We are so, so excited to announce the launch of The Sling Diaries, Vol VII! This 6 month documentary project is so near and dear to our heart and we can't believe it's time to kick off our latest volume.
We received hundreds of incredible and inspiring entries, and we are so thrilled to introduce our 18 Sling Diarists! We hope you will adore getting to know them over the next six months, just as much as we have over the past few weeks! Keep reading to learn more about each of these unique and wonderful women!
Mama to three (5, 2, and 12 months)
📍 Chattanooga, TN
I want my children to see themselves capable of creating art regardless of the outcome of their creation. This approach motivates me to be equally gracious with myself. Where I would like to stay inside of my clean, safe lines, creating with toddlers obviously requires that I embrace the disarray along the way. And disarray these days means finding my own space in the tangle of art supplies on the table, carving out uninterrupted moments for my own craft.
My husband, Matt, and I usually wake up with one or more kids next to us in bed. Whoever wakes up first conspires with the kids on how to wake up the other.
One of my favorite books that I've read and re-read a dozen times is The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman. It is an enchanted fairy tale for grown ups. I like to read it whenever I start to forget how it was to be a kid and it is one of my favorite books to give to people.
We live in Chattanooga, TN -- the perfect mixture of a small metropolitan city and wide open mountain spaces. The TN river runs right through the city and we spend a lot of time walking and biking on the river walk. We also really love to try new local restaurants together on the weekends--the kids think it's a bonus if there is local ice cream and Matt and I think it's a bonus if there is local beer!
Mama to two (3 years old and 4 months old)
At the risk of sounding overly poetic, it's forced me to chase the light; both literally and figuratively. Learning the discipline of documenting our life as a form of creative expression has helped heal me from the hard seasons in our life. Whether we're shooting at golden hour in the mountains or inside the ordinary of our own home, it's shown us both that we have the power to fight for joy regardless of our circumstances. Being able to translate that power to our clients with the imagery and stores we tell is so fulfilling. It's our dream to do it full time.
An act of genuine kindness.
Do green crayon scribble marks from my toddler count?
Mama to one (18 months)
Mama to one (3 months)
My husband and I did not find out the sex of our baby prior to birth. We had a list of names picked out for both sexes that we finalized at the hospital, and once I saw her, "Freya" was the most obvious choice. Freya, traditionally spelled "Freyja", is the Norse Goddess of love, beauty and fertility. And my god she was breathtakingly beautiful. The name just fit. My husband loves ancient literature and Norse mythology, and we wanted a unique name. With a "Nico" and "Cherrell", our child had to have a name just as unique.
My parents’ jobs uprooted us for most of my early childhood. We would move just about every year. We lived in Montana (where I was born), Washington, Oregon, California, and then landed in Cincinnati, Ohio when I was in the 5th grade. So Cincinnati is where the phrase "where I grew up" actually applies for me.
I love the seasons here, even though you'll hear me complain about each one when we're in the thick of it, but I do. It's a nice little taste of each one. Not too long, not too short. In particular, I love the colorful leaves in the fall. The warm days and cool nights. Perfect camping weather. Cincinnati also has the unique feeling of a big city with a small town vibe. Lots of local eats, shops, and family establishments. Skyline Chili, anyone?
I like a little coffee with my cream and sugar if you know what I mean (nudge nudge)!
I'm more of a cold brew, frozen latte kind of coffee drinker. Recently, as a new mom, I'm trying to acquire a taste for that straight black coffee my husband enjoys. Taking some getting used to that's for sure, but the pick-me-up is great for these early morning wake up times I'm not a big fan of.
An otter! They have a loose patch of skin that stretches across their chest where they hold their favorite rock (they use it to break open shellfish and clams) that they keep forever. Freya's my rock, and the sling is our pouch. Forever together.
Mama to three (4, 2, 8 months)
📍La Mirada, CA
I was a photographer long before I was a mother. I spent years shooting other people’s special moments and growing families. As I’ve had children of my own, photographing them (even just with my iPhone) is one of my favorite things. I feel like seeing my kids through my lens has made me step back and watch them more closely... and slow down and enjoy the moment. It also doesn’t hurt to have cute pictures to look back on when I feel like I’m going to lose my mind with them.
Instagram. I’m ridiculously addicted. If ever there was an app to steal away all my time... Instagram would do it.
Chick fil a BBQ sauce packets, fresh fruit, and diet Mountain Dew (I know it’s not healthy but it’s SO good. And my only source of caffeine since I can’t stand coffee).
The bachelor. All day every day. It’s so bad that it’s good!
