slings and arrows: safe babywearing

Baby slings are getting a lot of press and sadly, the coverage is worrying parents unnecessarily.  Here is an excerpt from an AP article that ran March 13:
Those chic baby slings that many parents are sporting these days can be dangerous, even deadly, the government warned yesterday.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission said it has investigated at least 13 deaths associated with sling-style infant carriers over the last 20 years, including three deaths last year. One other case involving a fatality is still being investigated. Twelve of the deaths involved babies younger than four months, the agency said.

The commission is advising parents and caregivers to be cautious when using infant slings for babies younger than four months.

It said that several of the babies who died in slings were either born prematurely or as a low-weight twin or had respiratory problems.
Of course, my heart goes out to the families who have lost babies.  I cannot imagine anything worse than burying a child, and I do not want to minimize those parents' grief in any way.  Infant death is always an unimaginably tragedy.  In the reporting, however, one important message is obscured:  

1. There are hundreds of types of safe baby carriers.  
2. Babywearing has been practiced globally for thousands of years.
3. It is a safe and beneficial for babies (and parents!) when practiced properly.

Most babies love to be held or carried.  That isn't feasible around the clock, but a babe needn't spend hour after hour in a bouncer, swing, car seat, stroller, exersaucer, crib, pack 'n play, or play gym.  (Seriously, how many of these gadgets do we need cluttering up our lives?)

Slings let babies rest snugly on mama (or daddy's) chest, hear her heartbeat and feel secure while the wearer has hands free.  Those first three months of a baby's life are likened to a "fourth trimester," and it is an especially good time to wear a baby, despite the CPSC's warnings.  Similar to swaddling, slings replicate a cozy womb feeling, which is comforting to newborns.   

Babywearing can encourage infant sleep and discourage crying, so it is a fantastic practice for new mamas to learn in those harried early weeks.

Of course, we must remain attentive to our babies.  I usually keep one hand on my baby's back or bottom, just in case.  A child could fall if not worn properly, so it is crucial to get comfortable with the carrier first.  Most carriers come with videos or picture instructions and must be followed carefully.  Follow your instincts, ask questions, get help and never use a carrier until it feels safe and right.  Once the wearer gets the hang of the learning curve, wearing a baby safely becomes second nature.

When Dylan was about three months, we started using a ring sling.  I rarely needed a stroller or had to lug around a heavy infant car seat.  I wore James from day one and had two year-old Dylan in it yesterday at the grocery store.  I don't think I could leave the house most days with both kids without my sling.  Wearing a baby in a sling is a fantastic way to simplify, be close to your baby and get practical things done at the same time.

The actual concern, for both the CPSC and babywearing community, is the Infantino brand "Slingrider" that four-week-old Dylan is pictured in here.  [The CPSC issued a recall on March 24.]  Even though it was never a favorite of mine, we did use one when Dylan was little, because it was what we had and we didn't know anything else. 

The concerns raised about the Slingrider are unique to its flawed design: a baby should be worn high enough to kiss, but in a Slingrider a child is much lower.  Too much fabric and awkward body positioning can interfere with infant breathing.

The Infantino Slingrider "bag sling" is completely different from ring slings, pouch slings and myriad other safe carriers.

If you have an Infantino Slingrider, you are eligible for a free replacement Infantino Wrap and Tie.  It can be worn as a frontpack or backpack. 

More babywearing info/love:
The Benefits of Babywearing
Great Things About Babywearing

Linked up with Steph at Adventures in Babywearing and Hyacynth at Undercover Mother.

Do you/have you worn your babies?
Have you encountered comments in the wake of this recall?  What is your favorite kind of baby carrier?  What do you like best about babywearing?


easter is coming!

dylan has been really excited about easter this year.  she was too little to remember it last year, and she doesn't know anything about easter baskets or egg hunts, so i wasn't quite sure what is was she was so looking forward to.

we did have her try on easter dresses from the closet, but she's not a kid who gets especially amped about twirly dresses, so i didn't think that was it.

we've been talking to her about jesus and how he came back to life on easter, and although we're pretty excited about that, it's not exactly a concept that elicits squeals from your typical two-year-old.

tonight we finally realized why she is so excited:  dylan thinks easter is a person.

