Love Geek in the Shire

I should point out that I’m not being paid or persuaded or bribed to write this post by anyone. I’ve just found my Ultimate Sling Ever and want to tell everyone about it, as well as leave a record for the minxes to understand why their mother treasured a piece of fabric.

After 8 years of slinging my minxes, with a mixture of success, I honestly thought my buying days were over: we had the Wompat for ‘buckle’ days, the Connecta up for sale, and the unused Didymos Indio Cypress and Natibaby Pao Graphite just waiting for the right moment to sell. Plenty of carriers when your children are 4, 6 and 8 years old! So I thought. And then the sling company my Imaginary Online Friend had been building for years with her real-life friend started to look like it was about to be ready to trade soon. Well, you’ve got to show a bit of support to your friends, so I volunteered to help with a wee spot of proof-reading. I looked at their 2 designs with a passing interest. And oh my word, they bowled me over! Absolutely blew me away! Beautiful, original and with lovely, lovely stories* (see bottom of post) behind them. The idea behind Love Geek reduced me to immediate, hormonal tears. However, I sensibly wished them luck in their new business and concentrated on raising cash to fund a house-move instead of spending it. Then suddenly they decided to weave the 2 designs in coincidentally my favourite colour-combination. Ever. Oh no! I could feel the iron-strong Trout resolve bending… I crumbled and bought Love Geek in a size 6 from Shire Slings, one hour before Mother’s Day, and on the 6th anniversary of my mother’s death. My last sling, the one I will keep forever, and that I hope my own grandchildren will be carried in some day, whether I’m still around to see it or not. 8 love geek design

Read the story behind Shire Sling’s Love Geek and Russian Doll designs at the bottom of this post, but here’s what Love Geek means to me. The design shows DNA, mitochondria and oxytocin molecules: the chemicals that make us all up, that we inherit from our mother (and her mother; and her mother, etc), and that we feel when we’re in love. The shapes spell out mother-love in the language of geekery. If my obsession with precise numbers hasn’t hinted at me being a geek, my assorted academic qualifications nail it. My relationship with my mum was troubled to say the least, yet I miss her badly. I criticised her parenting of me, but I’d give anything to be able to ask her advice on mothering just one more time. She was diagnosed with lung cancer when my first daughter was 8 weeks old; she died when my second daughter was just short of 6 weeks old. The last time we spoke was on my birthday: her own anniversary of becoming a mother. I struggled with being a natural, instinctive mother – still do! – and am battling my own way through a ton of mothering fails. The only time I’ve felt in my bones that I’m being a good mum is when I’m carrying my daughters in a wrap: kissing away hurts, stroking away fevers, chatting to them on my chest, or letting them sleep on my back. The idea of having a sling that managed to encapsulate all of these ideas whirling around in my head was just too seductive – of course I had to own it!

1 first wrapping2 muslin wrapping3 fresh Love Geek

4 unrolling love geekSo, the Love Geek sling arrived and I unwrapped my not-as-expensive-as-I-feared present to me us! “Brown paper packages tied up with string” – oh yes, this layered confection was worth waiting for! The shimmer was incredible, the colours vivid, and Mini approved: she spontaneously kissed “MyLovelyGreenSling” when she saw it. I had to have a quick play with her (this sling is most emphatically a ‘her’!) before giving her a quick bath, tumble and steam iron. The shimmer faded after this wash, leaving a delicate sheen.

9 first love geek wrapI imagine that most people buying this or any wrap will use it with babies and toddlers. My youngest minx, though, is 4; the one needing most Mummy Cuddles is a very accident-prone 6 yo, so I need my woven wraps to be tough. My ideal would be almost canvassy in durability, but soft enough to go next to the minxes’ sensitive skin. My Love Geek is certainly all of that! I hear from other owners that it breaks-in to a soft texture that loses none of its grip. I’ve always been rubbish at breaking in slings and do it just by plain old wearing and using them. I’ll let you know how I get on with that, but right now I’m valuing its new, fresh stiffness – it’s cushy on my shoulders even with a 4.5 stone burden, and it doesn’t slip or slide despite skipping through the spring flowers (The witnesses have been bribed; they won’t tell. The video is under strict security. The flowers won’t talk. It was a moment of euphoric mummy madness, I tell you!)

6 shire slings logo7 care label

Mini has declared it her “Favourite Sling Ever. Really. Ever”, but hasn’t got the vocabulary to say exactly why. “Comfy” and “green!” were the only sensible words I could catch. Midi, however, thoughtfully explained that it felt better on her legs than other slings: it didn’t dig in and it didn’t sag. It made her back feel “strong”. It felt nice against her skin: softness with inner strength. She loves the colours, too.

11 grippy love geek

So grippy that you don’t have to tie-in! Obviously you should always, always tie-in securely, especially with babies. I just wanted to see how grippy the sling was: very.