Mama to five (17, 13, 7, 4, 21 months)
My love for Midwifery was born out of decadent sacred space. It came in the gift of someone empowering me to make choices that were relevant to me, my life, my baby, our birth. It came in wave after wave of warm oxytocin that has sense flooded every fiber of my being. I continue to fall in love with the art of space holding, female empowerment, and gentle birth. Within the realm of birth I witness the most grand miracles, the purest love, and the most unbridled strength human eyes could witness. It is with deep honor that I may know and love Midwifery.
🤣 But no seriously. Rest. I’m a total panda and need close to 10 hours of sleep, so rest is essential for my wellbeing. Nothing resets me like a deep sleep. Second, meditation and massage. I try to fall into a meditative breath pattern anytime I’m feeling frazzled and I schedule one massage for every birth I attend. I use to hike long hours in nature but I currently have no time to do such beautiful activities (my thighs can attest!) so I have focused on what I can do with where I am.
Since I young age I have had the strangest experiences with rabbits. Remind me some day to tell you about it. But true to the meaning of spirit animal, rabbits have continually presented themselves to me throughout my life. They tell me continuously to not let fear block opportunity.
I was a young mom. It was so stinking hard to be a teen mom. I often felt everyone was telling me how to do it but also simultaneously I felt abandoned. I was so alone. I lost most friends (thanks to those of you who didn’t leave! You know who you are!) And that made it harder. If I could meet the 18 year old me on the precipice of motherhood, I would gently remind her of the importance of community, of support, and most of all, of sisterhood. Having support, having friends to commiserate with, laugh with, cry with is essential for a person’s well-being. Don’t stay sad and isolated but be brave and open, meet new mamas and papas. Find the community spaces, the library story time, the nursing mom space, the anything that makes your heart sing activity. You need people and that’s a good thing!
Mama to one (2 years)
Travel is right there next to food, it is essential for my survival. I need it for my happiness and for my heart. I feel most like myself; free, fulfilled, and alive when I am in an unknown place exploring the local scene and culture. I prefer the off-the-beaten path places where I can eat as the locals do, dance to their music and find their hidden gems. I try to learn a little of the language so I can greet people as we pass and thank them for help. Knowing how to ask, “where is the bathroom?” and “can I have a beer?” are also two essential phrases. When I decided to start a family I knew that I would continue traveling. I want to show my children the world, all of its beautifully diverse people, landscapes and cuisines. I hope to help create a sense of compassion and empathy in my children for the way others survive around the world. So, we travel as we can. We spend less on “stuff” so we can travel more. Usually after about 3 months of being home I start to get the travel itch. Aurelia’s first trip was at 11 weeks and she has been across the Atlantic, across the U.S.A., south to Puerto Rico and we have upcoming adventures planned for December and in February. There is nothing quite like the laughter you hear from your child as you bike around the streets of Amsterdam or watch them dig their tiny toes in the beaches of San Juan.
Giving a name is a great responsibility. I wanted my child to have a strong name they could carry through any age. The story of her name is not worthy of a novel, honestly, I saw a list of “ancient names” online and fell in love with its beauty and strength, Aurelia- the golden one. It was after that I found out that moon jellyfish are also called Aurelia aurita and my strong willed girl surely shines bright as they do.
His smile was what first caught me, the way he radiated pure joy and kindness. And then, his dance moves. That man can dance. Honestly, this was the most obviously fate driven experience of my life. After a series of life changing events and major curve balls, I threw my hands up and just let life guide me and it happened to take me to Africa for a job with an anti-trafficking organization. In 2012 I flew through New Years Eve and landed in Ghana, West Africa in 2013, starting the new year in a new world. At exactly the same time, Eric made a life change and left the job he had for years, a job that was doing him no service. I met Eric a month into my time in Ghana. He started a new job at a restaurant that was run by the organization I worked for. I was working on a book and was holding my interviews daily at the restaurant. I don’t remember the exact moment we were introduced but I remember the moment I first saw him. I can still see him standing there, waving from the steps of the restaurant. I looked forward to seeing him every single day and if there was a day that I did not get to say hello, I would walk to the counter and buy a bottle of water just so I had an interaction with him. When I traveled to Tanzania, a few weeks after we met, I thought about him the entire time. Funny thing, love is, that you can be in the heart of the Serengeti during the Great Migration, surrounded by the most exotic animals and landscape and all you can think about is love. There was a night when I was up in the mountains writing in my journal, Mount Kilimanjaro in the distance, and I wrote that I would return with Eric at 35 married. We hadn’t even had our first date yet. When I got home to Ghana I had a number of missed calls from him, messages and just as I entered my home, he called again. He joined me for breakfast a few mornings later on Easter and again the following night for dinner. Afterwards we walked hand in hand to the beach and spent hours talking about our different cultures, how he grew up and why I came to Ghana. And that was it. From then on he would ride his motorbike to my bungalow after work and we would sit on the roof of the half built home at my compound, wrapped in a blanket of heat and humidity, beneath a star filled African sky. He would teach me to sing traditional Ghanaian songs and tell me about the local culture. I was only supposed to stay for four months when I met him and ended up staying for nearly 2 years. Now, he teaches our daughter those songs and she dances to the beat of the drum as he plays.
