We Potty Trained Before 2. Here's Why.

Sunday, October 16, 2022




Hiya! I wasn’t sure when I’d be writing this post. We started potty training in the summer. I wanted to be sure we had fully made it before sharing our experience. We used a three-day method, so I figured it couldn’t be that hard…


3 months later, I see things VERY differently. I absolutely do not have any regrets, but it’s definitely been a humbling experience! That being said, I am so glad we toilet trained when we did. Here’s why.


[PS- before we get too deep in the weeds. We potty trained our daughter on the earlier side compared to other U.S. kids. If this topic is bothersome or triggering to you, for ANY REASON- please don’t read. Potty training is not easy, and what it looks like can vary so much from family to family. When we were ready may not be when your family is ready. And that is 110% OK.  The intent of this post was not to make folks feel crappy about when they decided the timing was right for their kid. As a pediatrician, I am a child health expert- but you are the expert on your child. I say this to parents all the time in the hospital. And I really, truly believe that.]


Why we trained early: 


We wanted to get out of diapers quickly. As a cloth diaper family, I think this is a common motivator- toilet training decreases your laundry by 70%! That was super appealing!! But the other piece of it is definitely sustainability. Our goal was always as few diapers as possible (hence the EC adventures and later cloth diapering, you can read more about that here.) 


I am a readiness skeptic. It’s not that I don’t believe the challenges parents are facing with potty training aren’t real- potty training was the hardest thing I’ve done as a parent (and we sleep trained and took multiple red eye flights in the first year.) But I went into it knowing the folks I worked with in Liberia had trained their children for pees by age one, and poops by two. Obviously the challenges facing a parent in Liberia versus a parent in the United States are incredibly different- but I think readiness may be over-emphasized over here. 


But also, we saw some signs of readiness. I know, really classy move to contradict myself the next line over. But after an ER trip where she held a ton of pee for 6 hours, I realized ou kid could recognize some feelings around peeing and fullness. She could also sit up much and walk better than when she lost interest in the potty during EC. Because of EC, we (meaning all of us) recognized when she was peeing and pooping, we felt like we could help her get those pees and poops on the potty! She couldn’t physically push her pants down, but we figured if we were training early, we could help her with that (and 3 months in, now she can!)  


I wanted to avoid any older toddler battles. I managed to get through one book about potty training, Oh Crap. I honestly didn’t love the tone, and found some of the sexist moments off-putting, but I do think the author is right about one thing- toddler resistance gets more intense around age 2.5, and we really wanted to be done by then. This also tailored my approach- we didn’t make a big deal of it either way. Accidents happened and we cleaned up together. Apart from talking about, reading about, watching some children’s shows, we sort of built it into our daily life. We did add some rewards later, but nothing too wild. 


It was summer! This may sound silly, but summer means hot weather, aka perfect commando toddler weather, more outdoor play where pee messes aren’t a problem, and plenty of popsicles and cold drinks to make more pee (for practice.) I highly, highly recommend regardless of your child’s age, if you live anywhere with any kind of seasonality, go for the summer. 


Ok, now that we’re done with the why! Next up is the how! I’ll post it later this week!


Our Home: Before tour and Our Sustainability Plans

Tuesday, August 30, 2022




@gceldridge Our house tour!! this house was a lot of things when we first saw it (after closing 😱) but growing up in a home just like this one, I'm confident we can put our stamp on it and make it the perfect space for our family. it was built in the 60s-70s and pretty much has not been touched since then so it needs a ton of work! head over to my blog for full details on that merakikaiagapi.blogspot.com #homedecor #homereno #renovationproject #housetok ♬ Our House - Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
Hi! Wanted to share some before pics (and a video) of our home, and also talk about our goals for making our home sustainable, weather-proof and low waste wherever possible. In many ways these goals are intertwined, as things like hurricane-proof windows and doors are also better at sealing in heat or cool. 


This is it! A pretty typical style for our neighborhood. My favorite part about the location- it's right across the street from where I grew up.

