After four kids, ten moves and nearly two decades, we are still blissfully in love (most of the time) and I found myself back in the state I was born and raised in. It has definitely been a journey. In fact, on our 18th anniversary we pulled the last of our stuff up over the pass and into Montana, leaving our surprise love, Idaho, behind. But Montana is a great place. The last best place according to some. And we fully intend to explore as much of it as we can! Join us on our continued adventure through life, love and other stuff that comes with it.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Happy Halloween!

I shall let these photos of our monkey, pink zebra, wood sprite (a fairy without wings) and queen speak for themselves.  Though I will mention that the monkey is generally quite happy.  Much happier than he appears in these photos.  (And grandma, thanks for the eyeballs!)

He's got her eyes . . .

Any chance they're related? 

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Reason for alarm

I originally wrote this for Idaho Babywearers blog. 

Recently there has been quite a lot of buzz in the babywearing world.  I'm not "in the know" so to speak, but I know people who are in the know and their level of alarm regarding what is happening and what can potentially happen is very alarming.  They can't give me specific details, but I've been watching and frankly, I can see why they are alarmed.  I know enough.

Hotslings, a pioneering babywearing company, closed in August.  Owner Kristen DeRocha, who has been in business since 2003, was and still is an influencial voice in the babywearing world.  She has been active in working with the CPSC to create standards for baby carriers, spearheading the movement and chairing the ASTM Sling Standards subcommittee The fact that she closed her business should be a warning sign for all of us.  But it is only one event leading to what is happening now.

In early 2008, the babywearing world was buzzing with concerns about bag slings.  Basically, when a baby is carried in a carrier that looks like a duffle bag, the baby can be forced into a curled position that can potentially cut off their tiny airway.  And the baby is covered in fabric which makes it hard for the parent to moniter the baby as well as potentially limiting the baby's fresh air supply.  One carrier used in the study was the Infantino Slingrider.  (Great information here)

In March of this year, the CPSC issued a warning about sling carriers for babies.  Also in March, The CPSC Chairman had some strong words of warning in his JPMA Summit Keynote Address.

Regarding all of the 104 rules, it is not the intent of CPSC to write new standards that essentially create a marketplace with no products that can meet the rules. But we will not sacrifice an iota of safety in writing these new rules . . .

. . . One of the products that the Commission has recently added to the list of juvenile products that will be subject to a 104 rule is infant carrier slings. Although a draft mandatory rule is a ways out from being proposed, I want to make a good faith gesture today and give you advanced notice that a general warning is likely to go out to the public very soon.\

We know of too many deaths in these slings and we now know the hazard scenarios for very small babies, so the time has come to alert parents and caregivers. We want to empower them to make a decision that is best for the safety of their baby, while realizing that slings play a role in the bonding of baby and mother in many cultures.

. . . A new Commission that has new powers – and we are not afraid to use them. If you resist our efforts to recall children’s products, be forewarned, this Commission stands ready to be creative in the use of our enforcement authorities . . .
A good faith gesture?  Advanced notice?  Empower them to make good decisions?  New powers they are not afraid to use and use creatively?  I'm not sure what all that means exactly, but it sounds very "politically correct," and "you can pat me on the back again later," especially in context.  I encourage you to read the whole speech.  It kind of made me want to vomit.

In March of this year, the Infantino Slingrider was recalled.  Over one million of the carriers were recalled after three deaths were reported. Infantino will replace the recalled carrier with of of their Wrap and Tie infant carriers (and both versions look suspiciously like a Catbird Baby  mei tai and a Babyhawk mei tai respectively.  But maybe that's just me.). 

Then, in June of this year, a work-at-home-mom had her ring sling recalled (all 40 of them) because in 2007 a ten-day-old baby died in one.  When I read the original recall, I remember being alarmed because it stated that the CPSC, along with "concerned companies such as Infantino," were working to make carriers safer for babies.  Some wonder if the recall notice was simply copied and pasted from the Slingrider recall, which would make it an innocent mistake.  But, others wonder, since Infantino is a very large company with an obvious interest in making the environment for smaller baby and babywearing businesses hostile, if Infantino could have played a more direct role in the recall. 