"easter is coming!  he comes here!  i share my toys!"

i hope our little social butterfly doesn't find the resurrection of our Lord to be anticlimactic...

photo: eraphernalia vintage


Thy grace can do it

read this wonderful meditation from charles spurgeon over at my friend lauren's.  it's a goodie.

church today was so good:  focused on the passion, cross, and sacrifice of Christ.  the scriptures and songs were somber and reflective, not like those "triumphal entry" palm sunday services that ring so hollow in my spirit.

i always think of that beautiful song, "star of the morning":
People shouted, "Here comes the King!"
As You marched down the road to Jerusalem
There were tears in Your eyes,
The same ones who cheered, yelled, "Crucify!"
the scene is ironic.  jesus is a king, for sure, but not the one the crowd is looking for.  he rides a donkey, not a chariot or stallion.  of course, their cheers ring false, when we know what comes next.

we cannot celebrate the joy and victory of easter before acknowledging the passion of Christ.

i cannot celebrate easter before humbling myself and repenting.  it was my sin that held jesus to the cross that day at golgotha.
Come, ye sinners, poor and needy,
Weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus ready stands to save you,
Full of pity, love and power.

Come, ye thirsty, come, and welcome,
God’s free bounty glorify;
True belief and true repentance,
Every grace that brings you nigh.

Come, ye weary, heavy laden,
Lost and ruined by the fall;
If you tarry till you’re better,
You will never come at all.
I will arise and go to Jesus,
He will embrace me in His arms;
In the arms of my dear Savior,
O there are ten thousand charms.


heart melter

dylan:  let's read a library book.

me:  daddy took you to the library?

d:  yeah!

m:  he's a good daddy.

d:  you're a good mommy, mommy.

oh.  my.  goodness.  i want to remember that conversation forever, especially during those pull-my-hair-out moments of absolute parental frustration.

dylan has been a little, shall we say, difficult for a while now.  we've been cooped up indoors for months, her little brother has been occupying my hands and time, and she's 2:  it's not exactly a recipe for perfect toddler behavior.

dylan and jim had a wonderful time together while james and i were away.  undivided attention from her daddy and lots of time outside in the garden have have been transformational:  suddenly our sweet baby girl is back!  we've had a perfectly lovely few days, full of giggles, cuddles, kisses, compliance, good eating, and family time.  what a blessing.



in the week since i've written anything here, i celebrated turning 30, spent a wonderful weekend with family who drove out from philly, and traveled back east to spend some much-needed sister time.

i can't even begin to express how good it was to be with tiffany and bethany.  tiff now has two chemo treatments under her (tiny) belt, and even though it is an unimaginable nightmare, she is so strong.  strong and beautiful: the woman can rock a boho head scarf like nobody's business:)

we're doing the race for the cure on may 9, and the team is called breastfix at tiffany's.  my goal was to raise $800, and due to the incredible generosity of friends and family, i've already met my goal, above and beyond!  if anyone is still inclined to give, would you please donate to tiffany, who is walking, too?  check out her pledge page here.

in the midst of so many more important things, stressing about entering my thirties wasn't really on my radar.  while 30 certainly sounds a lot older than 29, working with high school and college students has made me aware of the increasing age gap for a while now.  plus, i've got two kids:  the illusion of my eternal youth has been fading for quite some time;)

i should be embarassed to admit this, but i've been watching mtv's the real world on demand. (seriously, why?)  the last time i watched i think i was in high school; it was the london season, and the cast members seemed grown up.  (the oldest was maybe 22.)  now it's a whole cast of straight up babies who haven't entered the workforce.  they are children to me.

my sister bethany went out for a drink while she was here.  bethany is just 24, and while she was carded, i was not.  but really, who cares?  i'm all for letting go of the insecurity of my twenties.  let's hear it for wisdom and womanhood, quiet confidence, and maybe even homeownership.

