Thursday, February 25, 2010

Artisan chocolate, Hepplewhite, and Baby Wraps

When I say chocolate, what comes to mind?  Is it bar of chocolate from the convenience store, or do you think of that little shop on the corner where artisan chocolatiers craft unimaginable delights in house?

 If your tastes run more to the latter rather than the former, do not fear—you will be able to drape yourself (and your progeny) in the kind of luxury to which you have become accustomed.  Just as Prada gives you an alternative to those dreary Rockports, there are babywearing companies that provide their customers with wraps woven by wood sprites during the vernal equinox using the finest of unicorn hair on looms of moonlight…

…well, maybe not quite, but rest assured- there are baby carriers to suit every possible occasion, even the ones we invent for ourselves.

Just as it is possible to babywear on a budget, you can find a carrier that does the exact same thing for twenty times the cost!  Seriously!  You didn’t think Maserati had that market cornered, did you?  Most companies have regular line carriers, where you can buy the color and size you desire at any time.  Where’s the challenge in that?  Do you really want to just be able to go to a vendor, tell them what model, size, and color you want and have it shipped to your door in 3-5 business days?  Come on!  The real fun is in the limited editions, or LEs.  These are carriers that are made in limited quantities and once they run out, they’re gone.  It’s an absolute gamble whether the carrier will be popular or fall by the wayside, and this will mean the difference between being able to find a resale for retail or below, or a highly inflated market value.  Fun, fun, FUN!!!
I’m more of a wrap girl myself, so that’s going to be my major focus simply because I have only a tangential knowledge of the other carriers.  I can tell you that I have a $40 linen ringsling that I adore (and bought brand new) and that there is a particular silk ringsling that retails for $1200.  I have a few Mei Teis (Asian style baby carrier) that were around $100, and I’ve seen others go for upwards of $800.  But let’s move on to my wheelhouse, wraps.

There’s a Czech company, Vatanai, that makes a particular wrap (Pamir) that is handwoven by one elderly woman (every one ever created was woven by this one artist) on one very old loom.  Because this is the only way these particular wraps come to be, they are very, very limited, and the runs are not regular because if she is unable to weave for any amount of time (injury, illness, etc), production stops (Pamir is currently out of production).  There is quite a bit of buzz about the magical wrapping qualities of Pamir in the babywearing community, and therefore these wraps are understandably a bit hard to come by and the prices are rather higher than retail.  There is only one vendor in the United States that carries Vatanai.  The retail price for Pamir is around $200, though they can regularly be seen resale for around $800 on the babywearing forums or ebay.

One of the Fall 2008 wool wrap releases from Didymos, a German manufacturer of wraps (or Tragetuecher), has become very popular and sought after for both the purported wrapping qualities and the color combination.  It is now fetching 2-4 times the retail price- convenient if you have one and want some quick cash, not so much if you want one.  Didymos also wove a few 50% silk blend wraps.  Their 50% silk indio was much more limited than their 30% silk indio (both LEs) and while the 30% blend regularly brings about $200 in resale, one of the 50% blends was just sold at auction and got $2,000!  If you’re really looking to get crazy, it gets much more complicated than that, because Didy released their 30% silk indios and then re-released them, and the first release silk indios are alleges to be far superior to their counterparts and are much more HTF (hard to find) than the second release.  Are you still with me?

There are a number of wraps that could even be considered collector’s items.  Didymos in particular has been weaving wraps since the 1970s, and a number of their vintage wraps are very, very expensive, if you’re even able to find them.  Amusingly, some European wearers have been shocked to find a wrap that would be a collectors piece being used as curtains or tablecloths in their aunt's home.  Reminds you of the people who arrive at Antique's Roadshow with an authentic Hepplewhite and claim they use it when cleaning fish.

It is absolutely true that babywearing is possible on any budget, and it is a wonderful, viable option for any parent seeking a special bond with their child that is uniquely the providence of babywearing.  One can find a perfectly suitable, comfortable, functional carrier at almost any price point, but if you want your baby wrapped in cashmere or silk, or you want to engage in the challenge of hunting hard to find carriers, well that’s an option too!

