Action Baby Carrier Review: Toddler Edition


Hiking with the ABC
Hiking with the ABC

Yes, it’s really called an Action Baby Carrier. Hence this train of thought every single time I pick it up:

Action Baby Carrier —> Action Baby —> Action Man –>

DAVID BOWIE.

Every.single.time. I think I’ve got a permanent “Ashes to Ashes” earworm.

This Action Baby Carrier is actually an Action Baby Toddler Carrier, to muddy the waters even more. Action Baby SSCs (soft-structured carriers) come in both baby and toddler. I got both to test, but since I have two bigs and one little, I thought I’d give the toddler a spin first.

First, the dimensions: ABC Toddler has a 17 inch body that’s 19 inches wide, and adjusts between 28 and 53 inches. The manufacturer recommends it for 18 months and up. It’s got straight straps, not curved, and a padded waistbelt that fits caregivers from tiny to large. My BWI group found that to be true.

Well, Sunny is 14 months old and that’s practically 18 months, right? So we used it. He’s a small 14 months old at only 20 lbs, so I didn’t expect him to fit. Surprisingly, he was juuuuust big enough to get into it. I found I could wear him in the baby-size and toddler-size carriers both, which is how they’re designed. His legs were allllmost overextended, but not quite, so I’d say he fit better in the baby carrier.

I generally don’t love SSCs because every time I put one on, I find myself singing the Muffin Top song from 30 Rock. Action Baby isn’t a miracle carrier, so I still have some, shall we say, overflow. But the padded waistbelt helped lessen the spillage, and some clever sweater placement kept it invisible.

Like the old Olives and Applesauce carrier, this switches between crossed and uncrossed straps -a versatility you don’t find in every SSC brand, including Ergo. That nice, because it doesn’t have you groping behind your back to fasten a chest clip.

Nursing discreetly in ABC
Nursing discreetly in ABC

Those crossed straps also make it easier to nurse in than many SSCs, since you don’t have to worry about catching a clip on your back when you loosen the straps. The hood made a lovely nursing cover, and no one could tell what I was doing. Win.

The crossed straps do mean though that you’re not only unbuckling to change between front and back carries, you’re also tightening and loosening. That’s kind of a pain in the middle of the Target parking lot. I found myself tightening pretty close to the ends in a front carry, which tells me again that Sunny is still on the very small end for this carrier.

I liked the moveable chest clip, though it occasionally caught on beginning of the padding, and it fell off once  several times when I was switching between crossed and uncrossed straps. I also had some trouble getting it where I wanted it sometimes. User error? No idea. After some messing around with the carrier’s height (right under breasts, at hips, at natural waist), I still found that the chest clip pulled and bunched the straps – another problem with the moveable clip.

Bunching at the chest clip in a back carry
Bunching at the chest clip in a back carry

When I used this with my older kids, they fit much better, though it wasn’t knee-to-knee in my preschooler (obviously, and which isn’t necessary in an SSC). My five-year-old pronounced it comfortable. I liked it as well with him, though the bunched straps got worse with a larger kid. I found if I carefully placed the straps over the ball of my shoulder joint, farther out than I’d normally wear them, it was quite comfortable.

As some sites have said, this is a good SSC for the money, and they’re right. It’s also manufactured not only in the US, but in Detroit: a place that needs jobs desperately. The makers are committed to supporting their local economy, especially as the area really really really needs it. I can get behind an SSC maker out of Detroit that provides good jobs for at least a dozen people.

Some friends who tried this complained the sleep hood wasn’t structured enough, but it didn’t bother me.

All in all, I liked this. I’m a diehard wrapper and I didn’t dread testing it; Sunny seemed to like it, and it held Dragontrainer (40 lbs or so) without any trouble. The weight stated, as it should, in the hips and chest belt. I’d definitely recommend this as a carrier over many other SSC brands, including the Ergo’s I’ve tried. Not reaching behind me to snap stuff in a front carry is a win in my book.


Big thanks to Action Baby, who donated this to my local BWI chapter!


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Letter to the Baby I’m Not Having

460053136_5f822bffd3_z
photo by Dino Olivieri

Dear Baby,

I want to have you so bad.

