Wednesday, August 30, 2006

National Association Of W Lovers

I don't know why but I love this song! And El Niño is obsessed with the letter W (I've mentioned this here before) so he's positively transfixed when I play this for him.

When the computer crashed last week, the one good thing that happened was that, once we got the PC back up and restored, the sound finally started working again. It mysteriously stopped working a few months after I bought the computer, and it was never a huge issue for us, I never cared enough to do anything about it. With the advent of YouTube and other video hosting sites over the past year, things are totally different now and I can honestly say that I'm enjoying the fact that I can now watch AND listen to all sorts of things on our PC.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

ugh!!! (or, why I'm throwing myself a pity-party)

our (desktop) PC crashed on Saturday, I'm still not really sure why. It's been nerve-wracking for me to be without access to the Internet and it's a royal pain in the ass to try to restore the computer back to where I had it before the crash. I'm not even halfway done and I'm already frustrated and pissed. The OSs had to be reinstalled (Win 98 first, then XP on top) and now all the miscellaneous software that makes my life convenient has to be downloaded, setup, etc. I had no backup this time for my Outlook address book (last time this happened, I at least had the info on my PDA), so right now I don't even have my best-friend's phone number or email addy.

I'm now totally convinced that my next computer will be a Mac (as soon as that unexpected-anxiously-awaited-money comes in) because I'm sick of worrying about viruses and buggy software and having to be a pseudo sys-admin to keep the computer healthy and working right. I crave plug-n-play convenience and have been told by many that Macs offer that, so Mo and I have decided that a Mac lappy's in our future. Oh, and I know I've said it before but I'm gonna say it again: Picasa ROCKS!!! I've been using it for over a year and it's better/easier than pretty much any other photo software I've used (FYI, I'm not well-versed in Photoshop). Well, it just effortlessly restored all the pictures that were in my hard drive, I didn't even have to use the last backup disk that I'd made with Picasa's easy-peasy backup feature. Why isn't Microsoft software as user-friendly as Google's??? If I had any money to invest, I'd be buying me some Google stock. I love their email, chat and photo software, including the new Web Albums feature (that'll be competing with Flickr soon I bet, and I can't wait for them to add a video feature to the albums so they can totally own me).

Oh, and El Niño and I are sick, on top of everything. It's quite a challenge to deal with a computer in need of massive work when one's body feels like an eighteen-wheeler's driven over it, one's head is totally congested, and one's teething toddler is also sick and congested and refuses to eat or sleep. I'll go crawl into a fetal position now...

Friday, August 18, 2006

blah, blah, blah-di-blahblah...

I'll take a break now from discussing babycarriers to dish about one of my other favorite things: shoes! I recently got myself a pair of Croc-offs (pictured) because I went in to Payless looking for something else and when I saw these, I just HAD TO have them and fortunately I'd just gotten some birthday money. They're very comfy, and contribute to my ongoing habit of dressing like a toddler. (I think the last time I dressed like an adult was for a wedding we attended a couple months ago) I know a lot of people just loooooove to go on and on about how fugly Crocs are, and I sorta agree. But periwinkle tie-dye? You had me at periwinkle, baby! Now the clever folks at Crocs have come out with two more mainstream-looking designs for the Fall, one of which is a Mary Jane. OMG!!! It's like the best of all worlds... If, like me, you're convinced that Crocs are a blessing to anyone who walks and/or stands on their feet all day, Journeys has them right now in a few colors, or you can wait until the Fall release next month (which will offer more color options). I had to go try the MJ on and am totally sold, it's waaaaaaay cuter than the regular Crocs but still just as comfy. Mo will soon be getting one of the Rx options they offer, and I'll be getting the MJs as soon as I can pick a color.

