Tuesday, October 9, 2012

How I hope to instill a healthy body image in my two girls

Welcome to the October 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Instilling a Healthy Self-Image
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared confessions, wisdom, and goals for helping children love who they are. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

Image courtesy Scoobie1993

I think one of the most inspiring books I read as a new mom was Lean Mommy by Lisa Druxman, the creator of Stroller Strides.  I got the book because I was looking for some ideas for how to involve my little one in my workouts, since I wanted to get in shape without subjecting my baby to the germs in the gym daycare.  But what I got from that book was so much more than workout advice.  I got some of the best advice I've ever come across about raising a child with a healthy self-image. 

I'm sure most moms (and dads, for that matter) have things they'd like to change about their physical appearance.  But how does it affect our children when we express these desires aloud?  I had never really thought about it, but in her book Lisa Druxman explained how everything we do and say will shape how our children view themselves and impact the lifestyle habits that they will adopt.

Think about this for a moment:
A verbalized feeling-fat moment while stepping on the scale teaches a child something that she should never have been exposed to: that there is a "right" and a "wrong" way for his or her body to be. The child loves mom and at a young age would not notice her flaws. But mom's comment now zooms the child's attention to the idea that, as great as she is, mommy doesn't like herself or her body. This makes her child hyperaware of his or her own body. And he or she learns to judge their own body negatively, too. (Druxman, 187)
Wow!  Who would have thought that our own insecurities could have such an impact on our children?

I think one of the most important things we can do to instill a healthy body image in our children is to show them that we LOVE our bodies!  Be a positive role model for a healthy body image and never let your child hear you say a negative or disparaging comment about your body, or anyone else's.

Sometimes the things we say might not seem to be negative, but by placing an emphasis on the way our body LOOKS rather than how healthy or unhealthy our body is, we can perpetuate the "thin is good, thick is bad" attitude that is so common in society today.

About two months ago, just a few weeks before my hubby turned 30, he decided he was sick and tired of feeling sick and tired, and wanted to get in shape!  Back in January he had gotten some blood work done as part of a life insurance application and was concerned with some of the results, so he was hoping to lose some weight and improve his health.  He took a two week CrossFit trial class and discovered the Paleo Plan, which has been life changing for us.  We've been eating Paleo and exercising regularly for the past two months, and as a result we both feel healthier and fitter than we ever have in our adult lives!

Through the process though, there has been a lot of talk about "losing weight." And the word "fat" has come up more than once.  I cringe at that word, and hearing it come from my big, strong husband... my babies' daddy and role model... made the powerful message of Lean Mommy come rushing back to the front of my mind.  Those words may not appear to be affecting our girls right now, but surely they are listening and forming opinions of right and wrong, good and bad.  Do I want my girls to grow up thinking "fat" is bad and "losing weight" or being "skinny" is good??

I had a little chat with my hubby a week or two ago and we agreed that F-A-T would be a word that is off-limits in our home.  We agreed that the way we phrase things is very important... we don't work out to "lose weight", we work out to be fit and healthy.  We shouldn't be so concerned with the "calories" we eat, but whether we are getting the nutrients our bodies need.  We want to focus on how the food we're eating makes us feel (energetic, sluggish, or sick to our stomachs) above all else! 

That's one thing that has been very apparent to both of us as we've changed how we eat... we feel so much more energetic and focused and HAPPY!  No more indigestion, bloating, gas, or fatigue.  Even my husband's hives have gone away!  Those are the things that are really important, and those are the things I want to focus on!!

Along those same lines, I'm learning it's important not to use food as a control tool.  We shouldn't require our children eat any set quantity of food or to use food as a reward or incentive.  Rather, it is important to teach our children to listen to their bodies... to recognize when they're hungry and when they're satisfied (which is different from being full )!

She never seems to have a problem licking the bowl clean when there's chocolate pudding in it!

When Gigi was a toddler I fell into the trap of saying "Please eat 2 or 3 more bites," and I would get really excited when she cleaned her plate.  To make matters worse, I would also tell her she couldn't have a treat unless she ate a good dinner.  It didn't take long before she started asking, "How many bites do I have to eat?" the moment she sat down at the table!

I knew I didn't want my daughter to be emotionally attached to -- or at war with -- food!  I wanted her to see food as a source of nourishment and energy.  I didn't want her to feel guilty if she did or didn't eat something, because I knew that could lead to eating disorders down the road.