I mean, lots of women want babies. But I really, really, want to have you, baby. I want to feel your slow underwater kicking in my belly. I want the startling suddenness of you dropped on my chest, all newness and screams, the immediate swell of a love both trancendent and ordinary. I want to sniff your fuzzy newborn head and nuzzle into your milky-sweet smell of neck. I want to carry you wrapped to my chest. I want to see your brothers’ faces at the wonder of you, hear their silly nicknames and constant requests to hold you. I want you, baby, so bad.

It hurts in my bones, baby, especially as my friends get pregnant again, especially knowing that if I got pregnant now, you’d be the same two years apart as each of your three brothers. My heart aches for the knowledge of you in my belly, for the surity of your coming.

But it’s not to be, not right now.

I’ve got reasons – very good, very well-thought-out reasons that boil down easily: One day, not now. I know this ache for you doesn’t compare to the pain of infertility. So many people want babies and can’t physically have them. This isn’t the impossibility of a child. We can have one, but we shouldn’t. It’s a different pain all together, this ache of lost possibility. We could have you now. We don’t. The choice hurts every day we make it, baby. We make it and we miss you.

And this missing you is real, baby. It’s not some rush of hormones, not some fleeting newborn nostalgia. People will scoff, I know. They’ll say I’m baby-crazy, just selfish for your newness.  They don’t understand that I miss the unique possibility of you. We want you in all your wholeness: not just your babyhood, but your childhood, your adulthood, the endless unfolding of you. We want another person in our family. We are complete but incomplete, whole but unfinished.

I know I should be happy with what I have. And I am. I love your brothers. But that love has room for more. My head knows, Not yet. But my heart still says: Now, now, now.

So while my friends get pregnant, I will listen to their happy announcements and miss you.

While the year rolls on, past the dates I got pregnant with your brothers, I will wish to hold you.

While my friends debate the merits of midwives and homebirths and hot baths, I will think of you.

While the seasons turn,  the summer when my belly would grow round with you, I will feel an empty ache.

One day, baby, I won’t miss you anymore. One day, I’ll have you.

But not yet.

 

Vaquero Wovens: Cabana Under the Sun

varVaquero Wovens can’t seem to keep wraps in stock. That’s not surprising, since their fresh color combos and edgy patterns have mamas stalking release dates. Cabana Under the Sun was particularly HSA,  This unicorn rainbow retails for 105 bucks, which may make it the only budget HSA of all time.

Congratulations, Vaquero. You win the wrap world.

You don’t have to have big bucks to get a CUTS, which comes in yellow and blue wefts. You just have to have some patience and some fast fingers. That levels the playing field a good bit for mams who want HSA unicorn poop but can’t afford the big bucks. It’s great to see (again) an American company coming out with a budget line that’s as quality and as well-designed as its HE line. Mamas, Vaquero loves you.

sadadsaAnd after testing CUTS, I pretty much want to have Vaquero’s babies. Because this wrap is genius: it’s rainbow, and we all love rainbows (hence the perennial popularity of Girasol). It’s unicorn poop on a middle-class budget. And most amazing of all: someone made a budget twill.

Shut it down, y’all. Every other wrap company should be beating its head against a wall, because why the hell hasn’t anyone thought of this before? Twill’s perfect: super supportive for its weight, stretchy and forgiving for beginners, with the ability to give a tight, moldable carry. Everyone loves diamond weave Storchenwiege Leos and Girasols because of their support. But twill is arguably even more supportive than diamond weave. It has superior stretch and bounce.

Did I mention I’m obsessed with twill? And I’m not alone: the wrap world has come around to the twill love, with twill handwovens popular as big kid wraps. Twill, basically, is a type of fabric with a pattern of diagonal parallel ribs. The weft thread goes over one or more warp threads, under two or more warp thread, etc. The typical diagonal pattern comes from the offset between the rows that this creates.

Twill usually has great drape, stretch, and moldability. It also tends to have more shoulder cush than other weaves. So to make a beginner wrap, with a beginner price tag, in twill? Genius.

This, in a nutshell, is CUTS.