Staying on the subject of shoes, El Niño totally screwed us over by outgrowing his practically-new-just-bought 'em-in-June shoes. I'm so glad they were all shoes from babyGap that we'd bought on clearance. (in case anyone's wondering, this isn't surreptitious product placement or blogvertising... this is really me propping up the stuff I like, and I plan to do that often because I'd like to make sure the products that work for me stick around, unlike the china and flatware we registered for when we got married) Buying shoes for this child is tricky because he seems to have a high instep and very sweaty feet. All-leather shoes are out, and a lot of slip-ons are as well because they won't, hrm, slip on. We'd bought him a pair of Ecco sneakers we all loved but he outgrew too fast, then we tried a pair of Stride Rite sandals that were extremely cute but he kept taking them off and much to my chagrin I saw they left red marks all over his feet. The two pairs of babyGap sandals he liked so much he'd put them on at home, while he was otherwise running around naked (great way to potty-train, more on that in a few). I'm finding that a lot of the shoes at babyGap are actually excellent, very bendy soles and well-made enough to take a beating being worn to the playground every day, as well as the constant toddler on/off at home. And of course I only buy them after they've been marked down at least three times and cost less than $10, because if I remember correctly from my days as a Gap employee (a lifetime ago), their markup on footwear and accessories is 300+%, and I'm not paying that. Unfortunately, he wore his verycute sandals for two and a half months before busting out of them to a size 8. Seriously, we were caught with our pants down again and at a difficult stage of Summer-to-Fall retail transition. (I wish I could shop at thrift stores like Dutch but I never find anything other than books to buy there) So, we were out on the Eastside on Tuesday for a business-sushi-lunch and managed afterwards to go to the Marshall's store at Lloyd Center and score some great deals on shoes for all of us, including our third and only successful attempt to get comfortable Stride Rites for El Niño and some Cross Country sneaks for Hyde. Oh, remember the toddler-sized blue flame Chucks I wanted to get? We finally got those too, for $12 at Freddy's, woo-hoo!!! But they don't fit yet, these are a size 9 so maybe next month... and I guess they're not really flames as much as a tattoo design. Whatever... he keeps trying to put them on, it's cute.
On the potty training front, El Niño's been consistently staying dry overnight for over two weeks now. This is huge! Now all we have left to do is get him used to staying dry while he's wearing something... a note to the fine, hardworking people at Kimberly Clark: the idea of the "feels cool/wet" liner in your Huggies Pull-Ups product is clever but it doesn't work for a lot of boys who couldn't care less about being wet or slightly cool in their crotch. I have no experience with potty training girls but I can promise you that *my* boys could lay in enough wetness to constitute a pond and neither one would care one bit, it wouldn't signal to them "hey, you need to go to the potty NOW, Bud!" Oh, and the fit is horrible on skinny boys, El Niño's pants always get soaked when he pees in his Pull-Ups. Can you guys do something about that too?
The talking thing is progressing now at quite a clip, and last week we were surprised when Hyde was heading out the door and El Niño went running after him, yelling "byyyyyyyeeeeee, I wuuuuv uuuuuu!" Sentences are becoming commonplace, and it's clear that English dominates at least his spoken language skills, even if he still understands what I say to him in Spanish. What's funny is that he's also making more of an effort to use signs now, after a few months where he wasn't really trying to use them. The other day he even grabbed my hand and "forced" my fingers to make a sign he was having trouble with, and had forgotten the spoken word for, it was one of those awesome moments where maternal joy and pride just welled up inside me and almost knocked me out.
Sesame Street has begun their newest season, with a much-heralded "lead female" puppet character, Abby Cadabby*. I'm not crazy about this pink puppet with fairy wings and I'm not convinced that she's a necessary addition to the SS cast of characters... call me cynical but I have a nagging suspicion that this was more marketing-driven than anything else (with less Federal money going to fund public television, they've gotta find ways to pay for the show and they've gotta compete with Dora and the Disney Princesses, right?). Don't even get me started on Elmo and his takeover of about a third of the show, blech. The good news is that by adding this new character they've also had to add new content, and it looks like this season the show's being truer to its roots as a result: I've noticed more songs and more of the educational content that I grew up loving. If you're wondering why I care so much about the show, it's because I benefitted immensely from watching SS when I was an intellectually precocious and bilingual little girl. And I was also (28 years ago) one of the kids CTW used to review content for its shows. Most children's television is garbage, and I wasn't happy with the direction SS was taking in the last couple of years I've been watching. So, I'll be watching and probably commenting on Abby in the near future. Oh, and can I just say that for some twisted reason, Cadabby in my brain gets turned into cadaver, so she's Abby Cadaver to me? Oy!
* I would've linked to the New York Times article, which was pretty interesting to read (especially between the lines) but apparently they now require you to subscribe even if you just want to read one piece...
We met our opposites on Saturday... at the Lloyd Center MAX stop on the way home. Mo heard the dude talking and asked me what language he was speaking, and I told him Spanish. My husband's ears perked up and he immediately asked me to go over there and "freak him out" by speaking Spanish to him. For some weird reason, he finds this sexy, that people are surprised by my unaccented efforts at communicating with them in Spanish. Except that this man is as fair-skinned as I am (or more, he's blonder than Mo), so I was certain it wouldn't even faze him. And it didn't. Well, dude's my freakish-counterpart-PuertoRican, living right here in Portland with his Indiana-born wife and three kids. Some pleasant conversation was had and phone numbers were exchanged. As busy as we seem to always be (I don't even know how that happens or how we even have friends still), it *would* be nice to add The Opposites to our social circle. I miss hearing Spanish spoken in my accent... not to be a snob or anything (which I guess I kinda am) but after a while, hearing only the Mexican accent really gets old. And I think it'd really be good for my boys to be around other bilingual/bicultural kids with a similar background. I've called and left a message and now it's their turn. Tag you're it & hope they call back!
I haven't really caught up yet on everything I need to get out of my system but at least this is a start (especially since I started writing this post on Saturday). I have some deep thoughts I need to hack up out of my brain like a hairball but I'm not there yet. Happy Friday!

