Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Baby Wearing: learning the ropes

When you start to wear your baby for the first time, you may have a lot of worries. What follows is a list of thoughts and ideas to help make your baby wearing experience better.

A good time to start trying is when your baby is sleepy.

Once you get your baby in the carrier, start moving. Take a walk.

If your baby doesn't like it, s/he will let you know it! They will start to squirm and cry. Your baby really doesn't mind being all squished up

Keep trying. Sometimes it takes a few tries before you and your baby get the hang of it.

Find an experienced baby wearer, and talk with them about their tricks. Watch and see how they do it. Try attending a local Baby Wearer meeting.

Check out the help from The Baby Wearer. They have wonderful resources to help you fix problems you may be having. They have step by step pictures, videos, and wonderful forums for you to ask questions on.

Have fun baby wearing!

Baby Wearing: what types of carriers?

I began "wearing" my babies almost ten years ago. The first carrier I ever tried was the OTSBH. I checked it out of a lending library that my lactation consultant had. I was in school at the time, and it became a life saver as I walked the two miles to school and sat in on my class with my newborn son. I soon purchased my own sling, but I choose a Mayawrap. The padding of the OTSBH made me sweat a little too much. My son was a big child, so having this sling was so helpful. There were not a lot of people around using baby carriers, so I stuck out quite a bit with my bright green and blue Maya, but there was no way I was going without it!

My Mayawrap got me through three babies, when I finally gave it to a good friend who had given birth to her fist child. During this time, as "new" baby carriers were being developed and marketed, I experimented with many of them. I can tie a baby on with most anything, and have often just used my coat in a pinch. My favorite carriers are the ones that are the least complicated, but versatile and comfortable. If you can only get one carrier choose between a ring sling or a structured carrier like an Ergo. I recommend that you have a few different types on hand, as you will use them for different things.

Personally, I have found that the structured carriers are my favorite. Once your baby can hold their heads up well (and even before with certain precautions), these carriers are the most convenient and comfortable of them all. I prefer a non-fussy one, like the YAMO (sadly you cannot purchase them in the US anymore), but there are other options available, like the patapum, ergo, and beco.

Next in line would come the ring slings. There are so many beautiful slings available today. I am partial to the unpadded Mayawraps though. They were the first of their kind, and they are of exceptional quality. I have tried making a few of my own ring slings, and I have never quite been able to reproduce the comfort and quality of a purchased sling. If your sewing skills are excellent, you should be able to make a custom carrier for a very good price.

Third, I like pouch style carriers and wraps. Pouches are the easiest to use, as you stick the baby in and go. The only issue you face with them is you will need two sizes to get a proper fit if you get a non-adjustable one, and if you get an adjustable one, the carrier becomes a little more complex (but not much). Wraps have a high learning curve, because they are one long piece of cloth that you tie around yourself and your baby. There are many different ways to do this, and you have to practice to find the one you and your baby like the best. Wraps are very, very comfortable are can be made from some beautiful fabrics. I have found them to be a little fiddly when I need to change positions to nurse, or when my child is in the 'up and down' phase. I love them for back carries when they are tiny and cannot hold their heads up very well yet, as the fabric cradles them well.

Fourth, are the Mei Tei. podegai, and other traditional fabric carriers. I have not found these to be comfortable, but other people really like them. I feel it it better to just spend the money on a soft structured carrier like the Patapum, your body will thank you for it in the long run. These are the types of carriers a lot of inexperienced baby wearing moms purchase because they do not want to pay the price for the structured carrier, and these carriers are pretty to look at. They like them, but I never actually see them using them all that much, and pretty soon, their kids just get too heavy for them to comfortable wear. I can and do wear my 30 pound toddler in my structured carrier without any problems.

Last, don't spend your money on the Baby Bjorn, or other soft front pack type carriers. They are not worth it! You will not get your money's use out of them. Don't bother with the slings and carriers that you find at most chain stores. They are marketed for the trend of baby wearing, but they are not made well, and they usually will not work well.

Enjoy wearing your baby!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Saving Money

I have been getting involved in coupons. I was always under the belief that they really didn't save you much money, because you could always buy generic cheaper. Well, I have discovered that this is not always the case. Coupons can save you a lot of money. Shopping smart and changing the way you look at how you shop are key ingredients to saving a lot of money.

I discovered two blogs that got me started in coupons. Money Saving Moms, and IMommies. It has taken me about a month to start feeling the coupon love, and really get what I am doing, but I have already scored some great deals. I got $60 worth of free cheese from Target, $.10 full size toothpaste from Lowes food, a free box of cereal from Food Lion, and quite a few deals from CVS. I signed up for a reduced rate Sunday paper to get coupons, and made a few mistakes at first, but overall, there are some great deals to be had out there with a little foresight and planning.

Some other resources that I am using are the Grocery Game to save myself some time in finding good deals. I signed up for their $1 for the first 4 weeks, to see how it worked, and I have discovered that for my area, only the Kroger list is really worth paying for. Yes, it is a paid service, but I save a ton more than I spend on it. I have saved between 40-60% on groceries each time I have shopped at Kroger since using this list, and a lot of has been without coupons.

This has taken some time initially to wrap my brain around it all, and begin to organize my personal system, but it has been fun each and every time I save a bundle or get a really good deal on something.

Here are some tips that might be helpful if you want to shop the deals.
1. Use online coupons.
2. Learn your local stores' coupon policy
3. Use the internet to find the deals
4. Shop CVS and other drug stores
5. Only buy the things on your list
6. Stock up when the price is great... learn to have a stockpile and then "shop" from home as needed.
7. Don't buy what you don't need, unless it is free (you can then donate it to charity)
8. Loose brand consciousness... if an item is free would you try it?

