Sakura Bloom Sling Diaries Vol. IV: Listening

Often times in my life I have felt that although someone is listening to me, I am never truly heard. Or maybe it's the other way around - they may be physically hearing me, but not truly listening with their heart.

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Whatever the case may be, I have come to realize that this is what most of us need and desire -  for another human being in this world to really "hear" us. I did a lot of listening growing up. As an only child I was privy to many adult conversations and I listened like my life depended on it. I was fascinated by the way adults interacted with one another, the things they debated and more importantly the tone in which they spoke to each other and the non-verbal communication that was involved in these exchanges. I also bore witness to a lot of conflict and arguments in the process - and even as a child I knew that if these adults would only be quiet for a moment and listen; they would realize their opinions weren't actually that far apart.

 

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Chico I hope you feel listened to - like, really truly heard. Not just humored because I am busy or because you are a kid and I'm an adult. If you feel like I'm not "getting" you, please try not to grow frustrated with me, but tell me - "Mama no, you're not listening," and try again to explain to me what you are saying. The biggest disservice would be to dismiss you. I know what it's like to be dismissed - by adults, by bosses, in relationships...and it makes you feel like you don't matter to the other person.

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 And no one matters more to me than you baby boy.

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I also want you to listen to your heart son. This is the strongest voice inside of you. This voice tells you what you should do when you are scared, indecisive or confused. Unfortunately we tend to let the noise of life and other people's opinions grow louder than our heart's voice. Whenever you feel this way I want you to close your eyes and call that voice to the surface of your mind. The answer you are looking for will be right there - you just have to be patient and call for it to come forward. People call this "your gut." People tend to lose touch with their guts when they become busy, stressed adults. Try to always keep the volume on your guts turned as high as possible - it'll guide you well.

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 Chico you will come across people someday that you listen to and don't like what they say. These people may provoke you and make you angry. I want you to try something for me. Try your best to listen to their perspective as a fellow human being vs the subject they are speaking about. If you focus on their ideas instead of their words this may help you to empathize with them instead of judging or disliking them. Being a good listener means being introspective and thinking about how this person may have come to a place in their lives where they feel this way. It doesn't mean you have to agree or that you should change your opinion - but you will grow as a person if you can come to understand how they became the person they are today.

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When all else fails listen to music. Music has always calmed you and made you happy. The right music at the right time seems to refresh you. You are always calmed by Kurt Vile, Mirah and Elliott Smith. If you need energized then listen to rock and roll. Remember that commercial hip hop makes you incredibly frustrated so don't leave the radio on! Know what music you need at certain times, because if you're anything like me you will come to find that listening to good music can save your life.

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Sweet boy, whatever you feel is okay and I will always be here to listen to you as I do now. I listen to you babble and "tell" me lots of stories already. I can see by your facial expressions and wild hand gestures that your stories are elaborate and full of drama. I promise to remind you to listen to your heart and your gut and help you wade through all the things in between. Just promise me that you will listen with kindness and an open heart as often as you can - not just for the other person but for your humanity as well.

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I love you baby.
Mama

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This post is a part of the Sakura Bloom Sling Diaries Volume IV: Everything Shines. I am wearing Chico in the Essential Silk Baby Sling in Midnight & Sandstone.

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Sakura Bloom Sling Diaries Vol. IV "Everything Shines"

  This post was written by my husband Adam. We are the first husband and wife team to be chosen as Sling Diarists for Sakura  Bloom Series - Vol IV: Everything Shines!

