Wednesday, June 27, 2012

I Bought a Fake Ergo!

About a month ago, I was messing around on FB and came across a blog post a lady had shared in our local Cloth Diapering Group. The title of the post was How to Spot a Fake Ergo Baby Carrier and it sounded interesting, so I gave it a read. In the post, the writer compares two almost identical Ergo carriers and shows the reader which of the two is fake and how a consumer can spot a counterfeit Ergo carrier.
Rewind to around two years ago. I was pregnant with my son and was dying to have an Ergo, but didn’t really want to pay for a new one. I figured eBay may be a good option for finding a used one and after stalking the listings for a few days, I came across a decent offer and placed my bid. I ended up winning the carrier and was so pleased with myself for only having spent around $80 as opposed to the $110 or so it cost for a new one.
Back to the present. So, I’m sitting in my living room, reading the blog post- really more out of curiosity than anything else. I mean, who would fall for a counterfeit product, right? The first few differences listed didn’t spark any suspicion in me and I was 100% certain that MY Ergo was an original. Until I came to the part that talks about the warning label on the Ergo. The writer’s fake had it in one spot while the real thing had it in another. My heart sank- my Ergo doesn’t even have a warning label! It’s not just in a different spot, it’s non-existent. See here:

I began reading the post again from the top after getting my Ergo out of the car and compared every detail. First came the buckle. The original bears the word ‘STEALTH’. However, mine says ‘STEALTH WARRIOR’. Could just be a slightly different buckle, I told myself. Here is what mine looks like:

On to the label that bears the carrier’s logo. This is when I finally knew that my carrier was not the real thing- not only were the colors the same as in the photo of the fake, the name was also completely different. Instead of ‘ERGObaby®’ my carrier says ‘The ERGO Baby Carrier’. That’s not even a real thing! They didn’t even bother putting the ®. I felt so stupid for falling for such a blatantly awful imitation. See for yourselves:

Then the post went into all kinds of other details about stitching and buckles and zippers. Zippers?!? Ergos have zippers?!? Mine doesn’t…

The little label inside the pouch is supposed to say ‘Made in China’ and have a lot number on the reverse side. Mine is blank.

As I thought about it more, certain memories came to me about comments other mother’s had made, e.g. how they had never seen that pattern before, or how mine looked different than theirs. It made me wonder if they knew and didn’t have the heart to tell me. So, I searched high and low to see if Ergo had ever released my carrier’s pattern. Of course they had not! And all those times I had wondered why everyone else’s Ergo just felt a little softer suddenly made sense.

And so, as the evening went on, I became more and more angry. I just couldn’t believe I was the victim of such a deception! To be honest, I felt like an utter idiot! I also felt disappointed.
My husband and friends pointed out that it had served its purpose just fine all these months and that it really shouldn’t matter whether it was real or not. To a point, I agree. However, I would not have paid that much money for a knockoff carrier, so I was duped! Also, the carrier’s quality could have been awful and my child’s safety could have been at risk! I know it wasn’t and all was fine, but what happened here just isn’t right.
My son is getting to be a big boy and I have decided to upgrade to a bigger SSC (Soft Structured Carrier) I browsed around eBay again, looking for a good deal. After all, now I know what to look for, right? I found a carrier that I liked for a great price and asked for close-up pictures of all labels, etc. The seller was a little reluctant, so I explained my previous bad experience. This is the answer I received: “Once I get home from work I can take the pictures. These are made in China and not under Beco warranty.” In other words, the carrier I was considering was also a fake.
The moral of the story: don’t buy important items like baby carriers on eBay! You have no way to be sure that what you are buying is the real thing. Counterfeit carriers are not subject to the same standards as the originals and one cannot be sure of their quality and safety. Where our babies’ safety is concerned, it really is worth it to spend the extra few bucks!
Ergo has a section on their website that lists known distributors of counterfeit carriers as well as dealers that are trustworthy. eBay has a special section on their site about how consumers can spot a fake.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Confession: I Listen to Inappropriate Music