As well as its grip and sturdiness – the often over-used ‘work-horse’ is perfectly apt here, though – I found its width perfect for wrapping my big girls securely. I wore Mini or Midi interchangeably for an hour-long walk which I’ve not been able to do with other wraps. I do find wrapping kids older than 3 years old a bit difficult because they’re so large compared to my stumpy arms, so usually have to get The Boss to help by hand me ends behind my back. Despite 3 years of helping me, I usually still find myself growling in exasperation: “No! No! Tighten the top rail! The top one! The other one! Can’t you see? It’s just a simple reinforced ruck! Och, follow it with your hands… No, now you’re loosening it!”. But a feature of Shire Slings is that the rails are differentiated. Even The Boss could see. So when I said: “Flip the end over so we can see the green side too, tighten the top rail, then put the bottom rail in my left hand, please”, he complied instantly. No more shouting. So he’s now a big fan, too.

breaking in 7breaking in 8breaking in 210 strong enough for big kid

The story of how Shire Slings came to be and how they chose the designs is really interesting, but you’ll need to check out their Facebook page for that. Do, do, do: they’re also running a brilliant competition with Natural Mamas to win a Russian Dolls wrap at the moment. Say hi from me while you’re there.

breaking in 1

Mini, did you fart…?!

shire slings love geek

Yeaaaaahhh!

breaking in 3   * Stories behind the wraps, quoted directly from the Shire Slings website,

Love Geek Woven Wrap

Apple and petrol

DNA, oxytocin and the mitochondria cell. Brought together in this stunning woven wrap design that spells out mother love.

  • 50% combed cotton
  • 50% cotton
  • 241 gsm

The Love Geek story.

DNA contains the hereditary material used to encode the genetic instructions used in the development and function of all known living things. Oxytocin is the love hormone. We feel its effects when we fall in love with our partner and our babies. Mitochondria cells contain one piece of DNA that is inherited only down the female line. Every person alive today has inherited their mitochondrial DNA from one single great-great-great-. …..great-grandmother, nearly 200,000 years ago.

Scientists have discovered the mitochondrion cell from the growing baby in mother’s heart and other organs, and it has recently been found embedded in the mother’s brain. It is believed they may be acting as stem cells sent from the baby to repair the mother’s body. There is also some evidence that mitochondria are transferred from mother to infant during nursing. Some scientists believe there is an exchange of mitochondria between twins in utero and there is a possibility that younger siblings have their older siblings’ mitochondria.

Russian Dolls story, also from the Shire Slings website:

Apple and petrol

The Russian Dolls woven wrap is inspired by Spring, new life, mother love and family connections.

The two doll families depicted here represent our families; the stars and flowers our children.

  • 50% combed cotton
  • 50% cotton
  • 241 gsm

The Russian Doll story.

Matroyoshka or Russian nesting dolls were first made in 1890. Traditionally they are carved from a single piece of wood, just like families from the same grandmother. They usually contain no less than 5 dolls. The first Doll is female with the inner dolls being either sex. The final baby doll is a solid wooden shape.

Grommets Aftermath

Tues 25 Sep

Last time I had a spare 5 minutes to blog (oh don’t… it really is mental just now; I dream about being able to pee on my own without a toddler or child clinging to me) I wrote about Midi Minx getting her grommets.  Originally I’d intended to keep her off school for a day or maybe 2, but she wanted to go back the next day, the surgeon said it was fine, and she’s smack-bang in the middle of learning a new phonic a day.  So I let her go.  Biiiiiig mistake…

I’d sent her in to school with reinforced instructions that if she felt too tired or had any pain, she was to tell her teacher to phone me.  She’d breezily brushed aside my warnings and skipped in to school.  I picked up a totally different child at 2.35pm.  As soon as she saw me, she burst into tears and limped over, into my arms.

Now, Midi is not a hysterical or overly-sensitive little soul.  She’s roughty-toughty, grab-the-world-by-the-scruff-of-the-neck-and-laugh-at-it kind of person.  I’ve not seen her cry for a reason other than physical pain for many months.  I asked what was wrong, and it all came tumbling out:

“I felt so LONELY!” she sobbed.  “My buddy ignored me again.  No one wanted to play with me!”

What about your best friend, X?  “She wasn’t there!”

What about your friend, Y?  “He was asleep on his desk!” she wailed.

How about Z and A?  You like to play with them.  “They just stuck their tongues out at me and wouldn’t let me play too!”

B & C?  “They only wanted to play together and didn’t want to play with a girl!”

You were honestly lonely?  Absolutely no-one wanted to play with you?  “No.  And everyone was shouting and it was too loud!”

didymos indio cypress

She wanted to snuggle into my neck instead of rolling out pastry? She *definitely* wasn’t herself.

If I’d thought more, I could have anticipated that the terrible weather indicated an indoor playtime, which would be noisy as hell.  Yay, her ears are obviously working, but oh my God, the heartache when your gregarious, funny little girl cries over being left out and feeling lonely.

