As I mentioned earlier, we attended a family reunion recently. While there, my kids had the chance to play with some of their terribly cute cousins. Here’s my son, with his cousin, Kate, who is even cuter than she looks in the pictures. She’s always smiling with her little dimples! :

Brynleigh didn’t play much, because she’s only a month old, but my daughter is just head-over-heels in love with her! She follows my sister and Brynleigh around like a shadow. It’s so cute! Brynleigh’s great big brother, Maddox, is in the background:

Here’s another shot of these sweet siblings:

And here’s what my daughter was doing at her great-grandparents’ house, most of the time (whenever she wasn’t following the baby around):

Link up if you wish, and don’t forget to leave a comment!

This tackle has been a very, very, very long time coming! Approximately four years ago, my husband’s grandma gave me some old clothes that had sentimental value to her, and asked me to make a quilt out of them. I had already made a couple of baby quilts, and I figured it couldn’t be too hard. I didn’t count on getting pregnant, having a miscarriage, getting pregnant again, and then moving across the state! All that stuff happened within six months of my starting the quilt, and it kept getting put away to finish later. Then, my sewing machine was packed away, too when my daughter was born. It didn’t see the light of day again until earlier this year! Now, I sew so much that I can’t believe I ever did without my sewing machine!

This spring, when I unpacked all the quilt pieces I’d cut (surprisingly, I managed to save every one, and even a few extras), I was astonished to realize that the quilt was more than half finished! In the midst of an early pregnancy and horrible morning sickness, the quilt had seemed impossible, like something I’d never in a million years be able to finish. I’m happy to say that wasn’t true! With a little help and advice from my mom about backing and binding, I was able to finish the quilt in time for our visit to my husband’s grandparents’ house last week! I was so thrilled, and my husband’s grandma was pretty flabbergasted, in a good way. I think she’d given up hope for the quilt to be finished, too. She’s the sweetest lady ever, and it felt so nice to be able to make her so happy! :) Here she is, opening the long-awaited quilt:

Nebraska, my fair state, was the last of the 50 states to enact a Safe Haven law. If you don’t know what a Safe Haven law is (where have you been? LOL), it basically makes it legal to leave your child at a hospital, or sometimes a fire or police station. These laws were brought about as a way to protect newborns from abandonment. In many states, the Safe Haven laws include children under the age of two. Some states, it’s only for babies 24 hours or younger. But to get the law to pass in Nebraska, the legislature made it for any child 18 or younger. I was shocked when I learned this! I was even more shocked when the law was put to work for the first two times this last weekend, with two boys, ages 11 and 15 years old! These boys don’t seem to be related, and were left at different hospitals. I wonder what it means that the first children who were relinquished are so much older than you’d expect.

What would have happened if the law only applied to younger children? Would they have been tossed out on the street? Would their families gone to counseling? Would they have hurt someone, or been hurt themselves? It certainly is food for thought.

Does this mean that the state of Nebraska needs to work on its available resources for families with adolescents who have behavioral issues? I think so.

What I can’t help wondering is this: How does it get so bad that you’d rather never see  your child again? My kids are only six and two, so I just can’t imagine it. Hopefully, I will never get to a point where I feel that way about my kids.

My older sister and my mother had a very rough time when she was a teenager. My mom actually did have to send her away to my aunt’s house for a while. Now, though, she’s all grown up, and a wonderful mother with a great family of her own. Her teenage daughters are so well-adjusted! And she and my mom are as close as a mother and daughter can be. When things were at their worst, I’ll bet my mother never dreamed the day would come when she could call my sister a friend, and be supremely proud of the way she turned out, despite some very rough years. I feel sad for the parents in these situations. They’ll never know how their children turned out.