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"The only place where your dream becomes impossible is in your own thinking." -Robert H. Schuller  (yeah, I started this with a quote) As a kid I was encouraged to dream of becoming such things as a Doctor, or a Lawyer. I was taught that the level of  "success" and financial stability would gage my happiness. I was taught to always "do better" than what my parents could do. The words "Do as I say, and not as I do…" were often heard around our house. I understand my mothers desire for me to succeed, but without guidance, resources, and with such vague direction, how could I possibly believe in myself enough to accomplish such seemingly impossible goals? I was overcome by anxiety and sleepless nights at a very young age, for the fear of disappointing my mother and the consequences at hand if I were to let her down. The older I got, the less I cared, and the less I dreamed. When thinking about "dreams" the first thing that pops into my head as a father, are the dreams I have for my son. My dream is to foster an environment where Chico has the opportunity to inspire his OWN dreams. To experience the innocence of looking at the world and really believing that ANYTHING is possible.  I want him to dream the way all kids should dream, without hinderance, and know that the sky is the limit! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I dream that one day men will realize how baby-wearing can directly influence a bond between them and their children and will not be self conscious or afraid of being perceived as effeminate. Its 2014 and gender roles are long past. We live in a world that is so "PC" that we often question what we can or cannot say, but for some reason it seems totally ok for women to approach me and say things like, "Oh what a good dad!". I can only ask myself, "Why?" Why is the standard for being a responsible father so low that someone would assume I'm a "good dad" simply for wearing my son!? Taking care of your children isn't something that should be praised, it's something that should be expected. My dream is to influence other dads to realize the importance of bonding with your child. As men we don't have the opportunity to nurse our children, so anything I can do to build a trusting bond with Chico, I'm going to do! That is why I took the six weeks of family leave when Chico was born even though I was ridiculed at work and treated like I was going on a six week vacation. That is why I woke up at every feeding and changed Chico's diapers, bounced him to sleep for endless hours on the yoga ball, and did not think twice about wearing him close to me when the opportunity arose. These are ways that I have bonded with my son, and although many men might think he will never remember any of that, I can look into my child's eyes and KNOW how much it matters. And no, I'm not trying to be "the best dad on Instagram", I'm not playing a role here, what you see is what you get. I'm just trying to give my son what I never had and always sought after, nothing else matters.

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Growing up I never thought about being a father, wait, I take that back, I never thought about being a GOOD father. Why would I? I assumed I would have illegitimate bastard children running around the San Fernando Valley who hated my guts! Sad to say, not a far off assumption for a teenager who didn't think about living past his twenties. I was consumed by drugs and alcohol, and the older I got, the more real shit got. So I drank and got loaded to distract me from an unfulfilling life. Four years ago I got sober and I was given a second chance at life. Im lucky to have met my soul mate who became my best friend and wife. I was blessed with a baby boy who totally flipped my world upside down in the best possible way. You see up until then, my dreams were non existent. I was too afraid to dream because I was so used to low expectations. I thought as long as I could stay sober, support my wife financially, and enjoy living, I was a happy camper. The second I looked into that babies eyes and said "Chico, this is your papa…", witnessing him recognize my voice was like no high I ever experienced. Fatherhood is something I KNOW I am good at, because everything I ever wanted in a father is exactly what I dream to provide for my son today.

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Saturday Afternoon Adventures

20130818-002159.jpgSaturdays are Adam's Fridays, so when he gets home on Saturday afternoons we usually try to do something fun and get out of the house. I thought today might be a wash because Chico has been suffering from a case of serious teething that has been going on for over a month now. He was crying all day and it seemed like I couldn't do anything to make him feel better. Luckily Adam suggested we go somewhere to distract Chico and it ended up being a really good idea. 20130818-003729.jpgFirst we hit up Cielito Lindo for some taquitos at Olvera Street. It's our favorite spot to eat there - hits the spot sometimes like nothing else will.

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20130818-003741.jpgPoor Chico. You can tell he doesn't feel great, but this was a vast improvement from how he was at home all day. He loves being outside and has always been a "people watcher," since infancy.

20130818-002250.jpgNext we went to Little Tokyo to walk around and shop. I forgot it was Nisei Week so it was really crowded with interesting characters, vendors and music. Several different people stopped us to ask about our Sakura Bloom sling and to tell us how happy Chico looked in it. We always get a lot of attention wherever we go with Chico in his sling.

20130818-002237.jpgChecking out the paper lanterns hanging up in the marketplace. Chico is fascinated by balloons and I think he thought he'd discovered a new breed of balloons made out of paper!

20130818-002302.jpgYummy coffee was had at Cafe Dulce. They sell Stumptown Coffee there so we bought a bag. Can't wait to have some in the morning! It was a fun afternoon. I love my little family. We always have the best time enjoying the little things in life.

