Monday, August 25, 2014

My Little Pony Magic of Friendship App Review

As a long time My Little Pony fan (I still have many of my first generation ponies from the 80's!), I was thrilled when Playdate Digital offered me a chance to review a new MLP app. Even better? They're letting me share the sparkly fun with my readers, with 5 download codes to try this app for free!! Enter through the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post. 

What it is
Magic of Friendship is a fun app about friendship starring the ponies and friends of the My Little Pony universe! 

Who made it
Playdate Digital, a great digital company that works with Hasbro to produce apps starring kids' favorite licensed characters. 

Our experience
I am a huge My Little Pony fan, and my niece who is 3 is carrying on the family tradition. She just became a big sister, so I thought it'd be a fun surprise for her. And she loves it. It's kept her busy and happy and calm while her mom is nursing her brand new baby brother and made her feel big and special. She's a huge MLP fan and was overall thrilled about it. This was her favorite part:


Pros
Cute
Easy to use
Good message

Cons
Not free (unless you win it!!!)

The bottom line
If you have kids who like My Little Pony, they will probably love this app!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Dear Richard Dawkins: People with Down syndrome make the world a better place

The internet is abuzz with news that Richard Dawkins tweeted suggesting that it is immoral to *not* abort a baby with Down syndrome if given the opportunity to do so:


While some of his fans did approve of and agree with his view, many Twitter users did not, and people of all sorts let him know, including Sarah Palin.

He later updated his status to the more mild:
and offered a half-hearted apology where he elaborates on his view, including this gem: 

I personally would go further and say that, if your morality is based, as mine is, on a desire to increase the sum of happiness and reduce suffering, the decision to deliberately give birth to a Down baby, when you have the choice to abort it early in the pregnancy, might actually be immoral from the point of view of the child’s own welfare.

He then reduces opposition to his view to: 

1)people who are pro-life in general
2)people who think he was denying women choice in his view
3)people who think he was promoting mob rule by mentioning that the majority of women do abort if given a prenatal diagnosis of DS
4)people opposed to eugenics, which he points out is a fallacy as DS is not an inherited condition in almost all cases
5)people who love someone with DS and are letting sentimentality rather than logic guide their position

A few of these categorizations seem astute observations. People who are truly pro-life would be opposed to his view even if it was possible to prove without a doubt that people with DS suffer and have no worth or lesser worth than other human beings. People who are truly moral relativists would believe that it is impossible to make a blanket statement about the morality of abortion of babies with DS and that it must instead be an individual decision every single time. And I'd assume that most people would think "everyone is doing it" bears very little weight on whether an action is or is not morally correct. He's also right that eugenics cannot do much about the rate of DS; killing every single person in existence with would basically have no effect on the number of people with DS born in the next generation. 
As for the last category, I have to disagree with Mr. Dawkins on the issue of love vs. logic. While logic is important, so is love. And I think most humans do believe in love, in following our hearts, even when it's illogical. His argument might fly on Vulcan, but not here. 

But most importantly, Dawkins forgot the category that comprises the largest number of people I've seen opposing his view: people who believe people with Down syndrome have equal value to all other human beings; that they can lead healthy, happy, productive lives and leave the world a better place than had they not been in it. That they can increase the sum of happiness and reduce suffering in the world by being in it. 

And I believe the research backs up this view. For one thing, while people with Down syndrome experience the full range of human emotion, they almost unanimously report being happy overall with their lives (99%) and who they are (97%). In that same study, siblings of people with Down syndrome overwhelmingly (88%) report believing that their sibling with DS has made them a better person, and studies like this one investigating whether there are lasting negative effect for these siblings have found none. Yet another found that divorce rates (47%) are much lower among couples with children with DS. So who's increasing joy and who is causing suffering here Mr. Dawkins?!?

Many people with Down syndrome also make a big impact on our society as a whole. For example Lauren Potter, who plays Becky on Glee, has over 95k twitter followers, because she brings joy to her fans as a talented actress with great comedic timing (something many people with 46 chromosomes lack!) There are people with Down syndrome working as actors, models, restauranteurs, and many other jobs that improve the lives of the general public. 