A major goal of our renovation was to do things as low-waste as possible, but also within our budget. I had a lot of ideas about this, some of which we had to put off or abandon all together, but I think we’ve reached a point where we are getting the best renovation we can within our price range, and have a plan for future renovations that we’ll work towards doing every 1-2 years. 



Our living and dining space had some pretty interesting color choices.




One of the four bedrooms- the house is pretty small by square footage but has lots of great usable space.


The kitchen hasn't been updated since the home was first built.


A look back from the entryway into the 'family' room, with the kitchen to the right.



Our kitchen with this awkward low ceiling that was apparently popular at one point- it's all demolished as of today!



The bathroom is very pink! We debated keeping the color, but ultimately decided to go with a clean white look.


It’s hard to see from the photos, but while our home doesn’t have the most practical layout (looking at you, entryway pantry-closet!), it does have really good bones! So as much as I’d love to change things up with a full remodel, we’re really just updating existing structures for the most part. This also feels less wasteful to me since we won’t need to destroy and rebuild things that are working pretty well as is (again, just a guess.) Once we finish with this round, we also plan to keep things more or less the same with a few exceptions. Here’s a few ways we plan to make this renovation sustainable:


Sourcing materials secondhand or recycled when possible: For items like fans, ceiling lights, and bathroom vanities, this makes a ton of sense! Unfortunately we don’t live locally yet, so it was difficult to hunt things down leading up to our renovation on places like FB Marketplace and local secondhand stores. I have my heart set on furnishing the space slowly after we move in, so hopefully we’ll have better luck in this area when we buy our furniture, since we plan to gift and sell the few pieces we have in Massachusetts.


We had some big dreams to use recycled products when possible (I had my heart set on recycled glass countertops or this super intriguing material made of recycled paper- more on that here!), sadly it just was not in the budget as it would have cost us at least 25% more than traditional countertop choices such as quartz. We are saving for another big chapter of the renovation next year that we think will be a huge step toward a low waste lifestyle (see below!)


Weather-proofing the house. This actually started before we purchased the home. We had been looking for a few months at the time and already knew we didn’t want to buy in a high-risk flood zone, given Florida’s risk of rising water levels (more on that here.) We ultimately got lucky enough to find a home in a low- medium risk flood zone away from any canals or large bodies of water. 


Apart from this, we chose to install a tile floor rather than wood. Wood is a great look, don’t get me wrong- but tile will sustain water damage much better in the event of a flood. There are other options too, as you can see on this website, but we were happy to go with tile as it has the added benefit of helping to keep the house cool.


Decrease energy and water usage: I lumped all of this in one category because while the approach is different it’s ultimately the same end goal: reducing reliance on the grid. Florida Power and Light is notoriously difficult to deal with and has no plans for divesting in fossil fuel energy, which is pretty wild to me considering we live in the sunshine state. So our next big ticket item is going to be a new roof and solar panels! The newest Federal Laws around climate change have extended the 30% rebate on solar panels for several more years (yay!), making this change a bit more affordable. You can find more info on solar panels in Florida here.


We also plan to swap out older appliances for high efficiency-grade ones. The biggest saver here will typically be the fridge, but toilets, washer-dryers and dishwashers can also make a difference. There are also smart sprinkler systems that help avoid unnecessary watering (more on that later, and a link with some info on energy efficient appliances here.) 



The garden- we're very excited to start planting here!


The house has a pool that was just about the only thing that had been updated in recent years. 


Eco-friendly gardening. This might be the part of our new home that I’m most excited for- the garden! We live in a sub-tropical climate where planting can go on year-round. I don’t want to be too ambitious because I haven’t had much luck with gardening in the past, but lucky for me Peter has a pretty green thumb! In addition, we’re hoping to eventually adjust our landscaping to add more native plants and flowers that will benefit the local flora and fauna and attract some native pollinators, add in a smart sprinkler system like this one, and start composting! UF has an amazing website and app about native pollinators and sustainable landscaping- here is their about page for more info.


