What’s In My Bag Wednesday

I am excited to introduce a guest interview series to my blog entitled What’s in my Bag Wednesday. 

I am fascinated by people, what makes them tick, and what they choose to carry along with them when they leave their homes is a tiny sliver into their world. This interview series will feature diverse minimalist/minimalist leaning people. My hope is that we learn a little something, or find ways to improve or streamline our day to day existence. 

Our first feature is my pal Asia of home.with.asia where she documents her life as a budding minimalist homemaker with two toddlers in tow. I’ve enjoyed watching Asia define her style, space, and home while facing the challenges that come with being a military family. 

Asia, thanks so much for doing this girl! How long have you practiced minimalism or been interested in minimalism, and why? 

Hi, Farai I would like to start off by saying thank you for considering me to be featured in your new series and thank you so much for the kind words! 

I heard about minimalism/simple living a while ago but didn’t start actually researching and taking action until my husband left for Korea. I thought this lifestyle change would help me solo parent better and it has, cleaning is so much easier, I have so much time to just play with my kids and I’m happier because I don’t feel cluttered. I’m so grateful for giving it a chance, I’m still a newbie but I’ll say I’m doing just fine! 

What are your favorite blogs, resources, books that you go to for inspiration?

Instagram has helped my journey, following like minded moms and seeing their version of minimalism. Also I feel like the book Slow simple living for a frantic world by Brooke McAlary has impacted my journey recently, her book helped me declutter my mind and rethink things like “my journey is going to look different from others and that’s okay, I’m not doing anything wrong!”

Ok, let’s get down to the good stuff! What’s in your bag? 

Well first off I have a Fawn Design diaper bag, my friends surprised me with it for my birthday this year! Okay let’s see what’s in here: 

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  • Honest diapers + wipes + gathre mat = best combo ever. Especially with these woodland prints out! 
  • A good book- I’m reading more, so instead of scrolling on social media when the kids fall asleep in the car and we’re in the driveway ,or a parking lot- I can just grab my book! 
  • Planner + notepad- There’s always something on my mind, I always need a pen and notepad close to me! 
  • A reusable bag – my kids and I sometimes take random car rides and never know where we’ll end up, so it’s always good to be prepared. 
  • Stainless steel water bottles and Stasher bags for snacks .
  • Extra clothes (not pictured) because I had to use them today, but I always try to have a extra pair of clothing for my one year old and four year old! No matter how old your kid is, I’ve learned to always have extra clothing for them because you’ll never know what they can get into. My four year old is always in dirt and water! 

It’s not much but it’s all we need! I don’t like carrying around too much because I don’t like having to dig and take everything out my diaper bag to find one thing, and I don’t like a heavy diaper bag. Just carry the essentials .

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Sweet little Arielle wanted to be involved

Thank you to Asia for giving us a peek into her life. Find her here.

Peace,

Farai

How I weaned my child

I want to preface this by saying that all children are different, what worked for me, may not work for y’all. But I wanted to chronicle this for myself, and for all the weaning caregivers out there.

My child has breastfeed on demand day and night from the time she was born up until I decided to wean. Once she hit age 1 ½, she learned to get what she needed faster, but she still nursed to sleep for naps and bedtime as well as during the night.

When she turned two I developed a nursing aversion which I remedied by cutting out nursing during the daytime. By 2½ my aversion was back in full force and I knew I was on the path to weaning her completely.

Because my child is very sensitive, loving, and cuddly, I knew our weaning journey would have to be slow and gradual in order to avoid a big dustup. Some caregivers can wean cold turkey, but I wanted the shift to be gentle both for her, and for my body and hormones.

I started out by reading books to her about weaning. My favorite being Sally Weans from Night Nursing because it had a black mom and daughter in it. We read it often for a few months, I talked to her about it, and told her soon, she would be like Sally and be done with nursing at night too.

In the mean time I cut out all morning and nap nursing times. She was unhappy, but I assured her that she could nurse at bedtime, and that typically got her through. She started rarely napping, but it worked out better because she sleep for 10 hours at night with no nap.  At bedtime as she was nursing, I would kiss her, and remind that soon, when she turned 3, “boobers” as we called it, would be all gone.