In July, the Baby Carrier Industry Alliance was formed.  Basically, it's a group of small babywearing businesses banding together "to advance the well-being, growth, and interests of baby carrier manufacturers, importers, distributors, retailers, and educators. It does so through advocacy, public relations, information sharing, industry research, and business development assistance conducted with appreciation for the needs of parents, caregivers, and children."  Members of note:  Kristi of Wrapsody by GypsyMama, LLC who spearheaded the forming of the Alliance and recently was recognized for it by Babywearing International.; Vesta Hartman Garcia, founder of and Ellaroo; Beth of Catbird Baby; Jan of Sleeping Baby, Arie of Tadpoles and Butterflies, Paul and Rochelle Price of Slingrings (Rochelle is the new Chairperson of the sling standards ASTM committee) and Kristen DeRocha who started Hotslings.

Hotslings folded in August.  The decision to close Hotslings was directly related to what is going on with the CPSC and the babywearing and baby industry, according to the press release

For months now the BCIA has been warning of an impending recall.  The name of the company affected by the recall has not been released and there also has not been a recall issued.  From the outside, this could appear that the BCIA and others are crying wolf.  But, I beg to differ. 

In the beginning of October, a statement was released by the online forum The It read in part:

A recall of a major baby carrier is being forced through this week. We want you to understand how this has been handled and to appreciate the immediacy of the problem!

Company was informed by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) that, after several years, a closed investigation of their product was being reopened.

Company was told by the CPSC to issue a recall of every product back more than ten years, and to discontinue sales, while admitting that there is no product flaw.

Company stopped all sales, with the intention of clearing up the matter and reopening shortly.

Company asked for the Health and Science report that the CPSC later claimed to have, indicating the need for a recall.

CPSC has NEVER complied; inside word is that there is NOT a Health and Science report.

Company was sent two draft press releases and asked to voluntarily recall their product or the CPSC would issue a unilateral recall (a forced recall) which included inflammatory language as well as a threat to pursue action against entire class of baby sling products.

Company held fast, knowing that the product is safe and a benefit to babies and stated they would be willing to work with the CPSC on a public education campaign about sling safety.

CPSC asked for Company’s financials.

Company complied.

CPSC said to company “You are no longer in business, we don’t need your cooperation in order to recall! Prepare to DESTROY all product next week!” Next week is International Babywearing week!


The "imminent" recall hasn't happened. Yet.  This could be intrepreted that they are crying wolf.  I interpret that to mean that the BCIA and the people they are working with have so far been successful in holding it off.  However, it could still happen.

At the very least, we need to realize and remember that the folks who are raising the alarm are business people and advocates who are in the know and have a vested interest in the babywearing industry.  They are people we can and do trust with our babies. We have made purchases with them and we go to them for advice and information.  I've interacted with many of them and they are good people with the best interest of you and your baby in mind. 

Also, there is information they have that they are not able to share.  They are not crying wolf.  They are doing what they can with the information they have without sharing information they can't share.  Hotslings closed BECAUSE OF this information.  Others with this information are making changes in how they do business and working to raise awareness the best they can.

Recent announcements of childrens products being recalled because of what "could" happen if the product is used improperly instead of a recall based on solid evidence that it is actually a dangrous product may be a ridiculous show by someone (who may have been quoted above) and some "concerned" company (that may also have been mentioned above) working to make a name for themselves and working to make competition go away any way they can rather than working to actually make products better and safer and the world a better place for both babies and their caregivers.

It's all fishy to me.  And it seems to be going against what Chairman Tenenbaum said in his speech about "empowering " parents and caregivers to make decisions that are best for the safety of their children.  It appears to me that they are making the decision, and so many others, for us for their own benefit and touting it as something else.

For example, check out these recent recalls of childrens' products:

Fisher-Price Recalls Children's Trikes Due to Risk of Serious Injury: 7 million units sold, 10 reports of injury

Valco Baby Recalls Jogging Strollers Due to Strangulation Hazard:  The opening between the grab bar and seat bottom of the stroller can allow an infant’s body to pass through and become entrapped at the neck by the grab bar, posing a strangulation hazard to young children when a child is not harnessed.  (my emphasis)

Graco Recalls Quattro™ and MetroLite™ Strollers Due to Risk of Entrapment and Strangulation:  About 2 million sold.  Four reported deaths and six reported incidents inovlving eintrapment.  "Entrapment and strangulation can occur, especially to infants younger than 12 months of age, when a child is not harnessed." (my emphasis)

Rumor has it that the CPSC is currently being investigated because of the attempted forced recall of the baby carrier.

