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if we lived in india.

Greg and I talk about living in India one day, if God wills.  So this is me doing a little daydreaming about our Indian home.  Textiles, artistic tile, exposed wood, oddly shaped rooms, slanted ceilings, kilim rugs, real color, Greg driving a rickshaw, our kids running around barefoot, frothy cardamom ginger tea, having a wooden front door that creaks, hot crispy dosas every morning with little metal bowls overflowing and clinking with sambar + chutney.  Hmmm… yes, I could get used to this.

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babywearing.

“”Babywearing” simply means holding or carrying a baby or young child using a cloth baby carrier.  Holding babies is natural and universal; baby carriers make it easier and more comfortable, allowing parents and caregivers to hold or carry their children while attending to the daily tasks of living.”

Even before I had Dhara I knew I wanted to carry her around in some sort of sling. It just seemed right and the natural thing to do to have my baby close to me. During Dhara’s first 10 months we carried her around alot in various baby wearing slings/carriers.  We received the Maya WrapErgo Baby, and Baby Bjorn as gifts, and because I loved the simplicity of the sling, I purchased the Puj Go Sling for quick local trips.  Here are some of my thoughts on these various slings/carriers:

1.  Maya Wrap — Made with beautiful hand-loomed cotton fabric; however, the sling is not intuitive to wear initially, so you better let your handy husband help you put it on correctly!  Once it’s on and baby is inside, I love how it makes me feel like a mama kangaroo with my baby attached to me.  Again, this just feels right.  The Maya Wrap is especially nice for the first couple months when baby wants to be near mama.  We used this sling to put Dhara to sleep during those first couple months. I really loved how this sling made her look like an adorable bundle of cuteness enclosed in her little cove all cozy and sweet.  This sling holds up to 35 pounds.

2.  Ergo Baby — A wonderful carrier that gives ample support to the lower back and shoulders — the two places that normally take the hit when babywearing. More than any of the carrier/slings I’ve tried, the Ergo may be bulkier than normal carriers, but it’s so good on the body.  This carrier can be used with baby on your back.  Even at 16 months old, this is the only carrier we use now that she’s older/heavier.  It carries up to 40 pounds.
3.  Baby Bjorn — We used this carrier when we went for neighborhood walks or when we worked on the garden.  It’s nice because baby can face outwards.  Ergo Baby warns against babies facing outwards — I understand their rational, but Dhara really seemed to love facing out when she was in the Bjorn.  This carrier does put a strain on the shoulders and back after some time.  The Bjorn carries up to 25 pounds.

4.  Puj Go Sling — A delightful little sling for those quick market or library runs. Great for quick trips because it’s super easy to stuff into your diaper bag.  After receiving it in the mail, I loved the modern fabrics used for the sling, but I realized I could make this sling on my own — it’s super simple if you have the exact measurements!  Overall, I prefer the Maya Wrap over this sling because I felt like the Puj put unneeded pressure on my shoulder as she began weighing more.  This sling carries up to 30 pounds.

good news.

garden of the gods state park, illinois, 2009

If you look at my little bio on the left, you’ll notice that I mention my husband as the “charming American tentmaking campus missionary with the surname “Smith.””  I don’t talk much about the ministry aspect of our lives here on this blog — actually, I haven’t said one word except the aforementioned tidbit. So I thought I would write a little about that part of our lives because it’s a very BIG part.

chi alpha winter retreat, 2006

Before I even met my husband, he knew that his calling in life was to be a campus missionary.  He grew up Catholic, but had a radical encounter with Jesus while in college.  Ever since, he’s known that his highest achievement in this life would be leading college students to Christ and discipling them so they could lead abundant lives in Christ.  Once I came into the picture, I knew by default it would be my goal and pleasure in life to stand with him and be a helpmate to him in this calling of his — and now ours.

susan + greg, engagement shoot, 2007

What does it mean to be a campus missionary?  Well it’s pretty simple — we’re normal people who are on a mission to spread the Good News about Jesus in a university setting.  Why?  Because He’s worth knowing.  We want to see students know Him, Jesus.  Not just know about Him, but really know Him in a real heart connected way.  Know Him in a way that changes their life.  Know Him so well that He becomes their food, their drink, their provision, their best friend, the Lord of their heart, and the Savior of their very life.  It’s not an easy task, but He’s the one drawing them in — we just have to be available.

chi alpha winter retreat, 2007

I’ve been involved in campus missions since 2003 while in college, and Greg a few years longer.  We officially took the faith leap in the fall of 2009 and started a quasi Chi Alpha on the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) Campus. Greg still works a secular job, but he also makes himself available for the students for our regular meetings and discipleship.  With the help of a few awesome student leaders, lots of people praying for us, and the grace of God, we’ve been super blessed to have favor with the campus which lets us meet in the dorms.  Since we started, we’ve met over 100 students who’ve come through our group.  We’ve seen people make the decision to live for God.  I can’t even begin to tell you how enjoyable + encouraging it has become for me personally.  We have some pretty amazing international students who are a whole lot of fun and who want a whole lot of Jesus!  While we’ve had lots of different cultures present, the majority have been from Africa — such a vibrant and loving group of people!  Greg and I feel called to international students, and UMBC is ranked second in the nation for diverse student populations — pretty neat since all we did was follow where God’s wind took us.  (And yes, along the way we had a baby!  She comes along too, sometimes.)