Update: Abby Cadabby was named "Person of the Week" by the ABC WNT crew... sheeeesh, it's like I have my finger on the pulse of our culture or something!

Thursday, August 17, 2006


I've been offered the opportunity to work part-time from home doing some Spanish/English translation and/or interpretation services. This may turn out to be an easy way for me to contribute to our currently struggling household finances. The businessman offering this opportunity is even willing to print out some business cards for me (at his expense) but has asked me to come up with a business name to put on the cards and maybe a little art to go with it. Hmmmmmmm... I'm really drawing a blank here, no creative juices flowing in this head, in fact I've been trying to kill off a migraine since 4am. Anyone got ideas for me??? I can't promise cookies, like one of my friends has in the past, but my undying gratitude will *surely* reap spiritual rewards for you...

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

some fashion show pics

I love sharing pictures... some of these aren't all that great but I didn't get to take any of them so I can't complain. The first is of me, modeling a blue Panel Kozy (with a borrowed child on my back). The next one is of another local mamma, modeling a Bling Panel Kozy. *sigh*

The third pic is of Mo modeling the bECO XO, with
El Niño on his back. The fourth, fifth and sixth pics are of the totally awesome Amautik. If you saw the movie Atanarjuat: the Fast Runner, you saw the traditional Amautiks made of skins and fur and decorated with beautiful designs; the one Kristi is modeling in these pictures is a modern version made with modern materials. Mo and I joke sometimes about moving up to Alaska ("just how much further away from our families can we go?"), and if we wind up doing it, I'm *totally* getting an Amautik!

The last picture is of me, breastfeeding onstage during the show. Woo-Hoo!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

it wasn't *BlogHer* but it was MY kind of cool... part 2

Ok, I'll confess that the first ridiculous/obnoxious thing I did at the conference was on Wednesday afternoon when I went to the volunteers' meeting at Reed. (in case you're wondering, I took MAX and then a bus to get there from where I live in Beaverton) I had El Niño in the panel Kozy and Kelley Mason, the wonderful mamma who sewed it, was pretty much at the door when I arrived. She hugged me right away and we chatted like old friends. Then my friend Lori came down the stairs and suprised me! She's visiting from UAE and we'd kept missing one another while she was in town. Our whole group of volunteers and visitors toured the gorgeous Reed campus and went over some last minute stuff for the conference. Then everyone went around, drooling over everyone else's "stash" and I asked Kelley if I could go in her room & pet all the Kozys she'd brought! My uncivilized behavior went downhill from there...

Thursday was amazing, to be surrounded by babywearing mammas, to see so many different & beautiful kinds of carriers all in one place (even an Amautik that night during the first fashion show meeting!). I've never experienced this before -- I just recently joined the Portland NINO group and haven't yet been to a meeting -- so it was quite exciting and strangely comforting for me, like I was in a happy dream that I didn't want to wake up from. It felt like I was finally among my own kind. I was discussing it with Mo that night on the way home (on the bus), that it felt great to walk around during breaks and see lots of people -- moms AND dads -- meandering while they wore and snuggled their babes, and to see mammas happily and comfortably nursing everywhere. Ahhhhhhh, if only this was such a normal sight to see in the general population! I've been told that babywearing & NIP is a much more common sight in the NE and SE neighborhoods of Portland but where I live on the West side it's very rare. Oh, and to top off my day, Lori surprised me by giving us a beautiful batik embroidered FreeHand MeiTai, which my honeys napped in on Saturday.

