Thursday, May 30, 2013

Bear in the Big Blue House Analysis

Delving into the world of children's television, I have been able to watch some older shows that my sister enjoyed and really see something new every time. My favorites to watch are Little Einsteins, Bear in the Big Blue House, and The Wiggles. The problem is that there are only a few episodes of each on youtube, but that only bothers me, not Z. 

I have learned a little bit about appealing to the adults that may be trapped behind the dancing toddler. I think the most interesting has been Bear in the Big Blue house. There are so many levels to this patched together family, one older bear (Bear) his reclusive and strange roommate Tutter (the mouse), the foreign exchange student that most likely staying past his visa allows (Treelo), hyperactive twins Pip and Pop (otters), Ojo, the only female that lives in the house, and a variety of other friends that come and go as they please. 

I'd like to delve into what Bear's life is really like. His best friend (and possible love interest) is Luna the moon. He talks to her every night, tells her about his life, but knows there is nothing more because there is just too much distance between them and she has so many other people that depend on her. Luna always has a spot in her heart for Bear. 

The episode that got me thinking was the Harvest Moon episode, where Luna brings a girl bear from Bear's past, Ursa. Besides the obvious play on Ursa Major, she is genuine with Bear and after all the 'kids' have gone to bed reminds him that "They were going to look at the stars together." That got me thinking, who is Ojo's mother? Why does she live with Bear? Why doesn't Bear have a mate? Meeting Ursa gave me this theory - Ursa and Bear were together, but Ursa decided to move to her home country Spain and be a farmer there, and didn't want to bring the little cub Ojo with her. Either Bear is Ojo's father and they haven't told her, or Ursa wants to pursue her career over being a mother. 

I guess I spend too much time watching kids shows. Maybe they are all just friends and I'm reading into it. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

MICWiC 2013

I recently had the opportunity to attend another conference, not related to blogging.

I think I want to change jobs again. Or rather I’d like a career. The job I’m at makes pretty meh money, and there is little to no challenge. I have no drive or desire because my coworkers have done such a good job at keeping the bar absurdly low. There is no drive for anything outside, even when there is an incentive. We have community events designed for employees go get involved and help the community. After working here for almost three months, I have done more events than any of my coworkers combined.

A few weeks ago I was recognized for ‘outstanding customer service.’ I used ASL for a Deaf customer. It didn’t strike me as ‘outstanding’ but when you are the only tri-lingual person at a workplace, sometimes you ‘shine.’ As the only person that seems to be a decent human being...meh.

But this is about where I want to go, what I want to do. I think it’s time to decide what I want as a career. I want to go back to school, and I think it’s something to do with technology. I was to program, I want to be a developer. I want to manage and grow in a company and I want to pioneer.

MICWiC was the first opportunity I had to really enjoy and understand success of women in the technology field. There were so many strong women with stories about overcoming gender disparagy in their field. Being a coder, being a developer, its something I can aspire to.

I connected with several people, but I'm still waiting for Z to get old enough to not need me as much.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Baby Wearing (Guestblog)

About Me:
My name is Kal, I am a mother of one, and Megan and I were high school friends. We reconnected when we found out the other was expecting! I live in Grand Rapids, MI, work part-time, and blog about my experiences with parenting and life.

Megan asked me to write a little bit about baby wearing. I'm going to focus not only on why baby wearing is good for parent and child (that's right, not limited to moms), and the wraps I personally have experience with. I tend to go for the stretch hybrids or the gauze wraps from Wrapsody. I love baby wearing, and it has truly become a part of my identity. There are many different types of carriers, just make sure you read consumer comments. Don't just pick any youtube DIY that is out there.  Check your sources please. I encourage you to find better people than me to ask questions about baby wearing. I am not an expert - I just like to share what little knowledge I have. :)

Why I wear my baby:
I am a believer in attachment parenting, and for me, babywearing is a huge part of that. I enjoy cuddles and my Z was a huge butt about being set down. For us, wearing was a key aspect of making sure I didn't lose my brain and she got what she needed. I learned to nurse in a wrap, I put her in a wrap for mall trips, into the store, around the house, out for walks, whenever. Even though she has been walking since last summer, I still put her in wraps when I need to get housework done and she wants to be near me.