So here's your daily dose of joy: 



As for the reducing suffering part? Maybe we should start with not antagonizing people who have medical conditions we don't understand, but instead look for ways to uplift them so they can do the same for us. People with disabilities can make great contributions to the world if we give them the chance. And that's not illogical or immoral, no matter what Richard Dawkins thinks. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Cloth diapering a baby or toddler with Down syndrome

I recently heard that some physical therapists have cautioned mothers of babies with Down syndrome against using cloth diapers out of concern that bulky diapers could hinder gross motor skill development. While their concern is genuine and worth taking into consideration, a blanket ban just seemed like overkill to me. So I dug a little deeper, and after talking to some friends who are physical therapists and some fellow cloth diapering moms of little ones with Down syndrome, including Heather from Cloth Diaper Outlet, here's what I think seems like the most sensible approach to using cloth diapers with babies and toddlers with Down syndrome. 

my son in an adorable Wolbybug pocket diaper from Cloth Diaper Outlet

Why cloth is great for kids with DS
Modern cloth diapers are so convenient and so cute that they're rapidly gaining in popularity among all parents. Just like any family, families with a baby with Down syndrome may be attracted to cost savings, reduced environmental impact, not *having* to shop for diapers as often, and how adorable they are!
Additionally, babies with Down syndrome often have thinner skin than typical babies, so parents may find that babies who have sensitive skin and get rashes from disposable diapers have much healthier skin when they use cloth diapers! Our son with Down syndrome has definitely seen a dramatic decrease in diaper rash since switching to cloth diapers. 
Momma Jorje's son as a baby in pre-folds. So cute!!

Primary concerns
The biggest concern cited by physical therapists and parents is that excess bulk will exacerbate the tendency to splay hips too widely and could hinder gross motor skill development. As far as I know, there is no research into whether this is a valid concern or not; perhaps it'd be a good topic for future studies in the physical therapy field. 

What works
The easiest solution seems to be to make sure your diapers are relatively trim! There are several ways to search for cloth diapers that will not be excessively bulky.  Heather suggested that pocket diapers with a hemp insert are the very trimmest option, but sometimes not quite absorbent enough.  Next up would be a trim AIO (all-in-one)-Heather's favorite is Simplex and is what she uses about 50% of the time on both her babies. She also loves simple prefolds and covers and recommends the "premium short" prefolds from Cloth Diaper Outlet. They are made the same length as the cover, so you just fold in thirds, lay in cover, and are good to go! Heather said you can also fold them even skinnier so they are more trim--they won't be quite as trim as a disposable, but much more trim than a standard prefold.

I also checked in with several other mamas of cloth diapered little ones with Down syndrome to find out their favorites:
Jorje from Momma Jorje used prefolds and covers and elimination communication with her son who has Down syndrome. 
Drea from the Maiden Metallurgist reports that her favorite diapers for her year old with Down syndrome have been fitteds and wool. 
Lisa, another mom of an adorable toddler with DS who also sells cloth diapers says her favorite trim diapers are a Smart Bottoms and Tidy Tots brands (side note: Tidy Tots are manufactured in the US at a company that employs people with developmental and intellectual disabilities. So your baby with Down syndrome could be wearing a diaper sewed by an adult with Down syndrome!)
At 18 months old, my son is currently in a mixture of pocket and hybrid diapers and they all seem to fit fairly well without being excessively bulky.

The general advice is to try several different brands when you are first starting with cloth diapering so you can figure out which work best for you without a huge investment in any one brand, and I think that's all the more true when you're dealing with the challenges presented by special needs. I think it's also worth noting that there is a wide range of available sizes of cloth diapers, including diapers that fit babies as small as 4 lbs and up to 50lbs and beyond (through adult sizes). One brand with this wide range of sizes is Snap-EZ (which is run by a super sweet mom of 13, including two preschoolers with Down syndrome!!) I love that this broad size range means even preemies and very small newborns, and kids who are in diapers later than many of their same-age peers can find options that work for them.

Drea from the Maiden Metallurgist's son as a newborn in a woolie! Ovaries aching yet?!?