 

 

 

Lysa Parker, co-founder of Attachment Parenting International, had so many wonderful things to say that I decided to break my API post into two parts. See yesterday’s post to learn about API Here’s part two, the story of how Attachment Parenting International was formed, in the words of Lysa herself:

Lysa Parker

Lysa Parker

 

“Barbara (Barbara Nicholson, the other co-founder of API) and I met 29 years ago at our first La Leche League meeting in Nashville . She had just moved to Nashville from Texas , she was a leader applicant with her second child and I was a new mom with a 6 month old baby. We were every LLL leaders nightmare going on with side conversations because we found so much in common; we were both special education teachers, both of our husbands were struggling songwriters, both our husbands were from Texas and they knew some of the same people in the music business, we were both breastfeeding and we both had sons. So you can imagine how quickly we “attached” to each other.  Ironically I wasn’t able to attend too many LLL meetings after that but because our friendship blossomed I learned a lot from Barbara as she went through her leadership process and afterward. I managed to attend LLL area conferences over time and after moving to Alabama , I became a LLL too. After five years of being a leader I went back to teaching in the early 90s and became very discouraged by what I witnessed with my students in 7th and 8th grades- drugs, gangs, sex, fighting, dysfunctional families, abuse and neglect etc.

 

Barbara and I actually got to know each other better long distance because after the boys were in bed we would talk on the phone, or go visit each other and stay up late at night trying to figure out what we could do to get the message of AP out to the mainstream as a prevention model for so many social ills.  It finally evolved into API- we knew that AP support groups were popping up here and there but each had their own interpretation of what AP was that usually included lifestyle choices. As we educated ourselves we learned about attachment theory and were amazed that there was actual science to back up the benefits of AP practices (the Baby Bs that the Sears created.) We wanted to crystallize the essence of AP that related to the baby-parent attachment process that could be supported by research. We were amazed that this research had been in existence for over 50 years yet parents had no clue- it wasn’t being integrated into popular parenting advice. So we decided API would do just that- get the research into the hands of parents as well as professionals through our journal. Currently we have adapted and expanded the Baby Bs into API’s Eight Principles of Parenting which we fully describe in our soon-to-be-released book Attached at the Heart: 8 Proven Principles for Raising Connected and Compassionate Children. We eventually started a leader development process and affiliating support groups around the country. The rest is history…it’s been a real challenge learning how to create, manage and fund a nonprofit organization…still is a challenge. Right now we are solely supported by memberships and donations but are seeking grant money too. We have over 100 leaders, 60+ groups, and right now about 40 leader applicants, most of whom will be starting a new support group. We have approximately 1,000 members and over 6,000 subscribers to our Enewsletter.”

Thank you, Lysa and Barbara, for bringing this wonderful, needed organization into reality, and for putting so much love, thought, and effort into your daily work.

This is the third of five posts I plan to write about babywearing charities. You might also be interested in reading Part I of my interview with Lysa, and my interview with Andrea Howard, owner of No Mother Left Behind.

 

 

 

 

This is the second in a series of interviews that feature babywearing-related charities. You might also be interested in reading about No Mother Left Behind.

Lysa Parker

Lysa Parker

Recently, I had the chance to speak with Lysa Parker, co-founder of Attachment Parenting International. Actually, she is so eloquent, informative, and interesting (and so is her fellow founder, Barbara Nicholson), that I feel compelled to split this interview into two parts. This interview will focus on Attachment Parenting International (API), and what the organization stands for. Tomorrow, I will post Lysa’s account of how API was formed. Please enjoy the following interview. I hope it inspires and informes you as much as it did me!

Andrea: How do you technically define “attachment parenting?” Why are so many parents turning to this parenting philosophy?
 

 

Lysa: Attachment Parenting is based on a psychological theory called “attachment theory” that was proposed by Dr. John Bowlby back in the 1940’s (read about in our book) stating that babies are born with a biological drive to form a strong emotional attachment to a primary giver- ideally the mother. In order to do that the baby elicits what they call “attachment promoting” behaviors that also play into the baby’s survival needs too such as clinging, crying, sucking etc.

