Sunday, August 23, 2009

Winners Again!

Two years ago, my testimonial photo won a place in the Ergo Calendar. We were living in Egypt at the time and we got our picture taken in front of the Pyramids of Giza. Ian was nursing in the Ergo as I enjoyed visiting the sole surviving wonder on the Seven Wonder of the World list.

Fast forward to this July when we went to Cambodia to see Angkor Wat and other ancient temples. Though I love my Beco (4th Generation), it was the Ergo I chose to bring to Cambodia. I wanted the extra support provided by the thicker shoulder and waist straps as well as the zippered front pocket (really convenient for passports, tickets and money while traveling). We had a great trip and Eva slept, nursed and smiled in the Ergo the whole trip. I was able to climb to the tops of the temples and walk all around. We didn't miss out on anything.

When we returned home to Korea, I had an e-mail from Ergo about a new photo contest. I sent in a few photos from our trip and to my surprise and delight, we won! The prize was an Ergo Hands-Free System. It arrived today. The contest was almost over when we entered and I hadn't really focused on the prize, but I was pleased to try it out. I opened the first box and it was the Ergo Backpack in Blue. I wondered why they didn't send me camel to match my carrier, but I thought,"Well, that's o.k. they blue will go with the camel". Then I opened the second box. It was a front pouch. Finally, there was a third box. "What could this be?" I asked as I picked up the third box.

It was a brand new Ergo carrier in blue! They have made several improvements since I bought my carrier in January 2007.

From the Ergo website:

The chest straps are now permanently attached to the shoulder straps with a "runner", and will keep the chest strap in its desired location so it won't need readjusting each time the carrier is taken on and off. The chest straps are dyed to match the carrier, enhancing the carrier's overall appearance.

The hood straps are shorter and now attach directly onto the shoulder straps; therefore, the D-rings are no longer needed. The elastacized hood provides more length in spite of the shorter straps and will "cup" around your baby's head.

The one current D-ring is for your personal use. These changes are not yet reflected in our instructional videos.

This is a great change. The old sleeping hood is fine once you get the straps attached, but you have to find the D-ring, slide the straps through the D-ring and snap them. They are very long and it is difficult to attach. I just tried on the new carrier and put up the hood. It was so much quicker and easier with the new design.

I will review the other components of the hands-free system after I use them long enough to get a good feel.

I noticed that on the Ergo site that Ergo will be unveiling Heart2Heart carrier in September. I searched online and couldn't find anymore information except that a few bloggers are set up to receive it when it comes out for a review and/or giveaway. I am guessing that this carrier will have an integrated infant insert. I have no basis for this guess except that I find the Ergo infant insert bulky and a pain to use, plus, other competitors, like Beco have built-in infant inserts. I love the Ergo. It is an awesome carrier once you can use it without the infant insert all the way through to when you don't want to carry your child anymore, but the infant insert leaves a lot to be desired. It is fine once baby is in, but when you take the baby in out and you have two big pieces to deal with. Some people love it though, but for me, the Ergo is best post-infant stage, especially when baby/toddler gets big and squirmy!

I used a Mamma's Milk Adjustable Pouch with Eva until she could use the Ergo and Beco (I have the old 4th Generation model Beco that requires an infant insert, the Butterfly II has a built-in infant insert) without the insert. Though the Mamma's Milk Adjustable Pouch is beautiful and worked well with Eva, it is still a one-shouldered carrier. I just don't last as long with a one-shouldered carrier. Since I've tried a wrap, I now believe that I will prefer to use the Moby Wrap with my next newborn, even after looking at the Beco's built-in infant insert. Still, I am interested to see what Ergo will come up with. Ergo was at the Baby Fair this weekend, but I didn't stop by since I already have my Ergo and I was demonstrating the Moby. I wonder of they had Heart2Heart there....

What a great week it has been for me and babywearing! I got a Moby Wrap and learned how to use it and I won a new Ergo system! (In the winning Ergo photo, I'm also wearing the Japanese Weekend Nursing Top that I won in the Blacktating Blogiversary celebration--It brought me luck!)

Stay tuned for my upcoming post, "Can You Have Too Many Babycarriers?" in which I will give MY answer to this question and compare my favorite carriers.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Moby Modeling at the Coex Baby Fair 2009

Let me just say that I am converted! After unsatisfying attempts to use ring slings and pouches (often touted as the easiest most basic of carriers), I went straight to the soft-structured carriers (Ergo and Beco which I love). I never tried a wrap because even though wrap-wearers are a devoted set, wraps seemed too complicated and if I couldn't handle a ring sling, how would I master a wrap?

