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jkpenney

Babywearing Educator, Parent, Advocate

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Home Remodel

Our house came with a blue eyesore of a bathroom. It wasn’t a big deal until we realized the plaster behind the tiles in the shower was a soggy, crumbling mess. My husband took down all the tiling and installed new shower worthy backer board. And then it sat in that state for ages. Eventually, I decided to quit postponing the repair and hired Jon from Claus Custom Carpentry and Home Improvements to renovate the bathroom. He installed new tiling, replaced trim, and painted the tub and walls. The room is a totally new space that stands up perfectly to use. 

Remodeled bathroom. It is now white with green painted walls.
After
Children playing in a blue bathtub. The tiling is also blue.
Before

Me Time

Yesterday I left at 9 am and did not return home for 24 hours, leaving the children in my husband’s capable hands. It was the first full 24 hours I’ve ever had away from all children since the birth of E four years ago. Before this, I’d only spent one night away from them, leaving them in the evening and returning in the morning. I didn’t do anything really productive. There were no errands run or friends caught up with. I just did whatever caught my fancy and ate meals in silence. There was actually minimal talking all day. It was wonderful. 

I love my children. They are amazing human beings. I greatly appreciate being able to stay home with them. But being with them 24/7 is draining. Some times I just want to run away for awhile. Especially after Casey has been at sea for a few months and I’ve been solo parenting for what feels like ages. There is no reprieve. Even when they’re asleep and I finally get “me time”, I am still responsible for them. If they wake I will need to be able to care for them. They still manage to wake up next to me even though they fell asleep in the other room. It is exhausting to care for tiny children. That is why I needed yesterday. 

That is why every caregiver needs time away. Not just time with someone else also home and splitting care. Not just time to go get groceries alone. They need time to do absolutely nothing. Time to eat breakfast and enjoy a still hot coffee. Time not worrying about what the children are breaking in the other room. To take a shower alone and not wonder if they will surprise you with a new wall mural as a present when you get out. Time without whining or 100 questions about why turtles are the way that they are. Time in silence, time for self care, time to fully relax. 

We all need to take the time. 

omlete with cheese, home fries, and toast on a plate. coffee and creamer in the upper edge of the frame.
delicious breakfast from The Bread Box

Market Explosion and Accessibility

Since I first looked into Babywearing just four years ago, the market has seen huge changes. There are new companies every month, releases of new carriers every day, and Babywearing beyond the first few months of life is becoming more mainstream. There are positives and negatives to this growth. The negatives are, in my opinion, not nearly as great as the positives. 

The largest downside to this growth is that the second hand market has slowed considerably. No longer can you expect your full investment into a carrier back. This can be jarring when from the start you were told “it’s like a savings account you can use” or other such nonsense. Baby carriers were the only baby item to consistently maintain its value even after use. Now with so many companies and releases, this is an impossible expectation.  As a babywearer who has been quite involved in the buy/sell/trade game, this can be a stressful change. Also, a repercussion of this is the second hand market directly affects the first hand. The small mom and pop companies producing carriers have to find balance between offering something new frequently to keep the buyer’s attention and not end up with too much merchandise on hand from slow sales.

The biggest upside to this expansion, and considerably more important, is that Babywearing is becoming more accessible each day. There are now several brands of carriers in big box stores, not just the staples of bjorn, ergo, infantino, and moby. Better yet three brands of toddler carriers are readily available in those stores from Beco/Boba, Tula (now owned by Ergo), and Lillebaby. You can’t get much more mainstream than walking into your local target and buying a toddler carrier or ring sling. As an educator, this is exactly what I’ve hoped for. Baby carriers are one of the best parenting tools around. It is fantastic to live in a time where I can watch the community grow because of the ease of obtaining carriers. Also it’s much simpler to say “oh, you can pick one up at [insert big box store here]” than it is to direct them to an obscure online store or, worse, Facebook swaps. 

It will be interesting to look back on this community in another four years and see where it is then. 

Local Babywearing Group spreading education at an Event
Babywearing International of Hampton Roads at the Big latch On

Whirlwind Emotions

You, my sweet girl, were driving me to a fury just moments ago. Now my heart aches with endless pools of love for you. 

That is thought that crosses my mind as I look upon the sleeping princess laying against me. An hour ago, I was exhausted and trying to convince E to sleep via willpower. She, in turn, opened up boxes and emptied their contents, tore down all the clothes hanging in the closets, and yanked at my hair in order to lift my skull all while yelling “Belle” at me so I’d put the Beauty and the Beast dress that she’s lived in for the past week back onto her for bed time. 

So an open letter to my strong willed princess:

You can be exhausting, and surely test every limit. Be it your physical prowess, my patience, or my mental and emotional strengths. Through it all you are amazing. You are strong and resilient. You are absolutely brilliant. Forever reaching goals and learning new things, you are empowered. You show me the limitless depths of love and joy. You are wonderful. 