I love driving. I love listening to music. The ultimate joy for me is driving while listening to good music. This is probably really selfish of me, but I refuse to give this pleasure up. I hardly do anything just for me, so I just can’t let this one go.
And so I’m Rollin’ down the street, smokin’ endo, Sippin’ on gin and juice- Laid back with two kids in the back of my SUV. I actually really don’t care if people find this ridiculous, this is how I roll. R sings along to Hip Hop Hooray and tells me I Need a Dollar. Sometimes this throws me off a little, but then I convince myself that I’m doing her a huge favor by giving her the best musical education possible…
Let’s be honest: I can’t take kiddie bop. It makes me want to stab myself in the ear repeatedly. Since I already have a bit of a road anger problem, music that makes me hate life is just not a good idea. Sometimes, R gets to listen to some Jack Johnson (whom she calls Curious George) but that’s only because I bought that album years ago and it’s pretty good.
Judge all you want- when we’re all in the car together we have a super fun time. A and I don’t mind singing along to Baby Got Back while making whipping motions and dancing around in our seats (ok, maybe that’s just me… But Ross and Rachel did it on Friends, so it must fine) R and E both know that sometimes, you just have to bring Sexy Back.
For those of you who are shocked and horrified, I assure you that I don’t listen to the really inappropriate stuff with the kids. A song like Nine Inch Nails’ Closer (please only read the lyrics if profanity and such don’t make you cry) makes even me a little uncomfortable around young ears. However, overall, I am doing something slightly inappropriate and a lot of you will be shaking your heads at me now. I’m fine with that- after all, nobody’s perfect (or so I tell myself…)

Disclaimer: Contrary to what some people have gathered from this post, I do not literally drive while drinking gin and juice with the kids in the car. It's just the lyrics of an awesome song. Thank you!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Final Push

Ladies and gentlemen, I am excited! The final week of my husband’s Army career has finally arrived. Tomorrow, A turns in all of his gear. On Wednesday, A has his Final Out, after which he starts his terminal leave. And then that’s it! We’re done! No more working as a soldier.
I am so proud of my husband. He has managed to do this terribly hard job for twenty years and he has done it well. He rarely complains, just does what is demanded of him. I’ve been doing it with him for the past eight years and I know that I could never do the things my husband has done. He is incredible!
As of Wednesday evening, everything will be different for us. After twenty years of having been owned by the US government, my husband will be a free man. For the first time since high school, he will be able to grow his hair out as long as he wants. He will be able to grow a beard and dye it purple, if he wants. There are no more rules, no more restrictions- he can live wherever he wants, work where he wants, do what he wants (within the law, of course…)
This freedom is so exciting and wonderful to me. Endless possibilities! I think A is excited as well, but also a little unsure of how life will go without the protective cloak of the Army around us. I’m not nervous- this is the start of a whole new life and it’s going to be fantastic!
No more calls late at night about soldiers who got arrested/ have been fighting with their spouses/ have been taking drugs, etc. No more getting called in on weekends. No more endless hours of work that nobody even keeps track of because compensation is always the same. No more ruined birthday parties, anniversaries, Christmases. No more 24 hour duties. No more weeks in field exercises. No more fear of deployments or bad assignments.
Of course, our life is still going to be unsettled for a few more months. We haven’t sold our house yet. We’re trying to sell at least one of our cars. We haven’t found a new place to live in Florida yet. Or a job/ jobs. There’s going to be a big move with big changes for our little people and animals. It’s going to be a rough time, but also an exciting one.
Either way, it’s going to be OUR time. We call the shots now- we decide where we want to live and how. And that’s why, on Wednesday evening, we will be celebrating. Good riddance, Army!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