Slingin' at the Zoo

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We are now annual passholders at the LA Zoo! We went on a whim and had a great time. My new Sakura Bloom silk sling arrived right when we were headed out the door and I was so excited - it's even more beautiful in person then it was on the website (color is Twillight).

I'm happy Adam is getting more comfortable with using the ring sling instead of the Ergo only because Chico now prefers the ring sling in a big way. He likes that he is looking forward with you as opposed to the Ergo where he is forced to look behind. We aren't gonna toss the Ergo yet though - because soon he can do a back carry and I think both he and Adam will like that a lot.

Happy Babywearing! xx

Porch Living.

via Instagram http://instagram.com/p/ZhLyaJIcVH/
We spent the early evening on the porch as a family - watering the lawn, reading to Chico, trying new holds in the Ergo and watching YouTube videos of Cheeks from his birth and first few weeks of life. I really am living the dream. I am so unbelievably grateful for the life that we are living. I can't wait for summer nights spent as a family on the front porch, which is saying a lot because if you know me, you know that I hate summer.
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We have plans to up our porch game with some new furniture.  Martha Stewart's line of products for Home Depot is really off the chain. The first few weeks Chico was born we used to walk to Home Depot and just sit in the different patio furniture. It was our way of feeling like we were getting out of the house but still relaxing. :)
I can't wait to lounge in these!!
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Here's to summer nights!
Check out this silly little video I took of my two favorite people. It was supposed to capture a loving moment between Papa and Son, but Chico decided to surprise Adam...
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Chico's First Trip to the Museum!

Adam and I decided on a whim Sunday night that we should catch the Kubrick Retrospective at the LACMA before it closes (turns out it has been extended until the end of July). I was excited to get out of the house and do something and also very excited to take Chico to the museum for the first time. Then the "what if's" started in my head.

What if he starts crying and it echoes throughout the galleries? What if someone gives us a dirty look or asks why we brought an infant to a museum? What if he lets out one of his monumental farts and people give us major side eye?

These are exactly the kind of "what if's" that keep me home so often. I am trying to have a more carefree attitude and get out of the house once a day, even if it's just to go to Starbucks. I already had a really intense homebody tendency pre-baby and it could easily encompass my life if I let it. So I will fight it - because I know it's best for me to even when it feels like the last thing on Earth I want to do.

I am getting more and more used to the planning that goes into taking a major outing with a newborn. I am much better at knowing if we are "baby prepared," but still working out the kinks of "mama preparedness." Getting dressed is no longer an activity that only involves "looking good," because now it has to be functional as well. What nursing bra do I choose to wear with this top? Should I wear a tank underneath this top so that when I breast feed him I won't be exposing my gut? Also I'll be wearing a wrap of some sort - will what I'm wearing only make me hot and sweaty under the wrap? Will Chico be hot and uncomfortable strapped to me in said outfit? Oh and jewelry and accessories - forget it. All they do is get caught on him, the wrap, pose a potential scratch hazard and or come too close to his face or mouth when I'm holding him. Wedding ring only these days.

So yeah it's an adjustment for me. But I feel like I'm not doing too bad only 3 months in. We had a fabulous day and once Chico got fussy in the stroller we swapped him into his Ergo and he fell right asleep. We even ate lunch at the museum afterwards and aside from a diaper change/feeding debacle it went smoothly. I'm getting more comfortable with breast feeding in public, which has also been harder than I thought it would be for me. Depending on the place, there are times I just feel so exposed and vulnerable even though I know in my head I am doing the right thing for my baby. As most women would attest - you spent puberty forward with your breasts being sexual objects and it's difficult to separate that now that I  use them in a utilitarian fashion. Luckily Adam is very supportive and reassuring which makes every part of this that much easier. We decided we are going to try to do something fun like this every Monday to encourage both of us to get our butts out of the house and into the world!

Baby in his first piece of art - literally!photo 1 (4)

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A Clockwork Orange - starring me and Chico. Notice his eyes peering over the Ergo like "Ehem, Papa are you really letting her do this?"