I also enlisted the help of my spouse, her godmother, and my friends to talk to her about it OFTEN when it rose up in conversation. So she good and well knew what to expect.

A month before her 3rd birthday, I began the process of cutting out night nursing. We nursed to sleep, and maybe again if she woke up before 11 pm. After that, any other requests for milk were met with a “I know you’re upset, I’m sorry, boobers is all gone for now” . Sometimes I offered water, or a piece of apple, but typically she fussed, sometimes even full out hollered, but I just stayed with her, acknowledged her feelings, and she would fall back asleep within 10 minutes. Only once did she stay up for an hour and half.

After two weeks of only nursing to sleep, other than the occasional dustup, she was sleeping through the night. I continued to read the book, remind her DAILY that on her birthday, that boobers would be gone. I even did 10 day countdown. I emphasized how she was a big girl, and we encouraged her to drink water to stay hydrated. I made sure she was getting healthy fats in the form of a DHA supplement.

Then the big day arrived, the night before her third birthday. I explained that this was her last boobers, and that tomorrow on her birthday , boobers was gone. I kissed her loads, took some pics, and she feel asleep on the breast.

The next day, the festivities wore her out and she passed out on her own without even asking.

Since then, she has only asked once, and fussed a little bit. For the most part, she sleeps through the night, outside of some annoying itchy big bites, or waking up for a water or some apple.

Getting her to sleep consists switching between lots of  active play in the evening to tire her out, backwearing, guided children’s meditation, back rubs, soothing music, soothing baths and lots of stern “we’re done talking, lets focus on sleeping now” from an exhausted mom or dad.

My kiddo has gone through lots of changes recently, transitioning to her own bed, potty learning, and weaning. I have had no engorgement or mood swings that sometimes come with weaning. I think taking it slow and being gentle with the both of us has been our saving grace. I am over the MOOOON to be done, I also feel a little guilty that she won’t have mama milk if she get’s sick to keep her healthy. But, I believe in myself, herbal medicine, and her immune system, I know she will be fine.

This post contains affiliate links. The HillbillyAfrican may earn small commissions from purchases made.

I hope this helps someone!

Peace,

Farai

 

 

Why We Still Babywear

Black Babywearing week is upon us, and it love what this week gives homage to.  Babywearing is sacred to me. Not only is it a beautiful part of my journey as a caregiver, but as a black woman, I join the legacy of the women who wore me.

Babywearing doesn’t have to end in toddlerhood. If you are able to bear your toddler’s weight, I would make the argument that it is just as important and useful as in infancy.

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Almost 3 and over 30 lbs!

No matter how independent and adventurous toddlers get, they still crave the closeness and security that comes with wearing.

As my babe approaches 3(!) and weighs over 30 lbs, I see no current end in our babywearing journey. 

Here are 4 reasons we are still babywearing in our house:

Closeness/Bonding

Toddler’s have big feelings. Wearing them allows them to self-regulate by being close to you. It fosters secure attachment, allows them to feel safe, and cared for too. 

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Gotta wash dishes and wear your cool toddler sometimes

Safety and Security

Toddler’s be running. Sometimes i’m in less than ideal places like carnivals or crossing busy streets. Wearing reduces my worry as I can keep her close.

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Someone fell asleep at a wedding, no beds here, so up she goes!

Comfort

I’d much rather strap my kiddo to my back , than navigate a stroller in and out of my car as I run errands. Also, as a minimalist, I prefer to travel simple. A carrier and a bag is typically all I need when spending all day out with my toddler. 

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Back wearing at the thrift store

Convenience

My kid is on a shoe strike, and prefers to be barefoot all the time, sometimes in inconvenient places like the grocery store. Toddler’s also sometimes have meltdowns or want to be carried everywhere. Wearing helps in several different scenarios. It is so convenient. 

Fun side: All the carriers i’m using in this blog post are from Bijou Wear, a Kansas company who I love very much. I own two, but the rest of these of these carriers are borrowed from friends, or from Bijou’s own lending library. 

