Thursday, July 30, 2009

Meg Fish Potography at Mama Baby Yoga

 A picture is worth a thousand words, and we were lucky to have Meg Fish pay us a visit in mom and baby yoga class last week.  Here, actual proof of mamas doing yoga and babies having fun.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Greenest Baby Stores

An even greener option than buying organic is buying secondhand.  We buy a lot of Isla's clothes from The Traveling Pants in Carpinteria.  It's the same idea as Polar Bear in Santa Barbara, but has a completely different feel - more like a boutique than a secondhand store.  I found blankets from This Little Piggy and Fattamano for $4.99 each when I was pregnant!  You'll also find things like slings and other baby carriers, adorable clothes from designer to old navy, handmade clothing, toys, and books.

If you have items your little one has outgrown, you can bring them to either Polar Bear or Traveling Pants and get cash for them.  If you plan on taking them to Polar Bear, you'll need to call them on the first of the month to book your appointment.  Plan on calling early because the phone lines get busy.  Once you schedule your appointment, you'll just drop off your bag of clothing and come back in a couple of days to pick up any items they don't want along with your check.  If you're taking them to The Traveling Pants you don't need an appointment.  They accept bags of clothes the first week of every month.  The bummer about both is that you don't see how much you're getting for each item.  You're just handed back your bag with a few unwanted items in the bottom, and a check for what they've taken.  If you have really nice things it might be worth it to ask first before dropping them off.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Favorite Learning Toys

These felt letters are bright and fun, and feel so good in my hands.  Isla loves to play with them and throw handfuls up in the air, although I have to watch her closely so they don't get eaten.  I bought a set to use when she's a little older so she'll be familiar with the letters of the alphabet, and they'll be great for forming words when she's learning to read.  I'm betting we'll be using these all the time in the years to come. 

Feeding Baby

Since she started eating "solids" at six months, Isla has always eaten her meals with my husband and me, and usually we all eat the same thing. Her first food was avocado, so I sat her in her kiwi bebepod and fed her the fruit, smooshed up with breast milk, while I ate some myself. As she got older we would sit down for breakfast together and eat joes o's or oatmeal with bananas and milk (mine from cows and hers from me). We prepare meals for ourselves which she can also eat. When she was younger we would grind up some of our dinner for her in a food mill, and once she got a little older we just cut or tore the food into little pieces and arranged them on the tray of her highchair.

The thought process behind our feeding style is this: 1. We are hoping that by always eating with her she will be used to sitting down for family meals as a family. 2. By feeding her what we are eating we hope to curb any expectations of a separate "kid" meal. Growing up I remember my mom always making two dinners so my little sister would eat. We'd like Isla to eat a variety of things, rather than getting mac and cheese for dinner every night. 3. This way, Isla gets fresh food prepared right before eating (or leftovers for lunch the day after), and nutrients are not lost reheating frozen food cubes. 4. I would rather spend the time playing with her than preparing elaborate, separate "baby" meals, and she really would not tolerate having to be on the floor or in her highchair (as opposed to my arms) for as long as it would take to do that.

*...not to claim my method is necessarily the best for your family. All of my friends have a different style of feeding Baby that works for them and their little ones, and this is just the style that works for us.

Good sites for feeding baby: was discovered by my friend Amber, and I kind of don't know what I would have done without it. There are tips on feeding, tons of recipes, and timelines for when to feed baby what.

Good books for feeding baby: Superfoods: for Babies and Children, by Annabel Karmel; Super Baby Food, by Ruth Yaron. **We didn't really use any books for feeding Isla. Rather than "recipes," we gave her whole foods (ground up) one at a time, and checked online at for the safe time to introduce each one. These are books my friends like and use.