We believe so many parents are turning to this style of parenting because they see that current popular beliefs about childrearing aren’t working, that children’s emotional needs aren’t being met causing a host of mental and societal problems; they finally feel validated that their instincts are correct and they can nurture their child the way the feel best and they see the payoff in their connection with their children that they may not have felt with their own parents. There are many reasons and we feel so inspired that so many families are adopting this way of parenting. We know this because we are now receiving over a million hits a month on our website. Parents are seeking answers and we hope they are finding it on our website.

Andrea: What does Attachment Parenting International offer?

Lysa: API offers parents and professionals validation and hope; it offers education, advocacy and support that can’t be found anywhere else. API appeals to parents seeking information about parenting as well as supporting/validating those who already embrace AP. We hear from so many parents who say they feel like they are the only ones in their area that believes the way they do about nurturing their children; they feel unsupported and invalidated by their community and culture. If nothing else our website provides a lifeline to these parents but we really want to empower parents to be active in their community, join a local API support group or become a leader and start their own group. It’s parent-to-parent support that keeps our momentum going. We love the fact that so many fathers have gotten involved attending the meeting and even becoming support group leaders. Too often only mothers benefit from a social network and reading parenting books but we find that many fathers want to get involved too. API is a clearinghouse as well for parents and professionals, offering materials, research, referrals as needed.

 

Andrea: What is the most important thing that people should know about attachment parenting, and Attachment Parenting International?

 

 

 

Lysa: People should know that AP gives parents the knowledge and tools to help them provide a loving home environment for the optimal development of their children; that by doing so they will build a strong connection with their children that will last a lifetime and carry over into their adult relationships and grandchildren; finally that they can help change the world by the way they consciously raise their children. Children who learn empathy and trust from their relationship with their parents become adults who are better able to empathize and feel compassion toward others. The world needs these children! It’s important for people to know that API is a grassroots organization that started with an idea and operates on a shoestring budget- solely funded by memberships and donations. Most of our staff is paid very little and they put in many more hours they are paid for because they are passionate about what they are doing. They have experienced the benefits of AP in their own lives and want to give that to current and future parents.

Barbara Nicholson

Barbara Nicholson

Andrea: Is there anything else you’d like to mention?  Any exciting events/happenings on the horizon for Attachment Parenting International?

Lysa: Barbara and I just participated in the first Webinar hosted by Mothering Magazine last Friday, Aug. 22 with Dr. James McKenna and Dr. Paul Fleiss. We are in the planning stages of scheduling our own Webinars and teleseminars for this fall, likely beginning in late Sept. and throughout October. October will be a big month for us because API will launch our second annual AP month in collaboration with Dr. Bill and Martha Sears. Local groups will join API in hosting special events throughout the month. Of course we are all very excited about the release of our book, slated for October as well. Initially it will be available for purchase off the publisher’s website at www.iuniverse.com/bookstore .

Andrea: What is the ultimate goal of Attachment Parenting International? What do you think will be going on with your organization in 10 years?
 

 

Lysa: The ultimate goal of API is make AP mainstream- nothing short of a complete cultural paradigm shift in the way we perceive and treat children. We want to raise parents’ consciousness about the importance of their relationship with their children. We want to make sure every parent is given the information they need to give their child the best start possible. No one really feels prepared to be a parent- so until we know more and our consciousness is raised, we will default to parenting the way we were parented. That is the key problem in perpetuating the intergenerational cycles of abuse & neglect. In ten years, API will be a strong force in advocating for children and families helping to change government policies and making family issues a priority. We want to empower parents to be their child’s best advocate and make informed decisions rather than giving that power to others. Many AP parents have a long range vision and want to change the world from one of violence to one of peace. They know it can be done but first peace must begin in the home. We’re all just trying to do our little part.

Thank you, Lysa and Barbara, for caring enough to create such a wonderful organization, and for taking the time to answer my questions.

If you’d like to know more about Attachment Parenting International, visit their website.

It’s time for another wonderful babywearing interview and giveaway!