CUTS is medium-weight, at 270 gsm, and has that characteristic stretch and cush of twill. The rainbow pattern melds well with the weave (often a problem in complex weaves), and looks stellar wrapped. The strongest colors are in the middle: important to think about when weaving and wearing, because those are the ones that’ll show the most.

xassThis wraps perfectly for a beginner and advanced wrapper alike. The twill gives it a forgiving cush, and it’s stretchy enough to get a tight, moldable carry. This moldability makes it ideal for practicing new carries, and the cush can redeem a crappy wrap job. Unicorn poop for the win! I loved it with my 20lb Sunny, but found myself reaching for it with 30 lb Baby Bear and 35-40lb Dragontrainer as well. I got tight carries without pressure points, carries that lasted for long periods without slipping or digging. I’d use this in a short size without hesitation, especially as a ruck wrap for a medium-sized babe or smallish toddler.

I begged Tessa to buy this one, but it’s her personal wrap, so I have to mail it back. I have all the sadz over this.

This is thin enough to work well for a little squish, and supportive enough for a beast toddler. Truly, like a Storch Leo, this is a wrap that can do it all – without the same breaking-in time of other budget wraps. CUTS has the same quality I found in the more-expensive grad-stars.

I’ve been asked a lot lately about beginner wrap recommendations, and my only regret is that Vaquero can’t keep this in stock enough to make it a viable option for newbies. So get on that shiz, Tessa.

It’s twill. It’s beginner. It’s a rainbow of unicorn poop caliber. Someone hold me. For real, I’m in love with this baby, and I’ll be stalking the next release along with the rest of you. And here’s the prices, so save your pennies:

2 – $87

3 – $90

4 – $95

5 – $100

6 – $105

7 – $110

And unfortunately, I can’t win my own giveaway. You can, though. Check my Facebook page to win your own Cabana Under the Sun!


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Check me out on Mamalode!

doggieI’m talking about my dogs this week again on Mamalode. Check out the post, “How Dogs Prepared Me for Kids.”

Mundane Mama Problems

moozleI stared at the pile of dirt I’d swept off my living room floor. My dirt piles are always way too big and way too varied to be respectable: we’re not talking about some stray mud, a decaying leaf, and some lint. My dirt piles involve tiny spacemen, licked-clean pudding cups someone stuffed halfway under the couch, crumpled-up sticker sheets, and crayons. Always, always crayons. And never whole crayons, either: every pile I sweep up has several crayon pieces.

So I face the mama dilemma: Do I keep the crayon pieces, or do I toss the crayon pieces? (Answer: I keep anything more than half, and all the black).

We moms – and yes, some dads, we’re equal opportunity slobs here – face dilemmas like this every day. These are the stuff of domestic days, the bits and bobs that stitch together a real life. The struggle is real, people. We can call these “Mundane Mama Problems.”

Photo by Kim MyoungSung,
Photo by Kim MyoungSung ,https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

The Laundry Conundrum

You’ve washed almost every load in the house. Finally, you can survey your empty hampers and anoint yourself reigning Laundry Champion. Except there’s one load left: the one in the washer. You finally have time to sort and fold. Do you wait? Or do you get to work, knowing you’ll never be finished because there’s always one more load? And if you fold now, how much do you allow yourself to feel the existential, Sisyphean woe?

The Baseboard Problem

There are grayish smudges on your white baseboards. No one notices them but you. You can magic erase them, but even if you do, no one will notice. Do you clean them anyway, or let the schmutz accumulate? This same dilemma applies to dust on the closet door, fingermarks low on doorways, and futz atop the medicine cabinet. Note: this only applies if you mother is not expected anytime soon.

The Music Issue

Everyone knows not to play music with the f-word in it (I miss you, Pretty Hate Machine and the Ben Folds cover of “Bitches Ain’t Shit”). But what about music with no adult language but all adult themes? Do you self-censor, or do you wait for your kids to ask, “Mommy? What’s a needle and spoon?”

The Car Food Dilemma

Your toddler is screaming in his carseat. You have food at hand: carrot sticks, apple slices, goldfish – something appropriately toddlerish and tasty. Hand over the food, and the screaming will stop. However, aren’t you supposed to worry that your kid will choke? Especially if  – as everyone tells you – he has to rearface until he’s, like, eight. Do you give him the food, then wait in terror for his every breath? Or do you listen to his screams the rest of the way home, knowing you have the power to end them and choose not to? And will either choice leave you with a clean conscience?