And then I met Sarah. She preaches the gospel of Moby. She loved her wrap so much that she became the Moby Wrap distributor for Korea. When Moby Wrap Korea got a last minute spot at the Coex Baby Fair, I offered (with Eva) to be a product demonstrator. The Moby website has very good instructions and Sarah helped me when I got there. We put her in the Hug Hold Eva felt "snug as a bug in a rug" as my dad says. It felt like I was hugging her. It is very well named. She fell asleep immediately. I walked around both levels of the Fair, armed with brochures. Several people pointed and stared at me. I handed them brochures and said "Moby, 3rd floor by Sony". I went about walking around the fair with Eva in the Moby and pushing my stuff in the stroller, remembering too late why I hate to use a stroller. After making the full circuit, I went back to check in with Sarah.

The demonstrator toddler was cranky, so after Eva had a snack, she jumped into the roll of demonstrator baby. Eva is a great product demonstrator because she really responds when people smile at her and she loved the Moby. Cute baby plus honest enjoyment of the product = very good marketing. Eva nursed well in the Moby (Hug Hold) and I think her nursing sold a grandmother who was on the fence. As soon as she saw Eva nursing, she smiled and gestured about nursing and then bought one! In addition to Hug Hold, I tried Lotus Hold(forward facing) and Cradle Hold. Eva is a little big for Cradle Hold, but we did it to show a perspective buyer. There is also Hike Hold (back carry) and Hip Hold.

The Moby Wrap has several variations: Moby Wrap, Moby UV, Moby D (has woven or silk center panel), Moby Select(Organic).

We got the Moby D Jade Silk Panel on Chocolate, though I am thinking the Pink Silk Panel on Black would be better for fall...

Some interesting notes on what the Koreans liked: natural (regular and organic), lilac, chocolate, eggplant (organic). The silks did really well, also. When they were told that chocolate was the #1 seller, they really liked that.

The advantages of the Moby over many other carriers:

*Adjustability: You can customize the wrap to a wide range of body types. Soft-structured carriers can handle height and width differences, but Moby has a real advantage for the well-endowed. You can also customize for very small babies, even premies, up to 35 lbs toddlers. You can also hold twins.

*Comfort for You and Baby: The fabric is soft, yet supportive and the carries use both shoulders which I find to be much more comfortable than one-shouldered carriers. Over the course of the 5 hours I wore the Moby (at the fair and the way home), I didn't feel anything in my shoulders (it was heaven on the shoulders). I did start to feel a little twinge in my back towards the end, but Sarah spread out the fabric and fixed that. Eva had no complaints.

*Compact: The Moby comes with a small matching bag where you can store your Moby and then put it in a diaper bag. You could also just fold it up or roll it up as well. I'm not one to put my carrier away while I'm out and about. I usually leave it on while I am driving so I can put the baby back in quicker when I reach my destination. Once you tie on the Moby, it looks kind of like a t-shirt. You don't have to take it off to get the baby out. So if you prefer to leave it on, it will save you time and be neat.

*Multi-Purpose: You can use it as a blanket or changing mat. Korea seems to either have elaborate nursing/changing rooms or nothing. Someone really ought to start selling those restroom pull-down diaper change things here. It is nice to have something to provide a barrier for diaper changes.

The main drawback to the Moby is the learning curve to use it, but it is not insurmountable. You need to remember how to put it on and to make the adjustments properly. However, I think this will be easier than I previously thought. After just looking at the instructions and having Sarah help me today, I am sure that I can get to be as quick and Sarah and her business partners are about putting them on and taking them off without too much effort.

I think the Moby Wrap is the best carrier for newborns. With Ian, I tried to use a ring sling, but it never felt secure and I couldn't get Ian comfortable, plus it is on one-shoulder. I had the Baby Bjorn, but I found it hard to get him in and out and it really hurts your back and shoulders, even with very small, very young babies. I made a pouch, but I am not a very good seamstress and don;t think I got the measurements quite right. I got the Ergo and Beco when Ian was almost 5 months old and they were perfect right out of the box. No learning curve, just awesome security, ease of use and comfort for Ian. However, when I tried to use the Ergo and Beco (I have the 4th Generation, the new Butterfly II has a built-in infant insert, but I haven't tried it) with Eva as a newborn, I found the infant insert to be bulky and awkward. I received a beautiful light blue silk adjustable Momma's Milk pouch as a gift, so that is what I used with Eva for the first few months. The adjustability ensured a good fit for me, but my husband could not wear it. Also, pouches are one-shouldered carriers so you do feel the strain on your working shoulder a lot quicker than 2 shouldered carriers. Even at 5 months, it was very comfortable to wear Eva. I wish I would have had the Moby from the beginning with her. Sarah still uses it quite a bit with her toddler. I will have to update this review after a few months of use.

Here is my Eva with Sarah. They look so cute together!