Thankfully, around this time I was reading The Discipline Book, by Dr. Sears and it included a section on "Feeding Good Behavior."  I love the tips he offered, such as giving choices, not using food to fix emotional or physical hurts, and stocking your pantry with healthy foods and allowing kids to help themselves when they're hungry (rather than when we tell them they should be hungry)!  I think the best piece of advice he had though, was this:
Don't use food as a control tool.  Never push food on babies or children.  If they want it, they'll either open wide or pick it up themselves.  It's your job to provide healthy, nutritious food.  It's your child's job to eat it.  Never chase your child with a spoonful of anything.  Never use the threat of "no dessert" to get a child to finish his main course.  Don't even talk about how well or poorly a child has eaten.  Zip your lip.  It's his stomach. (Sears, 128)
So now that's my mealtime mantra... "It's your job to provide healthy, nutritious food.  It's your child's job to eat it."  And I'm not going to lie... I get frustrated with the amount of food that ends up wasted, but I suppose it's a small price to pay to (hopefully) prevent my daughters from having an unhealthy relationship with food!! 

Gigi still inevitably asks (almost daily), "How many bites do I have to eat?" And now I simply respond "I want you to take as many bites as it takes not to be hungry anymore!"

I know I'm not perfect, but I hope that I'm setting a good example for my daughters.  I try to show them how fun it is to exercise and how good it makes us feel when our bodies are strong and healthy.  I try to model healthy eating by choosing foods that are packed with nutrients that my body needs (or as Dr. Sears puts it, "the food that makes you grow") the majority of the time  and occasionally indulging in foods that are less healthful.  I never forbid foods, because I know that when something is off limits, it just makes you want it that much more.  I try to just practice moderation and never beat myself up over what I eat.

I hope that I can help my girls develop healthy habits now, so they will grow up to be healthy, confident girls with a positive self image.  I know my girls will be subjected to societal pressures of beauty all too soon, but I hope that by setting a positive example with my actions, and by choosing my words carefully, I will help them to love themselves and love their bodies, regardless of their size.

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be updated by afternoon October 9 with all the carnival links.)