chi alpha, umbc with stefanie chappell, 2010

Tuesday nights are date nights for Greg and I.  As the evening came to a close today, we came to the conclusion that we could either live our lives for ourselves, or, we could live it for other people.  We chose the latter.  Why?  Because in the end, only what you do for Christ will last.  What does living for others look like? Well as we were discussing our future, we felt for us it meant being close to campus even if we would have loved to live out in the country.  It means not giving up the vision for things in this life that look attracting.  Here’s to spreading the Good News at UMBC!  The following video shows some fun moments at the Winter Retreat.

video of chi alpha winter retreat, 2011

greg praying over the students

comfort + comfort

eric + hannah

benke

our sleepy mascot

jasmine, chris-anne, sara

everyone loves sleepy mascot

josh leading worship

debbie look’in all glamorous

greg with the birthday card chris-anne made him

jonathan

sara

bianca + dhara

mascot making her rounds

eric receives a mascot blessing

pad + quill.

For Greg’s birthday this year, his family and my family went in together to purchase him an iPad 2.  Greg loves him some technology, so this was a real treat; plus, he so deserved it!  Thinking we would get him the iPad last year, I did a little research last spring on the perfect iPad case/cover and came across a fantastic handmade cover by a company called Pad + Quill.

If you’ve ever used (and love) a Moleskine notebook, you will love this iPad cover because it looks like a legendary Moleskine.  I also love that it has wood trim inside — simple Moleskine outer build, yet finely crafted with wood inside.  This video goes into more detail — it’s by one of the Pad + Quill makers himself.

We received our cover in the mail last week and we love, love, love it.  It’s modern, clean-cut, super functional and so easy to use because you never ever have to take your iPad out of its case.  See for yourself.

front

little peephole for camera

back

fits like a glove

a happy boy

national zoo.

My mom was on spring break all of last week.  Her highlight of the week was taking Dhara to the zoo for the first time — it’s all my mom talked about!  Dhara and her Ammachi (“Ammana”) love to have fun together — they sing, read, go outside together, take naps together, and have snacks together.  Ammachi is one of Dhara’s most favorite people.

So with the weather warming up, my mom was so excited to take her granddaughter out on an educational + fun excursion.  Along with my little cousins, Hannah + Jeremy, we packed our day bags and headed off to Washington, D.C. for a day at the zoo.  For any of you thinking about driving to the National Zoo, don’t.  Take the metro!  There’s parking at the zoo, but it fills up really, really quick.

I must say taking a 1 year old to the zoo is such an interesting experience.  It was so neat to watch her see in person all the various animals we’ve read to her over and over and over again.  She knows them so well and the sounds they make, so to actually see them in real life was super fascinating to her.

dhara and her ammachi (“ammana”)


dhara very close to an ape

hannah (“hanne chechi”), dhara, jeremy (“jema”)

watching lions

picnicing

wonderfully cool freshly squeezed lemonade + funnel cake

turtle

loves exploring on her own

susie mey, the shop.

As a daughter of immigrants from India, I was molded to score a money making job in a field such as medicine, engineering, or law.  I must say none of these fields brought me joy as utilizing my creative streak — an area my Indian parents had absolutely no grid for.  While in college, they especially didn’t understand when I signed myself up for quilting class after quilting class, sewing classes, knitting classes, and yes, horseback riding lessons.

After graduation, I did work in the IT business world for a few years until my husband and I quit our jobs so we could go into campus ministry.  I have to say that it’s a culmination of working, being a child of a mom who worked, and seeing the fruit of stay-at-home moms that made me realize more and more that in this day and age I want to be a stay at home wife and mother if God wills.  I personally feel this is a gift to any family.

I’ve now been home for the past 2 years, and I now know that my calling in life is raising our child[ren] and being a help meet to my husband.  But what about that creative streak and need to create [sewing +  photography] — I feel that it’s so much of who I am in addition to being the caretaker of the home.  So the other day I asked God the question.  I asked Him what He thinks about me starting a business of the textile sort.  He answered me that very day in my daily reading with Proverbs 31:13,18,24,

“She seeks wool and flax and works with willing hands.  She perceives her merchandise is profitable.  Her lamp does not go out at night.  She makes linen garments and sells them…”

It’s been a dream of mine, I’d say for the last 8 years, to open a children’s textiles shop.  It’s been even more of a dream since I found out I was pregnant with our daughter.  In preparing for our baby, I searched and searched AND SEARCHED for baby things that were more up my alley — unique, different, with a bohemian flare and modern edge, all the while being all natural and organic.  I realized I was looking for things with an “unbaby” style.  Sadly to say, the choices were few and far between — most of which had that pink + blue baby style written all over it.  To me the idea made perfect sense, but why wasn’t it readily available?  And how many people were looking for the same thing I was?