Posted by Heather

Carriers shown in order: 
Didymos Rosenholz Indio 
Didymos Kobalt-Zimt Indio
Didymos Spring Green Nino
Vatanai Pamir
Didymos Petrol/Honey Fishe
Didymos Silk Nino

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Dirty Little Secrets

Pssst.  Hey … you with the baby … over here.  Yeah, you with the toddler, come on over too.  Pay no attention to the gray hair or the Cheerios stuck to my rear-end.  Don’t worry.  I’m not going to tell you how to be a better parent through babywearing, or through anything else.  As if you’d believe me.  We just met.  You have no idea how competent I can make you feel in comparison.  Today, though, I thought I’d share a few Dirty Little Babywearing Secrets.  Why?  Well, I’ve now been snowed in with my posse for over a week, so it’s distinctly possible that I’m just looking for an excuse to hide from them.  But it might also have to do with the fact there are some, well, less-publicized benefits of babywearing that I just think more of us should be aware of. Because not all of us got started down this road for philosophical reasons, and most of us have discovered so much more.

Dirty Little Secret # 1:  Babywearing eliminates the need for Spanx.
Okay, not really. But you can cover a multitude of sins with a big ol’ piece of fabric and a baby attached to your body.  Muffin top?  What muffin top?  Droopy boobs?  Where?  All I see here is a baby in a ring sling.  And did I mention how cute that baby is? 

Dirty Little Secret #2:  Babywearing allows you to fake it ‘til you can make it.
You know how learning to do something, even, frankly, something as umm … obscure … as a back carry in a ring sling, makes you feel more confident?  I found that being in public and wearing a baby made me feel like, at the very least, I could “play the part” of a mom who had it all together, until I did get it all together.  Sometimes the pretense fuels the reality.  And when I couldn’t get it all together, at least I didn’t lose anyone while I was out in public. 

Dirty Little Secret #3:  Babywearing is like a Homemade Tracking System
I am, unfortunately, someone who has had a child jump out of a stroller while crossing the street (seriously, you cannot make this stuff up-- from a fully secured five-point harness, no less.  Dude’s got some serious talent).  Let me just point out the obvious:  A worn child is a locatable child.  Some might even say an un-lose-able child.  Now, my jumper was not a good candidate for being worn (at the time of his escape or really at most times in his life), but while you’re racing around looking for the bolter, at least you know exactly where one or two of the Other Ones are.   

Dirty Little Secret #4:  Babywearing allows for creative storage

Did you know you can tuck a diaper, a onesie, and a small water to one side of a 4-month old in a tummy-to-tummy carry in a in a stretchy pouch?  And even better, that you can fit your large wallet, keys, a binky, 2 size 3 diapers, a wipes case, your camera, a lipgloss, AND a pound of Whole-Bean Starbucks in the handy dandy pocket of a Kozy MT?  These are not widely-publicized pluses.  Heck, with careful planning you could probably pack for the weekend in the tie-end of a wrap. 

Dirty Little Secret #5:  Babywearing allows you to embrace your inner evangelist and your inner Macgyver.
Everyone likes to be the expert every once in a while.  And babywearing is not exactly a widespread skill. You will be amazed at how often people will come up to you and ask you questions, and if you are open to responding, you get to spread the excitement.  Sometimes, you also get to be creative. I had a great time showing a guy at work how to use a pouch using some adding-machine tape and a stuffed mascot.  We must, of course, ignore the fact that the CEO’s executive assistant walked by at the time. 

Dirty Little Secret #6:  Babywearing reduces your need for Kleenex
Isn’t that green of you?  Whether you’ve been a parent for 3 weeks, 3 months, or 3 years, you’ve probably noticed that babies produce a lot of snot and a lot of spit-up.  Sorry.  I know, but I’ve been covered in one thing or another for almost a decade and have reached grudging acceptance of my reality.  Whether you’re carrying you child on your front or your back, she can take care of that snotty nose or pitter-dribble by herself, conveniently positioned to wipe her face right on your shirt.  Isn’t that great?  So self-sufficient and resourceful.  Unfortunately, Dirty Big Secret #1 is that babywearing can, at times, increase your laundry load.  But heck, isn’t your entire life really all about laundry at this point?  What’s one more shirt?  And when they miss your shirt and get you, well, you’ll need to shower.  But every once in while, don’t you really need a concrete reason to stop what you’re doing and hop into a nice hot shower?  Alone.  Where the sound of the water and the exhaust fan drowns out the sounds of all the people who need things from you … Oh.  Sorry.  Where was I?