Projects for further down the line: While I’d love to have more room in the budget to accomplish all of our goals, like most folks, we’re going to wait a couple years on a few things, including our primary bathroom, adding insulation, and adding hurricane-safe windows and doors. We’re not entirely sure how long we’ll be in Florida, but it was important to us to reduce our carbon footprint since we are privileged enough to live in an area with so much potential for sustainable living. Do you have any questions? Better yet, any advice- drop them in the comments! Would love to hear from you if you’ve had experience with eco-friendly and low-waste renovation :)

Low Waste Mama: Cloth Diapering

Monday, August 1, 2022



We have been at this cloth diapering thing for over a year now, so obviously I have some THOUGHTS. Too many thoughts for one blog post. I tend to be horribly long-winded when I write, so I’ll probably break this down in a couple of posts. This one will just go into how we decided to go for it, what we took into consideration, and how we came to the final decision that it made sense for us as a family, because we were definitely on the fence initially. I also want to acknowledge that although there are some workarounds, I also recognize that choosing cloth diapering is a privilege made easier for us by living in a very sustainability-minded community, our income, our work schedules, and a number of other factors. I hope none of this comes across as ‘cloth diapering is easy! And everyone should do it!’ Because cloth diapering is great, and I want it to be a reasonable option for everyone, but it may not be for you or your family, for a number of reasons, and that’s ok. Ultimately I hope it becomes something that is accessible to all families who want to give it a go. 


Now that that’s out of the way, let’s dive in!





Like a lot of parents, Peter and I must have spent hours researching the ‘best’ of all the things for those first months of life: the best stroller, best way to sleep train, best parenting books…and yep, the best diapers. We didn’t personally know anyone who cloth-diapered and had heard conflicting info on whether it was the most eco-friendly way to go; some argue against it because of the cost, or because of the amount of energy used washing and drying, when you could buy compostable diapers instead. We ultimately decide to try cloth diapering (CD) for a number of reasons: 


Composting diapers is…complicated. Many sources offer compostable diapering as a reasonable eco-friendly alternative to CD. The reality is much more complicated. For us, it was very difficult to compost- pick up compost organizations will not accept human waste, and our sibling/roomies ultimately veto’ed a backyard compost for our home, so that was out. Which meant that in our situation, any fancy, expensive compostable diapers would just really just be expensive, single use diapers going straight into a landfill. That didn’t feel great to us. 


We found ways to mitigate cost. Depending on how you calculate things, yes, cloth diapering can be very expensive. Just like any capitalist venture, people will try to sell you the newest, the best, the most advanced/easy/convenient system, etc. If that brand new, high tech system is what you go for, then, yes- cloth diapering is going to get expensive. 


But- there is another way. We ultimately bought one new set of newborn diapers, large and small wet bags, and a couple of other items along the way, and purchased everything else secondhand. Larger sizes of diapers included. This may not be appealing to some, I get it. But having done this several times, I feel pretty comfortable diapering our kiddo in secondhand diapers. They were always perfectly clean when purchased, and we washed them before using them with E. As far as I can tell, she has never had an infection related to diapering. I never felt that we were compromising on hygiene. (Actually, I feel like her skin hygiene is better in cloth than in disposable diapers- more on that later.) 


We found ways to maximize usage and decrease waste. A super common argument against cloth diapering is that it’s not as energy-saving as folks tout it to be, and that can be true. Think of it this way: what if we bought 24 brand new cloth diapers and inserts, used them for 6 months, then ditched them for disposable…we really aren’t maximizing that product’s use, are we? Now think about using the same diapers twice, for 2 kids, over the course of 18-24 months per kid, and then selling, gifting, or donating them to a charity like this one that refurbishes old diapers and gives them to folks in need? You’re certainly getting a lot more bang for your buck.