The Nose-Picking Nightmare

You’re standing in line at Target, and Junior starts diggin’ for gold. You could tell him to stop it. But he’s having tantrum after tantrum; it’s 4:45 in the afternoon, and you just need to get through this checkout line, please God and all the saints. Do you ignore the index finger shoved up his nostril, and live with the knowledge that everyone is staring at the booger-picker? Or do you intervene, earning yourself the respect of passers-by but possibly triggering something that may resemble a scene from The Exorcist? Remember: they’ll judge you either way.

The Makeup Decision

Oh, the joys of early-morning drop-off. You’ve spent an hour wrangling small, angry, sleepy people out of bed, into clothes, and off to school. Other moms will see you – but only for a brief second. Clothes and makeup will rob you of at least another hour of sleep. On the other hand, there’s always that bitch in full-face and high heels prancing Greysyynn off into her classroom. Basically: have you given up yet?

Do you feed me?
Do you feed me?

The Car Nap Quandary

Junior has spent all morning simultaneously running in circles and beating other children. He’s been a miserable beast of a child until he finally passed out in the car post-lunch. You’ve pulled up to your house. If you let him sleep, you can sit in the car and play Candy Crush for an hour. But a nap will also have him channeling the Energizer Bunny until eleven o’clock at night. If you wake him up, he’ll spend the rest of the day clinging to your leg and screaming – but he’ll go to sleep at a normal time, or even earlier. Do you love your partner or your baby more? Remember, either choice comes with a crushing sense of parental guilt.

The TV Trap

Daniel Tiger will shut your kids up. It’ll calm them down. It’ll give you some precious, precious moments to regain your sanity, get on the internet, and converse with people who don’t find flatulence the pinnacle of comedy. But TV rots your brain. Every good parent has taken their set into the backyard and shot it like a rabid dog. Of course, you pick option B.

The real question: do you let them watch an extra episode?

The Sex Question

This, and every

thing that surrounds it, ranks as the very worst of all First World Mommy Dilemmas. You can assure your four-year-old will yell the word “penis” in the grocery store. Or you can pick a cutesy name like “wee-wee”, pacifying your jhgjgrandmother but setting him up for confusion and sexual shame. Or something like that.

And then when he finally asks where babies come from, do you tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth, some vague variation of daddy and mommy and eggs, or chicken out and make up some shit about cabbage leaves?

One way or another, one day, you’ll wish you picked the last one.

What’s your Mundane Mama Problem?

_____________________

 

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Silver Lining Slings Bricolage Shiro Review

bric“Bricolage” means a collection of diverse or different things. So it’s no surprise that Silver Lining Slings’ Bricolage pattern has a number of inspirations, from, as owner Sonia Parella says, everything from “Japanese patterns to Aztec motifs and Kilim rug patterns.” You can see that very well in one of their colored Bricolage weaves, Sakura or Kabocha: the motifs reflect vintage Japanese kimonos, traditional ikat, and more. Basically, if this pattern were a person, it would model for Benetton.

Ywrappingbou can’t see the gorgeous pattern as much in Bricolage Shiro, the new natty colorway in pima cotton. Pima cotton, with its extra long staple, is similar to but even more luxurious than Egyptian cotton. It’s named for the Native Americans who first cultivated it in the US (though the varietal itself comes from Peru), making it an important part of US textile heritage. Silver Lining Slings buys the cotton exclusively from the US, and has it spun in its mill in North Carolina.

Traditional influences + local business = perfect storm of hippie. I’m naming this the official baby wrap of Portlandia.

