Sunday, March 30, 2008

ode to a wrap

This is my wrap.

It is a 4.6 meter long piece of fabric, bought used on's For Sale or Trade forums. I use it, origami style, to create Toddle-carrying structures. And it was my lifeline on the way home from Australia.

I've written before about babywearing (here and here and elsewhere), doubtless with enthusiasm enough to make people inch away from the computer. Come away from the fanatic, honey. Just step backwards. That's it, yes, now another step...there you go.
Babywearing is something that I fell into out of a combination of necessity (pickup at preschool with a wheat-allergic kid? with pretzels lying in corners? ai yai yai) and convenience (two hands free = one hand holding a latte). Because of their width and lack of design, wraps distribute the child's weight beautifully, customizing to the person wearing them, the layers that person has on that day, etc, etc, etc. The comfort of the width has actually made them into the next new thing in diaper bags, and I'm surprised it's taken this long. I carry my wrap with me on trips, to doctors' visits and especially on airplanes, where I most often to use it as a blanket, but occasionally...well.

When we left Melbourne, we somehow managed to forget the stroller. No worries, you'd think, we're about to sit on airplanes. Lots and lots of airplanes. But first we had to check in, and then stand patiently on more lines to go through passport control, then customs, then security. Then, in LA, we had to do it all over again. And did I mention the six hour layover? Oh, yes. The layover.

In between, the Toddles fell asleep, ran for doors with exciting vehicles behind them, giggled at the idea of standing on a line and whisked behind desks brimming with fascinating equipment. When we arrived at the Melbourne airport to begin this process, QG and I unloaded duffel bags, four big carry on bags (diaper, fun, food and medical), and watched the Toddles try and escape into a carelessly unguarded taxicab. Clearly, we told each other silently, some sort of child containment device was in order.

With the stroller 45 minutes away and the airplane waiting impatiently, I whipped out the wrap. I looped it into a slipknot, and slid the loop under the Toddles' arms. Let's go, little puppy, I told him. He grinned, barked cheerfully, and pattered on all fours to the check-in counter.

He was a puppy for check-in, a tree frog during passport control, and a kitten during security. I'm not sure what he was for customs, but he did growl a lot and the official let us by pretty quickly.

When he fell asleep shortly before landing, he was a bundle on my front, legs dangling comfortably while I hoisted bags and chivvied the Eldest. He stayed a bundle as we went through US passport control, and the passport guy was surprised to realize that the tuft of red curls under my chin belonged to a person. When he finally woke up after baggage retrieval and customs, he stayed happily snuggled against me while American Airlines cancelled flights and rebooked angry passengers. It took us two hours to check in for our LAX-Boston flight, and the wrap held a pleasant, musical toddler. We sang our silliest songs with enthusiasm, and our fellow travellers were not entirely unamused.

Asleep again shortly before landing, the Toddles was a content lump under the wrap as we hauled ourselves, finally, off the airplane. He woke up in time to see the Man, and I coiled away my wrap while the boys got reacquainted. 4.6 meters of sanity and invention - don't leave the country without it, eh?


The fruits of almost-spring (and their sad cousins): compote

What's in my pot tonight?
3 stalks of rhubarb, cut into chunks
5 slightly abused pears, cut into big chunks
3 apples that banged around in my diaper bag, also chunked
2 plums that cannot possibly live up to their name
6 or 7 frozen strawberries, exiled from the nearly kosher for passover freezer
.5 cups sugar
1.75 cups water

The proportions change, but I generally toss in anything that will turn soupy. Apples, pears, peaches, berries - even cranberries - will all melt into a sweet-tangy yumminess. I never peel them, I just wash the skins with a teensy bit of dishsoap* and chop them into a few pieces. Some folks would add a couple of cloves, a slice of ginger, maybe a cardamom pod or two, maybe a star anise or hunk of cinnamon. I never bother - the changing flavors of what's sad in my fruit drawer is usually enough to keep me interested.

Let simmer until it cooks down (about 20-30 minutes, depending on your fruit:liquid ratio), stirring occasionally. You can taste and decide if you want to add extra sugar - I never do, but I like tartness in my life.

You shouldn't need to puree. Serve warm, cold or room temperature with yogurt, granola, plain or with a really splendid vanilla ice cream. The boys, I should add, like theirs warm with cookies to dip into it, and I think that a nice, zinging ginger cookie would work well here.

* I knew an environmental scientist once, years ago. He and his wife had a pair of twins, and I watched him one day swiping his finger over the dishsoap bottle, collecting a smear of soap that he then used to wash the twins' apples. He caught me looking and explained, 'If you knew the chemicals that get used on produce, you'd do the same...' I don't know, but I do regardless.


Anonymous said...

Fruit compote: I tend to use much less water to start, then add more if the fruit isn't as juicy as I'd anticipated. Also, using fruit juice (if I have it) feels like I'm diluting the fruitiness less.

Query about soap on fruit: do you know whether the scientist was using it on organic or 'regular' produce? I have to hope that organic would have much less to be cleaned off.

mama o' the matrices said...

magid, an excellent point. My compote is often soupy, but given my lack of attention to the pot, I prefer the extra liquid to the risk of it burning through lack of attention. (Muu-um, he's breaking my puzzle up! etc)

I don't remember what kind of fruit it was, but I think he was washing regular produce. Still, I do remember that they ate a lot of organic. In our place, we wash the conventional fruit and only wash waxed organic produce. But that's a compromise based on time and energy, and not on specific knowledge or principle.