Sakura Bloom Sling Diaries – Beauty

IMG_3973 IMG_3975 IMG_3978 IMG_3990 IMG_3996 2013-03-14 IMG_4028 IMG_4010 IMG_3948 2013-03-141 IMG_4003So we’ve finally come to the end of The Sling Diaries. I really can’t quite believe it – 6 months gone in a flash. Kiran has grown from a little baby into a walking, talking (well, grunting!) little person. I’ve had so much fun going on adventures with my baby on my hip and exploring the themes of delight, connection, discovery, expression, tradition and beauty.

So beauty – here is what I know. I’m lucky that my children get to grow up in such a beautiful place as Bali. They are lucky they get to see the world from our height instead of seeing nothing but feet. We are all lucky we get to explore the beauty around us whenever we want.

This is one of my favourite walks in Ubud and I learned recently that the land is for sale and there may very well be a big hotel being built here within a couple of years. There’s a very real possibility that many of my favourite places and walks in Bali may simply not exist by the time my children have kids of their own.

Thank you Sakura Bloom for inspiring us to get out and see all this beauty while it still exists. I hope in some small way by getting out, exploring and posting up my pictures here I will inspire some others to enjoy the natural beauty of the rice fields, forests, hills and rivers in Bali as they are instead of putting up another hotel or villa.

We wear simple linen and silk slings from Sakura Bloom

This post is the final part of a 6 part series for the Sakura Bloom Sling Diaries. We are one of 15 families documenting our babywearing experience over a six month period. You can follow the Sling Diaries on Pinterest, Facebook or Tumblr. You can read all my other blog posts for the sling diaries here.

Photos by my beautiful and talented friend Stephanie Mee

Sakura Bloom Sling Diaries – Tradition

IMG_2827Tradition is everything in Bali. It’s the reason we live with my husband’s parents in a small village, rather than getting a place of our own. It’s the reason my children’s first names are the same as all the other children in Bali – Putu and Made, meaning first and second child. Tradition has governed our lives here in everything from our wedding to the birth of our children.

Every home in Bali has its own family temple and every day offerings are placed around this temple and the family compound. Every day – rain or shine. The normal everyday offerings are simple trays made from palm leaves filled with flowers and a sweet or biscuit. On auspicious days like full moon and new moon or on ceremony days, much more elaborate offerings are carried out.

I first learned to make these simple offerings a few months after our wedding and I did them every day when I was pregnant with Maya. After having children, my ability to carry out tasks like this in solitude was greatly reduced and I tended to leave it to Made’s mother while I rocked and entertained my babies. Recently though, I’ve taken to popping Kiran in a sling and doing the offerings myself in the morning. It’s a lovely meditative way to start the day and fills the compound with the scent of flowers and incense smoke.

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IMG_2839The offerings are usually topped with small cookies or crackers and Kiran was rather indignant when I didn’t give him one.

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Biscuit in mouth and all is right with the world again!

IMG_2863Today was also a special day for Kiran – in addition to their Otonan ceremony every 210 days, a small blessing ceremony is held for children every month with offerings of fruit and cakes. Kiran could barely contain his excitement at the shiny red apples

IMG_2992One of the places where we make offerings every day are the stones outside the entrance to our home that mark the place where their placentas were buried after birth. These stones receive special treatment during the first few months of life, being washed with the baby’s bath water and given a small sweet or cake offering whenever the baby is taken out of the house. Today Kiran’s stone received special offerings.

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Now Kiran is walking everywhere, I don’t know how much longer he’ll be content to be carried around in a sling but I enjoy these little moments while they last.

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I wear Kiran in a Sakura Bloom Essential Silk Sling in Aubergine/Fig

This post is part 5 of a 6 part series for the Sakura Bloom Sling Diaries. We are one of 15 families documenting our babywearing experience over a six month period. You can follow the Sling Diaries on Pinterest, Facebook or Tumblr. You can read all my other blog posts for the sling diaries here.

Sakura Bloom Sling Diaries – Expression

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If we were living in the UK I’m sure we’d be taking the kids to the park, but as we’re in Bali we take them to the Monkey Forest.

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Yet another reason why Maya and Kiran are so lucky to be growing up here – nature is not something separate from our everyday lives that needs to be sought out on weekends and school holidays. It is all around us in the rivers and the palm trees and the orchids and the snakes and the monkeys.

It’s strange to watch the monkeys and see how almost human they are in their activities and their expressions. Fear, anger, curiosity, contentment is plain in their faces as they go about their day ignoring the humans that pass through their little world. Siblings fight over food, youngsters whoop and chase each other through the trees, babies cling to their mamas. There was a lot of  ooh-ing and finger pointing from Kiran towards the baby monkeys and I think maybe he was trying to say “Look! My mama carries me too!”

