Above and Beyond the 3 R’s

periwinkleWith Earth Day having just passed, there’s no better time than now to introduce you to the Etsy shop of Ruth Smith, a Winnipeg-based Canadian working mom of two, PeriwinkleDzyns. Ruth got tired of seeing all the obsolete electronic components go into the garbage at a local factory and was industrious enough to rescue them, combine them with her jewellery making skills and create her line of upcycled e-waste jewelery.

Her custom original geekery lanyard is the coolest geekiest. It’s 44″ total length (adjustable to your specification) and has a sterling plated chain around the back of the neck for comfort. It’s very sturdily made of new resistors (never in contact with solder or circuit boards) that have been rescued from going to the landfill. It comes equipped with a 0.75″ key ring for your keys, pass card or whatever you need to have within reach. She makes some cool jewelery that’s less function and more fashion as well. I love this one and this one.

Another cool find in Ruth’s shop are the vintage pinback 1.25″ buttons made by her daughter Kendra. She uses words from vintage dictionaries and thesauri to create these cute accessories which she sells for just $2 each, keeping the books out of the recycle bin, increasing her vocabulary and learning basic business skills all at the same time. What a great venture for an obviously smart little girl!

We love a find that allows you to have it all – shop online, support a mom, support a kid and protect the earth.

Babywearing 101 – Soft Structured Baby Carriers

When new parent discussions turn to baby carriers it is almost always the more modern pack-style baby carriers that first come to mind despite the great variety of baby carriers available today. There is no denying that pack-style baby carriers are one of the most popular options, and there are many reasons why parents opt to purchase a structured carrier.
Soft-structured baby carriers are essentially mei tai baby carriers with buckles. They consist of a main body and four straps that attach to the wearer and hold baby close. Rather than wrapping or tying the carrier to your body, quick-release buckles are used. Buckle carriers lack the versatility that wraps and mei tai’s offer as you are limited to strap and buckle placement when it comes to securing the carrier to your body, however the addition of buckles make for a very convenient option when it comes to a baby carrier.

As Many Unique Pack Carriers as There Are Babies

Unlike simple baby slings or wraparound baby carriers that have a very basic and similar construction between brand names, soft-structured baby carriers vary widely from one model to the next. There seems to be as many unique styles of structured carriers as there are babies, each with its own distinctive features. Differences between soft-structured baby carriers can be found in the number of carrying positions offered, whether or not a waist belt has been used for dispersing weight more ergonomically over the wearer, how a baby is suspended in the carrier, the angle at which buckles, belts and straps are placed as well as how much of your baby is supported by the body of the baby carrier itself, depending on the size of the panel.

This aspect of varying styles and features is important to keep in mind when selecting a buckle-style baby carrier. If one brand does not seem to be working well for you or your baby, you are experiencing discomfort, or a carrier lacks the versatility you are after in its design, there are many others to choose from that will fit and feel differently.

When selecting a soft-structured baby carrier one of the most important features to look for is a carrier that makes use of back-packing technology. Wider shoulder straps, padding in all the right places, and a supportive waist belt to help distribute baby’s weight to your hips and upper thighs for maximum comfort will aid in preventing strain on your neck, back and shoulders.

In-Arms Parenting – for Toddlers too!

Many parents are looking for a baby carrier to use with their older or heavier children. A soft-structured baby carrier is ideal for this. Because a structured baby carrier of the highest standards will adequately distribute a heavier child’s weight to the wearer’s hips and not put strain on the neck and shoulders, you can easily (and comfortably!) carry a child up to 40 or more pounds in many soft-pack carriers.

Advantages of Soft-Structured Baby Carriers:

• Easy for most parents to learn how to use as their concept is similar to that of a standard backpack.
• Ergonomic design in many carriers is more comfortable for wearers offering balanced weight distribution across both shoulders (choose brands carefully!).
One of the best carriers for older babies & toddlers (40+ lbs), most parents find they can carry a baby the longest in a soft-structured carrier.
• Many can be worn on the front and back, with some brands offering more flexibility than others in carrying positions.
• An excellent option for the active parent that hikes or walks often or for longer periods of babywearing.
• Some carriers are designed primarily for “hip” carrying, a natural position for many parents when carrying an older, heavier baby or toddler.
• Convenient to put on and off quickly and easily.
• No wrapping, knots to tie or dragging fabric.
• A one-size fits most baby carrier, soft-structured carriers can easily be shared by different users.
• Mainstream look and ease of use is highly appealing to dads.
• These carriers usually have the highest resale value.

Disadvantages of Soft-Structured Baby Carriers:

• Buckles and the adjustment of belt straps have a learning curve many parents are unprepared for. Carrier may be uncomfortable if adjusted incorrectly.
• Not usually recommended for newborns without head control (less than 4 months old), although some carriers may have additional accessories to accommodate infants.
• Not the easiest or most discrete for nursing an infant. Some may require additional accessories for nursing.
• Structured baby carriers don’t offer the same “hug” or hold some other carriers are well known for, so they are less than ideal for cuddling with an infant or young baby.
• Usually these are the most expensive baby carriers due to the great deal of extra hardware and workmanship involved in manufacturing.
• Buckles make this a bulkier baby carrier so it’s not as compact for travel and may not fit in a diaper bag.

Because of their unique design and the ability to transfer most of a child’s weight to the hips, structured carriers are among the most comfortable baby carriers with even the heaviest of children. Parents that plan to use their baby carriers for a long walks, hiking, back-carrying, or for extended babywearing with an older baby or child, may find a soft-structured baby carrier suits their needs best.

Soft-structured baby carriers are comfortable, relatively simple to use and stylish with mainstream appeal. If you’re looking for a way to get started with babywearing but traditional baby carriers make you nervous, using a soft-structured baby carrier would be a great choice. With their longevity and easy back-carrying options, pack-style baby carries offer a value in a baby carrier that is hard to match. Pair this style of baby carrier with a popular infant option such as a baby sling or wraparound and you’ll have a perfect baby carrying combination from birth to toddler and beyond.

A Pink Whale and a Very Tall Tree

apinkwhaleandaverytalltreeMy daughter is at the stage where her imagination is running wild. She is constantly coming up with stories, songs, games, and situations to reenact. Imagine her surprise when I introduced her to a CD with songs that are chock full of the same kind of wild imagery and ideas that she loves so dearly!

A Pink Whale and a Very Tall Tree is a CD that combines two of my daughter’s favorite things in the world, music and storytelling. Instead of irrelevant lyrics with no cohesive story, Shāna Barry has authored beautiful, weaving tales about an imaginary island inhabited by a family of fōfers (rhymes with gophers).

In case you were wondering (and how could you not?), a fōfer is a multi-colored furry creature that likes to ride bikes, explore the island, and climb trees.

Written and preformed by Shāna Barry, the musical stories of A Pink Whale and a Very Tall Tree inspired many conversations between my daughter and me. We sat at the computer, looking up pictures of the various animals that she mentioned, we talked about where those animals lived, and we learned what they liked to eat. And recently, she has incorporated those animals and concepts into her imaginary play!

While I would categorize this along the lines of folk music, it is by no means traditional. Reminiscent of acoustic Jewel, the soft guitar is all that is needed to provide a musical foundation for Barry to tell her creative stories. Barry’s hushed voice lends a peacefulness to the mix, while drawing in the attention of listeners. Listen to a sample track, A Pink Whale, here.

My daughter really enjoyed this CD. Her favorite track was Around the Island, which she now calls “The Animal Song.” And I must admit, the last track, The Peaceballs, is an incredibly relaxing instrumental number that I could easily use to melt tension on a high stress day! – by Christy