This conference was an awesome opportunity to meet babywearing celebrities (like Maria Blois, author of Babywearing: The Benefits and Beauty of this Ancient Tradition) and many mammas who are starting their businesses and will likely be very successful in the next few years. There were also literally tons of carriers to see, touch and compare (we affectionately refer to them as fluffies, BTW). I'm overwhelmed, exhausted and excited all at the same time. I loved being there... it was still like a dream by day three. Even my normally-shy & reserved husband was chatting with everyone and having a great time. I met so many wonderful mammas and their kids. I learned so much. It's really hard to describe just how it feels to have this kind of opportunity, to learn about the creative process that goes into each person's sling design, to learn about the highs and lows of having a business (how many times did I hear one or another of them say that they wished they could give more carriers away and that they didn't get into this to make money but to spread the love?), to watch them be clumsy, creative, silly, clever, witty, loving, frazzled... to hold and love on so many other people's kids. I held so many babies I thought my uterus would figure out a way to self-pollinate! Oy!!!

OMG, did you *know* how gorgeous ChicKen ScRatch RingSlings are??? I must be living in a cave or something because I just hadn't realized it, and I don't even care for ring slings, seriously. But I'd volunteered to help at Along for the Ride's booth in the exhibit hall on Saturday and got to see and pet several of them up close. I think Kristen Gallagher (the owner) thought I was being really helpful and nice by staying at her booth to help as long as I did but I just really wanted to be close to all those prettyful slings she was selling! As Lori would say: YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!! Kristen thanked me at the end of the day with a Brown Velveteen Hotsling that I just can't stop touching or looking at. I'll post pictures of my two new carriers soon... But I can't say enough how special it was to help people find a carrier they loved and were comfortable in.

We had a fashion show on Saturday night (sponsored by EllaRoo) and I think all the manufacturers tried to show off at least a few new products/colorways at the show. I'd volunteered all my guys to model but Hyde came back from Camp with an injured leg and had to stay home. Then Kelley asked me to model one of her panel Kozys, and I was honored. Of course, I had to say yes because she was asking. (I have a whole other post to write on the subject of me modeling) In addition to carriers, we had nursing clothes that had been donated for the show, so I got two tops out of that. One of them was multistriped and didn't match any of the carriers, so it was decided that I'd just walk out on stage with my boy in arms, tilt him sideways and nurse. All I could think about when I heard that were my mother's and Mo's mom's reactions if they knew: they'd be horrified!!! The show was chaotic backstage, and made me think of Dutch at BlogHer, since Mo and Kelley's husband got to see a lot of half-naked women running around backstage, trying to keep the show going at a nice clip by tossing off clothes and carriers before putting on the next ensemble. It was fun to get a sneak peek at some things that aren't yet available for purchase. There was the EllaRoo Extra Fino Rebozo that had a beautiful sheen to the fabric; I didn't get to pet it because I only ever saw it on Charlie Mason (of the Kozy Masons; I make it a point to never caress other women's husbands). But it looked really nice and soft, and the dark/light grays in it made it look very sophisticated. I really liked the contrast of browns in the new Moby-D too, very earthy and warm (much nicer IRL than in pictures). *sigh* There were so many beautiful carriers!!! (have I said that already?) The colors & pattern of the EllaRoo Selendang were rich, and I was surprised that it didn't have a "wrong" side to it. I really wanted Mo to wear that one too and was bummed that he couldn't because El Niño was having a meltdown. He did get to model the new bECO XO, he was actually the perfect model for it because at 6'5" 285lbs, he's exactly the kind of user it was designed for. Not only that but he loves it for its comfort and ease of use, so we'll be getting one soon. Gabby Caperon, the designer/CEO behind the bECO and Ecobabies, modeled one of the Fall Collection Hotslings, a (crocheted?) turquoise lace overlay on navy cotton sateen.* Yum! I want this one sooooo badly. And Kristi Hayes of Gypsy Mama was probably one of the biggest hits of the evening, since she not only modeled the most amount of carriers including the Amautik (I need to get her permission to post those pics) but at one point her toddler was so sick of going out on stage that she told him it would be a game and he should run towards her onstage... which he did, and she ran towards him, caught him, and wrapped him on her back so fast everybody was talking about it for the next two days (and he was laughing). The woman can wrap, and we have a huge crush on her. In fact, we were crushing on her so hard that at one point I was worried she'd think we wanted her to become our "sister wife" (and no, we're not into that). She's just another truly awesome, creative, funny woman & mamma that we were lucky to spend time with this weekend.