  • Why I Walk Around Naked — Meegs at A New Day talks about how she embraces her own body so that her daughter might embrace hers.
  • What I Am Is Not Who I Am — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama discusses her views on the importance of modeling WHO she is for her daughter and not WHAT she sees in the mirror.
  • Carnival of Natural Parenting: Verbs vs. Adjectives — Alisha at Cinnamon & Sassafras tries hard to compliment what her son does, not who he is.
  • The Naked Family — Sam at Love Parenting talks about how nudity and bodily functions are approached in her home.
  • How She'll See Herself — Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalis discusses some of the challenges of raising a daughter in our culture and how she's hoping to overcome them.
  • Self Esteem and all it's pretty analogies — Musings from Laura at Pug in the Kitchen on what she learned about self-esteem in her own life and how it applies to her parenting.
  • Beautiful — Tree at Mom Grooves writes about giving her daughter the wisdom to appreciate her body and how trying to be a role model taught Tree how to appreciate her own.
  • Do As I Say, Not As I Do: Nurturing A Healthy Body Image — Christy at Eco Journey in the Burbs is changing perceptions about her body so that she may model living life with a positive, healthy body image for her three young daughters.
  • Some{BODY} to LoveKate Wicker has faced her own inner demons when it comes to a poor body image and even a clinical eating disorder, and now she wants to help her daughters to be strong in a world that constantly puts girls at risk for losing their true selves. This is Kate's love letter to her daughters reminding them to not only accept their bodies but to accept themselves as well in every changing season of life.
  • They Make Creams For That, You Know — Destany at They Are All of Me writes about celebrating her natural beauty traits, especially the ones she passed onto her children.
  • New Shoes for Mama — Kellie of Our Mindful Life, guest posting at Natural Parents Network, is getting some new shoes, even though she is all grown up…
  • Raising boys with bodily integrity — Lauren at Hobo Mama wants her boys to understand their own bodily autonomy — so they'll respect their own and others'.
  • Sowing seeds of self-love in our children — After struggling to love herself despite growing up in a loving family, Shonnie at Heart-Led Parenting has suggestions for parents who truly want to nurture their children's self-esteem.
  • Subtle Ways to Build a Healthy Self-Image — Emily at S.A.H.M i AM discusses the little things she and her husband do every day to help their daughter cultivate a healthy self-image.
  • On Barbie and Baby Bikinis: The Sexualization of Young Girls — Justine at The Lone Home Ranger finds it difficult to keep out the influx of messages aimed at her young daughters that being sexy is important.
  • Undistorted — Focusing on the beauty and goodness that her children hold, Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children watches them grow, loved and undistorted.
  • Off The Hook — Arpita at Up, Down and Natural sheds light on the journey of infertility, and how the inability to get pregnant and stay pregnant takes a toll on self image…only if you let it. And that sometimes, it feels fantastic to just let yourself off the hook.
  • Going Beyond Being An Example — Becky at Old New Legacy discusses three suggestions on instilling healthy body image: positivity, family dinners, and productivity.
  • Raising a Confident Kid — aNonymous at Radical Ramblings describes the ways she's trying to raise a confident daughter and to instil a healthy attitude to appearance and self-image.
  • Instilling a Healthy Self Image — Laura at This Mama's Madness hopes to promote a healthy self-image in her kids by treating herself and others with respect, honesty, and grace.
  • Stories of our Uniqueness — Casey at Sesame Seed Designs looks for a connection to the past and celebrates the stories our bodies can tell about the present.
  • Helping My Boy Build a Healthy Body Image — Lyndsay at ourfeminist{play}school offers readers a collection of tips and activities that she uses in her journey to helping her 3-year-old son shape a healthy body image.
  • Eat with Joy and Thankfulness: A Letter to my Daughters about Food — Megan at The Boho Mama writes a letter to her daughters about body image and healthy attitudes towards food.
  • Helping Our Children Have Healthy Body Images — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares information about body image, and her now-adult daughter tells how she kept a healthy body image through years of ballet and competitive figure skating.
  • Namaste — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment shares how at barely 6 years old, her daughter has begun to say, "I'm not beautiful." And while it's hard to listen to, she also sees it as a sign her daughter is building her self-image in a grassroots kind of way.
  • 3 Activities to Help Instill a Healthy Self-Image in Your Child — Explore the changing ideals of beauty, create positive affirmations, and design a self-image awareness collage. Dionna at Code Name: Mama shares these 3 ideas + a pretty affirmation graphic you can print and slip in your child's lunchbox.
  • Beautiful, Inside and Out — It took a case of adult-onset acne for Kat of MomeeeZen to find out her parenting efforts have resulted in a daughter that is truly beautiful, inside and out.
  • Mirroring Positive Self Image for Toddlers — Shannon at GrowingSlower reflects on encouraging positive self image in even the youngest members of the family.
  • How I hope to instill a healthy body image in my two girls — Raising daughters with healthy body image in today's society is no small task, but Xela at The Happy Hippie Homemaker shares how choosing our words carefully and being an example can help our children learn to love their bodies.
  • Self Image has to Come from WithinMomma Jorje shares all of the little things she does to encourage healthy attitudes in her children, but realizes she can't give them their self images.
  • Protecting the Gift — JW from True Confessions of a Real Mommy wants you to stop thinking you need to boost your child up: they think they are wonderful all on their own.
  • Learning to Love Myself, for my Daughter — Michelle at Ramblings of Mitzy addresses her own poor self-image.
  • Nurturing An Innate Sense of Self — Marisa at Deliberate Parenting shares her efforts to preserve the confidence and healthy sense of self they were born with.
  • Don't You Love Me, Mommy?: Instilling Self-Esteem in Young Children After New Siblings Arrive — Jade at Seeing Through Jade Glass But Dimly hopes that her daughter will learn to value herself as an individual rather than just Momma's baby
  • Exercising is FUN — Amy W. at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work talks about modeling for her children that exercising is FUN and good for body and soul.
  • Poor Little Chicken — Kenna at A Million Tiny Things gets her feathers ruffled over her daughter's clothing anxiety.
  • Loving the skin she's in — Mama Pie at Downside Up and Outside In struggles with her little berry's choice not to celebrate herself and her heritage.
  • Perfect the Way I Am — Erika at Cinco de Mommy struggles — along with her seven-year-old daughter — at telling herself she's perfect just the way she is.

Monday, August 13, 2012

My thoughts on the new, but not-so-improved Boba 3G

So you may remember a few months back when I wrote about how excited I was to get the new Boba Baby Carrier, the Boba 3G.  I was excited about the new features, like a cell phone pocket, purse straps, and the ability to convert the carrier to an infant carrier.  Well, those cool features don't quite make up for one HUGE design flaw... the new sliders on the chest strap!

Boba 3G chest strap
Ergo/Boba 2G chest strap

I used to get frustrated with how hard it was to move the chest strap higher and lower on the Boba 2G.  Now I realize that it was a good thing.  The chest strap on the Boba 3G slides so smoothly and easily that it doesn't stay where you put it.  This isn't as big of a deal when you're wearing your little one on your back, because when the chest strap is in front, it's relatively easy to keep pushing it back down.  However, when you're wearing your baby on your front, it's not quite as easy to keep pushing the clip down in back of you. 

