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jkpenney

Babywearing Educator, Parent, Advocate

Saying Goodbye

Loss can conjure up an array of emotions: sadness, emptiness, peace, love, fear, loneliness, and more. My family and many others recently said goodbye to a beautiful soul. Miss Kitty was a remarkable woman who had a way of touching the lives of every person she met. I’ve only known Kitty these past 8 years, which is nothing to the near 90 she spent earthside, and I will always treasure the time I was gifted with her. 

It is saddening to realize the girls will not grow up experiencing the peace and joy that is synonymous with time spent with their great grandmother. Thankfully she passed on many of her best traits to Kitten, her daughter and my mother in law: how to engage each moment, to give some of yourself to those in need, and to leave those you know feeling cherished. I hope Kitty is enjoying her next great adventure. She will be missed. 

An elderly white woman holding a newborn Asian baby in a rocking chair
Kitty holding a newborn A
An elderly woman at a table with Casey and A
Kitty celebrating E and A’s birthdays

Growth After Relevation


A year ago today I sat in a parking lot after a meet up and started drafting a post for tumblr. It was about how babywearing helps me to survive. I never published this post, nor did I finish it. Half way through writing it I broke down in tears. It wasn’t Turing out as I expected it to. Instead I could only focus on how awfully difficult life felt parenting two kids all day long. A year ago today I realized I needed help. 

That following week, I made an appointment with a therapist and started to actively work at becoming myself again. Until this point I was just going through the motions and barely hanging on. Postpartum was not as easy the second time around. Anxiety and depression snuck up on me through the year after A’s birth. I didn’t acknowledge it till she was 13 months old. 

No one tells you to watch for post partum depression much after the first few month. You figure if it’s going to happen that it will be obvious and earlier. That’s not always true. It’s probably not even mostly true. A psychologist referred to my changed mood as adjustment disorder. That’s probably accurate. 

If you feel down, or even just indifferent, talk to someone. As I’ve described it before, sometimes you just stop caring and have a harder time finding patience. Not everyone will feel strong negative emotions. If you feel off, speak up. You don’t have to deal with life alone. 

Review: Kokoskaa Willow Jewel

Blend: 60% Cotton, 40% Tencel
Size: 3/4


Note: I’ve only had it 4 days but have dragged it everywhere since getting it. I did want to get a review out before the preorder closes tomorrow. 
Wearee Stats: 

4 yo, 38 lb, 42ish” and a 2 yo, 25 lb, 36ish” maybe. 

Both move all over, push against my back while wrapping and during wearing. Seat popping, leaning, and climbing out of carries is the game. Most carries end up looser then they ought to be. 


Carries used: Front reinforced torso sling carry, double Hammock sling carry, Elleville Jordan’s back carry tied at shoulder, rucksack

My first impression was, “this is gorgeous. Photos didn’t do it justice.” Willow reminds me of moving water and comes to life in a way photos can’t show. It is blankety to touch and is what I imagine when I think of blanket scarves. The texture is such that you just want to run your hands along it repetitively. Basically I just want to cuddle Willow on the couch. 
When it comes to wrapping, I prefer multilayered carries because my children are basically limit testing Houdini’s. Willow did really well with these parameters and both children. The texture added grip which held my sloppy passes in place. But the texture didn’t make getting multilayered carries in place difficult. There’s a good glide-grip ratio. 


When we ruck, the top edge tends to be loose and the kids lean as far back as they can. This is probably not the norm for most people. With these circumstances, I prefer dense wraps typically for a rucksack. This continued to be true with Willow and my preschooler. It was okay for short periods, but I would choose the sweetheart weave for longer trips. The blanket like wrap did hold my toddler in place comfortably though. Considering the toddler is my main wrappee, I would be content with Willow in a shorter size for single layered carries. Plus in a traditional sling carry, I know that knot isn’t budging. I would go with a longer size and/or multilayered carries for a larger child. 


TL:DR

Soft, blanket like, textured, grip, great for multilayered carries, good in single layer but preferred with younger toddler and below. 
ETA: Monika informed me the tester is a tencel blend and not 100% cotton. I bet all cotton would rock with the preschooler and be a bit grippier. 

Progress or Lip Service?

Autism Speaks, the largest and most well known autism resource, has always been terribly problematic. Their mission statement speaks of hardship for caregivers and advocates for “curing” the world of the “global health crisis” that is autism. That is, until today. 

This is their new shiny new mission statement:

“Autism Speaks is dedicated to promoting solutions, across the spectrum and throughout the lifespan, for the needs of individuals with autism and their families through advocacy and support; increasing understanding and acceptance of autism spectrum disorder; and advancing research into causes and better interventions for autism spectrum disorder and related conditions,” reads the update. “Autism Speaks enhances lives today and is accelerating a spectrum of solutions for tomorrow.”

This is a huge step forward, that is if they put their money where their mouth is. A mere 4% of the A$ budget is directed towards family services. Only 4% goes to actually helping the families and individuals they advertise as so helpless and dire. 

How will the 35% of their research budget now be distributed? Will their fear mongering fundraising language change? Will they acknowledge the many voices of adult autistics and stop implying that neurodivergence only occurs in childhood? That once an autist reaches adulthood and can speak for themselves, they no longer matter in the discussion about autism?