What inspires me?  Well to list a few: vintage goodness in the form of linens, pyrex, wooden matryoshka dolls, and clothes.  Indian cotton + bohemian block prints.  60′s + 70′s style prints.  ”Something in the Water” (or here) by Brooke Fraser — love the folkloric aspect.  Anthropologie.  Organic and natural fibers. Comfortability + ease of wear.  The list could go on.

After drawing sketches and writing down all the business ideas + concepts floating around in my head, I decided that I would take the faith leap and open shop.  After thoughtfully thinking about it, I decided I would marry my love for Indian textiles with all things baby.  I cannot even begin to tell you how much I adore Indian cotton — it’s the most comfortable wearable textile on earth.  I kid you not.  So why not use it for baby?

In the next couple weeks I plan to open Susie Mey, For Little Folks — an online etsy shop.  In the shop will be my new spring line of baby blankets, bibs, bloomers and other odds and ends to start off.  I decided that I will typically be using Indian cotton, but on occasion, will also include vintage fabrics, designer cotton prints and Japanese textiles that catch my eye.

I’ll be posting a shop update in the next 2 weeks.  I hope you stop by!

neighborhood friends.

anuj, wyatt, macy, dhara, jaya, ria

investigating a worm homicide

awesome chi alpha t-shirt. a gift from the national office. thank you!

dhara + aunt beth having a moment
playing in the woods

dhara + zoey.

sue + susan, college years, may 2004

It’s funny to think that Dhara has friends.  I mean, she’s only 15 months old, but yes, she has friends.  She actually has a good handfull of them.  One of them is Zoey — the daughter of our friends Josh + Sue.  Greg and I went to college with Sue, so it’s wonderful to still be connected after marriage and now, kids.  It was neat to catch up with them over the weekend.  It was especially neat to see our daughters catch up.  Dhara calls her friend, “Zozo.”  It was hilarious to hear Dhara call out to Zoey before they left — Dhara was getting her diaper changed in the next room, but still managed to yell out a, “BYE, BABY!” to Zoey as they prepared to walk out the front door.  Picture quality isn’t the best, but I still had to post some of these two buddies.

photos below from last fall, september 2010


photos below from last weekend, april 2011


priceless

And as you can see, Dhara is super affectionate.  Sometimes she doesn’t know when to hold back.  Fortunately, sweet little Zoey didn’t mind too much!  : )

upcycling.

Today I met with Heather so that our girls could play together on this warm cheery day, and also so we both could catch up on our day to days, crafting, and babies. Her and her beautiful family literally live 2 minutes from our home (my parent’s home).  I’ve never driven that short of a distance anywhere while living at their home — my parents live in the boondocks.  So it felt really good to visit with a friend/neighbor.  Heather lives in the neatest home her hugely talented carpenter husband refinished with upcycled pieces — a wonderful blend of new and old.  I admire anyone who can work with wood, it’s such an awesome awesome talent! Interesting to think this is what Jesus did on a daily basis.

I met Heather through the Bradley Method class we took before our babies were born.  It was so nice to meet such like-minded folk through the class.  Heather gave birth at home with a midwife for her second child after having a c-section for her first child!  So proud of her!  Giving birth at home is something Greg and I would so like to do someday, but not while living with the parents!  Hopefully when we have our own home.

Heather and I reconnected after our babies were born.  She saw all the sewing and crafting I did, and she commissioned me to craft a tote bag for a give-away her business was sponsoring its customers.  I jumped at such a cool opportunity.  The criteria was that I thoughtfully consider the environment by reusing old fabric for the project.  I ended up upcycling fabric Heather gave me from some old curtains. I pretty much used my own pattern when creating the tote; except for the dimensions, which I used from another pattern.  The fabric was made of cotton canvas with an embroidered flower motif.  I also added a trim of crocheted lace. Love the way it turned out — so much so that I’m considering making another for Dhara and our weekly library jaunts.  Heather loved the tote as well and will probably be using it in a giveaway at a Green Life Festival at Savage Mill later this month, that is if she doesn’t keep it herself!

Upcycling is the process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products of better quality or a higher environmental value.

tote is fully lined, reinforced + perfectly sized for such trips as the library or market

savage mill.

photography by Chelsea Hudson

The Dhara-girl and I spent the morning with Chelsea (as in Chelsea Hudson Photography) and two of her three girls, Sydney and Nadia.  We strolled the compound of Historic Savage Mill — an old textile weaving mill dating back to the 1820’s.  It functioned as a textile mill for over 100 years!  I so wish I could go back in time to experience what went on at this beautiful stone mill.

It now functions as an art inspiring place that houses resident artist studios, offices, galleries and crafty shops.  Not to mention small restaurants and a nifty french bakery with buttery flaky soft pastries, fruit tarts and breads — don’t mind the girl behind the register, she may roll her eyes at you, but the sniek pastry (Cheslea, spelling?) is still really really good, trust me.

As you can see in the photos below, there is also a neat old red bridge that sits right over the Little Patuxent River.  The girls had a blast as Chelsea shot some really fun photos of them.  Photos below by Chelsea Hudson.

my Dhara-girl in a handmade sweater. I so love this shot.

Sydy

bashful bridge walker