Bali is also an island of artists which is clear everywhere you look from the intricately carved temples to the colourful daily offerings that are placed on the ground daily. Monkey Forest itself is filled with stone carvings of monkeys and mythical creatures with grotesque expressions. Balinese children are taught from an early age to express themselves through art, music and dance. As a creative person myself, my parents always encouraged me to follow my passions but growing up in the west, the pressure to follow the crowd in terms of education, career and life in general is undeniable. It wasn’t until I left the UK that I finally felt free to live life as I please. I hope Kiran and Maya can grow up with the freedom of never having their creative spirits crushed whether they want to be a dancer, an artisan stone carver or just go and live in the jungle with the monkeys.

I wear Kiran in a Sakura Bloom Essential Silk Sling in Aubergine/Fig

This post is part 4 of a 6 part series for the Sakura Bloom Sling Diaries. We are one of 15 families documenting our babywearing experience over a six month period. You can follow the Sling Diaries on Pinterest, Facebook or Tumblr. You can read all my other blog posts for the sling diaries here.

Sakura Bloom Sling Diaries – Discovery

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Sometimes when you’re used to seeing something every day, the magic can be lost a little. There’s a saying among the expats here that you know you’ve been in Bali too long when you complain about a temple ceremony holding up traffic instead of getting out of your car to take pictures. It’s true, Bali is an amazing place but I have started to become blind to that beauty after living in the midst of it for so long. Since having children, the wonder has come back as I see everything fresh through their eyes. Put yourself in the shoes (or sling!) of a baby or two year old and the world is truly a place of awe and amazement.

I first visited this waterfall just a few months after we were married and my babies were still in my imagination. Now visiting with Kiran is like coming for the first time again. We catch a glimpse from high above the treetops and descend into the jungle down hundreds of steps. Turning the corner, the spray hits us in the face as we get our first proper look at the raging torrent. I thought Kiran might just dismiss this waterfall as another everyday occurrence in the same way he is just as excited about seeing a pigeon as he is a peacock. The entire world is terribly exciting when you’re 10 months old. He was suitably impressed with his first encounter with a waterfall however and even discovered a new skill – pointing with one finger (just in case I hadn’t noticed it myself!)

Originally I’d wanted to bring Maya here too but she’s not a fan of fast-flowing water and hundreds of slippy steps and toddlers don’t mix too well so we sensibly left her napping at home with her grandmother. I’ll look forward to coming back again in another few years when they can both paddle together in the icy water and race back up the steps to the top.

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I wear Kiran in a Sakura Bloom Simple Linen Sling in Caribbean

This post is part 3 of a 6 part series for the Sakura Bloom Sling Diaries. We are one of 15 families documenting our babywearing experience over a six month period. You can follow the Sling Diaries on Pinterest, Facebook or Tumblr. You can read all my other blog posts for the sling diaries here.

Thanks to my brother and dad for taking the photos.

Sakura Bloom Sling Diaries – Connection

Dear Kiran,

When you were still in my belly I worried, as many second-time mothers do, if I would be able to love you as much as your sister. Obviously I had no need to worry – real bonds take time to grow but our connection as you were handed to me was instant.

Juggling two small children with only one pair of hands can be tricky but when you’re being carried in a sling I’m free to hold Maya’s hand and save her from the scary waves. You giggle and lean towards your sister from your seat on my hip and I can tell that you’re just dying to be down there running around with her but then you lean your head back on my shoulder as if to remind me that you’re still my baby for now.

Recently your grandma came to visit from England. You hadn’t seen her since you were a newborn and at the moment you cry to be back in your mama’s arms when anyone else picks you up, especially an unfamiliar face. But when we all went out together, I carried Maya in one sling while grandma carried you in the other. Instead of crying, you were quiet as a mouse watching the world from your perch and even snuggled in for some extra cuddles.

Now when we go to the beach I tell both of you that the other half of your family is somewhere over there, past the waves and that we’re all connected by the ocean. Tomorrow Maya will probably ask again if we can go and see grandma and I’ll tell her we can call her on skype instead and we’ll look at these photos and she’ll laugh and tell me that she was scared and ran away from the waves and grandma was there too.

I wear Kiran in a Sakura Bloom Essential Silk Sling in Aubergine/Fig

This post is part 2 of a 6 part series for the Sakura Bloom Sling Diaries. We are one of 15 families documenting our babywearing experience over a six month period. You can follow the Sling Diaries on Pinterest, Facebook or Tumblr. You can read all my other blog posts for the sling diaries here.