Maybe A$ is finally listening to what the #actuallyautistic community has been saying for ages. They do have a new president, recently announced the passing of one of their founding members, and appointed two autistic board members for the first time last December. Maybe they will be better. Maybe not. Time will tell. 

Until then, check out these sites for your autism resources instead. 

Autism Self Advocacy Network (ASAN)
Autism Women’s Network
The Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism
National Autism Association

Parenting Autistic Children with Love and Acceptance
And for more information on why Autism Speaks is problematic: 

Why I am Against Autism Speaks (and you should be, too)
There are several other fantastic resources on this topic within that link. 

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

My Humans

Today we are celebrating the births of E and A. We will have friends over for sensory play and food. Prepping for company physically and mentally can be a draining, but worthwhile task. I will get my fill of fun and friends over a few hours and then probably not speak with anyone for a week while recharging. It will be a good time. As I prepare for this day, I can’t help but think about the amazing people who give me the reason to celebrate this day. 


A is the baby of the family at not quite 2. She is a fireball of energy and sass. A is forever asserting her independence and proving to me that she can keep up with the big kids. When she isn’t climbing or telling other people how things will go, she is a cuddle bug and nurturer. She always has kind hands and kisses to make the day brighter. 


E is our forever on the go princess. Newly 4, she continually masters challenges and grows exponentially each day. Learning new things lights up her eyes. E embodies stubborness and determination. She is not easily swayed and pushes the boundaries to achieve her goals. E doesn’t need speech to express herself. Her personality shines throughout her every action. 


Lastly, and most importantly, is Casey. He is my love, partner, and greatest friend. Today actually marks 9 years as Facebook friends. Also some time this month marks the start of our romantic relationship 8 years ago. I could not have found a better person to share my life with. Casey loves and accepts me even when I infuriate him. He does everything he can and more for us, this life we’ve built, and the lives we’ve grown. Without Casey, we would not have the two tiny humans to celebrate. Without him, I would not be the person I am today or appreciate each day as I do. 

Today, we have much to celebrate. Most importantly, I get to do it with three of the best people I’ve ever known. I get to love my family that is wonderful and strong. It is the best sort of day. 

Vacation

Hard Days

Some times parenting is hard. So hard that you forget how to be the type of parent you generally strive for. But that’s okay. There’s always the next time to do it right. Luckily kids are super forgiving. 

We just left a water park. The girls had a blast. Getting them into clean, dry clothes resulted in me praying that their naked butts were still in the changing room as they kept running off while I was half dressed. I already felt like all I’d done all afternoon is yell. Especially with watching a friend’s kids for 10 mins when one of them ran off and I had to collect the others before being able to go after said child. I didn’t have the patience to manage their energy and the judgmental looks from someone with a small, not so mobile child. Obviously it’s been a relaxing day. 

On the way out one of the girls saw the strategically placed icecream cart and sat on the wet ground in hops that her alligator tears would magic ice cream into her hands. It didn’t. Finally get her to the exit when she realizes the wet ground dampened her clothes. This of course resulted in her stripping down to her birthday suit in the exit. Strangely, it took me a good 5 minutes to realize, “hey I could switch which kid I have in a carrier and make this easier on everyone”. Before that lightbulb moment I just stared at her like her adversions to wet clothing was absurd. Great parenting moment there. 

We are finally in the car and both girls are napping. I’ve cycled through a whirlwind of emotions in all of 20 minutes and have settled on resigned. The next situation will be better. And if not, there is always tomorrow. Parenting isn’t one moment, it’s a collection of every moment over a lifetime. It is okay to run out of patience. It’s normal to not parent perfectly every time. It’s healthy to lose your cool sometimes. Maybe I’ll do better next time. Maybe not. 

Public Breastfeeding Awareness Project

There is a Facebook page, Public Breastfeeding Awareness Project (PBAP), that promotes nursing your children wherever you are as needed. Photographers from around the world donate their time to photographing caregivers feeding their baby via whichever means they use, be it breast, bottle, tube, or any other option. The large focus is on nursing since American society seems to find such an intuitive act   “disgusting” and “shouldn’t be done” in public spaces, covered or not. Public perception is so outrageous that my friend over at Where the Watermelons Grow was actually told that breastmilk, her child’s primary form of nutrition, is the equivalent of fecal matter. This clearly highlights a horrendous misconception throughout society. 

This is also why movements like PBAP are so important. For new nursing parents, the process of getting a newborn to latch and stay latched is exhausting. Throw in trying to stay covered or secluding yourself to a noisy bathroom stall because society says that’s best and it is surprising as many parents continue to nurse as they do. It is not at all shocking that many parents give up. It’s a hard skill to learn, especially if there are any complications. There is minimal support from hospital staff, medical professionals, and often family. On top of this, strangers think it’s their duty to look down upon you and educate you on your harlot ways when you nurse in public. It is an uphill battle to breastfeed a child. 

The perception that breasts are meant for a parnter’s pleasure and nothing more needs to change. That is not their biological purpose. They are not sex organs. Breasts are designed to feed children, period. American society cannot change without movements such as PBAP. Until public nursing becomes mainstream, there will continue to be a need for awareness so that no caregiver gives up on nursing just because society shunned them into it. 


To see more images from the #PBAP2016, check out the above link or visit Kimberlin Gray Photography

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