As gorgeous as the pattern is, you don’t see it much in Bricolage Shiro; it comes off mostly as some serious texture. The texture itself reminds me of a Pavo etini, as does its heft: this is a beefcake at 340 gsm in loom state. Between the shallow tapers and the heft, this wraps about a size short; I mostly used this size 4 for ruck variations.

bric2And what a ruck wrap. The long staple pima cotton gives Bricolage Shiro some serious fluff and cush, which makes it heavenly on the shoulder, and the texture lends plenty of stretch and bounce. I used this with some sleeping bowling ball babies (did this come with unicorn sparkle sleepy dust? Because my kids kept falling asleep in it)  and it held up well. After about half an hour with a sleeping thirty pounder, while doing some fairly vigorous housework that had me twisting and turning a lot, my shoulders started to bother me a bit. But I solved that with a candycane chest belt. My 20lb Sunny slept in it regularly with no issues.

briccThat’s good that it holds up well for big kids, because with its thickness, this isn’t a newborn wrap. That’s a shame, since the pima is so soft and fluff-ful, but you’d lose a squish in this thing. I found it easy to tighten and move around. Despite the texture, it didn’t feel like a total wrestling match, and held a pirate carry (RRRR) with some lovely bounce.

Two layers of this, though – wow. It’ll keep you warm, and that’s great for this time of year. If you need some extra layers to keep you toasty, Bricolage Shiro is a great choice.

Buy this in a short or medium length to wrap your toddler; use a long length to carry your preschooler or beer-bellied brother-in-law, possibly at the same time.

Only drawback? Because pima cotton is so absorbent, it can suck up stains. So no wet parking lots for this baby. That might make it an awesome dye blank, though.

Bricolage Shiro goes on sale January 15th, will go from $165 for a size 2 up to $265 for a size 7. It looks to be pretty popular right now, and sure to sell out in minutes, much like many of SLS’s other releases. Good luck, stalkers!


Need some extra stalking luck? Want a stalk-free pass? Check Facebook!

Like Silver Lining Slings, Manic Pixie Dream Mama, and visit Facebook to win a stalk-free pass to purchase a Bricolage Shiro.


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Girl Things I Buy (For My Boys)

cardiganI bought my toddler an awesome cardigan today: a perfect hipster button-down he’ll wear with skinny jeans and Doc Martins. Of course, I didn’t buy it in the boys’ department. This sweater was definitely made to go over some pink ruffled dress.

We venture into the pink explosion of the girls’ department pretty regularly. Partially because it’s stupid to gender stereotype small children, and partially because, well, they don’t make some things for boys. No, I’m not stuffing my three-year-old boy into a dress (unless he asks me to), but even my super-active, ball-throwing, fart-joking threesome isn’t all boy all the time. We own lots of ‘girlie’ things.

Sweaters

If you want to dress a hipster, you need baby cardigans. And while they make a few acceptably hipster-ish sweaters for boys, you’re guaranteed to find perfectly stylish button-downs in the girls’ department. I always hit up the Target girls’ section for sweaters, and usually come away with some pretty adorable finds. Buying them on the pink side makes them that much more hipster.

Skinny Jeans

They just don’t make skinny jeans for boys. I suppose boys need pockets in which to stuff slime and snails and string or something. So when we need skinny jeans – a must to match those cardigans – we hit the girls’ department. If you look closely at my kids, you might see some subtle pink stitching. But as long as there’s no frills, we’re cool.

Pink

Ask my middle son to choose between pink and any other color, and he’ll choose pink over everything but black (he’s kind of a goth that way). We have a decent stash of pink shirts, including Hello Kitty tshirts as well as socially acceptable pink button downs. His potty, in fact, is a pink princess monstrosity that sings at you. Hey, we told him he could choose whichever he wanted. I won’t be the one to crush his dreams.

pantsPlaid pants

Nothing says New York punk like plaid pants, and we need them to properly showcase the baby Doc Martins. But they don’t make plaid pants for boys, much less tight plaid pants. So I scour the girls’ leggings and buy them one or two sizes too large. My toddler threw a fit for his the other morning. We played the Ramones to celebrate.

Kitchen Toys

Admittedly, that’s getting better – my kids have a red kitchen now, replacing their beat-to-hell-and-back plastic pink one. But if I want accessories, I have to visit the dreaded pink aisles, because apparently only girls push shopping carts and make sandwiches. This must confuse my sons, since I once set coleslaw on fire and my husband does the cooking.

Scarves

Everyone seems to want to slap a branded character on boys’ scarves. Girls’ scarves, on the other hand, come in plain colors or patterns. My oldest son’s fav is a wrap scrap Tekhni kingfisher scarf. They definitely made that one for ladies.