For younger children, babywearing simulates being inside the womb. Hearing the heartbeat, keeping warm with body heat and the natural swaying an oscilating that parents do help calm babies. Babies that want to be held and stay up near the parents face are smart - they want to be where the language is, where the sounds and the facial expressions are - its the best place for them to learn.

Also, as a breastfeeding mom, I used wraps for on-the-go feeding. It takes practice, and you need to know your body and your baby's body before trying it out in public. Try feeding around the house before you try it at the checkout lane at Meijer. And yes, I have fed Z while scanning my own produce at the store, I'm sure it was caught on camera. But guess what - CHECK LAWS. In most states, breastfeeding women are exempt from public nudity laws. It's ok to have a nip slip, or to have a baby get bored and unlatch. Feeding in a carrier can reduce your anxiousness if you haven't fed in public before. If someone gets close enough to see what is going on - it's time to press harassment charges. ;)

Babywearing for me is mostly about not having a screaming child, but for some, babies are a fashion. The wraps and carriers come in all sorts of styles, fabrics, and patterns. Some are one piece, but I tend to gravitate towards wrap carriers. I use two main types, the Bali Breeze and the Bali Stretch. I used to use a MOBY, the Seven Slings, and the Flip. - but they didn't turn out to be what I could use and I didn't like as much. I also have a ring sling from BabyEtte for super duper short trips.


How not to wear a baby (there is a doll falling out of her wrap!).

1. Make sure baby can breathe. Without the proper head control, you have to make sure that there is no fabric over the baby's face, and they aren't curled down.
2. Never do anything you wouldn't do holding a baby, this includes jogging, running, jumping on trampolines etc.
3. Never use a baby carrier riding in the car.
4. Check types of carriers and what ages they can be used for. (I use wraps which are good for all ages, but certain carries are better for different ages and development stages)
5. Inspect your carriers. Check the fabric, check straps, make sure they are in working order.
6. Protect baby from the elements - hats, coats, carriers don't have protection, be aware.
7. Practice before using baby, or practice over a soft surface like a bed/gym map

Carry Videos : I have drawn from a few of my favorite videos for this., youtube, and I take no credit for making these videos. I have provided the original links so you can like them and enjoy. 
Front carry:
I like to use a simple pre-tied front carry for a lot of my babywearing outside the home. The front cross carry is the instruction that comes with every type of wrap carrier. This can be tied before leaving the house, and usually doesn't need to be adjusted.

The basic X or front cross carry is the easiest carry to do. It is easy to adjust, it is comfortable for baby and doesn't put all the strain on one shoulder like some carries. The only warning I have is to be mindful of your temperature and babies temp. In the winter, a heavy wrap (like a Moby) can get hot! Dress yourself in a tank, baby in a onesie, and throw a coat on over top. If you have something lighter (Bali Breeze or Bali Stretch) you can think of it as a layer of clothing. Never dress a baby in more layers than you would wear.

Back carry:
For all back carries, learn to put baby safely on your back. I suggest using WrapsodyBaby because there are several different methods. I actually use a "double hammock carry" for when I need to get all my chores around the house, or want to go for a walk. Best done after baby has been fed, and can be used to help lull into nap time.

With this one, remember to put the first pass around your chest, then spread it out for the second pass around the baby. This carry is really good for long time wear. Be careful that baby can reach new stuff when up higher (like hair).

Multiple baby carry:
Wearing two similarly sized babies. Zelda (15 mo) and Xander (8 months)
 In  picture above I am using two wraps for the two babies.
For Xander and Zelda I used a double hammock carry, then a basic X carry over that. It is a little warm, but the babies balanced pretty well. For two different sized babies, the larger one should go on your back. There are single wraps for multiple children, but I never have two all the time to experiment on. You can also use a wrap and a ring sling combination, or ever wear one and have one in the stroller. Use what works for you - if something doesn't, that's ok.

That should give you a start for babywearing, but practice, practice, practice. Make sure to read comments on youtube videos when you want to try a new wrap or carry. If the comments are all negative, look somewhere else. There are plenty of good resources, ask your friends if there is a mom's group for trading carriers.

Just remember, I am not and end-all, know-all. There are many other carrys and carriers out there. There are some babywearing groups out there that do rentals, and I encourage anyone to try before you pick out something.