My daughter would say the Moana Soundtrack. But for me… Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zero’s album, Here. And especially the song Fiya Wata, the version from Off the Avenue.
Is your reflection
We're all each other
Mama to two (3 years and 1 year old)
📍Rotorua, New Zealand
Our adventure came out of a desire to live intentionally. I think the older we got, the more kids we added, the easier it became to find ourselves in this repetitive rut. Where the focus became about building and collecting things. We decided that taking a year to reset our focus and get fresh vision for how we want to live out our life was important to us. We started saving and changing things in our lifestyle that would enable us to have hopefully close to a year overseas. We will be based in Hawaii for three months before heading out for two months of outreach/service. From around June through to the end of the year we will be in Europe moving in a less structured way through Switzerland, Italy, France, Spain and Portugal.
Show me your friends and I'll show you your future.
My kids have the stomach bug. I hate the stomach bug. It makes me feel sick just thinking about the stomach bug.
Mama to one (2 months)
📍Isle of Iona, Scotland
Our perfect day would very much depend on where we currently live. Whilst in Ecuador, it would start with cuddling Saoirse in bed, going out for breakfast in our favourite café, walking along the river in our little mountain town and then come home at night and sip tea in our garden. Now that we're back in England, we love spending time with Callum's family, having very slow mornings, going for a walk in the forest and maybe meeting a few friends for a pint. We'd end the day by taking a long lavender bath with Saoirse before we all go to bed. I love inventing tiny rituals so that Saoirse has stability to her day no matter where we are, like putting on the radio in the morning, or giving up a massage with magnesium oil at night and telling us stories while she falls asleep.
Mama to two (2.5 years and 6 weeks)
I knew that I wanted to be a doctor since I was in middle school. I loved the intersection of science and healing. During medical school I was not sure what specialty I wanted to pursue and approached my clinical rotations with an open mind. As I spent time in the different fields I found that I loved each rotation I was on, which made my specialty decision harder, not easier! I finally decided on ophthalmology because I felt like it had aspects of all the different things that I loved during my rotations. On a daily basis I can build lasting relationships with patients who I see year after year, I can use my hands in intricate surgical procedures, I can diagnose bigger health issues just by looking at someone's eyes, and I can make an almost immediate impact on someone's quality of life by helping them see better! One of the other really rewarding parts of my current job is that I get to work with residents, who are doctors in training. I love being able to mentor and pass on what I know and love about my field to others. In the process I am constantly learning from my patients and colleagues. Besides helping me find a fulfilling career, going to medical school led me to meet my husband, Anthony, who was a medical student a couple years ahead of me.
My husband used to train for and participate in triathlons. When we first met he had just started following a paleo diet at the recommendation of some of the training blogs he followed. He cooked a lot of meals for me during our wooing stage so I ended up eating paleo whenever I was with him. After a couple months we noticed that we felt much better eating this way so that's what we've been doing ever since! Overall we try to stick to a paleo lifestyle including eating lots of fruits and vegetables and well-sourced meats, getting lots of sunshine and outdoor playtime during the day and getting a good amount of rest at night. This has naturally carried over to how we are raising our children.
When our first daughter was born my husband and I were both in medical residency on opposite coasts of the country (he actually watched her birth over FaceTime trying to get to us). As soon as our daughter was 4 weeks old we hopped on her first transcontinental flight so that we could join my husband spend the last half of my maternity leave together as a family. After that we used medical conferences, family gatherings, friend's weddings and other activities all over the country as chances to meet up and spend time exploring different places together. We've since all settled down together in the same place, but traveling is still one of our favorite activities. In the past year some of the places we visited together include Morocco, Spain, France, Ireland and Disney World. It's been a true joy bringing our daughter to different corners of the world and hearing her questions and comments that give us a glimpse into how she sees these places. Our most nostalgic vacation spot, however, is probably Kauai, Hawaii. We've only been there once 5 years ago, before marriage and children. The minute we landed and started exploring, we were in awe of the natural beauty of the island and felt right at home. It was during that trip that Anthony got down on one knee and proposed to me with his grandmother's engagement ring. The view of the Nepali Coast at sunset in the background was not a bad touch. Ever since that trip we've been planning to go back and can't wait to make that a reality this December when we are taking both our daughters for the first time.