Similarly, people like to point out that you use a lot more energy washing them- and yes, it’s true, you’ll do a ton more laundry. There’s no way around that. But you can line dry, you can maximize your load usage, you can throw towels into the second wash (cloth diapers require a hot a cold wash)- basically, there are ways to be more efficient with your energy use. 





I also want to throw a note out there on another common and pretty strong argument against CD. It is time consuming. It basically triples your laundry. Easily. This is true- I can’t argue against it. We wash our child’s diapers about 2-3 times per week. Peter washes. I reassemble. I don’t have a great argument for this one. We both work and choose to spend a lot of our time cleaning our child’s cloth diapers. You might decide you’d rather dedicate your time to something else besides doing cloth diaper laundry 3 nights a week. No judgment. If money were no object I might have looked into sending our cloth diapers out for cleaning, which some local companies do in our area. It’s getting more common to see cloth diaper services like this all over the country, which I think is great. 


Lastly, if this sounds intimidating to you and totally not your jam, I want to add that just like anything in life, this is not an all or nothing game. We do not use cloth diapers at night. We have taken breaks from them- like when we traveled to England and South Dakota, and when we were going through a TFMR with our second child. We’ve gone as long as a month using no cloth diapers at all. There is a quote by Anne Marie Bonneau that I really like: 


We don't need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.


I think that applies so well in the parenting space.


This isn’t a race, nor is it a competition. This is the long haul effort to consume less and reduce waste, ultimately to improve the future for our children. Which is why I’m perfectly happy to sit on the sofa at 8 at night watching netflix and shoving cloth inserts into cloth diapers multiple nights per week :) 


That’s all I’ve got for part one of our experience with cloth diapering! What else would you like to know? Leave questions in the comments, and I’ll share my answers or any other takes in the next part of this post! 


Low Waste Mama: adventures in EC

Monday, July 25, 2022

 Hi! 


One of my goals after completing my MPH was to write more, so moving forward I’m committing to writing one blog post a week. It’s probably going to focus on low waste, parenting, and sustainability topics, maybe with some home decor thrown in there. This one is about our year using EC with our daughter. Hope you enjoy! 





As we prepared for E’s arrival, both Peter and I were focused on trying to keep things low waste. We are in no way perfect, but are really trying to reduce use of single use items when possible, etc. Quite quickly we saw how bringing a new baby into the world would change that, and we started looking into ways to limit our footprint. One topic we stumbled onto was elimination communication, or EC. I honestly can’t remember where I first heard about it; probably somewhere between googling ‘how to limit diaper use’ and parenting practices I had encountered working outside of the U.S. We decided to give it a try.


You might be asking yourself what EC is at this point. It’s essentially what it sounds like: learning your infant’s bodily cues and using them to help your child pee and poop on a toilet. Here is a VERY watered down summary of what we did: 


In the early weeks of our daughter’s life we observed her, both with and without her diaper. We noted times she tended to poop and pee (nursing seemed to do the trick for her!), and what kind of behaviors she had while pooping. For most babies this is some version of grimacing, reddening in the face, or squirming. For pees, which are a little less obvious, we also watched her while diaper free on a pee pad. 


Once we figured out her cues, we tried to do EC when we were home with her. This evolved quite a bit during E’s first 12 months of life. During the first twelve weeks, before I returned to work, I’d catch her straining to poop and sit with her between my legs facing backwards on the toilet or potty (see below.) I actually got pretty good at catching her poop when it didn’t occur while breastfeeding. Peter ordered the tiny EC potty that some breastfeeding parents use to do EC while ACTIVELY nursing, but dear reader, I was never going to be that parent. My coordination is just not that great (if you’ve seen me play any video game ever, you know this to be true.) 


At this point E was a bit heavy for me, so we switched to sitting her on the potty, but the position is essentially the same!



We also went through a phase of giving her opportunities to pee every 3ish hours. I chose convenient times for us, like right after waking her from a nap, diaper changes, etc. This worked marginally well, but we found it to be pretty time consuming, and once I started working at the hospital again, we just didn’t have the time to do it consistently. 