Nail Polish

They sell it in the beauty section. My boys get to pick a new color if they’re especially patient at Sephora or well-behaved in Target. We don’t stick to gothy black, either. My boys rock silver toenails, white fingernails, or a rainbow on each hand. Sometimes they ask for “gold dragon claws.” Boy moms get to play manicure, too.

Fairy Stuff

Who says boys can’t dress up as fairies – the magic kind, not the clubbing type (not that there’s anything wrong with that). We have several sets of fairy wings and wands, because while Sesame Street can make a boy fairy Gonnegan, they can’t be bothered to merchandize him. So corporate America keeps fairies with the princess crap, which means glitter wings come in pink, pink, and pink. Doesn’t stop us.

Dolls

We did the proper liberal thing and bought our sons some multi-ethnic dolls. While they play with the dollhouse, they ignore the baby-sized dolls in favor of stuffed animals, which they tote around in doll slings. Mostly, they lob dinosaurs at them. Win?

What stereotypically girl things do you buy for your boys?


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AndalGO Custom Wrap Review: Go Gryffindor

andal2About a year ago, Bettina Csikvári wove a peach and pink striped wrap for her company, AndalGO. That wrap sat on the secondary market – and sat, and sat, and sat. You know the one I mean. It’s the one you think of when you think of AndalGO, and that’s a shame.

Because of that one wrap, mamas seem wary to buy AndalGOs, or even jump on her (open) customs list: it’s too scary to think you may not be able to sell the wrap for anything near what you paid.

This is good, because it means more open customs slots for me and for those of us who’ve discovered the AndalGO love. Insert an evil laugh here. I should probably just keep my mouth shut, and hence hoard all the AndalGOs for the rest of us, but I promised Bettina a review. So even though I sort of want to keep the secret, I have to now tell you how awesome my AndalGO is.

How awesome? Well, it’s customized – in Gryffindor colors. Bettina worked long and hard with me to come up with the pattern I wanted, and I sort of drove her crazy with it. So the final product is a testament to her creativity, her customer service, and her artistry. I didn’t just want red and gold stripes, and she didn’t have enough of the right gold for that, anyway.

andaltBettina works by warp. You hop onto a solid-colored warp – mine was black – and design your own weft pattern. That gives you customized “vertical” stripes (i.e., running along from rail to rail rather than taper to taper). Very few weavers work this way, and it gives AndalGO wraps a unique look – and unique custom possibilities.

So finally, after lots of back and forth and hemming and hawing, settled on random red and gold pinstripes over the black warp, with the pinstripes concentrating themselves around the middle marker and radiating outward. Got it? Told you I was a pain in the ass about it. I picked her herringbone weave, because it’s less thick than twill and stretchier than plain weave (and I need some stretch and bounce in my life).

Seriously, Bettina is a saint.

And when I got the wrap, all the back-and-forth, then the one month shipping time? Totally worth it. Because AndalGO Go Gryffindor (like that?) comes in as one of my top-ten dream wraps.

andalGo Gryffindor wraps with the stretch and bounce of an old Ellevill jade:  a handwoven one broken in to favorite-pair-of-jeans softness. But without the crazy patterned texture, it wraps more smoothly, with plenty of slip. That gives a super-tight, moldable carry. It wraps easily, no wrestling, and tightens smoothly. Unicorn pelt. For realsies.

Are you drooling yet? You should be drooling. And this was brand new in box, people.  It’s bouncy enough that Sunny inevitably starts bobbing to my step when I put him in it. He likes it; he tends to pick it when it’s up against other choices.

And it’s mostly black. That means it doesn’t stain, which means a total beater wrap. I can mop up spilled tea and it won’t show. Gryffindor is my go-to hiking wrap, my I-can’t-ruin-this-one with a muddy playground, a wet parking lot, or a rainy day. I’ve worn it for hours at a time with limp bowling-ball baby weight. My only problem? Occasionally I over-tighten and and need to readjust the straps on my double hammock.

