I’ve done cool shit.

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I have done some cool shit.

I’ve spent time teaching in a well known school for the Deaf, totally immersed in American Sign Language and Deaf culture. One of my most proud moments still is when two 17 year olds thought I was Deaf – a real relief as spending eight hours a day communicating in a language I was not born to was intimidating. But amazing.

I’ve worked at an American summer camp for years and years, culminating in an excellent time being the Director there. Summer camp is sort of like you see in the movies, only deeper and funnier and harder. It helped me discover who I was, to celebrate that, to be loved for nothing more simple than just being me.

I spent one memorable winter season living alone at that camp, 400 acres of potential axe murderers and demons at my beck and call. Many hours spent hearing voices outside the window, running like hell through the woods to my little cabin, keys shaking in my hands as I pictured the hounds of hell just about to disembowel me.

I’ve been part of the editorial staff of an international magazine. I never knew how mundane something so seemingly glamourous could be. I loved it. I loved the giant proofs of each new edition, I loved the weird pressure of my work being checked by people just as geeky as me, I loved the odd man who gave me lifts out of London.

I moved across the world to another country, practically sight unseen, for love. I learned how to navigate the most effed up city ever, fell in love with that city, lived in a tiny studio flat with a toy lobster hanging from the bathroom light pull. After a year of staying up all night on the phone to Suzy, waiting for the mail to come each day, what a miracle it felt like to live with her.

I had two years of therapy; it was a requirement for my course, and what a gift it was. I spent hours sitting on a couch across from a woman who showed me such love, such understanding, such humour. How profound it was to be seen, to be known. If I offered a quarter of that experience to the many humans I worked with as a counsellor, I consider that a job well done.

I’ve been inside some notorious psychiatric hospitals, many while volunteering as a mental health advocate. One particular night of trying to get off a locked ward, then out of a locked outer containment zone, then out of endless maze like corridors that all ended in locked doors stays with me still.

I’ve been pregnant with two children, and spent an entire summer on the couch, looking out the window at white fluttering butterflies. Every year when I see those butterflies I am reminded of movement deep within, of my huge, curved belly, of the heat of that endless time of waiting and wondering.

I’ve done cool shit.

I’ve shaved my head, dyed my hair every colour of the rainbow, pierced my tongue. Met many ‘strangers off the Internet’ in a time when that just wasn’t done. I won national awards for acting when I was a teenager and was still so stupid and so brilliant. I achieved a distinction on my Master’s dissertation, and have gone back to teach other MA students.

I’ve written a book or two. Or three. These moments were among the most joyful and fulfilling of my life.

I’ve had sloppy teenage kisses and made messy teenage mistakes. I experienced true love at a very young age, and those memories still sometimes creep into the nighttime landscape of my dreams. I’ve kissed boys, and girls, and my own arm before I was confident in my abilities when lips met lips. All those things led me to here – married just about fifteen years. Safety, laughter, ease, contentment, love.

I quit teaching right before starting a plum job that was hotly fought for. I dropped out of my PhD programme to pursue a career in counselling. I qualified as a high ropes course instructor despite spending three hours crying in a tree, trying to work up the courage to step off a twenty foot high platform. I’ve been in more Halloween haunted houses, haunted woods, and haunted hayrides than you can imagine – and wet myself in fear on more than one occasion. I’ve also wet myself lavishly while laughing.

I’ve survived hard stuff. I spent two years in a wheelchair, unable to walk. My grandmother’s death led me to what, looking back, I can only class as a breakdown. I had a very unstable parent, with many problems, and my choice to cut all contact troubles me still.

I spent time in the room where Anne Frank hid. I’ve stopped my car to let a bear cross the road. I lived without electricity or walls five months every year. I’ve seen meteor showers, I’ve survived tornadoes, I’ve danced in the rain at the tail end of Florida’s hurricane season. I’ve swum naked in a lake filled with dubious creatures. I’ve found friends who feel more like family. I got a qualification as a sexual health worker with young people, and had some of the most…interesting…conversations of my life as a result.

All these things I’ve done, and more, crept into my thoughts while I was driving home today. And I wondered: where is my cool shit now? Ten years from now, will I be able to add onto this list?

I’ve done cool shit. I want to do more.

Babywearing twins (or siblings!): two in one wrap.

I’ve got a whole list of ‘prerequisites.’ By that I mean, posts I feel like I need to write before I can work up to the concept of all the differing and fabulous ways of babywearing more than one kid at a time. But it’s this big backlog and feeling of ‘I ought to’ that chokes me. So, much like babywearing can be, I’m skipping right to a tandem wearing post!

I believe this carry was invented by a mama named Wraparoundjoy, but I could be wrong. I was overexcited and made this babywearing video on what must have been only my third attempt at this carry. I got much better as time went on, but never made another video. So, apologies for that!

I believe this is called the ‘wiggleproof’ – whether that refers only to the back carry shown or the entire thing, I don’t know. What I do know is this is a solid, comfortable carry that is a lot easier than you might imagine. You will probably need a wrap about a size up from your normal size if your babies are big or are actually toddlers!

This is obviously the carry to use if you’ll be wearing for awhile – say, a walk, or shopping, or just needing to get somewhere. It’s not convenient for getting one kid down and popping them back in, so consider this the ‘pushchair’ of wrap carries.