EC blogs will also tell you to make a noise (like tsss tsss for pee and a hard K sound for poo,) that your child can start to associate with voiding and stooling. This didn’t work for us, but probably because we both began working when E was 12 weeks old and were not able to be consistent in our practices after that point. Overall, once I was back at work we practiced EC a lot less, but still tried to catch poos when we recognized that she was trying to go. We even got into a good rhythm where around 9-12 months,  when she could sit independently, we’d sit her on the potty, make our little tss tss sound, and let her pee before bathtime. I think she actually enjoyed this routine too, and it certainly saved her a few diaper rashes from all that diaper free time.


Around 12 months, we had gotten into a rhythm, but E was not feeling it any more. We’d place her on the potty and she’d immediately stand and try to walk or crawl away. We decided it was time for us to call it- I had gotten busier with my class and work schedule, and Peter was working harder than ever- we just didn’t have the space for EC anymore, and didn’t want to push our child when she was clearly resisting.


A few folks have asked me since then about our experience- was it worth it? Is it doable while working? Does it help with toilet training? Would we recommend it to other parents? 


I can’t speak for my partner, but here’s my own perspective of our year of EC: 





It’s a great and unique way to learn about and bond with your child.


It’s not hard to learn, but is physically and logistically challenging. We struggled to find time to EC with E as two working parents, but I imagine that even with a parent home, it would be time consuming to watch your kid closely, stop what you’re doing and rush to catch a pee or poop. 


It maybe cut our diaper usage down by 5%. 


We just started working with E on toilet training this month, and from what I can tell (from our n of 1), it has had zero effect on potty training our child, either positive or negative. And from my brief literature search, there is no solid evidence that EC contributes to early toilet training.


And that’s our EC journey with E! Do you have any questions, or your own experience? I’d love to hear in the comments.


Here is a video we found super useful when first looking into EC.


And here is a great article about two pediatricians who did a combo of cloth and diaper free!


More or less what happened.

Tuesday, May 10, 2022


 

A little over a week ago, for the first time in a while, I took a break from both blogging and social media. I have to say it felt really good and was much needed, but probably deserves some explanation. We have had some really high highs and some pretty abysmal lows the last few months, some of which I'm ready to talk about (and, unfortunately, feels like something that needs to be said given the current mood these days.) 

I'm going to at least make an attempt at brevity by rolling this up into a timeline of sorts, starting in December of last year.

December: two things happened at once. One, we found out a home would be available on my parents' street, right across from them, and we had a chance to buy it off market. This was a very big deal for us, because homes don't often become available in my parents neighborhood, the market's been crazy tough, and even if we'd wanted to buy we would likely be outbid. We began the long, slow process of purchasing a home off market. 

At the same time, we found out some news that was both exciting and scary- I was pregnant. We were excited because we wanted a second child, and scared because we just hadn't expected it to happen this soon- I still had a thesis to finish and have been working really difficult hours. Nevertheless we were thrilled- I immediately bought E big sister t-shirt to break the news to our immediate family, made a list of things to look out for secondhand for baby #2, and began revisiting our old baby name google document and debating whether we'd be having a baby boy or baby girl.

February: we had just gotten back from traveling to Liberia as a family and I had my 13 week scan. As usual, I was friendly and chatty with the ultrasound tech, while sort of side-eyeing the numbers on the screen. Because I work in child health, I knew a little bit about the scan I was getting, but not quite enough to be sure if what I was seeing was abnormal. 

I'll cut to the chase- it was. My baby had increased nuchal thickness, which can be a marker for major genetic disorders. Within minutes I was placed on the phone with an MFM doctor, and together we decided I'd get a CVS (basically a needle inserted into my placenta to test the cells for different genetic disorders) that day. I called Peter and panic-power-walked through freezing rain to the nearby hospital. 