I would start out with the clip positioned between my shoulder blades and within minutes of wearing Emi on my front, the clip would have shifted up to the top of my neck.  Not only was this painful on my neck, having the chest clip up so high made my baby hang too far from my body, and that would cause extra strain and pain between my shoulder blades.  It also seemed to make the straps rub against the back of my arms.  I'm not sure if that was because the padding on straps is shorter on the 3G or if it's because the chest trap being positioned at the top of the neck causes the straps to pull forward more.  (Unfortunately, I sold my 2Gs before I got the 3G, so I couldn't get a picture comparing the length of the padding on the straps.)  Anyway, because of this, I couldn't handle wearing my baby on my front for more than 20 - 30 minutes.

I contacted Boba, thinking maybe I had a defective carrier, and they kindly sent me another.  (They really are a fabulous company!)  But unfortunately I had the same problem with that one.  I've had a couple of readers contact me to let me know they've had the same issues with their 3G's, so I'm pretty sure I'm not just being overly particular.

Anyway I'm super bummed, but I can't recommend the Boba 3G.  I love the Boba company and I think they make the most comfortable baby wraps I've ever worn.  And honestly, the Boba 2G is the most comfortable soft-structured carrier I've ever worn.  I'm now using an Ergo though.  While it's not as comfortable as the Boba 2G, it is more comfy than the Boba 3G (and I have to admit, I LOVE the big pocket it has on the back!)  Hopefully, Boba will come out with a 4G soon that will rectify the chest strap slippage problem... if they do, I'll be first in line to buy one!  

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Weaning Process

I had planned to write this for the Natural Parents Network World Breastfeeding Week Blog Hop.  But then I realized that World Breastfeeding Week ended yesterday.  (I can't keep my days straight, since becoming a stay at home mom!)  Oh well!  I figure this is still worth sharing...

I mentioned in my last post that my almost-four-year-old has been talking about weaning, so I thought I'd write a little more about my experience with the weaning process thus far (keeping in mind that it hasn't actually happened yet!)

When I was pregnant with little Gigi, I had a goal of nursing her until she was two. I had read that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended breastfeeding for AT LEAST 12 months, and as long as it was mutually desireable by mother and child, and that the World Health Organization recommended breastfeeding for two years and beyond. I had envisioned her weaning somewhere around the age of two, and definitely before three. I personally knew a couple of people who had nursed past two, but no one who had nursed past 3 (although I had heard that Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods nursed till four). Anyway, needless to say, I never thought I'd be nursing an almost-four-year-old.

Up until the time I got pregnant with Emi Lou (right around Gigi's second birthday), I hadn't really ever put any limits on nursing with Gigi.  It was usually really relaxing for me, and I loved the closeness and the cuddle time. During my second trimester though, my milk dried up, which made it kind of painful to nurse. That was when I had to finally start setting some limits with nursing, and I suppose that is when the journey towards weaning began.

I think it's important to keep in mind, for those of us who firmly believe in child-led weaning, that the mother's feelings matter too. The nursing relationship needs to be MUTUALLY desireable and enjoyable, and if the mother is starting to feel resentful of the nursing relationship, then something needs to change.

While I was pregnant and struggling to set nursing limits in a kind and loving way, I was reading Adventures in Tandem Nursing by Hilary Flower. The book was a god-send! It was full of ideas on limit-setting, such as nursing only in certain special spots, or nursing for the duration of a short song (like the ABC song) or while you count. Gigi doesn't like it when I count, but prefers a time limit like "only for three minutes" or "one more minute".

I'm not gonna lie... there were some tears when we first started setting limits. She didn't like being told to stop nursing. She had always nursed whenever she wanted, for as long as she wanted. But we talked about how it hurt me sometimes and sometimes I needed a break, and eventually we had fewer and fewer tears.  Now she's so used to me giving her the one-minute warning that if I don't give her the warning before she's feeling done, she'll say, "Hey mom, aren't you gonna tell me one more minute?"

After Emi Lou was born, we had to set more limits. Most of the time, I was able to nurse them simultaneously and everything was great, but Emi sometimes struggled with nursing and needed my undivided attention. She has also always been highly distractable, so there were some times when I would need Gigi to leave the room. That was really hard, and I tried to minimize those instances, since I knew that adjusting to life with a new sibling is such a challenge for little ones and I didn't want Gigi to feel left out or to resent her sister. But the bottom line was that Emi Lou's nursing needs came first.

Gradually, over the past year Gigi has come to nurse less and less. We've learned new ways to comfort her and to put her to sleep. (I usually let her nurse for a couple minutes and then we just cuddle till she falls asleep.) She has also more or less night weaned. Thanks to the beautiful book Nursies when the Sun Shines, she has learned that once we go to sleep, she doesn't nurse again until the sunshines. I thought that would be a hard one, considering the "nursies" are available to Emi all thru the night, but Gigi actually never seemed to notice.