Have you ever tried a pouch baby sling? They are, by far, the easiest baby carriers to use. Completely fuss-free, they are adjusted easily, without any straps, buckles, bulky fabric, or complicated tying methods. Slinglings pouches are oh-so-beautiful, with tons of fabric choices, ranging from classically cute to hip and sophisticated. Slinglings customer service policy is excellent! Since pouches must be sized for an individual wearer, they will gladly exchange any new-condition pouches for another size, no questions asked. Please enjoy this interview with Sara Gower, founder and owner of Slinglings. Read on for details on how to win your own Slinglings pouch!

On the Slinglings website, Sara has written a wonderful account of how Slinglings got its start. Here is an excerpt:

“When our daughter came along in 2005, she LIVED in my pouches. Having an older son made it necessary to wear Katie on my body while tending to him. My husband coined the nickname “slingling” for her, as in, “one who lives in a sling”. It was on a vacation in July 2005, traveling around the Pacific Northwest, that he decided that I should start a business selling my slings. He was so surprised at the attention that a baby in a sling attracted. People stopped us on the streets to ask where they could buy one. He also hadn’t thought about the fact that if Katie had been in a stroller, we wouldn’t have been able to do half of what we did on that vacation! We went hiking up mountain trails with Katie sleeping in a sling, while we watched other parents with strollers turn around when it got too rough. We waded in the frigid waters off the Washington coast while other parents with babies stayed up by their cars with their babies bundled in car seats. We played miniature golf with our son while Katie watched from the sling. Steve even had Katie in a sling while playing pinball with Nicholas.One week later after arriving back home and settling in, Steve had bought the domain name Slinglings.com and our business was born. Steve is a programmer so he immediately went to work on our website.

 

Katie was such a happy slingling that I decided ‘Every baby should be a Slingling’. Our goal is to make parenting easier and babies happier.”

 

 

 

 

And thus, Slinglings was born! Isn’t that a wonderful story?
 
 

 

Now, on to my questions:  

Andrea: Slinglings offers so many wonderful fabric choices. Could you tell me a
little bit about your fabric selection process?
 
Sara: Our most recent batch of fabrics were designed and printed exclusively for us. We started the process in 2007. We put up polls with many different fabrics swatches on our website for customers to vote on for several months. Once the basic designs were picked out, then the colors had to be picked…which may have been harder than picking the designs! We finally decided on 3 designs, 2 of which are available in 2 colorways, for 5 exclusive fabrics total. It was an expensive and long process, but all 5 fabrics have done really well! Two of our best selling fabrics are Apollo and Azul, which my husband designed and we chose the colors for together.  

When we first started, we bought any (and I do mean ANY) suitable fabric that we could find at a reasonable price, whether it was at local fabric stores, online fabrics stores, or from fabric wholesalers. We really made some mistakes in our fabric selections in the first year. We still have some mistake fabrics hanging around on our website. :)

Andrea: Why pouch slings?  

 Sara: They are easy, quick to put on and take off. Compact to fit in any bag. The hardest part is finding your correct size! It is really common for new sling users to wear a pouch too loose, so half the battle is just teaching people how they should actually fit. Pouches are also lower in cost than many other baby carriers, and they are often referred to as the “gateway baby carrier”, because many parents start with a pouch, and then go on to other more advanced, more expensive, or more supportive carriers.

 

 

Andrea: What is the best thing about owning a babywearing company?
 

 

 

Sara: I love meeting with local customers and getting to wear their babies! I am done having babies, my youngest is three-and-a-half, so this gives me a chance to hold and wear tiny babies again. When I can’t meet with customers, I love seeing pictures and hearing about how our slings have helped them. I also love the flexibility that owning my own businesses gives me and my family. Both my husband and I work at home and we can work almost any schedule we like, around our children’s schedules.
Andrea: What is the hardest/most challenging thing?

Sara: For me, the hardest part of owning a babywearing company is trying to teach customers how to use their new carriers by email or phone. I truly wish that I could meet with more customers in person, especially for pouches, because they are much easier to size in person.