After that very tumultuous and scary day, things sort of...got quiet. We waited as test results trickled back bit by bit. The first test came back normal. Then the next one. Slowly, we allowed ourselves to breathe and I started to get excited about the baby again. Our 16 week scan appeared normal, apart from the nuchal thickness that had been diagnosed at 13 weeks. The doctor told me our risk was similar to other pregnancies. I told friends and coworkers we were expecting, as my belly was showing.

March: the day before I turned 20 weeks, Peter and I walked into my anatomy scan excited to take a peek at our baby again. The same tech was there, and after just a few minutes mumbled something about confirming she was getting the right measurements. I didn't pick up on the weirdness of that, but I probably should have. Minutes later, an MFM doctor came in, this time in person, and essentially told us the most crushing news I've ever received: our baby had severe fetal hydrops, it could affect my health if we continued the pregnancy, and even if we waited to deliver, our baby would probably not survive. They recommended terminating the pregnancy.

I won't go into the details of this here, but it was easily the most devastating experience of my life. I was just beginning to feel my baby kicking, and E had started giving my belly kisses just a day or two before. I wanted a miracle so, so badly- but I am also a realist, and I knew enough about fetal hydrops to know it was not going to get better. I actually had a case as a resident in the NICU- and I didn't want our little one to go through what I had witnessed. Thankfully, I live in a state where abortion has not been criminalized. In early April, at 21 weeks, I had surgery to terminate the pregnancy. 

May: The rest of April was a blur of crying in the shower, trying to keep up with the absolute minimum at my job and at school, and a bout of Covid-19 at the worst possible timing (we spent our third Easter home alone, thank you Covid.) 

On May 2nd, after a lot of legal and financial nightmares, we closed on our home. A home that hasn't been updated in nearly fifty years, and that we have never once set foot in. But it's ours. We didn't have a chance to celebrate since I had to prepare for my thesis presentation and the dive into a month of working nearly every weekend, but we are incredibly thankful for the chance to raise our daughter in the town I grew up in, with the same lovely neighbors who I visited and house-sat for growing up, just across the street from her grandparents. 

I don't have the space yet to talk more about the loss we experienced last month. It still feels very raw. The leak from the US supreme court didn't help either- hearing that news felt like a punch in the gut, and it makes me sick to think that women and birthing persons, especially those who are from historically excluded groups, may no longer have access to safe abortions in so many parts of this country. I am thankful that I was able to choose what happened to my child and my body. I am scared and angry about what may happen in the coming months. I am happy to be done with graduate school and cutting back my work hours in a month. In short, I am feeling a lot of different feelings.

If you read this far, thank you so much for being here. Truly. I imagine this space will soon go through a shift yet again, and I appreciate you sticking around to see where it ends up. If you're going through something similar, feel free to reach out. I don't wish this experience on anyone. Below are two online resources that you may find helpful if you are going through pregnancy loss. Wishing you the best. xx.

Time to Talk TFMR- a great podcast that gave me so much comfort in the last month as I went through this.

Online yoga course for pregnancy loss- I haven't had time to start this course, but it came highly recommended by my OB.

It also goes without saying, if you're angry and scared like me, you can donate to non-profits that help women with limited resources or access to safe abortions- I chose to support Indigenous Women Rising, but there are plenty of other options too.

Lastly, because, as always, music stepped in to save the day, here's what I've been listening to the last month.

Hi, I am bad at blogging consistently.

Friday, May 6, 2022







Just popping in to share some last photos and recommendations from our trip to South Dakota...A WHOLE YEAR LATER. Guys, idk what to say. In my defense I was kind of busy this year...had a lot going on that I'll share in a later post. For now, enjoy some great views of the American West, and see below for some of our recommendations from our time in South Dakota.

First off, the parks. We absolutely loved driving through Badlands National Park on the loop road and the unfortunately named Custer State Park. We drove through Badlands and didn't do any hiking, and ended up in Wall, SD- a cute but kind of touristy town that I think I'd skip next visit. Also, don't do as I do and speed through the park (in my defense, I had no idea what the speed limit was...insert embarrassed face here.) 