The Moby Booth is against the back wall on the 3rd floor near the Sony booth. The Baby Fair runs through Sunday. Go here to pre-register so you can get into the Baby Fair free. Go to the desk for Foreigners and Press and tell them you pre-registered online.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Coex Baby Fair 2009

The Coex Baby Fair is this week, August 20-23. Mommy Cha will be there with Moby Wrap Korea. The fair has representatives from many pregnancy/baby related items from cloth diapers to photographers to gear to services, etc. They often have discounts and special deals. I found a lot of the items to be pretty pricey last year, but it is definitely worth a look. If you have a Moby, please wear it to support Moby Wrap Korea and stop by their booth to say hello.

Mommy Cha sent some free tickets to Baby Fair for me to give away, but there appears to have been a postal mixup and they haven't arrived. However, last year, we pre-registered and were able to get in free. Here's the link we used last year. Hope it works again! Ignore the contradictory Konglish message at the top and just fill it out and submit.

Milestones: Ian Uses Chopsticks

Or "chapsticks" as he prefers to call them. He doesn't believe me when I tell him "chopsticks". What is the Korean word for them? Maybe he'll believe that...

They are training chopsticks, but I was still impressed that he was able to put his fingers in the right places and get food (he picked the eel out of the rolls) in his mouth.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Clothing Swaps, Beyond Awesome!

When I was little, I had a very entrepreneurial spirit. I loved to sell things. I sold lemonade, honey suckles, bows, fruit salad and more. Then, something happened and selling became distasteful to me. I can't stand it. I always seem to feel ripped off whether I am doing the buying or selling. I much prefer to donate things or give them away. Still, it is nice to get something out of the things I have that just don't work for me and that is where clothing swaps come in.

I have a vague memory of doing one in DC with my roommates years ago. My friend Lauri, of Found Clothing, has been doing them for years. The Expat Parents Club did one in June but I wasn't able to participate. It was a great success. And today, I attended one held by the Yongsan Playgroups. I really cleaned up! I got a winter coat and pair of jeans for Ian and a ton of stuff for Eva in sizes 6-12 months through 24 months, but mostly, size 12-18 months. Between what I already have for her and what I got today, she is pretty well set for clothes. I can fill in the gaps with things I really like.

I have been holding onto a lot of things that either didn't fit well or just weren't my style because I didn't want to deal with selling them, but didn't want to just give them away like:

1. Maternity/nursing clothes, including very nice pajamas, that are too big. I had a big pile of maternity clothes. They just don't quite work. I should have returned them, but I talked myself into keeping them to avoid the hassle of returns (trying to break that bad habit).

2. Baby bathrobes (3 of them that I received as gifts). They are super cute, but I just don't use them. It seems like by the time I get them on, I could have their clothes on. That is what I do. I used them once or twice with Ian because I was aware I wasn't using them. Then I determined it just wasn't worth the effort. However, some people do use them. My friend Heather says she uses robes on her kids all the time. Hopefully those cute robes went to someone who will love them.

3. Baby wash cloths. I have more than I need (given as gifts) and I never use them. I was happy to pass them on.

4. Extra onesies. I got a package of 6 onesies as a gift for Ian, but I never used them because I already had enough in that size.

5. Two new dresses that were gifts for Eva that will not be the right season when she hits that size.

6. A crib sheet that I received as a gift that I never used because it didn't match the crib skirt I made. I also don't use the crib very much anyway.

7. A pile of other clothes from Ian that just weren't my style.

This was so much fun. I got such a nice haul that I will be freer to buy special things for the kids and freer to give things away at the next swap. My friend, Heather, also saved some long sleeved t-shirts for Ian. She has them at her house so we'll just pick them up at our next playdate. Her son is 6 months older than Ian so it works great for hand-me downs. Her second (and last) child is a girl so she is getting rid of most things from her son. Great for us!

Swapping is good for your wallet, the environment and your feng shui! To set up a swap, you just need people and their stuff. You can make it as tight or as loose as you want as far as rules go. The way the swap worked at Yongsan Playgroups was that everyone put their stuff into piles based on loose categories/sizes. Then, everyone could take 5 items. The plan was to take a break after 5 items, but since it was going so smoothly and calmly, we decided just to keep going. The plan was to take as many items as you brought. Whatever items were left at the end could either be taken home by the person who brought them, taken by someone else, or donated.

There were lots of clothes/people at this swap and lots of clothes to pick from and we are a tight knit community so I think when you have those circumstances you can use looser rules/structure. If you do a swap with a smaller group/smaller pile, you might need to take turns and go around the room choosing one item at a time so everyone gets the chance at the good stuff. If you do a swap with a big group, it is probably a good idea to start with a limit and take take breaks until you see how aggressive people are in the choosing to make sure it is a positive/pleasant experience for everyone.