Feeding Baby World Peace

Isla is almost ready for her own plate. I only say almost because I am not especially into constantly picking up plate and food off of the ground. But when she and I are ready, I plan on using these earth friendly, BPA free plates by smiling planet.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Baby Carriers

The benefits of babywearing include a decrease in crying, and an increase in attachment, emotional learning, and most probably peaceful societies.  I loved that I could soothe my baby while getting the dishes done, dinner made, eating lunch with friends, walking on the beach, etc.  I couldn't imagine leaving Isla in her carseat "carrier" and hardly touching her all day long like so many moms do all over our country.  Babies need to be held and touched, and slings and other babywearing devices make that possible while enabling mamas to use both of their hands to do other things.  

We didn't know what baby carrier we would need, and in the end we (basically) tried them all.  The two that looked to be the easiest were the sling and the BabyBjorn, but I found that not to be the case.  Although she loved her sling in the beginning, it was difficult to position her in a way that didn't make her look like she was about to snap in half or fall out.  Also she tipped the scales at 9 lbs. at birth, so she quickly outgrew her sling.  We often stuffed her into an organic newborn insert and then into the Ergo, and that worked out fine, but my favorite carrier for the earlier months was the Moby wrap.  It worked because I could carry her facing in, facing out, or sling-style, and she strongly preferred one style over the other two at any given point in her development.  It was really soft, and breathable, and easy to throw it on quickly.  Also, my husband could use it without any adjustments.  As she has gotten older,  I've stopped using the Moby at all, and just use the Ergo.  We both love it, and Isla likes riding in it on the front as well as on my back.

Had I known then what I know now I would have bought both the Moby and the Ergo, and skipped the sling and the Bjorn.

Favorite Yoga Clothes


We love mom and baby yoga and love getting dressed up for it in comfy separates for mamas and babies.  These baby yoga pants are handmade from upcycled t-shirts, and cost only $8!  The lotus flower onsies are hand-dyed and batiked and go perfectly with the adult tees.  *yoga photo of Emma and Olivia by Meg Fish.

Update to Cloth Diaper Post

In an older post, I recommended buying fuzzibunz cloth diapers over the bum genius 3.0 diapers, because the fuzzibunz have snaps.  I have to retract that, though, now that bum genius makes a snap, one-size diaper, and they are made here in the US, instead of China (thanks Emma!).  

I am also trying out the G Diaper now that Isla's #2's are not so runny.  The majority of my friends who tried them in the beginning were put off, because the messy poos just smeared all over the place and got on the cloth diaper cover.  All but one switched to fuzzibunz or bum genius, or got fed up with cloth diapers all together.  My friend Anna gave me the remainder of her stash to try, and today is Isla's first day in them.  

Here is what I like about the G Diapers so far:  They are less bulky than the other cloth diapers, either disposable or all-cloth inserts can be used with them, and the pee-only disposable liners can be composted right in our backyard compost.  The test will be once Isla has a messy poo in them, and I will keep you posted on the results.

Not Too Precious Room Decor

I love these vintage inspired photos for a little girl's or boy's room, available here.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

New-Mom Groups / Circles in Santa Barbara

As far as I know, there are two main new-mom circles in Santa Barbara: PEP, and Mamatoto.  I joined both, although I no longer meet with my PEP group.  They are so different, and I have friends in both circles, but Mamatoto was the one for me.  PEP (postpartum education for parents) is open to both moms and dads, and all styles of parenting.  Mamatoto is a Swahili word for the mother-baby unit, and is an attachment parenting group.  (I'll have a post up about attachment parenting soon, but you can read a little about it here).  

My Mamatoto group has been meeting since last September, and we have become a close-knit group.  We meet twice a week for a play group / support group / chat, once for swim class with the babies, once for a morning beach walk followed by mom and baby yoga at SBYC with Emma and Olivia (see earlier post), and once for music class.  We have other random meetings as well for mamas-only happy hour or baby birthday parties.  Of course not everyone makes it to everything.  There are 30 of us in the group and usually between 5 and 15 make it to each gathering.