Power corrupts.  Money corrupts.  Evidence seems to point to the CPSC and "concerned" companies such as Infantino are making a run to destroy the beautiful and beneficial practice of babywearing here in America and limit our choice of quality carriers.  Be alarmed.  Let's not let them get away with it.

What can you do? 
  • You can support the BCIA.  Join for as little as $25. 
  • If you can't join, simply donate.  They need both members and funds to fight the fight. 
  • Contact your elected officials and tell them what you think!
  • Share your babywearing story
  • Spread the word.  Blog it.  Tell your friends.  Tell your friends friends.  Tell their mothers!
  • Educate yourself regarding safe babywearing and safe carriers. 
  • Support the people and businesses fighting the fight. 
  • Tell the "mom and pop" businesses you know of TO BE ALARMED!  Sprout Stuff only sold 40 carriers.  She may have had good intentions, but she became an example of what can happen.  Small shops who don't know about all this are easy targets for something this big and they are a danger to themselves and to the industry in general.
  • Encourage your friends to buy from reputable business that offer a quality product and know how to use it.  Paying for a good carrier is always worth the money.  All carriers are not created equal. 
Go fight the good fight.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

My babies

Yesterday's post got me all nostalgic.  So I went poking around my pictures of all my babies at about two months old. 

Here's my little Grace:

And my little Calla:

And my little Violet:

And the little guy:

So there you have it.  My beautiful little babies.  All in one place.  I still say he looks like Grace.  And I still say they all are definitely siblings.  And I still love them all so much I just feel as if I may burst sometimes.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The place is shaping up!

The horse is getting some fancy digs around here.  The round pen that also is part of his corral is functional.  That's Grace out loping around.

In the spring we'll get a couple real gates and it'll be done!

And maybe by then Calla and Grace will have real boots that are more appropriate for horseback riding.  Last ride Grace chose her Crocs and Calla wore her red shoes.  It's on the list, I promise.

But for now, even driving up to the place it looks better from afar.  Between the new corral and the fact that the horse is the best lawn mower around, it really does look better. 

Now if we can get all the dead cars and other junk outta' here, we'll be good to go!

Who does he look like?

I get that question quite a lot. 

Here's the little bugger last night.

And last night I found this picture of Grace at about two months old.

So, my answer for now is that he looks a lot like Grace.  Only more masculine.

But honestly, I think all my babies have had the same look.  Different, but definitely siblings.  And frankly, I think they're pretty darn cute.  Every last one of them. 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Two months ago today!

This little bugger has done a lot of growing in the last two months.  I took him in to get a weight today and he weighs FOURTEEN POUNDS!

Keep it up you little bugger and you'll pass Violet up tomorrow and Calla the next day!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Grandma's house or bust!

Here in Idaho we have Harvest Break.  So about a month after school starts, we get a two week break to get the potatoes in.  Meantime, Spring Break is a four day weekend.  Both options I find pretty awesome.

We aren't working in the potatoes, so we take advantage of the break and make a trip West to visit the husband's family and our friends.

It's a 16 hour drive.  And while we have made the investment in a portable DVD player, we didn't have a fancy way to situate it so all the kiddos could see it.  Enter daddy, some old barn lumber, webbing and some 2" screws.  The guy is a miracle worker.

It's not refined like many of you are accustomed to, but dang, you gotta give him some credit! 

And off we went.  One of our stops was a 76 station.  Here the girls are checking out the display on the end of the pump island:  A children's guide to splattered bugs.

And to the front of the car. 

To quote Grace, "Mom, they're too squished."  But it still made me laugh.

We finally made it to grandma's house.  And there was certainly fun to be had!  Cooking, baking, watching real television, walking the dog, rolling down the front lawn with Uncle Lance.

Seeing friends.  We were able to get together with my mom friends and all their kids.  Everyone made it!  I was so honored.  Here are all the kids:

And all of us. 

Grace took this picture.  We had about four of our older kids standing in front of us snapping about 100 photos.  It was awesome!

And the swing set (as well as the dress up) got a good workout. 

We also made our annual trek to the pumpkin patch.  The one with the culvert slides.  Calla loves them just as much as I do!

These are the barn swings.  So much fun!

And the rule is, if you can't pack your pumpkin, it's too big!  And mama isn't carrying it for you!  (Daddy, that means you, too!!)


Perfect again!

And again!

Sometimes daddy does listen to mommy.  He's learning that everyone is happier that way.  Love that guy.