Ok, I need to go to bed so I'm just gonna mention a couple of other things that got my attention: the white Nori vest made out of solarveil fabric; it isn't up on their site yet, only the WindPro fleece one is. I think it's supposed to be a swimsuit coverup-type piece of clothing. Regardless, their fleece vest is definitely worth checking out. The MOM Tai with hydration pack; the water pack is stored in a cargo-type pocket on the back of the carrier and it holds 50oz; I've wanted something like this so many times! And then there's Rebecca of maMa by Design who makes beautiful carriers and bags, as soon as I can afford to I'm getting her to make a OOAK custom diaper bag to fit all my (neurotic) requirements. And her MeiTai has a very creative design twist to it that allows for the child's legs to be strapped in to the carrier, making it easier to put on, switch positions, and take off safely. My favorite of the ones she had for sale at the exhibit hall was the fairy-print fabric one w/ detachable fairy wings (for your tot to wear) that was absolutely adorable! I was very impressed with her designs and creativity.

A huge thank you to Jennifer Rosenberg (and her very supportive husband Andrew, daughters and parents) for this major undertaking in making the conference happen. And to Über-volunteers Kristine, Arwyn, Kelly, Nichol and Leslie for EVERYTHING. Also to Alison for lending me her adorable 3yo son so I could model a panel Kozy in the fashion show when my own child was having a complete meltdown. It was so sweet, he fell asleep on me before I even got him in the Kozy!!!

We didn't get to go on Sunday, Mo & El Niño apparently caught a cold and I twisted my ankle after the fashion show. It was so hard to say goodbye to everyone on Saturday night. I will definitely make the effort to go to the next conference in two years, wherever it is (probably the East Coast).

* as an aside, I wanted to add that if I'd been the right size -- a 3, I'm a 4 -- Kristen DeRocha (the woman who owns and designs Hotslings) would've given me the sling... Yeah, these women are THAT nice! This is after she was walking by our booth that afternoon and took the time to help me explain some things about the fit and design of her sling to a couple that had their baby in a New Native pouch that was at least one size too big.

Monday, August 07, 2006

it wasn't BlogHer but it was MY kind of cool

So, we went to the Babywearing Conference at Reed College this past weekend and worked as volunteers. I was SO happy to be a part of this effort! A lot of people I know looked at me like I had grown another head when I talked about the conference and even invited them to attend. I don't understand why anyone who *knows* me would think this is such a strange thing, it's not like it was a Gun & Knife Show or a Hobby Plane Convention... I've already written about why I am such an advocate for babywearing, even though I hate the label as much as I hate the labels Attachment Parenting and Elimination Communication.

Babywearing falls in line with my gentle parenting philosophy, which is basically to attend to my child's needs in a loving way so that he can grow up knowing he is loved and respected. Is that so fruity or out there? There's also a huge element of practicality and convenience, as I can easily get stuff done with my kid strapped onto my body and I can keep him safe & comfortable at the same time. I find strollers to be very inconvenient for many activities -- like taking the bus in an urban setting or going to feed the livestock when you live on a farm (like I used to). Even going to the Zoo is a PITA with a stroller because you have to get the kid out of the thing and lift him up in arms to show him the animals, over and over and over again... And with all the current debate about nursing in public (insert rolling eyes here), some mothers find it easier to breastfeed discreetly while their child is in a carrier -- I admit I haven't mastered this yet -- and they can also get things done while their child is nursing! The arguments in favor of babywearing are really too many for me to continue to list here, mostly because I just want to go ahead and share what an awesome time I had for the past few days. If you want to know more, read here, here and here, plus I encourage you to do your own research. I always prefer to do my own search for information. If I have one more of my friends tell me that they don't wear their baby anymore because it makes their back hurt, I'll scream. Would you stop wearing shoes just because the ones you've tried make your feet hurt? Or would you find a pair that works? (I have more analogies, like to jeans for example, if you're interested) Maybe the carrier you have doesn't work for you but another one will, if you try.

Actually, the other thing I want to say on this subject is that, from a Feminist standpoint, I also find that most all of the small businesses that have sprouted up to support the babywearing community are managed by women... creative, gentle, strong, amazing women who support (wholly or in part) their families by designing and sewing carriers or products that go on to help other women enjoy their children and their life. By buying their products, I support other women and their children and that makes me feel really, really good.

More about the actual conference in a bit...