Happy baby-wearing

Peace,

Farai 

Let Black Babies Be Wild and Free

Excerpt from an essay I wrote for mater mea entitled Let Black Babies Be Wild and Free

“When I got pregnant my last year of undergrad, I began to reflect on my childhood and how it shaped me as a scholar and as a person. I thought about my identity as a Black woman in America. What experiences did I want my offspring to have?

I had felt so much pressure living in a world that expects us to work twice as hard for half as much. I decided to unplug from that narrative and live life on my terms. It felt almost like a matter of life and death, and for many Black people in America, it is.

“I’m going to give them the freedom to be their whole selves outside of me. ”

After moving to the States I noticed the pressure that Black caregivers and their children are under in a world that considers them less than. Our kids must be well-groomed and well-behaved at all times, even at the expense of their childhood. There’s a scene in the Netflix movie Nappily Ever After …”

 

To read more, please visit the mater mea here .

Peace,

Farai

Minimalist Holiday Shopping for Kids

It is quite hard to not get caught up in the buying frenzy that is in the air during the holiday season. My spouse and I take full advantage of the fact that our two year old is none the wiser and choose not to buy into the hype. However, we want to build meaningful tradition and ritual for our family and that includes thinking about what we want this time of year to look like for our family.

If you are feeling the pressure this holiday season with all the marketing and ads coming your way, Let me remind you that what your children want most is your time. Toys come and go, clothes are outgrown, but memories last much longer. If you must make purchases, here is a graphic to keep you in check.

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This post contains affiliate links. The HillbillyAfrican may earn small commissions from purchases made.

With winter approaching we have been focused on getting our babe some open ended toys. What are open-ended toys you ask? Basically any toy that doesn’t have a fixed use and can be played with in a variety of ways. I thought i’d share some of the open ended toys that have been on our horizon for months now.

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Image from Sarah Playsilks

Play silks can become tutus, capes, headscarfs, doll slings, dresses, forts, and much more. The soft biodegradable material feels good on little hands too.

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Image from kickstarter

EarthTiles are made from sustainably sourced wood and these magnetic tiles are a beautiful way for babes to engage in STEM play.

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Image from urbanbaby.com

A kinderboard can be a balance board, a reading nook, slide, bridge, booster seat, and much more. I am probably the most excited to see all the ways she will play with this. Much like most open ended toys, it is an investment and will probably be in our family for a long time.

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Image from google search

Rainbow stackers are not only beautiful but are a lesson in math, science, art, and fun in general.

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My two year old unicorn ladybug

As for books, thrift stores and thriftbooks.com are still my favorite place to search for titles. Right now my wishlist is full of books about eating and enjoying food as I try to encourage her to eat more.

At the end of the day, my daughter is most happiest when both of us are playing hands on with her. No toy can match that. Our favorite thing to do right now is play with homemade play-dough and cookie cutters.

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Turmeric play-dough

I hope this holiday season gifts you with time to spend with those you love.

Peace,

Farai

Sunday Sweetness

Things that brightened up this past week for me.

This garage sale toy high chair (yay for Godparents who know your style)

These two books for keeping her entertained.

New hobbies. I picked up needle felting and made Thandie a few felt toys. So far the ” ‘ushrooms” are a hit and have accompanied a few naps.

This book for being beautifully written by a Kansas native and an insight into Wicca.

Peace,

Farai

Curly Kids and their Fro’s

I am often accosted in Target by exasperated well meaning white caregiver’s with multi-racial children who have curly hair. They need tips, and I have lots, but not always while i’m shopping. The internet has a smorgasbord of awesome content for just how to maintain a thriving curly mane but sometimes you need just the basics. If I could keep this infographic on me to pass around I totally would.

This is my introductory advice on how to get thriving curls:

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For the love of shoes

What if I told you that you could wear a pair of shoes all day and after an active day, experience no foot pain? What if I told you that a majority of the shoes we wear and buy are trash for your feet?

We all know about bunions, corns, and callouses on feet but many of us don’t know that they are typically caused by prolonged wear of uncomfortable and improperly-sized shoes. Wearing tight or unsupportive shoes can damage the feet over time as they cause the many different bones, muscles, and ligaments in our feet to atrophy.