So now we're at a point when Gigi nurses just two or three times a day most days, and usually not for more than 15 minutes total. I feel like she's well on her way to weaning, though I'm not sure it will happen by her birthday. I'm sure it will happen soon enough though, and when it does it will definitely be bittersweet. It's so fun to watch her grow up, but part of me wishes I could keep her my cuddly baby forever!

Reflecting back over the years of our nursing relationship, the weaning process and timeline haven't exactly happened as I had anticipated, but that's ok.  I continually remind myself that every weaning is unique.  Nursing has been an entirely different experience with Emi Lou and I'm sure weaning will as well.  I got this wonderful handout at a La Leche League meeting in Katy, Texas, and I really hope it's ok that I'm sharing it.  (I've contacted the LLL leader who I got it from to find out if she wrote it or if it's an official La Leche League publication, so that I can give appropriate credit.)  It has a lot of great tips and reminders about extended nursing and weaning, and I found it very useful...

For now, we're just doing what is working for us, and I'm happy that I'm seeing gradual progress towards weaning.  People often ask me what I'll do if she still wants to keep nursing at six or eight... quite honestly, I don't know.  As I mentioned earlier, I never thought I'd be nursing an almost-four-year-old but here I am!  I'm going to continue to be in tune with how I feel and to talk to Gigi about she feels, and hopefully she'll be ready to say good-bye to her nursies soon.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Tandem nursing my growing girls

You may or may not have noticed that I haven't posted a tandem nursing update during the past year.  I guess that's because the experience has been relatively uneventful.  But considering that my post on How tandem nursing saves my sanity! is the second highest-traffic generator on my blog, I figure it must be something people are interested in, and deserves an update! 

As I mentioned in my post yesterday, one of the goals of World Breastfeeding Week this year is to  is to "plan what more can be done to support all women to be able to optimally feed and care for of their infants and young children."  I believe that tandem nursing is something that definitely can help moms to feed and care for their infants and young children, especially if they are close in age.

Now before I go any further, I should mention that I know tandem nursing is not for everyone.  I can understand why some women might feel touched out, or tied down at the thought of nursing more than one child.  For some mothers, it is physically more than they can bear or something they just flat aren't interested in.  And that's ok.  I don't think that nursing more than one child at a time makes you a better mother.  (Remember, breastfeeding is not a contest!)  For me, nursing two children just seemed a lot less stressful than weaning my first daughter before she was ready. 

It seems that often times mothers become pregnant before their nursling is physically or emotionally ready to wean.  (Can you imagine having four children under the age of four, all of whom were still nursing?!)  Continuing to nurse thru pregnancy and beyond is considered safe for most women, and can be rewarding for both mother and the nurslings.   Simultaneous tandem nursing allows mom to rest and relax while nourishing and cuddling her little ones.  (My favorite perk!)  Being allowed to continue nursing often helps older siblings feel less jealous and more accepting of the younger sibling. 

We're now going on 14 months strong (closer to two years, if you count the time I was pregnant) in our tandem nursing journey and it has been a wonderful, beautiful experience.  I love those moments when I have both of my girls curled up in my arms, nursing to sleep, and the times when they playfully "fight" over which side is theirs, covering it up, and then falling over giggling.

Of course, there have been times when I have had to limit Gigi's nursing, whether because her sister is getting distracted (wanting to play), or because my milk supply is low, or because I'm just too "touched out".  Sometimes there have been tears of protest and rejection, but I feel fortunate that, for the most part, Gigi has been very understanding and cooperative.

I'm starting to feel ready for her to wean now. I'm glad that she's at an age (she'll be four in October) that we can talk about weaning and she understands. She's been taking baby steps towards weaning over the past year, and says she's going to be done when she's four... I hope she is, but we'll see! Until then, I'm just trying to cherish sweet moments like these...

Photo Credit: Timbra/Landslide Photography

celebrate world breastfeeding week on npn

I’m celebrating World Breastfeeding Week with Natural Parents Network!
You can, too — link up your breastfeeding posts from August 1-7 in the linky below, and enjoy reading, commenting on, and sharing the posts collected here and on Natural Parents Network.

(Visit NPN for the code to place on your blog.)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Big Latch On 2012... events held on Friday AND Saturday this year!

The Big Latch On is bigger and better than ever this year, with events being held on Friday and Saturday! This is a great opportunity to support and promote breastfeeding in your community.  Find your nearest BLO location here and join with moms from 23 different countries in an effort to break a world record for the most moms simultaneously breastfeeding!