...but not in the suburbs;)

photo:  love is dope


all-natural, convenient monstrosity

going through the coupons this week, i found three head-scratching ads:

"LAND O LAKES® All-Natural Farm Fresh Eggs are produced by hens fed a premium vegetarian, whole grain diet..."

sounds great, right?  whole grains! in the U.S., most chickens eat feed made of corn and soybeans.  pastured chickens, on the other hand, eat grasses, insects, etc.  when chickens (or cows) live indoors and eat a diet of cheap corn and soy, they aren't as healthy or nutritious for the consumer.  the whole grain thing is a total red herring.

the phrase "all-natural," though appealing, is unregulated and completely meaningless.  while i was looking for a picture, i found a blog where the writer said after boiling land o lakes eggs, the brown color wiped right off.

that doesn't sound natural to me.

at the grocery store yesterday, i noticed the phrase "all-natural" on a lot of meats.  one package of chicken thighs claimed to be "all-natural and hormone-free*".  the asterisk then explained that in the U.S., it is illegal to give homones to poultry.

they might as well be bragging, "we didn't give 'em anything illegal!"

navigating the health-washing is enough to drive a person crazy.

the next ad that got me going was touting this new product:

disposable hand towels.  like paper towels, but more expensive.  because we really need to be throwing more things away, and washing hand towels is such a drag.

it's so weird how opposite things can be trendy at the same time.  more and more people are reusing water bottles, lunch boxes, and grocery bags, and we're yet we're aggressively marketed disposable crock pot liners, hand towels, and swiffers.

does using disposable products really save that much time?  it sounds unnecessary, expensive, and wasteful to me.

this last ad intriged me:
the giant tomato tree!  "A super-growing tree that z-o-o-m-s high as a man IN JUST 3 MONTHS!"  it promised yields of over 60 lbs.

now, i love me some fat, juicy, tomatoes, and for a minute there, they had me going.  i may be a newbie gardener, but i know one thing:  tomatoes do not grow on trees.

not only did this ad smack of fantasy (um, it's a cartoon), but it's also likely a GMO--genetically modified organism.  

tasty, perhaps, but i think i'll pass.

(photos:  eggs, towels, tomato monster)


an open letter to glenn beck

(tony auth, philadelphia inquirer, 3.14.10)

dear mr. beck,

have you ever read the bible?  from cover to cover, scripture reveals the overwhelming concern of God for the poor, oppressed, marginalized, hungry, and vulnerable.  warnings aimed at the wealthy and those who benefit from exploitation also feature prominently.

jesus himself couldn't be clearer:  he said that the legitimacy of our faith will be judged by how we treat those whom he called the "least of these."  he began his public ministry preaching from a well-known messianic passage in isaiah and claimed that his coming fulfilled it:

"The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor" (Luke 4:18-20).

any gospel that is not good news to the poor and oppressed is not the christian gospel.  if you are not hearing that message from the pulpit and seeing it lived out among your congregation, perhaps it is you who should look for another church.

justice isn't about communism, nazism, or class warfare.  pretending that we deserve every luxury and privilege that we enjoy and that everyone who doesn't have those things is lazy or otherwise undeserving does not make it so.

our systems, society, communities, and culture are as broken as the sinful individuals who form them, and social and economic justice are about righting wrongs, identifying persistent inequalities, and working for change.  charity alone is not the biblical mandate in the face of injustice.

i don't expect all people or chrisitians to agree on solutions or the roles that individuals, churches, and government should have, but can't we agree that seeking justice is a good thing?

while we're at it, can't we also agree that the nazis were known not so much for their concern for justice for the oppressed than they were for persecution, mass murder, and genocide?

mmkay.  glad we could clear that up.


"Shout it aloud, do not hold back.
Raise your voice like a trumpet.
Declare to my people their rebellion
and to the house of Jacob their sins.

For day after day they seek me out;
they seem eager to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that does what is right
and has not forsaken the commands of its God.
They ask me for just decisions
and seem eager for God to come near them.

'Why have we fasted,' they say,
'and you have not seen it?
Why have we humbled ourselves,
and you have not noticed?'

"Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please
and exploit all your workers.
Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,
and in striking each other with wicked fists.
You cannot fast as you do today
and expect your voice to be heard on high.

Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
only a day for a man to humble himself?
Is it only for bowing one's head like a reed
and for lying on sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
a day acceptable to the LORD ?

"Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe him,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.

"If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.

The LORD will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.

Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.
(Isaiah 58:1-12)


here a baah, there a baah

back in september, while we were on vacation, we visited a winery.  we saw in their pictures that they had sheep on site and asked if we could show dylan.

yes, we took our toddler to a winery.  also it was ten AM, and i was eight months pregnant.  none of that is point of this story.

dylan was still kind of bite-size back then.  see, no hair.  do you like how jim basically managed to crop me out of this picture?

anyway, the sheep were housed in a picturesque stone structure that was easily one hundred years old.  despite the quaint digs, they were the dirtiest sheep you have ever laid eyes on.  their shaggy wool was filthy and gray, and their hay was exceptionally grungey.  they were bedded down when we got there, but then all ten or so of them got up at once and took turns peeing all over everything.

they peed like pint-sized race horses.

they peed in tandem.

they peed on their stone wall.

they peed on each other.

they peed on any romantic notion we had about a bucolic excursion with our toddler.

it was like nothing any of us had ever seen.  we stood there kind of awestruck, not knowing quite what to do or say.

apparently, it left quite an impression on dylan, because to this day she still brings it up.

we got this creepy/awesome book out of the library where all these figures are constructed out of vegetables.  we got to the number 10 page and started to count the sheep, like we'd counted the other figures.

dylan was a little too excited to count.

"sheep peeing!  sheep go potty!"

yes, baby, ten sheep go potty.  yes they did.

(photo:  saxton freymann)


the book thief

The Book Thiefpenny's book circle kicked off year two in february, and i'm already behind.  i requested february's book at the library ages ago, and it's still not in, but i'm not in a place to judge.  i just finished january's the book thief by markus zusak, and not only is it overdue, i couldn't renew it because someone else requested it.

glass houses, stones, what-have-you.

anyhow, the book thief:  good!  i highly recommend it.

a summary, care of the narrator, Death:
It's just a small story, really, about, among other things:
* A girl
* Some words
* An accordionist
* Some fanatical Germans
* A Jewish fist fighter
* And quite a lot of thievery.
the story takes place during world war II.  yes, it is narrated by Death, often quite poetically.  the book thief is an impoverished foster child, and her story is a tale of heartbreak and the gruesomeness of war, but also of much humanity, kindness, and love for the written word.

you should read it.

i should go to library and take it back.



i love waterparks.  love.  i used to take students when i did youth ministry, and the summer we moved here i was deeply disappointed because i'd planned to get a season pass to sandcastle and water slide to my little heart's content.

alas, it was not to be.

i hadn't ridden a water slide in ages, but this weekend, we met up with jim's family for a sweet awesome time at an indoor waterpark in cincinnati.

what a way to spend a snowy late-winter weekend!

it was the halfway point between here and nashville, where jim's parents and sister's family live.  they had a baby soon after we had james, and though grammy and poppy were here for the birth and at christmas, we hadn't all been together or met each other's newest additions.

much fun was had.  the great wolf lodge was huge.  it had tons of slides and pools, a lazy river, wave pool, and even slides that dylan could ride.  i'd show you pictures but i dropped my camera in the pool.


other than that, it was a fantastic weekend. good time with extended family, invaluable one-on-one time with dylan, a much-needed break from the winter blahs, and super-fun waterslides.

the best:)


God who sees

 in life together, dietrich bonhoeffer argues that there is a critical connection between solitude and community:

"let him who cannot be alone beware of community."

there is a lovely meditation over at holy experience that explores this idea too, and further questions the way we seek validation from others that we can only truly receive in being known by God.

let me remember to be still and find contentment in you, El Roi, the God Who Sees (Genesis 16:13).  the God who knows (and still loves!) even me.