 It is very hard to work around our two kids sometimes. We have a seven-year-old son, Nicholas, and a three-year-old daughter, Katherine (Katie). They don’t understand that even though their parents are right there with them, we can’t necessarily drop everything and get them a snack or make them chocolate milk right when they want it! It is a struggle to get them to respect the time that we need to accomplish what we need to do in order to support our family. We have recently moved our business out of our home finally, into a warehouse about a mile away. I thought that I would hate having to “go to work”, but it is so much more efficient and relaxing to go there, get what I need to do DONE, and then go home to my family. I still do all of my computer work at home, but almost all other work is done at the warehouse. 

 Andrea: I actually discovered Slinglings through the No Mother Left Behind
website. Could you tell me a bit about Slinglings’ charitable donations?

Sara: In addition to No Mother Left Behind, we also donate to sling “lending libraries”, La Leche League groups, Attachment Parenting International groups, and other similar groups. All of these groups are non profit organizations that generally promote sensitive, attentive parenting and breastfeeding. Babywearing is a great tool in facilitating attachment between baby and parent, and encourages frequent, extended breastfeeding. We have worked with a few hospitals and county health departments, offering higher than normal discounts on our slings, so that they can provide low income new moms a sling at no cost if they would like one. Instead of the “formula diaper bags” that so many get in the hospital after giving birth, they get items that promote breastfeeding and attachment. 

 

 Andrea: What is your best piece of advice for parents who are new to babywearing?

Sara: Have patience when you and your baby are trying out a new carrier. It takes time and practice for both you and the baby to get accustomed to babywearing. New parents often buy a sling, try it once, then return it saying that their baby cried when they put him in. If I could meet with every customer in person, I could show them just how much their baby will love being worn. It’s often the parent’s inexperience and tension that causes the baby to cry; babies can sense it! When I calmly and expertly :) put their baby in a carrier, the baby is generally so content. I have never met a baby that didn’t like being worn. It’s just a matter of finding the position that the baby likes best (usually upright against the wearer’s chest) and giving the baby time to get used to being in the carrier. 
 

Second piece of advice, wear your baby high and snug! Your back and shoulders will thank you. It is really common for new users to wear any carrier too low and loose. Even Baby Bjorns that I see being worn out in public are usually worn too low. Baby’s bottom should be at your belly button! When the baby is in an upright position, you should be able to easily kiss the top of your baby’s head.
 
 Thanks, Sara, for sharing your advice and the story of your wonderful product.

I would like to congratulate Sara on the purchase of AttachedToBaby.com! Surf on over there to see some more great baby products!

Sara has graciously agreed to sponsor the giveaway of one in-stock Slingling. To enter this giveaway, click over to Slinglings. Then, come back here and leave a comment below, stating which Slingling you like best.

To Obtain Extra Entried for all This week’s Babywearing Giveaways, you can do one or all of the following things:

  • Blog about the Babywearing Bonanza
  • Grab my Babywearing Bonanza Button (see my sidebar) and place it in your sidebar
  • Email five people about the Babywearing Bonanza, and Cc me at: wamcmann(at)telebeep(dot)com

If you choose to earn extra entries, be sure to let me know, so I can give you credit for your hard work!

This giveaway ends on September 10, 2008 at 11:59 p.m. CST.

 

 

Last summer, after reading about several baby-shaking incidents over the course of just a few weeks, I decided that someone should start a charity that gifts baby carriers to parents that might not otherwise have access to them, and also serves to educate parents about babywearing. It is my feeling that so many infant abuse cases could be avoided if more parents and caregivers knew about, and had access to, babywearing. I know from personal experience how much difference a good baby carrier makes, when trying to soothe a high-needs baby. I also decided that if no one had already begun such a charity, I would do it myself.