Custer State Park, which is historically located on land belonging to the Cheyenne people, was by far my favorite spot. While I wish we had been able to do more hiking, I was really happy to be able to explore some of the trails with our daughter. We hit a lot of the highlights, including the Needles Highway, Cathedral Spires trail, seeing buffalo, prairie dogs and wild donkeys on the wildlife loop road, and an easy but beautiful walk around the Sylvan lake. We also made sure to see the Crazy Horse Memorial on the way out (we skipped the other one.) Since we didn't have a ton of time off because it was a work trip for me, we stayed in the park at one of the cabins, which was a little pricey but worth it to be so close by to everything the park has to offer. 

In future visits (either sans kiddo or when E is a bit older,) I'd definitely want to do some longer hikes and possibly some backpacking or camping. I also want to return in the summer, as that's when traditional Lakota powwows, or 'wacipi' take place. There are also opportunities to support local indigenous businesses through tipi stays; you can find more information on that here at the Lakota Youth Stay website.
 

That time we went to South Dakota

Wednesday, August 25, 2021


I never mean to take as much time off as I end up doing when I get busy with life and school and other things. I had every intention of making a nice, curated travel guide for visiting South Dakota. Instead please accept these unedited photos from our travels. I'll make a short list of things to do as well. One thing I do want to say is the mark of white colonizers on what was once indigenous land runs deep in this state. Anywhere we travel in the U.S., it's important to know the often damaging history and impacts of white folks on the land, and even more important to understand who the original custodians are and were.

Any trip you take I would strongly encourage you to visit native-land.ca to learn more about the original tribes of indigenous peoples who originally occupied these spaces. During our time, we spent time on Sicangu Lakota Oyate land as well as on the land of the Oglala Sioux Tribe. You can find more information about the 18 tribal nations of South Dakota here.


We spent most of our times on the plains as I was working at a small hospital there, but we spent a couple of weekends in the Black Hills and it was gorgeous. We only did a few short hikes with the little one (Silver Lake trail and Cathedral Spires were both fantastic) and really enjoyed some scenic drives in the area. We used an Osprey Poco carrier my parents generously gifted to us and it worked great. Next time we go we also plan to stay in a traditional tipi like this one, which helps raise funds for local Lakota Youth Programming. 






Johnny Cash actually visited Lakota country at one point in his life. This guitar on display at a museum was part of a local performance.



One thing I fell in love with in South Dakota was the beading art. Pieces like the ones above are incredibly intricate and would have taken hours for the maker to complete. It wasn't uncommon at the hospital to see the clerk working on beading baby moccasins in her down time, and a local youth development programs often teach beading to teenage tribal members as a meditative and calming practice. I was lucky enough to have the stethoscope below made by an incredibly talented member of the local Lakota tribe. This museum shop carries some pieces of his and other local makers.



One of my favorite days was this one, when I had the chance to teach kids from a Lakota language immersion school about health and doctors' visits! Kindergarten is such an awesome age. Loved working with these kids.


We spent one of our last weekends visiting Wounded Knee, the site of one of the worst massacres in our country's history. 150 Native Americans were killed here in 1890. It was later the site of a protest against mistreatment of indigenous peoples by the U.S. government in the 1970s. 


As I mentioned above, our trip was related to my work and while I wasn't expecting much, we were blown away by the natural beauty and history of South Dakota. We're looking forward to heading back when we can, and hopefully doing some of the stuff we didn't get the chance to see on this trip. If you want to learn more about the Lakota people and this part of the country, I've listed a few resources below: 

An Indigenous People's History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz 
The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee by David Treuer (Ojibwe)
The Rider film by Chloe Zhao
Lakota Youth Stay Cultural Tourism Opportunities 

If you have more please share! And please- support indigenous writers, artists and makers. There is a ton of work out there that plagiarizes, manipulates and capitalizes on Native American traditions for mainstream/fast fashion, which is not ok.