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Image from Ali-express.com

I love a cute shoe. Before I discovered minimalism, every time Old Navy had their $1 flip flop sale or Charlotte Russe was having their $20 boot sale you would find me there spending my hard earned money. It never occurred to me that the poorly made items lasted me less than a year and even though they hurt my feet a few hours into the day, I never made the connection between comfort and quality because I was trying to be cute.

In the beginning of my pregnancy, I was working full time and going to school full-time. I was interested in finding comfortable shoes that would support me and my hectic schedule. I also knew that once my kid was born, I wanted to be active with her, playing, hiking, going on walks, and I needed shoes that wouldn’t have my feet aching at the end of the day.

After some trial and error and research, I found that the best shoes are:

Flexible -They should move with your feet. Your foot shouldn’t be doing extra work to keep them attached to your feet like the action you make when walking with a flip flop. Not great.

Zero-toe drop – In a nutshell that means there should be no heel in the back of the shoe. The sole of the shoe should all be the same height so that your feet aren’t putting all the weight on your toes because of the height difference.

Wide-toe box – Give those toes room to breathe and flex in the shoe. This is especially important for kids as their little feet are still developing.

I slowly built up my comfortable game over the past two years and phased out my uncomfortable shoes and wanted to share some of my favorites brands, tips, and tricks below.


THIS POST CONTAINS SOME AFFILIATE LINKS MEANING THAT AT NO ADDITIONAL COST TO YOU, I WILL EARN A COMMISSION IF YOU CLICK THROUGH AND MAKE A PURCHASE. 

Flip-Flop/Water shoe

During summer, I am try to spend as much time in/near water as possible and I was looking for an easy on and off shoe that works well at the pool/splash park with Thandie and that is perfect for running errands in the Kansas humid weather. I found that Teva makes an amazing strappy, flexible, flip flop that changed my life. I am NEVER going back. NEVER.

Walking Sandal

I visited a local Browns shoe fit and got measured for some walking sandals. My favorite thing about visiting stores that focus on ONE thing (as opposed to big box stores that sell many things) is that  even though their employees main goal is to sell you something, they typically are knowledgable about the shoes, materials the shoes are made of, the company and what works best for your feet.  I tried on several sandals and ended up leaving with a pair of Chacos that ended up seeing me through a few 5 mile walks while 32 weeks pregnant in Texas during our baby moon. Side note: Chacos are definitely a try on in-store shoe.

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Babywearing and good shoes are a must

 

Tip: Shoe sizes vary per style/cut of shoe as well as company. Go to a professional shoe store and have your feet measured properly. Also try shoes on and don’t assume based on size and if ordering online make sure to order from places that allow free returns. 

Sneakers

I had to kiss my cute, beloved and old ass adidas trainers that did nothing but leave my feet aching and sore after a workout to the curb. I went to a different small store that focused on shoes for runners and athletes called Gary’s Gribbles Running Store. I invested the most I have ever spent on a sneaker on the comfiest Saucony shoes that really support my feet through workouts.

Winter shoe

I mentioned my Keen Boots in my January favorites post but I have to shout them out again because it’s seriously like walking on a cloud.

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Cute shoes

My latest challenge has been finding cute sandals. A lot of the brands like Keen and Teva that make ergonomic, wide toe box shoes typically make fugly sandals but as they try to reach out to a younger audience their styles are improving. Jhene Aiko recently had a campaign for Teva that resulted in some cute “flatforms” that I have been searching for second-hand on eBay too.

Kids

It is imperative for children to wear shoes that make room for their feet to grow. So far for Thandiwe I have purchased or been given pairs of See Kai Runs , Roobeez, and Tevas all of which I am comfortable with because they are flexible and allow her feet to move and flex within the shoe. If they are going to be in flip-flops, make sure they have a back strap.

Peace and Happy Feet,

Farai

My Cloth Diapering MVP’s

I was cloth diapered, and I always knew that if I had a kid I would cloth diaper too. I wanted to do it because of how much cheaper it was, but also because of how better for the environment it was. Disposable diaper waste accounts for 30% of our landfill waste and as I attempt to minimize my carbon footprint I knew that this was one way I could do my part.