Mama to 3 (4 years, 1.5 years and 4 months)
📍Mira Loma, CA
About my family: we are the Castro's party of five, a Mexican-American family raising three little ones(4 months, 21 months and an almost 5 year old). Eduardo(my husband) and I are close to celebrating a decade of marriage next year. We have realized that the day-to-day process of living and loving is the most important thing in our unity. We have grown and continue to grow as humans and as a couple. This past June we added our newest addition to our growing family. He made us a party of five and has changed our life tremendously. As our children are growing we want to build a strong family foundation. We want to continue to be present, celebrate their uniqueness and raise kind humans.
Improving myself, verbalizing my feelings, living in the now, appreciating the meaning in small moments, getting distracted, being grateful, encouraging, developing, and guiding my children, being content with what I have and knowing that everything I need,I have, cooking breakfast, showing affection, thinking through details and making plans.
Nothing at this moment because my 21 month old loves to explore and will get into it, but usually the book that I am reading, a mason jar with water, oil diffuser, notebook with a pen, and chap-stick.
Mama to three (4 years, 2 years and 8 months)
Mama to two (3 years and 3 weeks)
Other than the late night nursing sessions haha, going from a mama of one to a mother of two has been a pretty big reality check. I thought having one taught me to slow my every day down but two takes that to a new level. I'm of the mindset that it is so important to experience everything with your children so really getting into a groove with two and honoring their feelings simultaneously has made me accept a much slower pace in my life.
I love keeping it simple, my friends call me oatmeal but there is nothing like a blank slate to bring a baby home to. I did that with my son as well and watching his personality take over the space was amazing. Now he has a room full of things he loves and that were chosen specially for him by loved ones over the years as they began to understand him more as well, making it his comfort zone instead of forced decor.
While I certainly appreciate the life lessons I got from the past I'm more of a live in the moment gal. I know these are some of the best years of my life while my children are young, why would I want to live in any other moment.
Cheese. Give me all the stinky cheese. Is that a strange answer ? It was the first thing that came to mind so I went with it.
Mama to three (5 years, 3 years and due in April!)
Mama to two (two years, 5 months)
My work as a therapist has definitely shaped how I approach motherhood. There is a lot of my work that has influenced who I am as a mother, but the biggest thing that I try to provide for my family would be fostering a space that feels emotionally safe. It's really important to me that our home is an environment that makes all of us feel like we can all share the good and bad parts of our day, whether that's our toddler having a complete meltdown because he can't poke his little brother in the eye or my husband and our boys laughing at my terrible dance moves.
During my pregnancy I thought that my professional experience coupled with seeing my friends and family have babies would completely prepare for becoming a mother myself. I did a lot of research -- I read all the books, looked into academic studies on parenting and motherhood, I visualized how my labor and delivery was going to go, I looked everywhere I could to "prepare" for this new time in my life. And then James was born and everything that I had worked so hard to prepare for went out the window. That was hard to wrap my head around. I realized pretty quickly that I would not be able to go back to work like I had planned, that my heart was telling me that it was time to be a stay at home mom for a little while. During this time, with a newborn and postpartum hormones at an all time high, I was grateful that I had a space at home where I could talk to my partner about how I felt and how our future would look. What was an unexpected challenge for me after having James was the ability to give myself permission to experience this new chapter in my life in a way that I had not planned. There was a lot of guilt surrounding that decision for me, the guilt of putting so much time and energy into my work only to "not use" any of it.
That's when I took a step back and realized that one of my favorite parts of my job is getting to work with people who are moving through transitions in their lives. Now I was that person, the one who needed to be reminded that it was ok to take a breath (even if that breath lasted 2ish years) and enjoy this shift in my life. I try to keep that in mind in when it comes to a lot of aspects of motherhood. It can be really easy to get caught up in the sleep deprivation/tantrums/all around chaos of having 2 babes under 2, and I really try my hardest to remind myself that this time in our lives is so short, I think about how I'll want to remember these days and how I want my kids to think of their childhood.