BlogHer Book Club: My Artist's Way Toolkit

I was given the opportunity to test a wonderful online tool called My Artist’s Way Toolkit. At first I was a little hesitant because the word ‘artist’ evoked images of painters, sculptors, etc. for me. I quickly learned that this website was designed for all people who are interested in becoming more creative, be it for their writing, photography, music, or any other activity that requires us to use our imagination.
My Artist’s Way Toolkit is meant to be used in conjunction with Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity. However, never having read the book myself, I believe that this website can still be an amazing resource for anyone interested in broadening their creative perspective.
The website’s design is very simple and straightforward. On the left hand side, the user is offered a quote by the author. Underneath the quote are two notes which can be clicked on: The first carries a written Creative Affirmation by Julia Cameron; the second brings up a Creative Soundbite, which is a recording of the author reading an excerpt from one of her many books. These short quotes by the author are wonderful to reflect on.
On the right side of the page, the user finds a large notebook with several tabs along the side. The top tag is ‘My Contract’, which brings up an agreement each artist is meant to sign. In this contract, the user is asked to commit to The Artist’s Way. Ms. Cameron finds this commitment crucial in order to keep artists grounded and focused on their creative progress.
The second tab contains ‘Artist’s Dates’, which are weekly recommended excursions to aide the user in his/her process. They are meant to be a booster for the user’s imagination, a platform for an artist’s “play of ideas”.  The third holds ‘Artist’s Exercises’, which are weekly reflective implementations that guide the user in putting their ‘way’ into action. Both of these tabs allow the user to write directly on each page in journal form. The writings can be saved and photos can be added, if desired.
The fourth tab is labeled ‘Creative Pages’ and contains blank journal pages that can be used for anything the artist chooses. The fifth and final tab is ‘Creative Notes’, in which the artist can collect any tidbits that come up throughout the day on the equivalent of personalized virtual sticky notes. The advantage of using these two tabs is that the user can collect all thoughts in one place without having to fear of the notes getting lost or jumbled.
This tool has already helped me reflect on my own creativity and made me step out of my comfort zone, e.g. when I had to go out on my Artist’s Date. It is a wonderful place to collect ideas and thoughts, while offering the opportunity to find other likeminded people (there is a ‘Community’ tab at the top of the page) If you have an iPhone or iPad, you can also download the free app and are able to access the tool while on the go.
Come join the discussion on BlogHer!

This is a paid review for BlogHer Book Club, but the opinions expressed are my own.

Monday, June 11, 2012

If You Want Your Old Life, Don't Have Children

If you have children, you know that your life is forever changed once you become a parent. I remember when R was about three months old and we were at the beach. Suddenly, when I realized that we couldn’t just leave the baby and run into the ocean, I understood that my life would never be the same again- it would never just be the carefree husband and I. We were Mummy and Daddy now.
What I don’t get is people who are unwilling to accept this change. People who expect their lives to go back to ‘normal’ after their pregnancies.
Babies are not something you acquire because they’re cute and can then ignore when you realize how much work they actually are. Babies don’t care about who you were before you became their mother or father, they just want your love and commitment. They want you to be a responsible adult and meet their needs while keeping them safe.
If you insist on sleeping x hours a night in a row, don’t have children. Because they don’t work that way- they don’t come with a switch and generally have no regard for what your sleep needs are. If you like living in a house in which nothing should be touched or dirtied, don’t have children. Children want to explore and feel their surroundings- they have no concept of value, sentimentality, cleanliness, etc.
It’s as if you and your partner (or you alone, if you’re a single parent) get a new roommate, whom you’ve never met before. You don’t know what he/she likes and vice versa. You also don’t speak the same language and have to learn to communicate with each other. Oh, and the new person is totally dependent on you for food, clothing, affection, safety, love, and all the other life-sustaining necessities.
Little people require a lot of hard work. However, we should never forget that we are creating a new human being for this crazy planet of ours. If you are not willing to give this child your all, every last ounce of patience, energy, love, etc, then don’t have children. Because that’s what children need- responsible parents who give all they’ve got.
(Just to clarify, this does not mean you have to lose yourself. It just means that you don’t come first anymore…)