If you are not familiar with back carries, it is best to practice a back cross carry before attempting this one! A baby on the back should be seated much like one on the front – plenty of fabric under the bum, legs spread, knees up in line with the bum.

With no further ado (but with absolute recognition that you can’t see how I am preparing babies on the floor for a back carry, and I think I WILL make an update video on that, either using a toy or a four year old as the ‘baby’!):

Do let me know if this brings up any questions for you, and I will try to answer either directly in the comments or in a new post. Happy Friday, and have fun experimenting with this awesome tandem carry!

Tang Soo Do.

The kids were told off several times tonight (in a nice way) for cuddling during Tang Soo Do. It would be one or the other’s turn to punch and kick stuff, and they were too busy hugging.

The teacher was like, ‘What are you doing?’

S exclaimed, ‘Cuddling!’

After class, the teacher was hanging around while all the kids were getting shoes on, etc. S went up to say thank you, and the teacher replied, ‘You’re welcome. You did really well tonight. But the two of you need to stop cuddling! Cuddles at home, kicking and punching at Tang Soo Do!’

It was at that point that I chose to inform her that the mainstay of their recent home activity is, in fact, punching and kicking.

Why babywearing?

So… what’s the big deal with babywearing, anyway?

Babywearing is a beautiful thing. Picture it: you or your partner have just birthed a gorgeous baby. Pop that baby in a sling, and it’s like you have your bump back! But cuter.

Babies want to be close to their mothers. Most mothers want to be close to their babies. Most also want to be able to pee, eat, and walk. Babywearing allows you to have all the snuggles you both (or all, in the case of multiples) desire, while still letting you move around. I’d say all other benefits aside, it is a total necessity for parents of twins or higher order multiples.

Once I discovered it, it revolutionized life.

When I was pregnant and on bedrest, I did a lot of reading about life with twins. And pretty much every single thing I read talked about the horribleness of two babies crying – you had to pick just one to take care of, you had to somehow cope with the other baby screaming its heart out. And you know, that’s just not true. Of course you can’t escape babyhood without crying – especially when you have two or more babies to consider – but crying is important; it’s one way a baby communicates. But it isn’t something you have to just grin and bear.

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One of mine needed a nappy change and the other didn’t want to be put down? Pop that baby on your back, scoop up the poop covered baby and away you go.

One want to sleep and the other is wide awake? Pop the sleepy baby in a wrap and play with the awake baby.

My babies were often instantly comforted by getting cosy in a wrap, and it saved them (and me!) a lot of tears in the early months. This was especially true when teething or illness was involved, not to mention a few hospital stays for one of the babies. Ever tried getting a toddler to sleep in the hospital with bright lights and screaming kids everywhere? Walk with halls with him in a wrap, problem blessedly solved. Not to mention how much easier it made life outside of the flat even on the best of days. You want to go in a public bathroom without wrestling with a giant double pushchair and then figuring out how to pee without a locked door between you and a baby? Wear them.

That was the answer to many of life’s queries – I wanted to go for a walk, but needed crutches and was unable to push a pushchair. BAM. We wanted to walk in a muddy area, a root filled area, a narrow path. BAM. Wanted to go into a busy cafe but there was no room for a pushchair, double buggies (even the awesome we had) weren’t convenient for stores, both kids were sobbing at the witching hour and there was no way to comfort both effectively. Have to go to the dentist but there’s just a narrow stairway with no lift. Bam, bam, bam. Bammity bam.

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Add this to the fact that sometimes both babies need a cuddle, and it can be tricky to hold two heavier-every-day babies who happen to win wiggling championships regularly.

You can see how parents of twins or triplets – or more! – can benefit from babywearing. But what about the babies?

Babywearing promotes bonding. When done correctly, it is comfortable and safe for both the adult and the baby (more posts to follow on this subject!). Many mums who breastfeed do it while babywearing, which allows them to stay on the move if they didn’t have a comfy place to sit or time to hang out. It allows your baby to be on a level with you – easier for you both to communicate with each other. It allows your baby a secure way to explore the world around – they are exposed to more conversation and have a better view. Best of all, when they would normally get overstimulated, all they have to do is snuggle into your chest (or back) and focus on you, providing a great way to help them self-regulate and maintain a calmer state.

And babies being calm often makes for a calmer parent, which makes for calmer babies…you get the drift. It’s a lovely cycle that allows you to enjoy each other more, gives you a bit more freedom, has huge practical benefits, and places a real value on the relationship between parent and child. What’s not to like?

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Babywearing twins, take two!

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I used to have a blog specifically on how to babywear twins. It features plenty of awkward videos of a sleep deprived, house bound me attempting to show you how we did things.

It’s been awhile since I tandem wore the kids, but various sites on the internet still track me down to ask questions. So I thought I would migrate some posts here! Some new content, too, but also a lot of just bring the old posts straight over here.

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Earlier this week while at gymnastics, a woman walked in with a baby on her front and a toddler on her back. And using wraps! I was so excited I ended up approaching her and telling her how great it was to see someone tandem wearing their kids. She said it was her first ever time doing it, and she’d been nervous, and I told her she looked awesome. And her kids looked so happy.

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It feels nice to help other people feel good.

Thought I’d share some babywearing pics to get you in the mood….will try to put up a babywearing post once a week. If you have any specific requests or questions, do let me know. Who knows. Maybe I’ll even film some new videos and show you how to babywear four and a half year olds!