One other option is to pair cloth diapers with Hip Helpers. These special compression shorts are designed to help kids with special needs keep their hips from splaying too widely. If you have a physical therapist who objects to cloth diapers on these grounds, using hip helpers some of the time may be an acceptable compromise for both of you. 

So can you use cloth diapers on babies and toddlers with Down syndrome? My answer is a resounding "yes!" in almost all cases! It sure works well for us!

Interested in natural parenting for a little one with Down syndrome? Check out my other posts on Babywearing and Down syndrome and Gentle Parenting through Blood Draws!

*I am not a doctor, physical therapist, or any other type of health professional and I've never met your child. Please consult with your child's care team to adapt or even completely ignore my suggestions based on your individual child's needs and the advice of your care team. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

How I used the Internet to make local friends: August Carnival of Natural Parenting

Welcome to the August 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Friends
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared stories and wisdom about friends.

There are so many moms who seem nice and like they think the same of me but don't seem actually interested in being my friend.  I've met them at the park. The library. Church. It's always the same; our friends play for a few minutes or an hour while we chat energetically, but then we leave without exchanging any contact information. Nothing more comes of it. Or maybe I see them again, and the same thing happens at another event or location.

But finally I've found a group of friends and friendly acquaintances. The last time I saw a mom with a baby in a ring sling at the grocery store and jokingly thought "hey, we should be friends!", it turned out we already are!
And when I enter cloth diaper or baby carrier giveaways that ask you to tag a friend, I now have actual people in my same city to tag that use cloth diapers and wraps too. Sometimes they even tag me first!

So where did I find "my tribe"? Online! My expanding group of friends is thanks to a Facebook group for families in our city interested in natural parenting. We discuss natural parenting topics in the group and have met at the park a few times. The first time I only knew one other mom, but as summer has worn on, I now have several new friends who share many of our parenting values and much of our parenting style. Some of them I can tell will probably stay casual friends, some friendly acquaintances, but a couple seem like they have a pretty decent chance to end up being real, lasting, deep friendships!


And chances are your city has similar groups that you can join to connect with like minded moms too! Look for natural parenting, babywearing, cloth diapering, and other such topical groups for your city or broader geographical area. Even if a group seems focused on something fairly specific, the friends you meet will surely be interested in talking about more than just that specific topic if they meet with you at the park. 

Making new mom friends can be tough, but the Information Age can make it easier. If you're having trouble finding local moms like you, try finding them online and then meeting in real life rather than just vise versa.
 
 
***
Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting! Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be updated by afternoon August 12 with all the carnival links.)
  • Sibling Revelry — At Natural Parents Network, Amy W. shares her joy in witnessing the growth of the friendship between her two young children.
  • Making New Mama Friends — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama muses on how she was able to connect with like-minded mamas and form deep friendships both in 'real life' and online. Learn how these life-long friendships, both between Jennifer and other mothers but also between Jennifer's daughter and the other children, formed and flourished.
  • Family, Friends and Family Friends — Vidya Sury at Vidya Sury, Going A-Musing, Collecting Smiles is reflecting on family friendships, past and present.
  • Arranging friendships in a modern world — From a free-range childhood to current parenthood, how can an introvert like Lauren at Hobo Mama navigate the newly complicated scheduling of playdates and mom friends?
  • Mommy Blogs: Where Moms Make Friends — Mothers make friends with other mothers in new ways. The options from earlier decades remain, but new avenues have sprung up with mommy bloggers. Laurie Hollman, Ph.D. at Parental Intelligence shares her thoughts.
  • Friendship and Sacrifice: Guardians of the Galaxy — Shay at 4HisGlor y learned that friendship lessons can be found in unlikely places, like blockbuster summer movies.
  • Friendship - Finding, Forming, Keeping, and WishingLife Breath Present's thoughts on finding, forming, keeping, and wishing for friendships as an introvert.
  • Consciously Creating My Community: Monthly Dinners — How have you intentionally created community? Dionna at Code Name: Mama's goal for the year is to cultivate community. One way she's done that is to help organize two different monthly dinners with friends.
  • Adults need imaginary friends, too — Tat at Mum in Search shares why it's a good idea for adults to have imaginary friends. You get to meet Tat's friend and download a playbook to create your own.
  • Friends Near, Friends Far — Kellie at Our Mindful Life helps her kids keep in touch with friends 600 miles apart.
  • Which comes first, social skills or social life? — Jorje of Momma Jorje frets about whether her daughter can learn social skills without experience, but how to get good experience without social skills.
  • Snail Mail Revival — Skype isn't the only way to stay in touch with long distance friends, That Mama Gretchen and her family are breaking out the envelopes and stamps these days!
  • Montessori-Inspired Friendship Activities — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares a roundup of Montessori-inspired friendship activities for home or classroom.
  • How I used the internet to make local friends — After years of striking out at the park, Crunchy Con Mom finally found some great local friends . . . online!
  • My How Friends Change — Erica at ChildOrganics knows entirely too much about how to comfort a friend after a loss.

