buyers in your photographs or listing, and consider lowering the price. So far, using this method I've rarely had a wrap I've listed on the main swap pages go more than a day or so before selling.

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Sunday, October 12, 2014

IBW 2014, day 2: Size 4 Woven Wrap

International BabyWearing week day 2: This is a rucksack carry tied in a knotless Tibetan finish with a size 4 Little Frog woven wrap in Pyrope.

This carry is great for quick ups where I need Nae up out of the way so I can do something like chopping vegetables for dinner without having to worry about her grabbing the knife or getting underfoot in the kitchen.

A size 4 (3.6 meter) wrap is short enough that I can get it wrapped without dragging it on the ground if I'm out somewhere and it isn't too bulky to carry around or unwieldy to wrap, but is still long enough that I can do an extra pass or more involved tie-off for my comfort or run a pass under/over her legs to securely reinforce the carry so she can't push out of it by seat -popping/leg- straightening/excessive leaning.

This particular carry is one that I use only for relatively short periods of time because it puts more strain on my shoulders than some other carries I do with a longer wrap. But it's quick and convenient, keeps little hands out of whatever I'm doing, and Nae loves it because it puts her up high where she can see over my shoulder and feel like she's involved in what I'm doing.

This size wrap also works great for a number of quick hip and front carries that are fast to tie and easy to pop baby in and out of for quick errands, when she needs to nurse, when we're out somewhere and I know she's going to be in and out of the wrap a lot, when she just wants a quick cuddle, or I need her contained for a few minutes; but I'm not planning to have her up for long periods of time.

Someone with less sensitive shoulders would likely be able to use this size of wrap for longer - term carries as well. The thickness, weave and fiber content will also affect how comfortable a given wrap is for particular carries or lengths of time for different people.

I've been on the search for a size 4 wrap that I can wear in a single-layer carry for more than about 3 minutes at a time before it starts hurting my shoulders so much that I have to take it down quickly. The thinner Little Frog wraps at 190-210 g/m2 aren't going to be that wrap for me, but they aren't really intended to be. These lighter-weight Little Frog wraps are designed more for younger babies and will shine best in a multi-pass carry with a wee one. I do really love the colorways they have, and they are great low-budget wraps for people with younger babies,  although some people like them with older babies too.
The thicker Little Frog colorways such as Agate, Opal and Flourite are slightly more substantial and have a bit more cush at 240 g/m2, and the heavier cotton lines as well as the linen and wool blends will be more toddler-worthy (although the linen blends take a long time to break in well). The lightest-weight Little Frog line and the wool blends are the softest feeling of the Little Frog wraps I've had the opportunity to play with.

I had a linen-blend Little Frog Choco Agate II for a while. It was easily my favorite rainbow in appearance, but it felt somewhat harsh and unyielding in shoulder feel to me even after several weeks of breaking in. I didn't find it nearly as comfortable as some of my other wraps to wear. The new owner loves how supportive it is with her larger toddler, though, and reports that it continues to soften and break in with continued washing and use.

Both weights of the 100% cotton Little Frog wraps I've tried were pretty soft and easy to wrap with right off the bat, and I felt they were significantly faster and easier to break in enough to enjoy using than several other types of wraps I've tried.

I feel that Little Frog's broken twill is a bit denser and lays a tad bit flatter than Lenny Lamb's similarly priced basic broken twill line, so some people may prefer the feel and wrapping qualities of one over the other. (See this post for more on Lenny Lamb wraps and another comparison shot of the Little Frog and Lenny Lamb broken twill weaves: )

If you look closely at the weaves, Little Frog almost seems to have a bit more interconnectedness between stitches, which gives me an impression of the fabric seeming very sturdy for its weight,  and makes it feel flatter and denser to me.  The Lenny Lamb weave is fluffier and a bit airier, with straighter lines in the pattern. The Little Frog stitches look like alternating S-shapes to me, rather than Vs or straight lines.

To me personally,  Little Frog's all - cotton broken twill is not quite as comfortable as Lenny Lamb's.  I prefer wraps with some fluff and cush to them over thinner,  denser wraps. But someone else may prefer the way Little Frog broken twill wraps and feels. The Little Frog wool blend, on the other hand, is one of my favorites--I have a wool blend ring sling and it is so comfy, with the cushy shoulder feel that I like.

Little Frog has also recently come out with a new jacquard-weave line that are in the 250-260 g/m2 weight range. I haven't seen any reviews on these yet, but am looking forward to hearing about and hopefully getting to play with these sometime. (Edit: So far the reviews on these have been good! One person compared the feel and wrapping qualities to the fabric of the mahogany tablecloths beloved by many in the wrapping community, but available in much longer lengths.)

One thing I really like about Little Frog is the colors, and the fact that some of their striped patterns (such as the agates) have different colored top and bottom rails. Wraps that have either different colored rails, a directional print or the front and back different colors are good for learning wrappers because they can help you tell more easily if you've unintentionally gotten the wrap twisted. Stripes also help you know which part of the wrap to pull on if you need to tighten out some slack. Little Frog also has middle markers on both the top and bottom rails, which I find very helpful; and their tails are tapered.

Wrap tastes are very much a matter of personal preference, so what you like or dislike may vary from what I or someone else thinks.  If you can go to a babywearing meetup and try things in person that's always ideal. :)

Little Frog is a great low-budget basic wrap brand that will work well for many people. They are made in Poland, but their website has the option to show text and pricing in English and US dollars as well as Polish and Russian, as well as showing the currency in these and in Euros, depending on what you select in the drop-down menu on the top right corner of the web page.

I also love that we have a Little Frog vendor here in the USA who is someone I met through the local babywearing community here. Her prices are pretty comparable to what you would pay directly from Little Frog after shipping and currency conversion/foreign transaction fees, and with free shipping in the USA you'll have it faster, with no worries about customs fees or clearance delays: They carry other brands too!

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