To give an idea of the feel, most of us use cloth diapers, at least part time, co-sleep (either crib in the same room, or share a family bed), baby-wear (we love our ergos!), hold our babies a lot, try to eat organic, locally-grown food, use homeopathic and /or non-toxic products on our babies, care about the environment, and respect our babies and their needs.  Some of us chose to vaccinate; others didn't.  Most of us selectively vaccinated; we all made our decisions after much thought and processing of information.  We are all different from one another, but the common thread in the Mamatoto group is that we all believe in and are practicing attachment parenting.  

Regardless of your parenting style, I suggest checking out both groups.  I still would be meeting with my PEP group every week if I had time, and it was really helpful when Isla was a newborn, just to get out of the house and connect with other new moms.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

My 11 month old daughter, Isla, has a new obsession: her bed. My husband built it for her today out of pine and her organic crib mattress fits perfectly inside it. Slats in the bottom keep the mattress off of the ground. Her room has kind of an ocean-theme going on, so the whale tail bed fits right in. Early on we decided a crib wasn't going to work for us. Isla has slept in our family bed (we use a side rail) since she was born, and all three of us like the arrangement. Naps became a problem, though, once she could roll, because we were afraid she would fall off the end of the bed, and floor naps didn't seem to last very long.
Isla loves that she can get in and out of her bed herself, and she took two of her best naps in it today. The hand-dyed silk bedspread is available here. The toddler beds are $275, and aren't available for purchase just yet, but you can get on a waiting list by using the contact form on this page.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Favorite DIY project

Jennifer Carson will send you everything you need to make these cute little fair-folk.  She also sells patterns for baby goblins, blossom babies, dragons, and other whimsy.  
Or, if you'd rather, she'll make the doll of your choice for you.  Patterns as well as custom-made dolls are available here.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

New Favorite Shoes

Wooly Baby makes these cute little shoes for babies and kids out of recycled felted wool and recycled leather.  

New Favorite Toys

This lotus flower stacker will eventually be a fun puzzle for my 11 month-old.  Right now it just gives her room a little namaste.

My daughter loves her Waldorf Doll, which was handmade especially for her.  Dragonfly's Hollow will hand make one to look just like your little one, along with a handmade outfit of your choice.  12" dolls are $65.  

These little stingrays are made from felted wool, come in two sizes (mama and baby?), very reasonably priced, and are available here.

Friday, July 3, 2009


I plan on adding to this list regularly, but here's a start on some good things out there:

Fun Pre-Natal Workouts:  Pre/Post Yoga with Fredda Spirka, for pregnant mamas-to-be and new mamas - babies in arms welcome - free through SB Adult Ed.;  Pre-Natal Aerobics with Tracy Schmidt at SBYMCA

Fun Post-Natal Workouts:  Fredda's Pre/Post Yoga; Tracy's Post-Partum Aerobics at SBYMCA (Tracy also leads a stroller fitness class in SB); and my personal fave, Emma Moore's Mama, Papa, Baby Yoga at Santa Barbara Yoga Center

Good Music:  Dance for the Sun: Yoga for Kids, by Kira Willey;  Any Putomayo CD -  especially Kids' Animal Playground

Good Reads: Mothering Magazine; Organic Baby: Simple Steps for Healthy Living, by Kimberly Rider; The Baby Book, by Dr. Sears (also The Vaccine Book and The Baby Sleep Book); Green Babies, Sage Moms: The Ultimate Guide to Raising Your Organic Baby, by Lynda Fassa; The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding

Good Movies: The Business of Being Born

Good Sites: (for toys and gear),,,,,,  (for diapers),,,,,, and my favorite:  (for natural cleaning products) (for non-toxic cosmetics)

Good Local Stores: Summer for Kids (, on Coast Village Road in Montecito, is the only local store in SB whose entire stock consists of natural and organic clothing, toys, and gear.  Chicken Little on State Street has a growing selection of natural toys and organic clothing, and you can find items for your organic nursery at LivinGreen on Coast Village Road.  