And here I offer proof that Carsten and I were there.  With great grandma.  She's a trooper!  And Grace is getting good at using the camera.

A great Sunday hike

Fall is so great.  This fall is making up for the spring that never really came.  So on Sunday after church we headed up to Cave Falls for a little fall hike.

This is how Violet started the hike:

We were headed to Bechler Falls.  I'd heard the hike was pretty and the falls are nice.

First, Grace spotted this little snake.  So we examined it for a moment.

And then we were on our way.  What a beautiful walk!  The kids had all eaten a great lunch before we left and the hike wasn't strenuous at all.  Calla and Grace lead the way most of the way up.

What's that we hear?????

Could it be a falls??  I think so!

Here I offer proof that I was there. 

Daddy took this picture of Violet on his back.  She woke up about halfway up.  Love that girl.

And daddy spotted the most exciting thing about the whole trip! 

We stood there for a good 15 minutes watching for fish jumping up the falls. So fun to watch!  This was a pretty big one in comparison.  Some of them were pretty small.  Nature never ceases to amaze me.

Our fearless leader.  She really did just get out front and hike.  And she kept up a great pace.

After a bit, they needed a rest.  I couldn't resist taking about a hundred pictures of them resting. 


And then we trooped off again. (Is 'trooped' even a work??  I'm going to choose to use it anyway because I like it.)

Even at the pace Calla was keeping, she was watching.  Here she found a huge mushroom.

As it got on towards dinner time, there was a big rain cloud that made the scenery SO beautiful!

And the troops after our return.  We made it! 

Maybe next time we'll tackle the hike to Old Faithful.  It's only 31.8 miles! 

But I doubt it. 

When we got home, Calla, who was cold and tired, asked if we could do that again.  I think we just might try to find some more hikes like that around here little girl!  Maybe when you are older, we'll hike to Old Faithful from there. 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Fall actually is here this year.  Last year we joked that it happened sometime in the middle of the night because we literally went to bed and it was summer and woke up to winter.  This year it's been more of what we are used to--though it was very suddenly fall. 

The kids and I have been getting out and walking every day we can, which is most days.  On Sunday since the husband was home, we tried our hand at a circus for our walk.  One baby tied on mama, two kiddos in the stroller, the dog and Grace rode the horse.  And off we went.  We were quite a site!

Yesterday was absolutely gorgeous and I was not going to miss it.  Here we are all ready to go. We're loving our Peekaru Babywearing vest!  And the little hat my friend Kate made for the little man. 

Here's the view when I look up:

And when I look down:

I pretty much giggled the whole walk looking at him. 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Is she nursing that baby? Wow! She's good!

I will take this moment to apologize if I offend anyone.  But I won't apologize for what I have to say.

Nursing in public.  It's a funny thing.  I realized recently that nursing babies would be fed more in public if boobs weren't involved.  Seems simple.  But we humans make things SO complicated sometimes.

A few weeks ago I was at the mall with my newborn in a ring sling.  And wouldn't you know it, the little bugger got hungry before I was done.  So, I nursed him.  In the carrier.  Right there at the mall while browsing the 75% off rack hoping to score a shirt for the husband.  I do wish that it was as simple as that, but it wasn't in this particular story.

Sadly, I didn't find a shirt.  And even more sad, I ended up leaving the store with a crying, frustrated baby and we got stared at the whole way out--no, my boob wasn't hanging out.  I had checked.  But the whole nursing in the carrier thing just wasn't working for him at that moment and I was too distracted with the 75% off shirts and my hands were too occupied holding the shopping bags for me to get it all worked out with him.  So, we went and nursed in the car.

Yes, there were chairs just outside the store and I had been tempted by them when I'd passed them 15 minutes earlier.  But I was done with the mall by that point.  I was tired and I always experience culture shock when I go to the mall. 

I nurse in public regularly and it is usually much more successful than the above example.  Just this last week while on our road trip we nursed at Nordstrom, the pumpkin patch, the Woodburn Factory Stores, Pendelton Woollen Mills, the rest area picnic table, Cabela's, the restaurant we ate at on the way home, and probably several more I'm forgetting. 

What irritates me about this subject is how militant some people are about it.  As much as I've nursed in public, I've never had anyone make a negative comment (that I've heard).  No, I'm not always the most graceful about it and sometimes I'm probably the frumpiest, most unprepared person around.  But with a few failed attempts such as my mall excursion, we are generally pretty successful.  And I would like to think that I don't get a bunch of negative comments because people generally don't realize I'm nursing a baby until they are down the road.