Wordless Wednesday: What a breastfeeding 3 year-old REALLY looks like!!

In case you hadn't heard, World Breastfeeding Week starts today!  One of the goals of World Breastfeeding Week this year is to "plan what more can be done to support all women to be able to optimally feed and care for of their infants and young children." 

I believe one of the most important things that can be done to support women to be able to successfully breastfeed is to let people see it!  The world got an eye-full, with the notorious TIME cover story a couple of months ago, but I wanted to share what nursing a 3 year old looks like in our house...

Photo Credit: Timbra/Landslide Photography

I had hoped to have more photos for today's Wordless Wednesday post, but there was a bit of a mix up regarding the images I ordered and we've been total slackers in the photo-taking department over the past 5 months or so (we moved cross country twice in a 4 mo. period!), so this "Wordless" Wednesday post has more words than images :)  I hope to have some new tandem nursing photos to share next week though!

celebrate world breastfeeding week on npn

I’m celebrating World Breastfeeding Week with Natural Parents Network!
You can, too — link up your breastfeeding posts from August 1-7 in the linky below, and enjoy reading, commenting on, and sharing the posts collected here and on Natural Parents Network.

(Visit NPN for the code to place on your blog.)

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Top 8 Reasons I Couldn't Have Survived This Week Without My Boba

Inspired by some Q & A on my personal facebook page in response to the photo I posted of Ergos at Costco for just $79.99, I decided I had to make this list of the top 8 reasons I couldn't have survived the past week (or past few months, for that matter) without my Boba! (I wanted to post 10 reasons, and I probably could have, but it's late and I just want to post this and go to bed, so 8 will have to do :)

And a quick side note for those who may be confused by reference to Ergos and Bobas... they're very similar carriers... both are super supportive, soft-structured carriers (SSC's) that are far superior to the popular Baby Bjorns, but that's another topic for another day!

So without further ado, here's my top 8 reasons I love couldn't live without my SSC...

8.  When Marco met us at Costco yesterday and Emi (our little daddy's girl) wanted him to hold her while he was shopping for a new remote, he was able to wear her and have his hands free to tinker with gadgets.  (Soft-structured carriers, also known as buckle carriers, are very dad friendly... just snap two buckles, and you're done!)

7.  When Gigi (who will be 4 in October) needed some extra special love and attention, I was able to wear her and give her lots of cuddles and kisses, while still getting a little housework done. (The max weight on the Boba is 45 lbs, so Gigi should be able to fit in it for another year or two!)

6.  Riding on my back in the baby carrier is one of two ways we can get the-child-who-hates-to-nap (a.k.a. Emi Lou) to sleep.  Never fails.  I think that's how I got her down for 5 of her 7 naps this past week.  (With a little practice, it's super quick and easy to get your toddler on your back in a SSC, and it's much more comfortable and less bulky than a hiking-type backpack carrier!)

5.  When the-child-who-hates-to-nap fell asleep in her carseat (the second way we're able to get her to sleep) right as we were getting to Target, she was able to finish her nap laying on my chest in the baby carrier while I did all my shopping.  (And I don't need any comments from the sleep-training-peanut-gallery on how it's not good to teach your baby to fall asleep using movement.  This works for us and we're all well rested and happy :)  I'm confident she'll learn to fall asleep on her own in her own time!)

4.  Emi loves to see what I'm doing when I cook.  We're still eating out of the freezer a couple times a week, as we finish getting unpacked and settled, but when I did cook, Emi was in the Boba on my back.

3.  I was able to get a great workout, even though my weights were still packed in a box somewhere, by wearing Emi while we went on our walk and while I did squats and lunges at the park.

2.  I had a lot of errands to run this week and I was able to nurse Emi anytime, anywhere, hands-free, discreetly and on the go in the Boba!

1.  I sure love my sweet little Emi Lou, but boy-howdy does that curious little child LOVE to get into things!  For her own safety (and my sanity) she spent most of the time I was unpacking in the Boba on my back.

So there you have it folks!  I truly can't imagine how I'd survive this phase of toddlerhood without a soft-structured baby carrier.  I use it every day. All the time.  I still love my wraps, but I've discovered I like those best for the first 6 months or so.  Once your baby is older and sturdier and wiggly-er, SSC's are the way to go!

Now run to Costco and pick yourself up an Ergo!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: HOMEMADE Milk & Cookies!

My daughter Gigi has always been quite a cookie monster.  (Like mother, like daughter, I suppose!)  Anyway, when she was about 18 months old, she helped me bake some cookies.