Read more about just how crappy *lol* disposable diapers are here.

Now that I have been cloth diapering for 18 months, I feel like a pro who has been through it all. I have tried all the decently priced cloth diapering systems (pockets, covers, AIO’s),dealt with diaper rash, and figured out our perfect wash routine. I have a system now that works great for us and thought this might save anyone looking to get into cloth diapering the trouble.

This post contains some affiliate links meaning that at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. 

The cheapest and most eco friendly option for cloth that worked out for my family is using a diaper cover and  inserts. Inserts can be anything from an old cotton tshirt, receiving blankets, flour sack towel, or pre-fold inserts that many cloth diaper company’s sell. These inserts can be cheaply bought new, made, or purchased second hand.

Covers

The waterproof layer of the diaper that traps the waste is known as a cover. They come in a few different styles with limitless prints. The great thing about covers is that unless they get any poop on them, they can be used for multiple diaper changes since the only thing that you change out is the diaper insert. My favorite cover style is the very affordable happy flute diaper cover (butterfly diaper pictured below). My friend Alyson (another WOC mama blogger) sent me the cover and I have loved it ever since.

Pink Posy: Buttons diapers. White diaper with trees: Thirsties diapers and Butterfly diaper: Happy Flute Diapers

Prefolds

We use medium and large pre-folds on Thandiwe. A little bit on the bulkier side but very absorbent. All mine we either hand me downs from friends or purchased second hand.

Medium pre-fold

A note about second hand cloth diapers, always give them a simple bleach soak to clean them before using them on your kid. 

Inserts

Available in many blends, from cotton, to hemp, bamboo, and much more, inserts are a trim, buildable and easy way to add absorbency to diapers. My favorites are the alva bamboo inserts pictured below.

Alva charcoal bamboo insert

Flour sack towels and Receiving Blankets

My favorite and the cheapest way to cloth diaper by far. Receiving blankets are incredibly absorbent and we had several to spare from Thandiwe’s infancy. FST’s are also great. A 4-pack typically costs anywhere from $3-4 and they work great. They are simply folded into a long rectangle and used a prefold or insert would in the diaper.

Folded receiving blanket

Folded flour sack towel

Poop and Pee

A common question: Breastfeed poop is water soluble and can go straight into the wash with other diapers.  Formula fed and food eating baby’s poop should be rinsed off into the toilet and toddler solid poop can simply be tossed into the toilet. We store her diapers in a sealable wet bag next to her changing table and wash her diapers 1-2 times a week.

Left: Button Diaper with charcoal bamboo insert Right: Happy Flute diaper with receiving blanket

 

Happy flute cover stuffed with receiving blanket and charcoal bamboo insert for extra absorbency

 

Washing routine

Each machine is different . I suggest visiting Fluff Love University to figure out a system that works for your machine as well as picking out a good detergent to clean the diapers with.

Peace, Love, and fluffy butts.

Farai

 

Our babywearing chronicles 

This week is International Baby-wearing Week.  I’ve been wearing Thandiwe since she was a few weeks old and it has been an amazing hands-free way to keep her near. Baby-wearing has also been an awesome way for my partner to bond with the baby when he’s with her. He loves how it easy it is to keep her close and it makes putting her down for a nap much easier.  Thandiwe enjoys being worn too, she often comes running when she sees me grab a woven wrap or stops fussing when she sees me buckle the soft structured carrier to my waist.

Finding a carrier that works for your body type can be a challenge which is why I am a fan of trying before you buy. Buying second-hand is also a good way to be eco-friendly and economical. Seeing everyone share their baby-wearing stories all over the internet this week has made me reflect on our baby-wearing journey as well. We have one soft structured carrier, one woven wrap, and one ring sling. I also enjoy trying different carriers from my local baby-wearing chapter’s lending library since I am training to be an educator and need to be familiar with all kinds.

Scroll down to see some photos of us baby-wearing and an inforgraphic from momlovesbest.com about the benefits of babywearing.

Anthony wearing Thandiwe

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Farai wearing Thandiwe

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Peace and baby snuggles,

Farai