Recently I read a post by some guy who worked in a restaurant.  He was ranting about how this woman, who he did say had every right to nurse her baby, just flopped her boob right there on the table.  My blood boiled for several reasons.  First, I'm pretty sure he was exaggerating.  Second, I know there are moms out there who are militant nursers and take things a little too far.  I'm not saying this woman did, but I know that some do.

I refuse to nurse in the bathroom.  Absolutely refuse.  I don't like to go in those in the first place, so why would I want to go there to nurse my baby?  I nearly ran over a woman nursing in a restroom once, on a chair in the corner where the door kept hitting her.  I told her that upstairs there were some nice, quiet chairs if she wanted to be more comfortable.  But as far as I know, she would have rather sat there getting hit by a bathroom door than find a nice, quiet chair.

My goal when I nurse in public is to be discreet.  I don't use a nursing cover or a blanket.  Both of those things are irritating and frankly, one more thing I need to remember.  I am horrible at remembering extra things. Plus, they draw more attention to the fact that there's a baby nursing than I think I want.  But I DO practice nursing at home like I'd like to nurse in public. 

If we want moms to nurse their babies exclusively, we also need to teach them to nurse in public.  No, there aren't "proper" ways to nurse in public, but there are tricks to make a mama more comfortable doing it.  We can teach them about nursing in carriers and about stretchy camis and nursing tanks to cover what they don't want to expose.  And it needs to be okay with the public to nurse in public.  The public isn't ready for boobs flopped on the table.  But I do believe they are ready for, "Hey, is that lady nursing her baby??  Wow!  She's good!" 

It goes along with the whole picture.  When I had my first baby I attended le Leche League meetings regularly.  In our local area there was a mom who was asked to leave a public swimming pool because she was nursing her baby.  The local le Leche League leaders went in and talked to the pool managers and the lifeguard involved.  Turns out, the lifeguard was a teenage girl who thought she was just following procedure.  To her, this mom was exposing herself.  But when the local leaders left, the pool had amended their policy to make it more nursing friendly. The lifeguard expressed that she hadn't known all the stuff these leaders had lovingly expressed and that she was going to nurse any children she might have.  To me, that was an encounter that could have been really ugly.  But in the end, everyone was better off. 

I realized that this example might be a little contrary to what I'm trying to prove.  If the lady at the pool had been nursing more discreetly, maybe the lifeguard wouldn't have noticed her and the whole thing would not have happened.  But, I'm also not sure how on earth anyone would nurse discreetly while wearing a swim suit.  Nobody involved was militant or pushy or offensive and it ended well for everyone.  That's my point.

Even with my extended family I have always sat and nursed in their presence.  In the beginning there was an occasional person who left the room, but I didn't find it offensive and nobody has left the room in years.  They just got used to it and now it's normal. 

That's what we need to do on a bigger level.  Get people used to it by just sitting down and doing it. But we don't need to make a big scene about it and call attention to ourselves.  I am an activist of sorts I guess.  But, I'm not going to chain myself to a booth at a restaurant or a bench at the mall and nurse my baby with my boobs hanging out.  But I'm also not going to go nurse in the bathroom or in my car.  I will sit and quietly nurse when my baby needs to.  Or I will nurse in the carrier.  Nobody needs to see my boobs for me to nurse my baby. And like I said, I want people to do a double take of sorts. 

"Is she nursing that baby? Wow! She's good!"

Monday, October 4, 2010

Babywearing is beautiful!

And babywearing is beautiful!

Meet my brother-in-law.  He's my husband's baby brother.

What you can't see is that he's about 6'4" and he was a starting tight end on his college football team.  A tough guy, but a real softie.  (And when I met him about 16 years ago, I was taller than he was.  Nobody believes me!)

He is great with our kids. Yesterday he was in the front yard teaching Grace how to do a running catch.  I remember handing Grace to him when she was first born.  He was a little intimidated. 

But yesterday (5 nieces and nephews later--on our side anyway) he was holding Carsten and I simply could not resist wrapping them up. 

He thought it was pretty cool.  And Carsten did not complain even a teeny tiny bit.  I believe I have one more convert--more likely two counting his little wife. 

How are you celebrating International Babywearing Week??