Have fun, and get swapping!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

No-Cry Discipline Solution by Elizabeth Pantley

Elizabeth Pantley, perhaps best known for her books on sleep issues, is the author of the No-Cry Discipline Solution.

I turned to this book last year when my son picked my unfortunate swearing habit. Pantley's book gives age-appropriate remedies that mostly involve reducing exposure to the words, especially from you! . Click here for that post. I will say that it worked almost immediately.

This summer has been super stressful and while I have (mostly) refrained from dropping f-bombs, "Oh God" has been uttered many times by both me and my little mimic. I don't like to hear him say that but I know exactly where it is coming from, so back to the book! I picked this book back up because of this issue and as I glanced through it, I realized I needed to re-read it. Elizabeth Pantley defines the goal of discipline on page 4:

Parental discipline is about helping our children create a foundation of strong values, morals, and guidelines that they
can use for a lifetime of self-discipline.

In other words, you want to teach your child to make good decisions when you aren't there. I believe this and in practice, I have found that when I am able to stay in control, I have a better outcome with Ian. Still, it is my nature and/or learned habit to yell and lose control. That is why a book like this is so valuable. Not only does it reinforce my theoretical beliefs regarding discipline, it gives practical strategies to real-life discipline problems. Time to get reading...

Friday, August 7, 2009

Whoa, Dude! Time to Prepare for Cup Feeding and First Solids

How did this happen? Having a baby breaks all sense of linear views of time and existence. I feel like I've loved her forever, but at the same time, it seems like just a few weeks ago that I met her. Now, we have been through a lot in her short lifetime: numerous roadtrips, multiple international flights, and multiple moves. Unbelievably, she really hasn't made any of this much harder. She nursed and slept and smiled through most of it.

Breastfeeding has been so effortless this time. I'm not bragging, believe me, with Ian it was rough for the first 3 months. With Eva, it was very natural, the way every woman thinks it should be. It was so easy and great, that I didn't bother giving her a bottle more than twice. I really just couldn't manage it on top of everything else going on. But, I am trying to prepare her for my yoga class, so I have to do something by August 30.

With Ian, I followed the conventional advice of introducing the bottle at 6 weeks. I gave him one bottle a day for about 6 weeks and then only when needed after that. He never had a problem. Another friend has a newborn and was asking about introducing the bottle. I did a quick kellymom search and found lots of links. I decided to check them out myself and found another plan of attack. Between 4-6 months, a baby can usually handle a sippy cup and it is often easier for a baby this age to accept it than a bottle. I really wanted to try out those Adiri bottles, but perhaps the cup method would work better. Today, I pumped 2.75 oz (in 25 minutes). I went out and bought some Platex First Sipster cups. They are cheap, BPA-free and the Playtex sippy cup lines is highly rated on Z Recommends.

I can also start thinking about solids for her. She loves to watch me eat so I think she will take them earlier than Ian did, but we'll see. Last night, I realized I need to get Ian out of the highchair. I still have him in it because the tray confines the mess, but he doesn't use a highchair when we are out and didn't at my parents' house, so he doesn't need it. He does, however, need to be transitioned out of it. So, last night, I told him that he needed to pick a new place at the table.

When Curt gets home we will be experimenting with my 2.75 oz. I'll report back later...

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Preparing to Leave My Daughter

Starting August 30, I will be leaving my daughter for a good portion of the day, every Sunday, to participate in a yoga teacher training course at Magic Pond Yoga Studio. Up until now, I've made one, 20 minute roundtrip to the Post Office and maybe one quick grocery run, when I left her with my mom and I got a massage in Cambodia when I left her with Curt and my sister. Now, every Sunday, I will be leaving her with Curt. With Ian, we were separated a lot during Ian's infancy because I went back to the States to have him, Curt was traveling for work and then went to Iraq. He has never been too sure about what to do with an infant and didn't really get the chance to find out. Well, that's about to change. I think this will be a good thing for Curt, Eva and I, but it is a little scary.

With Ian, I had breastfeeding troubles so I started giving him one bottle a day from 6-12 weeks to give myself a break from breastfeeding so I could either pump, or just have a break. I've had absolutely no breastfeeding problems with Eva and with all the moving, she has only had one bottle and she didn't really drink it. We have less than 30 days to get her to take a bottle, or Curt and Eva are going to have very rough time. But, it has to be done.

So here is my plan, I am going to start pumping today. I am going to pump a little bit every day for the next 26 days and have Curt give her a bottle. I don't like pumping, so I will slowly increase the amount of pump time so I can build up a frozen supply and increase efficiency. My blog friend Connie, went back to work after a short maternity leave with both of her kids and neither ever had ANY formula. This was after 2 c-sections as well. That is dedication. If moms can pump enough for a 5-day work week, I can suck it up and pump for a once a week class.