I figured it was as much to do with being tired and the after-effects of the anaesthetic as much as anything else.  Oh, and a big dose of the fact that her Buddy is bloody useless and has been all month – Midi worships her, but the older girl will only say hello if an adult is nearby, won’t play with Midi, and consistently isn’t there when Midi actually needs her.  I’ve told Midi that she’s a rubbish buddy and to play with other P1 kids.  But Midi loves her.

I think it also doesn’t help that her teacher “forgot” why Midi was off yesterday, claiming that she was about to report her absence before she remembered.  So me telling her about the op a month before verbally, and again in writing 10 days before, was useless.  And requesting in advance a bit of the work she’d miss, so we could work on it at home the weekend before the op, was totally pointless and a waste of my time.  As a result Midi had to catch up on 2 days’ work when she felt tired and emotional.  Great.  Just what I was trying to avoid.  Next time I’ll save myself the hour of writing multiple letters to teachers and administrator, save on paper and ink, and just not give a stuff, shall I?

Plated mince pie with rich shortcrust pastry… you can almost smell the thick, oniony gravy from here!

Luckily I’d taken the car to pick the girls up from school in case Midi was tired.  She cried quietly in the back the whole way home.  I had a private few tears myself.  When my attempts to jolly her out of her heart-ache failed, I did what I had to do: put her on my back in the sling and made us all some serious comfort food.  It did make everything a little brighter in that 4 year old world of hers.

Edited: I removed the initials D, S, M, another M, and another 2 single initial letters and replaced them with A, B, C, X, Y and Z.  I hope that makes it clearer…

Lossiemouth East Beach Reconnaissance

19 July

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It was only 3 weeks into the school summer holidays and we were really fed up hanging around waiting for the rain to stop. There are only so many indoor picnics and home-made bubble mix you can do with minxes! So on the first day that it didn’t pour with torrential rain, we ventured out to Lossiemouth in search of the East Beach!

Midweek, on a rainy day, we were spoiled for parking spots. So I chose the prime spot – right between 2 ice-cream shops! In case the weather turned, I decided to hit the ice-cream first before venturing on the beach. I have to recommend Miele of Lossiemouth, though. Not only did they have delicious flavours, but the server was lovely when Midi Minx changed her mind about the flavour for the 7th time, right after her ‘final’ decision had been scooped and placed on the cone. I didn’t mind (yes, I think I’ll just have to have an ice cream now, after all!), but the man insisted on giving us the ‘wrong’ one free, and gave Midi her 8th choice.

Four happy minxes toddled out the shop, along the shore to Seatown, and over to the loooooooong wooden bridge to the sand-dunes. Maxi wasn’t too happy looking through the slats, and Mini insisted on being carried (all the better to rub her cherry ice cream in my hair and her jacket). Midi was too engrossed in her ice-cream to care much.

When we got to the empty, golden sand, it was like uncaging wild animals: they zoomed off and rolled in it. We trotted along a little to watch the surfers and ‘walked the plank’ of a washed up tree-trunk. Four tornado fast-jets treated us to some synchronised take-offs and landings at RAF Lossiemouth. Looking over, the sky was as dark as their skins: a deep seal-slate-grey. Ominous! Still, there were dunes to climb and bum-slide down. Midi and Maxi cackled as they created ‘dinosaur tracks’.

Suddenly the surfers came out the water and left for the car park. Hmmmm… what was the biggest, blackest cloud doing? Would it fall here or skirt past us? We didn’t have long to find out – the heavens opened as a sudden squall blew us off the beach. Normally I’d have taken the girls to a more sheltered bit of the beach and taught them how to stand with their backs to it and wait the shower out. But as I bent to fasten up 3 little hoods, I noticed that baby Mini was shivering violently and her little hands and lips had gone blue. Deeply alarmed, I hauled out my trusty Didymos Carmin Fish sling (thank God I brought it after all!) and strapped Mini to my back. It left her head exposed, but gave more body heat. I got hold of the other 2 minxes by the fist and yanked them along the shore, across the bridge, and quick march down to the car.

I stripped Mini of her wet clothes and wrapped her in 2 fleece layers, tucked her in her car seat, towelled her ginger curls with the sling, enveloped her in my spare fleece jacket, and gave her the picnic sandwiches I’d made her. Then did something similar to the other 2. Midi had been moaning about having sand in her wellies. I took one off. As it released her foot with a ‘pop’, I got a sand shower. Her welly is a TARDIS, obviously, because there’s no way the laws of physics can explain how that much sand got into that little space. As for the folds of her trousers… well, I’m still finding sand trickles, a month later!

With Mini finally pinking up again, we finished our picnic in the car, then drove home to give her a warm bath and a lovely snoozy nap What to do with the bigger girls? Well, dress them up in shower-hats and wipe-cleanable clothes to finish painting stones, of course!