I am still in the learning process of this all. One area I am working on is working within a budget. I am totally excited to test myself on how cheap I can be with our family's food budget. I am going to start very slow and work my way down. I plan on keeping up and even raising my standards in the quality of the food I purchase while doing this. Are you ready to try?

Monday, July 23, 2007

It's been a long, long time

You thought I had forgotten about you, didn't you? No, not me. I have just had many other things taking my time away from blogging. For a little while it was blogging-smlogging. I really wasn't in to it for a bit. But, as I feel I have something valuable here, I feel it best to continue.

I have gotten myself in an amazing frugal place at present. How did this happen? I signed up to get a book for free, if I would review it on my blog. Janine Bolon of Smart Cents, has set a wonderful example of just how reachable financial Independence can be. My husband and I read this book, and realized that we knew most of what was contained within, but we had not actually put some of it to the test. This book has been far more motivating to me than I originally thought. We finally took the time to write down our financial goals. We created an excel timeline which listed each month until we turned 50. We put important info such as the ages our children will be, major purchases we know will need to take place (cars, home improvement, etc.), and debt. If we tighten our belts, we saw just how easily our financial goals could be met. This timeline is posted on our bedroom wall, and is VERY motivating. Janine Bolon's book, Money, It's Not Just For Rich People has spurred a wonderful sense of freedom and fulfillment within my husband and I. My favorite part of the book is when Joline shares her personal story. The truth of her financial freedom, compared to what others thought was happening is refreshing to hear!

Her book also helped me to start rereading a few other great financial works of art. The Complete Tightwad Gazette, and Your Money or Your Life. More to come on those soon.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Classical Education

When I first discovered Classical Education, I was very excited and intrigued with it. After reading a lot about it, and coming to understand how my children are best educated, I would discourage others from using this method rigidly. Everyone wants their children to excel, and be the best they can be, but I just do not agree that it is good to fill a young child's mind with facts upon facts that they then learn to tie together as they age. This method is too harsh for young children, and just ends up recreating school at home if homeschooling, or pushes kids to do more than they are able if in school. It focuses on workbooks, and lots and lots of memorisation. It is very rigid, with a set formula for each grade (age). The Well Trained Mind is the book to read if you want to learn about it.
That said, classics (which is not just limited to books, a classic can be anything that you come back to over and over) are great teachers, and they should be used as the main source of education. Classical Education is not about classics though. It is the form of education that was supposed to have been used in the classical past, using the trivium as its foundation.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

An update

Well, this blog was originally created for a class I was taking, and I always meant to continue with it when the class was over. I have numerous ideas that I have started, and still intend to post at some point in time, but just exactly when that will be, I don't know. I am alive and doing well for anyone concerned ;-)

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Happy Newness

Transitions can be a lot of things. I often find myself struggling with change, but this year, the transition and resolution planning has gone very smoothly. In the spirit of betterment, I post a picture of our fancy new organizational center. This came to be from many different sources, much discussion with my husband, and meditating on what our family really needed to take us to the next level. Let me share with you where the ideas came from, and what we have done, in hopes that you may figure out something that will work and fit with you.

I love the mommy craft bloggers out there. I got the patchwork pocket idea from Shim + Sons, and since I am not as talented as she, I kind of did my own thing out of the little scrap fabric I had on hand. Plus, we had a very large cork board already, so I made do somehow. Even though they are uneven, I was very pleased with myself for turning them out.

The pockets are actually chore pockets. The chore pocket idea was taken from A Thomas Jefferson Education Home Companion. Diann Jeppson uses this with her family, and the system really resonated with me. Basically, the top pockets represent a room or area in your home. They are filled up with tickets (blank index cards here) of all the jobs that need to be done to keep that room or area clean. We kept it fairly simple with things like sweep the floor, dust the light, etc. Each person is then given two chore pockets ('to do', and 'done'). I dole out four jobs for each person each day (whatever seems most needed). My three year old only participates as he starts to show interest, and my six year old isn't required to do all four if it seems to be stressing him out too much. My eight year old is required to do them all, and so far has done so without too much disdain. Part of the joy is that I have four chores too, and so does Dad. We can do the chores at any time during the day, but at 4pm, whatever isn't done need to be done then.

I like this system because it is VERY flexible, yet it allows us to get a lot done with very little struggle or hassle. The kids like it because they know what they have to do, and then it's done. I'm really happy, because I don't have to do it all. Little things I never thought about (like dusting the ceiling fans) are getting done. I highly recommend Diann Jeppson's book if this system intrigues you, and you want to understand it better.

Next, I bought Managers of Their Home (MOTH) to help me in scheduling my days. The middle section with the colorful strips of paper is my first attempt at using the MOTH plan. I resist schedules and have a very difficult time sticking to them, so I really worried about using this and "failing". So far, I have found this schedule to be very helpful for our family, even though we do not use it rigidly at all. It acts as a guide, a kind of ideal day, or reference point for us. There are certain parts of it that we stick to 100%, and others that we can throw out at will. Just having it posted on the board somehow relieves some tension.

The last part of this is my menu posted with what we can eat for snacks as well, so when my kids say they are hungry, we can look and see what we can snack on that day (today it was a fruit smoothie, yum!).

*MOTH is a Christian ministry, so for some people this book may conflict with personal beliefs. I also wanted to note that I do not believe in scheduling babies for eating or sleeping.