Thursday, June 7, 2012


I have been struggling a lot with myself lately. I have been questioning myself, my faith, my direction in life. I can’t quite grasp where I’m supposed to go and at the same time I am responsible for two little people who are fully dependent on me. I think it’s probably safe to say that I am all grown up. However, I wasn’t always like that. There was a time when I knew how to live in the moment and I did. Then suddenly, while driving down the road, a song will come on that catapults me back to my old life and reminds me of how I used to be.
It was 1996 or 1997. We had spent the night at our favorite club, dancing the whole night through. That’s the only reason we went there- we never drank, we didn’t socialize much, we just danced. That night, a few people invited us to go swimming after the club closed. I was a little hesitant, but agreed.
The club closed at 3 am. The others had ordered beer at the club, then snuck it out to take it with us. We walked the dark path to the local swimming pool, talking and laughing. When we got to the pool, I had a hard time getting over the fence, but my friends were determined and helped me get to the other side.
We made our way through the grass, the public pool transformed in the light of the moon. There were people everywhere! Lovers under trees, groups of people sitting cross-legged in circles, talking and smoking. We headed straight to the water. It wasn’t as dark as I had hoped after our eyes had gotten used to the night and I worried slightly about getting in the pool. I decided to just go for it, took off all my clothes, and jumped in.
The water was freezing! The water at that pool was always on the chilly side, but it was especially cold without the sun to warm it up. It was glorious! We were splashing and swimming laps and laughing. It was one of the moments when I felt absolutely free. I didn’t care that only one person had brought a towel and we had to communally share it. I didn’t care that what we were doing was illegal. It was one of the happiest times of my life.
We had no agenda, no goals. We lived in the now. We thought that we were invincible. We thought that our ways would never part and that we would always be in each others lives. Life is misleading sometimes.
I am still exactly the same person. I still have the same ideals and hopes and dreams. I know a bit more now than I used to. My hair has some grey in it now. I (unfortunately) don’t go dancing much anymore. But deep down inside, I’m still unchanged. I promise myself that I will make time again to go nightswimming.

Nightswimming deserves a quiet night
I'm not sure all these people understand
It's not like years ago
The fear of getting caught
The recklessness in water
They cannot see me naked
These things they go away
Replaced by every day
R.E.M.- Nightswimming

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Wordless Wednesday (Linky): Wacky Spider

Sunday, June 3, 2012

No Common Ground in the Birthing World

As many of you know, I am a birth doula. I was so excited during my training and couldn’t wait to help women birth their babies. However, from the first birth on I have become steadily disheartened. I haven’t been able to quite put my finger on it, but the birth world has been draining me and left me feeling depressed and powerless. Not feelings I enjoy, as you can imagine.
Last night, I finally realized what the problem is: everyone- be it professionals or mothers- has a completely different opinion when it comes to all things surrounding the birth experience. There is hardly any common ground and each new person you work with challenges your own knowledge and beliefs.
It was when I was discussing a topic on one of the Facebook pages I frequent that I understood that the extremes in the birthing world are just too extreme for me. You can find everything- from the women who believe that a woman’s body always knows how to birth and therefore needs absolutely no assistance, to the doctors who think that natural childbirth is overrated and would prefer to just surgically extract babies on a routinely basis.
I just can’t do this all the time. I cannot constantly be surrounded by so many passionate voices that completely disagree with each other, are unwilling to find a common denominator, and disrespect each other entirely. It is wearing me out and making me unhappy.
It’s midwives vs. OB/GYNs. It’s CNMs (Certified Nurse Midwives) vs. CPMs (Certified Professional Midwives) It’s medical vs. holistic. It’s doulas vs. doulas- ABC doula won’t attend anything other than a home birth while XYZ doula will only attend hospital birth, etc.
I feel like I’m stuck in a constant tug-of-war, in which I am being pulled back and forth. Because as a doula, all you do is support the mother and smile and nod. You have no say in anything and your opinion isn’t part of your job.
The problem is that I have an opinion. And I have a big problem keeping my mouth shut. I also have a big problem not having any authority, just being part of the ride without being able to alter the direction. I believe as a doula, I have a very important role in supporting the mother and I can make a huge difference in her labor. However, on a larger scale, I am not doing much to change the big picture. I’m the smallest fish in the vast see of births.
I may just have to retire from the birthing world all together. There just is no common ground that I can believe in. I have strong faith in the holistic side of the birthing community, but I also believe in the necessity for occasional medical interventions. Once again, I find myself between chairs and I just can’t find a good one to sit in. It looks like the world of birthing is not meant for me.