Afterwards, she decided  to enjoy some milk with her cookies.
(This photo was originally posted here.)

Now I'm really glad my hubby captured that photo op, because a week or so ago a South Korean Oreo ad became really popular and I couldn't help but think it looked a bit like the picture of my baby enjoying her cookies and milk :)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Trust your children!

I've realized that nothing teaches you how little you know about parenting like having another child. 

Here are my darling daughters... notice they look nothing alike.  And their personalities are as different as their looks.  Gigi takes a bit to warm up to people, while Emi Lou crawls out of my arms to be held by strangers.  Emi Lou is a party animal who is perfectly happy running on less sleep than me, while Gigi would stay in bed with me all day cuddling and sleeping if I wanted to.

I pretty much thought I had parenting figured out with Gigi.  We had a few challenges, but for the most part, Gigi made becoming a mommy feel easier than I had ever dreamed.  But then little Emi Lou came along and none of my tricks worked!  The baby wrap and the boob were the sure-fire solutions to everything with Gigi.  With Emi Lou, the boob mostly seemed to frustrate her and she always tried to wiggle and squirm out of the baby wrap.

Now, lest you get the wrong impression, I'm not trying to say Gigi is "easy" and Emi is "difficult".  (That's actually kind of the opposite of my message!)  I noticed right away that Emi was actually easier in certain ways and a bit more challenging in others.  I used to sometimes wonder if I was doing something wrong when Gigi would burst into tears if my dad would try to talk to her or when my sister would try to hold her, but I was reassured when my social butterfly, Emi, took to everyone she met. (And Gigi has become much more friendly and outgoing as she's gotten older, even though she's still a bit timid around people she doesn't know.)

I think that one of the most important parenting lessons I've learned is to trust my children:  trust them to tell me who they are and what they need, and trust that they will learn and grow at their own pace, and both eventually learn to walk, talk, read, etc.  I know it's hard as parents (and as humans!) to fight that urge to compare our children/ourselves to others.  I find there's a fine line between observing differences in two people/children and comparing them.  Of course we will notices differences between our children and others, and between ourselves and others... it's human nature. 

An example of the differences between my husband and I :)

But when we start "comparing" our children and wondering why our kid isn't walking or talking as well as his friend who's the same age, I know it can put undue stress on ourselves and our children. 

I have a good friend who's daughter was nearly 2 before she started walking.  I know many parents start to panic if their kid isn't walking by 12 months, but this lucky little girl had a mama who knew her... her mama knew that she was extremely cautious, and that even though she had the ability to walk on her own, she wasn't going to do it until she was totally confident and comfortable walking. 

I'm honestly not sure I would have been able to trust my child that long.  Even though I knew that Gigi was a bit timid and had more intense separation/stranger anxiety than other babies I knew, there were times I didn't trust that she would outgrow it. I was so embarrassed when she had a melt down at my brother's wedding as he tried to hold her for a picture (along with her cousins who were the same age, who sat happily on his lap).  I was so frustrated when I couldn't even leave Gigi with her dad while I ran an errand without some serious waterworks.  So I tried to force separation on her for a few weeks, until I noticed how badly it was backfiring.  She became more clingy and anxious, and it wasn't until started trusting her again that she started to come around. (Plug here for The No-Cry Separation Anxiety Solution ... this book changed our lives!)

So I'm continuously striving to trust my children more and to compare them less.  And hopefully someday I'll get this parenting thing figured out for reals :)

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Please like me!

So I jumped on the bandwagon and created a Facebook fan page.  Apparently, once I have 30 fans, some super secret info will be revealed to me, so if you feel inclined go "like" my page. (You can also click on the "like" button in the little box on the blog to become a fan.)  TIA for your support!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Breastfeeding: it's not a contest folks :)

We recently moved, and last night I attended my first La Leche League meeting in our new town.  There were a lot of sweet moms there... some with older babies and toddlers, some with newborns, and some getting ready to welcome their first child. 

The thing I love about La Leche League is that it is a place of support.  At times I am there because I need support, and other times I am there to offer support to other mothers.  According to the La Leche League Purpose and Philosophy, "La Leche League was founded to give information and encouragement... to all mothers who want to breastfeed their babies."  Unfortunately, many new mothers don't have the support they need, and they are confused by the conflicting information and misinformation they are given.  Mothers are often told by hospital staff shortly after their baby's birth that their baby needs a bottle to help with low blood sugar levels (when colostrum is actually all the baby needs).  New moms are told "breast is best" and then sent home from the hospital with formula.  It's no wonder so many moms have difficulty breastfeeding!