Monday, August 4, 2014

$3 DIY Nursing Infinity Scarf with supplies from Michael's!

Did you know this week is World Breastfeeding Week? To celebrate, I created this all new tutorial to make your own infinity scarf that can double as a nursing cover if you're breastfeeding in public and want a little (or a lot) more coverage than your clothes alone provide. 

What you need


A t-shirt, size XL or larger. I used a Gildan t-shirt in heathered sapphire that was on sale at Michael's for $3, but you can find the same shirt on Amazon too for a little more, or use a different shirt in XL or larger. 

Scissors
Sewing machine
Thread
Ballpoint needle

What you do
Lay t-shirt flat on a big table or floor
Cut down sides just to the inside of armpits, through both layers of the shirt
Cut straight across front below neckline
Cut straight across back just below neckline
 
Lay front and back of shirt end to end, so that there is an unfinished edge next to what used to be the bottom of the shirt

Pin shirt so that finished seam (former bottom of shirt) will be on top of the unfinished edge

Sew the two pieces together (I used a black thread so you can see my terrible stitching. My preschooler was distracting me. Obviously if you use a color that matches your fabric it won't stand out like this does.) Don't forget to use a bit of backwards stitching at the beginning and end to secure it!


To keep your stitching straight, try having edge of hemmed shirt bottom line up with the edge of the presser foot. Too bad I didn't think of that while sewing the first hem!

Next pin the two unsewed edges together so that again, the finished hem that used to be the bottom of the shirt is on top. 


Stitch it up
Clip threads and trim edges as needed
Style it as desired!






To nurse, simply unwrap and un-scrunch it and position as desired. I like to have it under the arm of whichever side I'm nursing on. You can make it cover a little:

my preschooler let me borrow his ninja turtle since my real nursling was asleep
Or a lot

blurry photo also thanks to my preschooler
And Voila! For $3 you have a nursing infinity scarf that you can wear with you out and about to provide a little more coverage while nursing if that's something you're looking for. 

Notes
  • It'd be very cute and fun to tie dye the shirt either before or after transforming it into a scarf
  • This scarf is not very long, so I'd definitely not recommend doing it with a large t-shirt or any other size smaller than XL.
  • This would also be awesome to do with XL or larger tees from the thrift store (probably even less than $3!!)or souvenir shirt from a vacation!
  • If shirts aren't on sale at Michael's, they usually have a coupon available on their website!


While I personally like to use a cover, I unequivocally support the rights of all mothers to nurse with or without a cover wherever they may be, free from harassment or penalty. 

Amazon links are affiliate links; your product costs the same but I get a tiny cut of Amazon's profits.
I did not receive any compensation for this post.

 

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Little Elliot Big City children's book review

What it is
Little Elliot Big City is a children's book about an elephant named Little Elliot who lives in a big city and feels too small sometimes. 


Who wrote it
Little Elliot Big City is written and illustrated by Mike Curato, who can be found on Facebook and Twitter, and is published by Henry Holt, which is a Macmillian imprint. You can connect with Henry Holt on Facebook, Twittertumblr and YouTube.