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You may not be able to tell, but Full Metal Jacket is Adam's favorite movie (only after You've Got Mail of course!).

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Lolita film images through a magnifying glass.

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Jack's Adler typewriter from The Shining.

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The Twins! These are the dresses they actually wore in the movie.

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Not from the Kubrick Retrospective...

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You Are 2 Months Baby Bear!

chico official 2mo Dearest Baby Bear,

Well, you are 2 months old now! Time flies when you are pooping, eating, sleeping and pooping some more! It feels as if so much has happened during the past month. The most exciting milestones that have happened are that you know smile and laugh!

When you were first born you would sometimes twitch in your sleep and it would appear that you were smiling, but according to my baby books it was a reflex and not an intentional grin. The books said that when you smiled purposefully, I would know. Well it's true! One day when I was talking to you (about who knows what) you broke out into a big grin and a strange gurgle that I knew was a laugh. Every day since you smile and "laugh" more and more. It changes your entire face and I am so glad I was able to capture it in this picture of you (taken on the day you turned 8 weeks).

Other things that have changed for you is that you are awake much more! You seemed to always sleep during the day that first month, but now you seem to always be up and alert during the day! So much for trying to get anything done around the house - especially because you like to be held in my arms as opposed to your swing, your bouncer, the car seat... really anywhere that isn't ME! Luckily you really enjoy being in your wrap (1 of 3 I have for you) and that gives my arms a break - you are getting heavy little boy!

Your Papa went back to work last week and he's having a tough time. He misses you so much and gets sad during the day thinking about how much he wishes he was at home with us. Those first 6 weeks of your life were awesome for your Papa and I as husband and wife because we got to be around each other AND you 24 hours a day. It was one of the best times of my life. We are adjusting and I'm getting used to being your primary caretaker during the day. It isn't easy without Papa's help but we are hitting our stride.

Our biggest accomplishment this month is probably breast feeding. We both seem to really have the hang of it now and it's as if we're old pro's. I say "we" because breast feeding can be a difficult, frustrating and painful experience for both parties. These days breast feeding is none of those things - it is a beautiful, relaxing, bonding experience that I look forward to. You seem so healthy - growing fast mentally and physically and I know it's due to the fact that you are exclusively breast fed. It makes me feel proud that I can sustain you all by myself. It's pretty mind blowing when I see your legs getting chubbier and your body getting these adorable fat rolls and I think - "Wow - I'm doing that for him!" This may sound strange but I'm sure other Mama's understand what I mean.

Here's to another month of fun and growing together my love...

Your Papa and I love you very much Baby Bear!

xx. Mama

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Babywearing - My Opinions, Tips & Tricks

Moby Okay I admit it - I have a problem. I am obsessed with wearing my baby and I want to own every baby wrapping device ever created.

Phew! Feels good to get that out! Anyone else in the same boat?

It's such a great feeling - to have Chico close in a way that mimics him being in my belly again. It is comforting for him and I suspect almost as comforting for mama. I received a Moby Wrap from my mom before Chico was born. I purchased a Baby K'tan when he was a few weeks old. I received a traditional "ring sling" from another mama I met on Instagram and lastly - I purchased a Solly Baby Wrap last week!

It may sound ridiculous to have so many different wraps (and to have plans to buy even more!) but I will explain how all of these wraps work for various situations and are totally necessary (Okay not really, but maybe you'll think I'm less crazy)!

For those of you who are new to the concept of "baby wearing," let me first give you a quick breakdown of why baby wearing is such a great thing:

1) It frees your hands and you can get stuff done around the house! When you are breastfeeding and a new mom getting used to the fact that this little person needs you 24/7 for survival, you can start to feel kind of kooky. It's so liberating to strap that sucker on and have hands to do the dishes! Holy moly, did I really just say that... 2) Leave the car seat and stroller in the car! Walk around without having to lug all of that with you - which means you don't have to look for elevators, simply take the escalators with the rest of society! 3) Relieves the colicky/gassy baby. Chico really struggled with gas issues around three weeks and it lasted until maybe a week ago (not gone completely but that's a completely different post). Sitting in the wrap while I walked around with him was very soothing for him, got him to burp and was also soothing for me because the best thing about wraps.... 4) BABIES CRY LESS!! Studies prove it - In cultures where babies are continuously held, babies cry far less than cultures who push babies to self-soothe, stress this idea of raising the "independant baby," or worry about "spoiling" a baby by holding them too much. 5) Encourages healthy attachment between baby and mama/papa. Builds trust and assists baby in forming trust and security.