As a family, we try to be mindful of one another. It's important to us to model that for our kids. We lead with kindness and respect. We ask questions and use our toddler's language so that he knows that we value his thoughts and that we're listening to him. We make sure that he knows that he has choices and that we support him. When I work with clients, I always want to make sure that they feel heard, and in turn, I always want my sons to know that they have a voice, and that their voice matters, especially to me and their dad.
Our days are busy. They're filled with school drop off, music, gymnastics and swim class and juggling our work schedules with the kids activities. We conquer and divide the mornings; my husband usually gets up with our toddler and gets him ready for the day, while I get some quiet time with our baby to nurse and snuggle.
Mama to three (5 years, 3 years and 3 months)
We have been living in our tiny home for 18 months now, and it’s definitely been an adventure! Austin and I talked about living in a tiny home to save some money while he’s in school and we bought our RV (our kids call it a bus, so we do too) two weeks later. We spent the next couple months gutting it and fixing it up and it’s been a cozy little home for us since then. We love the freedom it’s given us, and the lessons we’ve had to learn by living this way. We got rid of 90% of our possessions before moving in and it’s really helped us realize how little we need to be happy! We’ve grown closer as a couple and as a family, and we’re grateful for that! Of course, with 5 people (3 of them being under 5…) in 300 sq feet, it’s always a little crazy, but it’s my kind of crazy and I love it!
We haven’t done a lot of traveling, since my husband is currently in school, but we love taking short trips around our area: visiting Vancouver, exploring Seattle, taking the ferry to the San Juan Islands, driving to the Oregon coast, hiking Mt. Baker, days at the beach, we’re lucky to live in an area that’s close to all kinds of amazing places!
Ooh, that’s a tough one! I love them all! My favorite guilty pleasure is pigging out on junk food after the kids go to bed. That’s one downfall of tiny home living: it’s impossible to sneak a snack while they’re awake, there’s no room to hide!
Honestly, I don’t think I’ve read a book for myself since Felix was born (almost 4 months ago!). I’m currently reading Mrs. Piggle Wiggle out loud to my kids, does that count?
Mama to four (9 years, 6 year, 2 years and 1 week)
BOSSMOM Nation is an online community that myself and a child hood friend of mine created as a space to connect, support and share an honest, diverse look into the lives of many mothers across the Nation! I consider it not just a community but a passion project :)
Homeschooling!! Last school year I decided to take my children's education into my own hands. The experience was challenging, humbling, and very eye opening for me. Once I found out I was pregnant with baby #4 I knew I would be too overwhelmed to homeschool and give my children the education & social attention they needed. Although I decided not to homeschool during this season of our lives, I plan to give it a go again in the future with a few changes next time around. What inspired me most through our experience was being involved in the learning process with my children, it has pushed me to be more involved and engaged with their education while in school.
Waking an hour early before my children to enjoy a moment of peace, prayer and a cup of tea.
Okay, this just may be the toughest question ever !! I'll go with Beyonce' simply because she's a well rounded artist and her music reflects that. She gives me inspiration as a woman, a mother, a sister, a wife and change maker in the world!
Mama to one (16 months)
📍Laguna Hills, CA
My husband lived in the ultimate bachelor pad. 6 guys, living in a garage converted to 3 bedroom shack just blocks away from the beach in La Jolla. I knew some of his roommates and one of them played at a jazz club where I went for my 21st birthday. His roommate invited my friends and I over for a bonfire at his place (a regular occurrence) after jazz that night and husband baked me a birthday cake. I pretty much knew he was the one right then and there, I mean, homemade chocolate cake? Sign me up.
Successfully keeping a human alive. Seriously though, that is hard work. All joking aside, I think as I see Brighton develop and learn new things I think to myself “ya, she’s doing good. I’m doing good. She’s learning. She’s growing.” Bringing life into this world was such an indescribable and incredible experience that made me feel like a serious super hero. So the fact that I not only sustained life in my body, pushed that life out of my body, and now manage to keep her alive, is like, "wow, give yourself a pat on the back, Vittoria."
I try not to over research. There are so many opinions and theories out there that it can overwhelm me even more than I might already be. I have a select few momma friends who I really trust and admire how they have raised their kids. So I will usually ask them for advice. Otherwise I just take a breath, maybe try to go for a walk or ask my husband if I can have some time to get a pedicure or walk around Target alone and that always helps me come back with a fresh perspective and the ability to just go with my gut.
Paris. Always Paris. That city inspires me as a writer. It’s so cliche, but I can’t help it. The streets, the rooftops, the cafes … there is inspiration on every corner and as many times as I’ve been, it’s new every time.
Stay tuned for the official launch of The Sling Diaries, Vol VII on November 13th as we follow along with these amazing women over the next six months!