But I have stilled and quieted my soul;
like a weaned child with its mother,
like a weaned child is my soul within me (Ps 131:2).


the eco-nomical baby guide (and giveaway)

The Eco-nomical Baby Guide: Down-to-Earth Ways for Parents to Save Money and the Planetthe bloggers behind the green baby guide (joy hatch and rebecca kelley) just published their first book, the eco-nomical baby guide, and i was pleased to receive a copy for review.

this is not your average baby book.  its main purpose is to provide "down to earth ways for parents to save money and the planet."

as any new parent can attest, babies seem to require a lot of stuff.  expensive stuff.  stuff that's only used for a short time.

those perfect tiny baby feet can leave a staggering carbon footprint.

in the excitement of pregnancy, it can be easy to get carried along the consumerist current.  we all want our kids to have nice, safe things.

but must they always have new things?

this book is not a compilation of spendy, "green" must-haves.  after all, buying lots of stuff--even eco-friendly stuff--is not very green.  they challenge many of those items babies r us will tell you are necessities, and they provide plenty of ideas for finding deals on quality used baby gear.

they do offer listings of environmentally responsible companies offering things like organic mattresses, well-made toys, and cloth diapers in various price ranges, but the book leans more toward reuse, recycle, and DIY than "buy green."  they argue that saving money along the way may open up funds for a select few well-considered earth-friendly items for baby.

the authors compiled a wealth of great information on cloth diapers and disposables, including eco-friendlier brands, and it's a great place for moms to learn what kinds of options are out there and to unscramble the jargon.  after reading their suggestions, i've started using less water (and energy) to wash our diapers, and so far so good.

the chapter on baby food shows how the author saved hundreds making her own baby food--even using organic ingredients--and i know i'll be taking some of their advice with james before too long.

the eco-nomical baby guide is a great resource for any mom-to-be who is interested in simplicity and natural living--even just a little interested.  the authors aren't out scare you with toxins lurking around every corner or make a mama feel guilty.  it's helpful without being preachy, suggesting easy things anyone can do to protect the earth, provide for baby, and save money in the process.  what's not to love about that?

i'm giving away my copy to a lucky reader.  (US addresses only.)  just leave a comment telling me one change your family has made to take better care of the earth, with a way to get in touch.  want another entry?  follow my blog or subscribe, and leave another comment telling me you do.

you can also win copy of the book (and a bunch of other green baby goodies) over at the green baby guide.

good luck!  i'll choose a winner on monday march 8.

i received a book from the publishers but was not otherwise compensated for this review.


in like a lion

the snow drifts off of our deck are as high as my shoulders.  i basically have to wade through a snow canal to get to the car, and hoisting the carseat up over the drifts is getting a little ridiculous.  it's march.  you could lose a child in there!  (not that dylan seems to mind.)
in january, i bought cute winter boots with christmas money, and it's hard to believe that i was initially disappointed to be getting them so late in the season.  i worried i might not get good use out of them until next year. 

i've worn them every. single. day. 

except on those days i don't leave my house at all, (which, let's be honest, are about half).  on those days, i wear my ginormous, toasty down booties.  (looking up "down booties" on amazon yields lots of appropriate footwear options alongs with several less appropriate items...) 

Sierra Designs Classic Down Booties for Women - Cerulian Blue - Sthey are not attractive:  they resemble moon boots or cookie monster's giant feet.  down booties are made for wearing around a snowy base camp, but they are just as good for keeping warm in a drafty house.  i loved mine so much i may or may not have worn them out in public, too, while singing "c is for cookie."  i've worn them so much that i wore out the bottoms.

jim and i have an ongoing disagreement over which is worse: being hot or cold. he hates the heat so much he creates magnetic poetry like:

pray for a winter that is cold gray and dark


i only want cold ice today

those little gems appeared on our fridge IN JULY.

i say being cold is totally worse.  if i'm hot, i can always get wet and feel better, but when i'm cold, sometimes i just can't get warm, no matter how many layers or blankets i pile on.

even though i hate being cold, my crunchy self can't bear to turn up the heat.  down booties are my trick for keeping warm while keeping the thermostat low.  my booties, plus a warm blanket and a cup of tea is perfection:)

which do you think is worse, extreme heat or cold?  how do you like to stay warm on a wintry day?

this post is linked to works for me wednesday.  while you're here, check out my eco-nomical baby guide giveaway.
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