What we thought
My sons and I love Little Elliot Big City. The illustrations are just gorgeous, and for me, illustrations really make or break a children's book. When we first got the book, my sons both sat on my lap to listen to it three times in a row before going off to play other things. This book is sweet and charming without seeming frivolous or fake. The only thing that bothered me a bit was that there wasn't an explanation of why there is a small polka dot elephant living in the big city. Since this is his introductory book, and small elephants in big cities are highly unusual (Elliot is probably the first ever), it seems like a lot of people will probably wonder about that. I hope they provide Elliot's origin story in a future book.
My husband thought the story was okay for preschoolers and great for toddlers, and the pictures excellent. He thought they were reminiscent of an comparable in quality to the pictures in the Polar Express. His only complaint was the same as mine--the lack of a back story
I predict Little Elliot will become a household name like Spot and Paddington and Cordurory. 



Pros
Beautiful illustrations
Positive message

Cons
Lack of origin story


The bottom line
Little Elliot Big City is a deceptively simple, beautifully illustrated children's book about friendship and teamwork that I predict will become a classic. 

 



Get it
You can buy Little Elliot Big City beginning August 26th for $16.99 at stores and sites around the country. Pre-order it on Amazon now-priced at $13.59 at time of posting this review:


I received a free advanced copy of this book from Macmillian to review but received no other compensation for this post. 
 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Babywearing as a Hobby: Collecting, Churning, Selling and Swapping

Mothers have been using baby carriers for pretty much all of recorded history, and as modern mamas in Western nations are rediscovering this amazingly useful skill, some of us are also discovering it can be really fun to collect and trade these gorgeous pieces of cloth! It is absolutely not necessary to have multiple wraps or buy and sell them in order to consider yourself a *real*, well-loved, essential part of the babywearing community. It is just a fun hobby that many of us enjoy a great deal!

Our newest wrap, Solnce Genesis Bliss, bought from a group on FB using PayPal


How to get started
The first step is to buy some baby carriers, learn to use them, and start figuring out what you like! 

Where to learn
There are babywearing groups on Facebook and websites like babycenter.com, and websites like thebabywearer.com devoted entirely to babywearing. There are also great YouTube channels like BabywearingFaith to help learn new wrapping techniques. As you learn more about different carries, fiber blends, wrap widths, taper length/angle, and types of weaves (sometimes known as "wrap geekery"), you will find yourself wanting to try different sizes and fiber blends from different companies to see how they differ and to find the perfect one for you! 
 
Where to buy 
When originally released, wraps can be bought directly from the manufacturer and from stores like Wrap Your Baby and Marsupial Mamas. Local cloth diaper stores may sometimes also carry more common brands of woven wraps. However many wraps are released in extremely limited quantities and sell out within minutes, so the only way to ever get to try one is to get extremely lucky or to buy one on the secondary market. There are several swaps on Facebook, like the Babywearing Swap and the High End Swap. The common practice in these groups and in the wrap swap sections of babycenter and thebabywearer.com is to use paypal for buying and selling wraps, as it offers some protection to both buyers and sellers in these private transactions. These groups almost always also have spin off "feedback" pages where members can check to make sure they are buying and selling to reliable people. Established members of these groups also commonly engage in paypal backed trades; because wraps can be quite expensive, especially for the most hard to find (htf) and highly sought after (hsa)  wraps, this helps prevent either party in a trade from being taken advantage of while still allowing them to try wraps they might not ever have otherwise gotten to see and use in real life!

How much does it cost?
Wraps themselves range in cost from under $100 for the least expensive options like little frog brand to over $1000 for hsa and htf wraps like artipoppe and uppymama wraps that are auctioned off. Beyond the cost of the wraps, the only real cost is shipping expenses, which range from about $5-20 for most shipments in the US but can cost much more for faster shipping and international shipping. Occasionally you may make money if a wrap you bought for retail price has become htf/hsa and gone up in value, but many in the babywearing community bristle at the idea of charging much more for a wrap than you yourself paid, so tread lightly if attempting to flip wraps for a profit. 


Like any type of collecting, churning woven wraps can be a great deal of fun, and the fact that wraps are beautiful and useful for caring for our children makes it even better than many other items we could be collecting instead!