A couple of the moms at the meeting last night had a hard time getting breastfeeding off to a successful start and were supplementing with formula.  I talked to one of these moms after the meeting and she made a comment along the lines of "Here I am at a La Leche League meeting, feeding my baby a bottle!"  My heart just broke for her!  I was so impressed that she would be there seeking support, and I was so sad that she would feel any sort of guilt or shame.  I commented that any breastmilk her baby got was better than none at all!

As I was leaving, I recalled an article I read by Diane Wiessinger, MS, IBCLC in which she writes about the benefits your baby receives if you nurse your baby for a few days, or a few weeks, or a few months, or a few years.  (You can read the full article here.)  Basically, your baby receives benefits from ANY breastmilk he or she drinks.  Breastfeeding doesn't have to be an all or nothing game, and it's not a contest. 

Sometimes I worry that because I'm still nursing my 41 month old (yeah, that's over 3 years old folks) while also nursing my 10 month old, people think I'm trying to win the title of Breastfeeding Queen or something.  Or that I think everyone should tandem nurse until their children choose to wean. 

Photo credit breastfeeding.com

My choices regarding breastfeeding are personal ones. They are the choices I feel are best for ME and MY girls. But I don't look down on anyone who chooses to nurse for a shorter period of time or is unable to breastfeed at all.

Breastfeeding is obviously something I feel strongly about.  I try to inform, support, and encourage all moms who wish to breastfeed, and try really hard not to offend anyone in the process.  If you're an expectant mom or a mom who's facing some breastfeeding challenges, I highly recommend you contact a lactation consultant or attend a free La Leche League meeting near you.  (Click here to find a La Leche League group near you.)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

New & Improved Boba Baby/Toddler Carrier!

**UPDATE**  I've sold my Boba 2G's and don't recommend the Boba 3G. (Read why here)  I would suggest buying a Boba 2G (they still have some new ones on amazon, or you could always try craigslist or ebay) or an Ergo, rather than a Boba 3G.

I've had quite a few people approach me recently about my Boba baby carrier, and since Boba recently released the 3G, I figured it might be time for another little post about why I love my Boba!

First, in case you missed it, check out my review and comparison of the Boba 2G vs. the Ergo.  The Cliff Notes version is this:  both are great carriers, but they're shaped a little differently.  They both will fit babies from 15 lbs (7 lbs with an Ergo insert and with the Boba 3G) to 45 lbs.  I find the Boba the most comfortable, but I would suggest you try on both if you can to see which fits you and your little one best.  I can comfortably wear my 30 lb, 3 year old on my front or back in this carrier, and have been wearing my baby in it since she was about 3 months old.  In fact, this carrier is so comfortable and supportive that I once wore my 3 month old on my front in a stretchy wrap and my 3 year old on my back in the Boba 2G while dancing in a flash mob!(You can watch the video here.)

At the end of October, Boba released its 3G carrier and it has some awesome new features.  One of the coolest new features is the ability for the Boba to adjust to fit a newborn (7lbs or bigger)!  With the Ergo, you have to buy an infant insert to make it safe for use with babies under 15 lbs.  Personally, I think the most comfortable type of carrier for mom and newborn is a stretchy wrap, but I know some people can't get the hang of wraps, so this would be a great alternative.  I only used baby wraps with my first, but I'm so glad I got a Boba... my hubby (like most men I know) couldn't be bothered with a wrap, but he LOVES our Boba!

Some of the other cool features include strap holders for any shoulder bags, THREE zipper pockets, and new & improved foot-straps.  (The Boba 2G also has footstraps, but they were made of velcro instead of snaps.)

The only feature missing from the Boba that some other carriers have is the ability to carry your baby in a hip-carry or forward-facing position.  While I personally don't find a hip carry to be very comfortable for very long, I know some people love it.  The Ergo does allow for a hip carry and the Beco Gemini allows for both forward-facing and hip carries.  It should be noted that some babywearing advocates caution against forward-facing positions

No matter which type of carrier you choose, the important thing is that you WEAR YOUR BABY!  Not only does it help you to have your hands free and keep your baby content, I think the greatest benefit is how it helps you to bond with your baby!

If you want a high-quality, versatile baby/toddler carrier, I definitely recommend the Boba.  I can't wait to get my hands on one of the new 3G carriers, but first I need to sell both my 2G's. So if you want a gently-used Boba in good condition, I have the grey carrier pictured above and also the brown one pictured below.

Sorry, it's not the best pic of the carrier,
but it's the only one I could quickly find!
I've used the grey one for about a year and the brown one for about 6 months.  Also, the brown one is organic.  If you're interested, make me an offer!  But if you'd rather buy a new 3G, I won't blame ya ;o)


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