Good Pre-natal Vitamins: ***I took/take Rainbow Light, but of course check with your doctor or midwife***
Good Schools:  Lou Grant, Waldorf of Santa Barbara, The Montessori Center School

Kindermusic in Santa Barbara

There are so many options when it comes to music classes for babies.  We went with Yellowbird Music with Alex because, while most of the instruments are the same, the teacher is who makes the class, and Alex is so amazing with the babies.  I brought my daughter to try out a free class, thinking that would be the end of it since money was tight.  We ended up signing up right then and are in our fourth "semester" now.

We sing songs, dance, blow bubbles, take towel rides, play in the parachute, pull the babies around on little carts, bounce on the air log, and of course play tons of instruments.  My daughter loves music class, and plays hard the entire time.  Each semester comes with a CD, book, and musical instrument, so we can get crazy at home, too.  Isla gets so excited when she hears her favorite songs come on (Giddyup Horsey and Let's Sing Hello, Hello), and she knows just what to do if you hand her a drum.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

She's My Homegirl

After my daughter was born people would stop me and ask if she was born at home.  After I'd smiled and nodded they explained, "you can tell.  She looks so alert!"

What a great contrast to the conversations I had while pregnant.  People asked who my doctor was as often as they asked if I was having a boy or a girl.  When I answered that I had  midwives instead of a doctor, and that I was having my baby at home, complete strangers felt compelled to convince me to change my mind.  I heard every horror story in the book about what "would have happened" had this or that woman had her baby outside of the hospital.

I never planned to have my baby at home until I was actually pregnant, and found I had problems with the way things are done at the hospital.  I had just watched The Business of Being Born and I was curious about my other options.  Giving birth was the most important day of my life, and I am so glad I considered all of the options out there before deciding how I would do it.  I could write a book about my fears concerning home birth before I had actual valid information, and my biggest concern was safety, for myself and my baby.  Having heard from hippies and doctors alike that home birth is statistically safer than hospital birth, the most settling news was that my midwives had delivered over 2,500 babies and never lost one mom or baby.  

After the suggestion of a friend (thank you, Adrienne!) I found The Santa Barbara Midwives - Anna Bunting, Alice Levine, and Laurel Phillips.  You can contact Alice at (805)452-8681, or Anna at (805)563-0348.  I highly recommend meeting with one of them (it's free!) and getting answers to your questions, even if you are not sure a home birth is for you.  It's just more information and more options.

I feel the same way about birth that I do about everything  else:  get the information before you blindly form an opinion.  Decisions based on information are so much more useful than those based on fear.  My daughter's naps are not nearly long enough for me to include all of the statistics and information supporting home birth in this post, but a quick conversation with Anna will have you up to speed.  

My husband and I met with all three midwives throughout my pregnancy, and Anna and Laurel were at the birth, which was awesome, and also the hardest, most intense, magical experience.  Now I know I can do anything.  

Movies to watch on home birth: Ricki Lake's The Business of Being Born,

Natural childbirth classes:  The best is with Tracy Schmidt (805) 962-0871, mother of 5 beautiful babies, all born naturally (the last 4 were born at home.)  About half of our "class" was planning a home birth, and the other half natural births in the hospital.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Cloth Diapers Explained

When I was pregnant, I knew I wanted to try to use cloth diapers for my little one.  The obvious choice for the environment, cloth diapers are SO much easier than I thought they would be - the difficult part was choosing which kind to buy.  Nothing I found online was any real help; there were so many choices.  I ended up kind of trying it all, and after diapering my daughter in cloth for over 10 months this is the scoop:

Once wet, all cloth diapers besides pocket diapers stay wet on your baby's skin.  If you don't want to be changing her diaper every 20 minutes, I'd suggest pocket diapers.  (I do still use pre-folds and fitted diapers with covers at home, when I don't do laundry and run out of the 15 pocket diapers we have).  Pocket diapers keep Baby dry by sucking all the moisture into the inserts, while the fleece lining stays dry against her skin.  They seemed gross to me at first, since you have to remove the inserts - which are full of pee - before tossing into the bin.  You just grab the end of the inserts, though, which is rarely wet, and even when it is, really no big deal.