More about babywearing:

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Books, Belly, and Butterflies

I haven't posted about my baby in a few weeks. I've been soap boxing my opinion (however contraversial), and have since forgotten why I started this blog.

Zelda has been amazing, and it seems like every day she learns something new. She started lifting up her shirt and saying 'belly,' then running to me or Sean and pulling up our shirts to say 'belly.' Titi Manda came to visit a few weeks ago and she and Z had a total blast while I was stuck at work. We went out to a playgroup to read a book. We arrived too late for the actual reading portion, but Z started saying 'book.' She'd pick up the copy of whatever we were reading and say 'book' and bring it over. Now I can tell her to grab a book, and she will come sit with me while we page through it.

I am absolutely thrilled with her desire for literature. Early literacy and reading had been a goal for me as a parent, and she has done above and beyond what I had hoped for her age. We have been attending a few different story groups and found a few that were pretty amazing.

I'm going to count this as a win, and now time to move on with other parenting things to work on. Like potty training (dun dun DUN!)

Friday, May 10, 2013

DisneyLand! California Adventures and Extra Stuff

We went to DisneyLand. But the best part about going to California was not the 'magic' of DisneyLand. It was spending time with my aunt and uncle, going to the park, playing in the warm weather and generally just being away from real life for a week.

Driving around LA was the worst. Driving with my mother is bad in Michigan, but put her in an unfamiliar car in the worst traffic in the USA? It was awful. I pleaded my uncle to drive. Or Sean.

I felt like this trip was fun, but we could have done it for much cheaper, and that's why I felt so bad the entire trip. I constantly felt like we were wasting money that we didn't need to, because Z was being a baby. She is a baby, but we could have done simpler things rather than spending money on tickets to the museum, or tickets to DisneyLand. My favorite times were going to the pool and walking and chatting. I'm more of a stay-cation person.

Also, I have learned that the days of staying with my family in close quarters is over. Sean, Z, and I need our own space. That way Z can cry and not disturb others, and we can get our schedules in order. This vacation was also hard because Z doesn't understand how to wait. We did all the rides she was able to go on, and didn't bother to wait in line for anything longer than 15 minutes. No character dinners, no meetings, just walking around the park and getting some good old fashioned vitamin D.

The rest of April was a bit of a blur. Everything has been changing so fast, Sean's parents went through a month of homelessness. Things are finally settling down, and I ordered all of my seeds and getting ready to do some planting and gardening. :)

Thursday, May 9, 2013

I Need to Blog More - March Recap

March has been crazy busy. I had an amazing week with my sister, went to a conference, settled into the new work schedule, had a super late period (thanks IUD, real good job with the birth control), and went to a conference. After all that - Sean is turning 25 on Saturday! Yay for a quarter century, I feel like I'm dating an old man. :P

I haven't been blogging as much as normal these days. Z changes so fast I forget what I have written and what is really new. Every day it feels like she is learning something new and doing something else. Last week it was "book" that became "duck" and "buck" and (you guessed it) "fuck." Not my proudest moment, but a reminder to watch my own language. And she can carry on a conversation by herself, wandering the apartment with my phone to her ear and saying, "Hello. Okay. Okay. Okay. Bye!" Over, and over.

Plus - she says, "what?" It's incredibly cute, but I find myself saying, "Did I stutter?!" Or when we watch something on TV, or just randomly - "What? What?" Or she can try to find someone. Sean left for work one morning and Z walked to the door and started knocking saying "Where Dada?" It kind of broke my heart.

Work has been pretty crazy, it's a busy-work job rather than a career. I like it for now, but I'm going to keep my options open. I'm actually thinking when Z goes to school I might go for a Masters in information systems or some sort of code development. I can code in VB, but, eh. I want to work with computers and have fun and see results and write an app or something. More on that conference I went to another time, I need to process my life for a while first.

Manda came to visit for her spring break. That was amazing. She is a wonderful child care and someone I can just hang with so easily. We started calling her "Titi" and asking Z, "Where's Titi?" Every now and again she'll wander the apartment and ask "where Titi?" I can't wait to have her back to hang out.

When Manda visited and then my parents came to visit, we went to see the butterflies at Fredrik Meijer Gardens. Zelda did pretty well, but wasn't a huge fan of getting held without me or Sean.