Dirty Little Secret #7:  Babywearing presents endless opportunites to freak out your Mother-in-Law and other relatives.
Don’t lie.  Some little part of you enjoys freaking out your mother-in-law.  I love my MIL.  I am one lucky woman.  But … I am not going to deny that one of the reasons I embraced the “Santa Toss” method of back-carry-positioning is because I knew it would completely freak her out.  And my mom, who was a die-hard Snugli wearer, still waffles between being impressed and confused by my dazzling skills.

Dirty Little Secret #8:  Babywearing allows you to believe, at least until someone throws up on you, that you can be La Mom Nikita.
I still remember my very first La Mom Nikita babywearing moment … I was getting dinner ready for my older two (2 & 4 at the time), and my 3rd was maybe 4 or 5 months old.  She was freaking out, I was freaking out, everyone was freaking out, because what fun is a good freakout if it’s not widespread?  I plopped her in a Mei Tai, managed to get her to latch on, and got dinner on the table and dinner into her simultaneously.  I threw in a load of laundry, loaded the dishwasher, and seriously felt like I could kick some bad-guy booty, if anyone was stupid enough to get near me and my bad self.  

Dirty Little Secret # 9:  Babywearing allows you to totally ignore your children.
Some might not consider this a plus, but let me tell you, in my world, this has been one of the biggest reasons I have been so avid for so long.   Got a to-do list a mile long and a newly mobile child?  Throw him on your back and you are good to go.  Laundry, groceries, bathing other children (watch your balance, now)?  Piece of cake.  All the daily mundane tasks that are impossible to do with someone clinging to your ankles or sticking his fingers in an electrical socket are magically possible when you’re wearing a baby-backpack, and you appear to the outside world like someone completely concerned about their welfare.

Dirty Little Secret #10:  Babywearing is Dead Sexy
That is a total lie.  I just wanted to make sure you were still reading.  One would be hard-pressed to say that really anything about baby-care is sexy in any way.  But … confidence is sexy.  And I can’t think of anything I’ve done as a mother that has given me so many minor and major boosts of confidence as babywearing has. 

Surviving parenthood has so much to do with confidence, learning to accept your personal limitations, and find ways to maximize your opportunities to be successful.  With four children, ranging in age from 9 to 2, I have had a lot of opportunities to come face-to-face with my limitations.  Most would agree I have more gray hairs than functioning brain cells at this point. Through Beltway Babywearers, both online and “in real life,” I have had the chance to meet a wonderful group of parents, some of whom I have very little in common with, many of whom have significantly different approaches to parenting than I do.  I have learned to appreciate that there really is no one “right” way.  It takes all kinds of mothers to mother all kinds of children, and all kinds of fathers too.  The trick is figuring out what kind of parent you are, and what kind of parent your kids need you to be at that moment.  

And, of course, not getting too cocky with your competent self, because what worked yesterday is unlikely to work on Day 7 of, say, a blizzard.  

Posted by Nancy

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Care and Feeding of Carriers

Everyone who must wash clothes and textiles discovers their preferred methods. What are your preferred methods for laundering and caring for your carriers?  Do you follow the care label? 
Dry clean only?  Make your own laundry soap?  Toss it in the dryer? Line dry? 
We invite readers to share their methods and mishaps in the comment box below.  We look forward to hearing from you.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Baby it's cold outside!

As we all know, DC has experienced a record amount of snowfall this winter.  But luckily, Snowmom was ready for the challenge.  Here she models the latest in snowperson carrier fashion.  Thanks, Snowmom, for appearing in our blog.

Unfortunately the snow has also made our regular bloggers go a little loopy with snowbound preschoolers and school aged kids. So, as soon as they regain some balance in their homes, we hope to return with some fabulous tips.  I know what these mamas and dads are working on and there are some awesome things coming!

Hope you are all staying warm and enjoying some extra cuddles while waiting for the spring thaw (I think I'll see my yard again sometime in June).

Posted by Ann Marie