A sprayer is key.  This contraption hooks onto your toilet, and you use it to spray off the messy poops.  First remove the inserts and toss them in a bin next to your toilet, then spray the poop off of the cover and toss that in the bin as well. (Get one or two wet bags to toss your diapers in when out and about).  Then, when you do laundry, dump the pail in, wash on hot with gentle detergent (I like caldrea in the blue sage or the neroli sea salt), and dry in the dryer or on the line.  

Part of me wishes someone told me to wait until my baby wasn't pooping 12 times a day before I started using cloth.  For anyone who feels cloth diapering might be too much work, or who has a lot (like more kids!) on her hands, I'd say wait to use cloth until your baby gets on the 1-2 poop a day program.  The pee diapers are SO easy, and spraying one or two poop diapers out a day is no biggie.  Once Baby starts eating solid food (at about 6 months) the poops become solid, so you easily shake them into the toilet nine times out of ten.

I like all the pocket diapers I've tried (bum genious 3.0, fuzzibunz, happy heinys), but I do think the fuzzibunz are the best.  If I could trade in all the diapers I have for what I really want right now, I'd have 18 hemp inserts (absorb so much, and are WAY less bulky) and 18 one size fuzzibunz diapers.  You'll need at least a dozen (18 would be ideal), but to be safe you can always just order a couple to try out and get more later on.  Each fuzzibunz diaper comes with a cotton microfiber insert, which works great, but is bulkier than the hemp.  I'd suggest sticking a hemp liner in each diaper underneath the cotton one if your little sweetie is a heavy wetter (like mine!)

Choosing to use cloth diapers is kind of like using a re-fillable water bottle instead of buying hundreds of the plastic, or bringing your own bags to the grocery store.  All of which I'm a huge advocate for.  If you want to take it one step further (I didn't do this, but my lovely friend Amrita told me about it!) you can buy your diapers used off of  Even using them part time helps our planet so much!

Mama and Baby (and Papa!) Yoga

I love yoga and am so excited that I can include my little one.  Santa Barbara has two great options.  Mama Emma and Baby Olivia lead my favorite class which is $12 at Santa Barbara Yoga Center.  Click here for a schedule of classes.  I love it for the workout, stretching, and zen-like state I leave the class in, no matter how frazzled I was when I came in.  Babies participate as much or as little as they'd like.  They crawl around some and play with each other, and crawl under and over their mamas who are holding poses or flowing through sun salutations.  They may give you a hand in your stretch like Olivia did for me today by crawling over and pushing on your leg!  They are remarkably entertained the entire time, and some even join in on the closing Om.  The babies I've met in this class are 3 months to 1 1/2 years old, and every age in between, and the moms are all different ages as well.  

The second baby yoga class available in SB is $16 at Yoga Soup with Dani.  Click here for a schedule of classes.  Also a blast for my daughter, this class is smaller and very different.  The first part of the class is more for the mamas, although babies are not ignored.  It is a mix with a kundalini emphasis.  Less poses and sequences than I'm used to, and more strength work.  Expect to do breath of fire and a serious arm workout, lifting Baby up into the air.  The last part of class is baby-focused and by far my favorite part.  Yogini kids music gets the little ones' attention.  A lot of the movements we did with our babies were more suited for young babies with colic, but were also fun for my 10 month old.

To sum it up, I get more of a yoga workout and stretching from Emma's class at SBYC, and leave feeling more balanced.  I think this is the class for moms who miss their yoga routine.  I also enjoy Dani's class at Yoga Soup.  For moms who prefer kundalini or strength training, you will love Dani's class, and my sense is older babies will really get into the yoga themselves in this class.  My daughter has a great time at both.  I really suggest checking them both out, since they are so different.