Thanks to my mum for taking most of these photos on her last day in Bali. We miss you x

Sakura Bloom Sling Diaries – Delight

The world is a wonderous place when you’re nine months old. Kiran delights in so many everyday things that we take for granted through our adult eyes: Wind-chimes swaying in the breeze; His sister riding her tricycle; A cat tip-toeing along the wall; Our afternoon walks in the rice fields.

When you born I delighted in your tiny fingers, your sleepy eyes and your sweet newborn smell. Now you’re getting bigger and I know all too well that these moments pass by in a heartbeat – one moment a helpless baby and the next an independent being who doesn’t want to be held or carried. So while I can, I hold you close. You sit on my hip and we explore together. I delight in the shy smile you give strangers before burying your face in my shirt; The way you rest your head on my chest; Your tiny hands curling around my hair. For now, we delight in these moments together.

I wear Kiran in a Sakura Bloom Simple Linen sling in Caribbean.

This post is part 1 of a 6 part series for the Sakura Bloom Sling Diaries. We are one of 15 families documenting our babywearing experience over a six month period. You can follow the Sling Diaries on Pinterest, Facebook or Tumblr. You can read all my other blog posts for the sling diaries here.

Many thanks to my lovely friend Stephanie for taking the photos. She blogs about her travels over at Southeast Asia Wanders

Babywearing Love – The Sakura Bloom Sling Diaries

When I was pregnant with Maya I knew from the start I would be wearing my baby. Pushchairs and strollers have no place on Ubud’s uneven, motorbike clogged streets or bumpy ricefield paths and are used rarely, even by the tourists. And really, even back in the UK, my mother bought us a pushchair to use while we were visiting but we still used the carrier a lot and the buggy invariably ended up being piled with shopping bags instead. We use it very occasionally now at the zoo or the mall or to wind down an overtired baby.

There is a big tradition of carrying babies in Bali. Here, when a baby is born he does not touch the ground until a special ceremony when he is 3 months old (6 months in some villages). Babies are constantly carried, passed from arms to arms of members of the extended family and even sleeping newborns are rarely put down except at night to sleep with the parents. Babies are considered to be little gods to be carried around like a special treasure – not to be put on the dirty impure ground. You can see Maya and Kiran touching the ground for the first time below (read more about it here and here). Indonesians traditionally carry their babies in a sling called a selendang and you can often see mothers and grandmothers walking around at dusk spoonfeeding a baby on their hip.

Right up until the day before I gave birth to Kiran, I was taking walks into Ubud with Maya strapped to my back. I must have looked quite a sight with my 9-month pregnant belly and a toddler on my back, stomping through the rice fields (I never walk slowly even if I am about to give birth, carrying a toddler and in the tropics). Of course now I wear Kiran, probably even more than I did Maya as it is much easier to look after two young children when one of them is strapped to you. Sometimes it’s the only way I can get anything done when I’m alone in the house with both of them and Kiran is a very cuddly baby who loves to be held.

So I am thrilled to be one of 15 bloggers taking part in the Sakura Bloom Sling Diaries. For the next six months we will be exploring babywearing creatively with a blog post every month based around a theme. I’ll be posting my first official diary later this month and I can’t wait! Some of my favourite bloggers have taken part in previous incarnations of the Sling Diaries and I’ll also be blogging alongside some amazing bloggers this time around so I am extremely honoured and excited to be included.

You can read more about the Sling Diaries over at Marvelous Kiddo with links to all the other participants. I’m looking forward to sitting down with a coffee later and finding some great new blogs to read. You can also keep up with the Sling Diaries on Pinterest, Facebook and Tumblr.

An extra exciting twist is that the 15th participant will be chosen randomly from all the commentors on Leigh’s post. All you need is a baby and a blog! So if this sounds as much fun to you as it does to me, head over there right now!

I’ve never used a ring sling before – I started with a wrap and then moved onto a Beco carrier when Maya was 7 months old but I’ve already taken one of my slings out for a test drive and I can tell  they are going to become my carriers of choice. So quick and easy to put on, adjust and throw in the baby bag and of course they are beautiful. The Beco is great for long walks but there’s no getting away from the fact it looks like a backpack and although wraps are great for newborns, it’s just too hot here to have several yards of fabric wrapped around your torso, no matter how lightweight it is. The Sakura Bloom slings look just like part of my outfit and they are cool and comfortable to wear even in the Balinese humidity. Kiran’s at that stage where he wants to be up and down all the time and is happiest on my hip so a ring sling is just perfect for us  right now.

Welcome to my new readers who have found my blog through the Sling Diaries and I’m so excited for the next six months!