For further baby wearing education I recommend checking out a site called "The Baby Wearer," which has everything you need to know about baby wearing all in one spot!

MOBY WRAP: This is the wrap I am wearing Chico in up at the top of this post. It is one long (LONG!) piece of thick cotton fabric. It can seem rather daunting at first but isn't too bad once you get the hang of it. It can be used from Newborn to 35 lbs.

PROS: One size fits all wearer. Very comfortable to wear for long periods of time. Comes in organic fabric and colours that are pleasing to both men and women. Feels VERY secure to have baby in this wrap and is a good "stater" wrap.

CONS: Fabric is thick and if it's hot out you will sweat for sure. Extremely long and may be daunting for someone shorter than 5'9. You have to find the perfect tightness/looseness or you will risk re-wrapping until you get it right. The reason? The fabric doesn't have a lot of "give." Bulky and doesn't fit in smaller diaper bags.

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Pictured above is the BABY K'TAN WRAP. Please excuse the ridiculousness of this photo - it was my birthday, we were in a military surplus store and I was losing my mind being out in public for the first time in a few days. The K'tan is great for someone who is turned off by the Moby and finds the process of tying one long piece of fabric just too much trouble. It consists of two pieces - one piece is two fabric rings that are connected by a loop and the second piece is the "safety belt" sash piece of fabric that gives your baby extra support for certain holds. It can be used with Newborn to 35 lbs.

PROS: Simple as pie to figure out how to use. Baby feels incredibly secure and you feel safe because there's really no "wrong" way to use this - whereas the Moby has more ways you could use it incorrectly. Affordable - I believe it was $45 on Amazon. No buckles, no snaps, NO WRAPS! Folds up into itself with the sash doubling as a carrying bag.

CONS: You must purchase the K'tan in your own size - so most likely you and your partner will not be able to share one - not the most economical purchase if you plan to share one wrap per couple. Fabric is similar to the Moby and can feel a bit thick on hot days - but definitely less fabric then the Moby.

Lastly we have the "SOLLY BABY," which I am pretty much in love with. First of all - the packaging is super cute. I appreciate the attention to detail here folks - photo 1

I wanted to try this wrap out because the fabric is so thin and lightweight. Chico and I tend to run a little on the hot side (damn you pregnancy hormones that are still messing with my temperature regulation abilities!) I've only had it 2 days and I'm pretty much obsessed. Here's why:

PROS: Fabric is super lightweight and stretchy - can be tucked into my small diaper bag easily. One size fits all - my husband and I can share! It's striped - my fav - need I say more? You can't tie this one too tight - so unlike the Moby, the object is to tie this sucker really tight and because it's so stretchy you don't ahve to worry about crushing your baby. Wrap is made of organic cotton and is incredibly soft - similar feeling to the Aden and Anais bamboo swaddlers. There is a sweet little hidden pocket at the end of the fabric that can fit keys, paci, etc. This wrap can also fold up into itself.

CONS: The only con is that it only holds up to 25 lbs (I'm assuming due to the lightweight fabric). This means I can't put Chico in this until he's in 2nd grade...BUMMER!

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The Ring Sling is a whole different beast. Despite watching tutorials, having my husband assist, etc., I haven't been able to wear it in a way that I feel confident that Chico won't fall to his death. Until I feel sure enough, we will not be hitting the town in the ring sling. I haven't given up though because I love the idea of it. There just isn't a lot of time to play around with new toys when you have a 7 week old infant. Proof? It has taken me almost 4 hours to write this damn entry because Chico needs me.

Clearly I'm no longer running the show over here.

What are your thoughts on baby wearing? What are your favorite wraps, slings, etc.? I'd love to hear what you mama's are into right now!