As a true test, I’ve practiced random carries in it as well. It works smoothly into multi-layer weirdnesses: long shepherd’s carries, bastardized taiwanese variations, Charlie’s cross carry. I liked the stretch and moldability for wrapping practice. For that reason, this would wear well for a newbie, or for someone who’s learning to perfect their wrapping skills.

nusrinfanI used it with both Sunny (20 lbs) and Baby Bear (27-30 lbs or so) without a problem. It might not be my choice for a single-layer toddler ruck wrap, but you’re using a super fatty wrap for that anyway. Go Gryffindor comes in at a medium 200 g^m, and wraps about the same.

Do I love it? Yes. Easy custom process? Yes. Super customizable? Totally, and with a bargain price to match. So if you’re looking to have your own wrap made, AndalGO is a good choice. It’s made of unicorn pelt and love and snuggles, with the durability of Hagrid moleskin coat.

Forget that peach and pink travesty. This is the real AndalGO: customizable, attractive, bouncy and stretchy. Stop overlooking and start buying while you still can.


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BaBy SaBye Green Tea Review (and giveaway!)

bbsbMy nerd BFF and I agree on most things: measuring tapes are great toys. Forest preschool rocks, as does fungus. And the universe erred gravely when we didn’t get admission letters to Hogwarts Academy for Witchcraft and Wizardry.

That’s probably for the best, though, because I really, really love my science nerd BFF, and Hogwarts, unfortunately, is the scene of our major disagreement. I’m a 100% Gryffindor girl. Science BFF bleeds green and silver.

She’s a Slytherin, people. Probably would speak Parseltongue if you gave her the chance, and thinks Snape is the best teacher in the whole damn school.

I love her anyway.

All this is to say that when she saw Green Tea sitting on my couch, Science BFF snatched it up. She loves to wrap, but she’s usually not all over my testers. Her daughter was almost asleep on her boob, so she double hammocked her.

“What is this?” she asked.

“It’s a BaBy SaBye Green Tea,” I said. “How’s it feel?”

“Good,” she said. “The color’s to die for.”

She wore it for the rest of the afternoon, then borrowed it that evening. I saw her the next day, baby wrapped up. “Still like it?” I asked.

“It’s a Slytherin wrap,” she said. “I’ve never found another wrap this color. It’s stunning. And the weave looks like snakeskin.”

babysabyeDamn if she isn’t right. Green Tea is the perfect Slytherin wrap. We couldn’t think of another wrap with the same color and shine. Nor does anyone else use the same textured weave, which gives the wrap a unique serious grip combined with unicorn-belly softness.

Harry Potter nerdery aside, Green Tea is thick, thicker wrapped than in hand, 30% linen and 40% hemp, with the gorgeous, heavy drape of a mercerized cotton BaBy SaBye. These wraps really do feel like nothing else. They drape like the fabric of a Renaissance painting; the taa kai weave has a soft, bumpy texture you don’t find anywhere else.

And since they don’t release regularly, the company tends to be one of the majorly overlooked in the handwoven market. Woven in Thailand but based in Russia, BaBy SaBye has come more in tune with the current market: using vegetable-based dyes, widening their wraps from the first release, working on more toddler-weight wraps. They don’t even come up often on the secondary market.

So I was glad to get Green Tea in a shipment with the three testers set to go around the US. It reminds me of my Taa Kai from the earlier release, but wider, with more grip (that’s the linen and hemp, I think). While my other wraps smoothly, Green Tea definitely falls on the grippy end of the spectrum: it’s not quite WWF quality, but I had to work it into place.

The resulting carry feels good. Science BFF, as much as she hates to admit it, has picky shoulders. She found Green Tea to give a cushy, smooshy shoulder-feels without pressure points. I liked it even for Baby Bear (now 3!) because of that quality.

It wraps solidly, with little to no bounce, and very little stretch. Combined with the lack of slip, this makes for a workout of a wrap job. The results, however, tend to be worth it. Two of us have worn Green Tea for extended amounts of time – up to an hour at once – without digging or pressure points. I like to think that’s the hemp, because hemp is magic worthy of Dumbledore himself.

babysabye2Green Tea’s softness makes it a great wrap for newborns. BaBy SaBye excels in that. It’s thick enough – definitely a thick wrap – that I wouldn’t want to wear it midsummer, though it wears great this time of year. Because of the thickness, you might want to order a size up (you’d only need a half a size up, but obviously no one offers half sizes).