Remember this E when I am at my weakest and don’t show you through action. Even when I yell or dismiss, I am always proud and forever thankful of the person you are now and will be. Always. 

E dressed in a Tiana from  princess and the frog gown while waiting for the school bus.
The princess frog goes to school
E playing with a doctor office maze. she is wearing a belle gown and red rainboots.
Tinkering with toys in the waiting room
E sleeping in her belle gown
the dozing princess

Kokoskaa Royal Quill Maple

Royal Quill Maple was among the first tencel blend royal quills released by Kokoskaa. It predates royal quill Jade. This review is from summer 2015.

Blend: 55% Cotton, 45% Tencel

This past week I’ve had this pretty tester hanging around. This is a new budget blend from Kokoskaa. I’m very happy with the way this blend wraps so far.

I’m wrapping a 4 month 15lber and a 2.5 yr old 30 lber. And I used a fwcc, ruck, tandem ruck, and a double hammock.

This wrap rocks in a FWCC. It is also very supportive in a ruck and easy to wrap in a DH. The passes slide smoothly into place. You would think think the pattern would add a ton of texture and grip but it is actually quite subtle. It’s supportive and comfortable on the shoulders. There is some stretch which helps to get a tight wrap job without adjusting for days. Once baby is wrapped, she stays in place without sagging.

By feel and looks, you can tell its a different fiber blend. The tencel has a kind of cool matte sheen, if that makes any sense. Overall it seems like a solid budget option. You’ll get the looks and great wrapping qualities in a light mid-weight wrap.

This will be a great option for those getting into wearing as it’s easy to wrap with. It provides strength and comfort while still being soft to touch. I also think it will be a good breathable summer time option.
TL;DR smooth glide, supportive, solid, some stretch, easy to wrap with.

Falling Behind

Time is ever moving. It doesn’t stop when you or I decide to take a break. It’s great that life is always moving forward and that each moment is fleeting I’m sure. But it sure can become overwhelmingly exhausting to catch up when you take a moment to rest.

One household activity I continue to fail miserably at is laundry. It’s endless. By time it’s all washed I just don’t feel up to folding anything, so it piles up into clean unfolded mountains contained by laundry baskets. I’m pretty sure no clothing actually lives in the girls’ dresser. When I finally wrangle the clothes into their proper storage spaces I’ve no desire to do it again the next day, restarting the cycle. Lately, everything on my to do lists feels like a gargantuan pile of unfolded laundry.

I just wrote down all the things I’ve been procrastinating on for my baby wearing chapter. It is a daunting list. Half the time I feel like I’m failing miserably at being a good leader and volunteer along with failing as a homemaker. But I’m not. You’re not failing either.

It’s perfectly okay to not have everything done right this minute. It’s healthy to accept your limits. We can’t do everything alone. It’s admirable to ask for help and delegate. Life isn’t meant to be managed alone. Support systems are the backbone of every capable person.

So take a breath, grab a drink, and enjoy these fleeting moments. The laundry will still be there tomorrow.

 

Driving in Hampton Roads

Everyone always complains about the varied driving practices of the many drivers from many states in the area. So now I have my own story. 

Today on the HRBT, a goose decided to cross the road. It did not get across unscathed. A truck ran it over and the duck limped away. A highway worker was at the other side of the road appearing to want to help it. The person ahead of us braked sharply. We braked just in time. The person behind us did not. At least she was moving slowly, damage was minimal, and everyone in the three car accident is fine. 

We are quite grateful for how well things turned out. And now I have an interesting story about a goose causing a multi car accident. It was an interesting day. 

Front Wrap Cross Carry

Casey made this tutorial for a competition by Wrap Your Baby for a wrap donation to our local Babywearing International chapter over two years ago. (He totally won.) It’s still fantastic. Plus E had such great hair.

Enjoy!

 

Toddlers and Buckle Carriers

Anyone who’s involved in the Facebook babywearing community has seen the question, “which toddler carrier should I get?” So I decided to get come comparison shots with E. She was about 3yo and 32 lbs when these were taken. I tend to forget to measure her height, but she’s average for her age. 

First and foremost, buckle carriers fit everyone differently. Like jeans, you may be the same number size as your friend but that doesn’t mean the same pair will fit each of you just right. Any buckle carrier could work well enough. But the best fit isn’t standard across the board for all size 12 pants wearers. I always promote trying different brands on if you can before purchasing. Okay, disclaimer is out of the way. Now onto the carriers. 

  
Each of these carriers are modeled on myself (sz 10) with my 3yo (4T). I personally prefer the fit of the preschool kinder pack best. But all are great options at a variety of price points and ease of availability. The shortest panel was the lillebaby carry on. It also wasn’t a fantastic fit on my 5’2″ frame as the straps didn’t cinch down enough. The lenny lamb was the most varied in structure and proved quite comfortable, although smaller on my near preschooler.  The Tula and lillebaby were the widest panels without height. The toddler beco is a good alternative to a more difficult to buy (currently) kinder pack. 

Hope this helps!

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