Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Fair Trade Christmas

For those of you who are not familiar with fair trade, here is the Wikipedia definition (in part):

Fair trade is an organized social movement that aims to help producers in developing countries to make better trading conditions and promote sustainability. The movement known as fairtrade indicating the certification advocates the payment of a higher price to exporters as well as higher social and environmental standards. It focuses in particular on exports from developing countries to developed countries, most notably handicrafts, coffeecocoasugarteabananashoneycottonwine,[1] fresh fruit, chocolate, flowers, and gold.[2] There are several recognized Fairtrade certifiers, including Fairtrade International (formerly called FLO/Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International), IMO and Eco-Social. Additionally, Fair Trade USA, formerly a licensing agency for the Fairtrade International label, broke from the system and is implementing its own fair trade labelling scheme, which has resulted in controversy due to its inclusion of independent smallholders (selling via contract production) and estates for all crops. (

In the past few years, I have become more aware of how businesses work - the good, the bad, & the ugly. Unfortunately, when money is the number one priority, things like the welfare of employees & the health of consumers often go out the window. Many companies, when you trace back the products & the processes they use, either use child labor or forced labor. Prisoners in China (including Christians who are arrested for their beliefs) are forced to work in sweatshops to make things that we buy - that makes me sick to my stomach. I don't at all claim to live a life that is 100% fair trade. I'm just now even trying to be more aware of how I spend my money. So don't hear judgment from me. But it's something that needs considering.

I found some great websites & companies that are fair trade & have purchased many Christmas gifts through them this year. You can find delicious coffee, tea, & chocolate; beautiful jewelry handcrafted from renewable or even recycled materials, as well as other accessories like purses & scarves; home decor & collectibles; & more. Here are some of the websites I found -

Ten Thousand Villages - also has stores around the country, including in Austin
Trades of Hope 
Trade as One
Sseko Designs - super cute sandals
Hannah James - really cute jewelry
Apparent Project - jewelry made in Haiti with recycled material
Sit a Spell - a blog written by a woman from our church in College Station, she lists lots of fair trade products
Rage Against the Minivan - another blog with lots of fair trade products

There is also a store here in San Antonio called All's Fair World Gifts. You should check it out!

Monday, November 5, 2012

All About Jack

We've had six weeks to start to get to know Jack. Here's what we know so far:

He is super snuggly. So far this is my favorite trait of his! I love to snuggle & neither of the other two men in my life like to (though the older one sometimes lets me). His favorite place to be is on someone's chest. I like to try to take a nap with him during Elliot's naptime. He cuddles up in the crook of my arm. He also ends up there sometimes during the night, if he's not sleeping well. He does well during the first part of the night, but sometimes around 4-5 he wakes up & won't stay asleep in his pack n play, so I put him in bed with me. I don't want that to last forever (we like our bed to be ours) but I am taking advantage of snuggling with my little newborn for now.

He is pretty vocal. For the first few weeks, that was exhibited in goat-like grunts & crying. If you move him, he'll let you know if he didn't really care for it. Now he makes some cuter cooing noises too. He may end up being our talkative little man.

He doesn't really care for the schedule. I'm pretty structured & Elliot really fell into that quick, eating every 3 hours on the dot, full feedings each time. Jack just isn't predictable. Sometimes he'll go longer than 3 hours, sometimes less, sometimes he just snacks, sometimes he's a leisurely eater. I never know what to expect from him.

He just started smiling last week & they quickly went from small smiles to huge, gummy grins that make his eyes squint. It's adorable! He seems SO happy when he does that.

Since he has had reflux (that we have under control due to my gluten free & dairy free diet) & lots of gas, he spent a lot of his first few weeks pretty uncomfortable. That interrupted his sleep & left him pretty fussy when he was awake. Now that he's feeling better & learning how to get the gas out himself (phew!) he spends more of his awake time content, which is great. I know he'll be much happier when he's a little older & can sit up.

Although he mixes it up often, I'm starting to learn how his day is scheduled. He'll eat sometime around 6:30, then go back to sleep for a bit, then eat 2-3 hours later. He'll be awake for about an hour, then back to sleep. & repeat. If he stays up much longer than an hour, he gets really fussy & it's hard to get him to sleep for a nap. If he doesn't nap well one day, he won't sleep well that night.

I still feel like we're in survival mode, but that we're getting a grasp on things somewhat. I am really exhausted at this point; I suppose the adrenaline leveled off & now I'm just running on broken sleep. I've heard with the second, it take about 3-4 months to feel like you really have things down, so we're about halfway there! Phew. He's a real cutie though & I am looking forward to watching him develop & learning more about his little personality.