Thankfully, there was already a non-profit devoted to gifting baby carriers to low-income families, and providing babywearing support and information. This wonderful organization is called No Mother Left Behind, and it had already been doing its good deeds for a year before I discovered it!

Recently, I had the chance to interview the owner of No Mother Left Behind, Andrea Howard. Please enjoy the following interview. It’s the first of four babywearing non-profit profiles I will be sharing with you this week. If you love babywearing as much as I do, consider donating your time and/or money to one or all of these wonderful organizations!

 

Q: I know that Mary Finch originally founded No Mother Left Behind (NMLB). How did you become involved with the organization?

A: I became involved with the organization when Mary decided to step back from NMLB and focus on her family. She needed someone to take over, and being a big babywearing advocate I jumped at the chance to help mothers wear their babies! 

Q: Could you briefly explain NMLB’s purpose, for those not familiar with it?

A: No Mother Left Behind is a non-profit babywearing organization that helps low-income mothers wear their babies. We accept donations from individuals, WAHMs and companies and redistribute them to mothers who have been approved through our application process. 
 
Q: When was NMLB founded? How many carriers have been gifted so far?

 A: No Mother Left Behind was founded almost two years ago, in October 2006. To date, we have donated over 350 carriers and the number grows daily!

Q: What is the best part about being the owner of an organization like NMLB? 

A:The best thing about being a part of this program is knowing that I am helping mothers to wear their babies. I get such a great feeling when I read an email saying ‘My sling got here today, and I love it! My baby is so much happier!’.

Q: What is the hardest/most challenging part of being involved with NMLB?

The hardest part is managing it all! NMLB is really growing and keeping up with emails and questions is getting tricky, especially with a 2 year old and a new baby due soon. We’re expanding, though, and I’m already feeling better about the changes in NMLB! 

Q: Why do you feel that every parent should have access to a baby carrier?

A: I feel that every parent should have access to a baby carrier because for babies, touch and closeness with their parents is an important a need as food, sleep and a clean diaper- but it is also one of the most overlooked needs. It makes me sad to see ‘baby needs’ lists with strollers on the must-have list, and slings/carriers on the ‘extras’ list. There is something backward about that! Babies don’t only WANT to be held- they NEED to be held in order to grow and thrive. Babywearing makes meeting this need so much easier- I don’t know how I’d have survived the first year without babywearing! Every parent needs to be able to provide this for their baby.
 

A: How can a person get involved with NMLB? How much time and money would be required if one wished to volunteer? What about donating homemade or used slings?

 

A: To donate a sling, all one needs to do is fill out the donation form on our website, and we will contact you with instructions for sending your sling in. Homemade and used slings, provided they are still safe to use, are always welcome! If someone wishes to volunteer, they can donate as much or as little time as they wish. We do not expect our volunteers to donate any money- just their time is more than enough! All anyone needs to do is send us an email and offer up their time/services- we can almost always find something for someone to do!
 
Q:  How can a person find out if they would qualify for a carrier from NMLB? How does one go about applying?

A: To apply for a sling, an applicant needs to fill out the application found on our website (or print one and mail it in via post). After the application is received, they are required to send in proof of low income, photo ID and a small fee of $5 to cover shipping their new sling to them.

Q: Do you have volunteers in every region of the country?
 
A: We have volunteers across seven ‘zones’ in the United States. These volunteers are responsible for keeping an inventory of donated carriers and sending out carriers to approved applicants. We also have volunteers helping to process applications, direct donations, fundraise and spread the word about NMLB.
 

Q: Could you tell me about the changes you mentioned earlier?

 

 

A: We’ve recently expanded NMLB and brought on a ton of new volunteers. We’ve split up the ‘jobs’ and I am breathing a sigh of relief at not being in charge of all aspects of NMLB anymore! I am so grateful for everyone who’s volunteered to help bring slings to mothers who need them.
 
 
 Thank you, Andrea, for taking the time to answer my questions, and for giving so much of your time and heart to such a worthy cause!

To learn more, visit No Mother Left Behind today!

 

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