My only real complaint? This is one of the most pull-prone weaves out there, so much so that I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention it. Pulls are easy to fix, though, and the shoulder feel more than makes up for the extra maintenance.

Overall, this is a great, smooshy wrap with a unique color that’s super soft and loveable. And despite Science BFF’s Slytherin roots, I think her picky shoulders and squishy six month old would like it anyway. At least, that’s what she says.


Now that you read about Green Tea, want to win it? Head over to Manic Pixie Dream Mama on Facebook to find out how!

And if you don’t win, don’t fret – BaBy SaBye has another contest going on. Want to be a wrap tester? You and your (US-based) group can host THREE of BaBy SaBye’s new line! Check out Facebook for details.


Rainy Day Fun (#TooPoorForPinterest)

“The sun would not shine. It was too wet to play. So we sat in the house all the cold, cold, wet day.”

Story of your life this winter? We spent some time in the Northeast/Mordor the other week, which meant a solid five days inside my mom’s house, full of items both smallish and breakable-ish. We live in the land of mild winter; my kids spend two hours a day outside, minimum. I thought I’d go out of my mind. Playdough and Curious George helped maintain a thin veneer of civilization, under which laid pure panic: at any time, we were minutes away from Lord of the Flies.

Not only were we surrounded by antiques and dogs not child-safe, but I lacked all normal rainy day resources, like wine and plastic swords. So I got creative. Here’s ten ways to maintain sanity with minimal resources. These are guaranteed to give my kids at least half an hour of indoor entertainment.

Fill a pack ‘n’ play with pillows, stuffed animals, or if you’re lucky, those pesky ball-pit balls. Let your kids dive in and out. Mine like to burrow around under the pillows and pretend they’re in a “squirrelly hole.” Whatever, kids. Whatever.

Cut straws. For some reason, my kids think this is The Best Thing Ever. They’ll sit quietly with scissors and a box of plastic straws for nearly an hour. Adding string gives me an extra 15 minutes. I have no idea why they find this so enjoyable.

Put them in the bathtub. Give them bowels, cups, measuring spoons, and teapot (sorry about the neti pot, Bear).tubby I usually need to warm up the bathwater, because they get so engrossed in pretending to cook. Take them out once they start neti-potting the bathroom floor.

Make a cave. Kitchen table + sheet = insta-tent.  Add some pillows and they can play camp.

Tie strings on the end of yardsticks, brooms, or swiffer handles. They are now fishing poles. Your bed is a boat (your bed is more exciting than theirs, and probably larger). They can return to their cave to cook the fish.

Give your kids play cars and paper. Draw squares on the paper? Parking lot! Use scissors and tape to make roads; get desperate and fold origami boxes as buildings (this may veer too far into Pinterest territory). You can always use painter’s tape to mark off roads on the floor, but I’m assuming a near-total lack of planning.

Pour and sort stuff. Buttons, marbles, and even coins work well. I remember playing with a can of buttons for hours as kid. My boys will do the same with coins.

And while you’re at coins, treasure hunt! Send your kids on a mission to find all the hidden money they can, like between the couch cushions. When that gets old, you could actually hide some. Make treasure maps to lead them to it, or have them make their own. Yarrrrrr, we be bored as hell.

Cut a cardboard box into weaponry and armor.

Bear-forged armor, made of the finest cardboard and Gamecock duct tape.
Bear-forged armor, made of the finest cardboard and Gamecock duct tape.

You can make passable knives, swords, and breastplates this way by hacking off strips of cardboard and taping them together. My kids think this is the Best Thing Ever. My husband’s approach Pinterest levels of accuracy and awesome. Mine look like the picture that gets a third grader sent to the office.

Hand out a box of band aids and some headphones/stethoscope. Time to play hospital! Sure, you just wasted some bandaids, but you gained valuable Facebook time.

How do you keep your kids happy when it rains?


Want to read more about parenting with a side of snark, or keep up with the #TooPoorForPinterest (in time, resources, or will) series? Like Manic Pixie Dream Mama on Facebook!

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