High hopes for The Business of Being Born

Cross-posted at BlogHer: BlogHers Act.

It’s just over a month now until the release of The Business of Being Born to DVD a la Netflix* on Feb. 12, and I, for one, am counting the days. There are 36.

As a self-confessed “birth junkie,” I’ve been excited about this movie since I first learned about it back in May of 2007.

For anyone unfamiliar with the premise of the film and how it came about, here’s a little background. Actor Ricki Lake had two very different birth experiences (one in the hospital and one at home), and over the past several years considered becoming a midwife to help make a difference. However, after learning about the years of schooling and training involved, she felt that she could bring about more change by using her time, celebrity status (and her money) to make a documentary about birth. Lake recruited filmmaker Abby Epstein for the project.

The Business of Being Born explores the business aspect of birth and the way that American women have babies. The film includes a history of obstetrics, the history and function of midwives, footage of several natural births (including Ricki Lake’s home birth), interviews with people “on the street,” doctors, as well as birth advocates like Michel Odent, Ina May Gaskin, and Robbie Davis-Floyd, and more.

The film is about empowering women to know what their choices are when it comes to birth. As Ricki said in her interview with The Huffington Post, “I hope this film educates people and empowers them to really know their choices in childbirth. We do not want to make any woman feel bad about the outcome of her birth, or the choices she made (or will make).”

It is my hope that because this movie has the potential to appeal to all women and anyone who is concerned with women’s rights, it will reach the masses, not just the midwives and birth activists out there. I believe that having a choice when it comes to birth is a woman’s right. It is also a woman’s right to know what her options are, as well as have access to all of the information about what is healthiest for her AND for her baby.

While the media would often have us believe otherwise, birth is a normal, natural process, and in most cases women require minimal assistance and no intervention to give birth to a healthy baby. Of course there is always the exception, but I believe birth should be treated as normal until proven otherwise, not as a potential emergency waiting to happen.

While I haven’t yet had the opportunity to see the film even though it’s been shown a handful of times around me locally (always at my kids’ bedtime it seems), I have been enjoying reading reviews and observing the different perspectives the reviewers have based on their personal (and professional) backgrounds. Everyone seems to have an opinion on what they wish was or was not included in the film, but the overall consensus is that this is a wonderful film.

The Navelgazing Midwife had a unique perspective on the movie since she’s been a midwife for the past 15 years and a doula for 23 years and thus is much more observant of the intricacies of birth than a lay person may be. I enjoyed her “insider’s” point of view and critique. Despite disagreeing with some aspects of the film, overall, she was very pleased and concluded that “she (Ricki Lake) did a beautiful job and I am proud to call her our own. She knows her stuff.”

Another midwife, newer to the profession, from Belly Tales wrote “overall I thought the film was truly amazing; it brought tears to my eyes on several occasions. Rather than being far out on the left fringe as I had feared, I was actually blown away by how mainstream and accessible it was. It begins with the assumption that the audience knows absolutely nothing about birth and the business of birth in this country, and then moves on from there, using a simple and easy-to-understand, yet powerful and engrossing format and narrative.”

Tanya Lieberman, host of the Motherwear blog, Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) and breastfeeding advocate, came away from the film believing change in the current birth system is definitely needed and said, “the only people who can change this trend is us.” She makes the point that to bring about change we need to vote with our feet, which is why she believes it’s so important that the masses see this movie – to realize that they have choices.

Despite the fact that I’ve read several articles and reviews about the film and consider myself fairly well-versed in the history of obstetrics and midwifery, I am still so excited to see it, especially for the beautiful footage of normal birth. I watched a lot of birth videos in preparation for my son’s home birth and got emotional just about every time a baby was born. I have a feeling I’ll be spending a lot of my time watching The Business of Being Born with a tissue in hand as well.

Birth is such an amazing, beautiful, raw and emotional event, and I truly hope that this movie will be seen not only by the “birth junkies” such as myself out there, but by the mainstream population – the couple who is newly expecting, the woman who is dissatisfied with a previous birth experience, the medical community, and anyone who is interested in learning about birth – as well. I think it has the potential to bring about change for the better. Change, that I believe, is so desperately needed.

Rest assured I will be writing about this film again once I’ve had the pleasure of viewing it. And I will add my own review, as a woman and birth junkie who has experienced both a hospital birth and a home birth, to the list. Until then, the countdown continues…

*While the film is not going to be released on DVD until Feb. 12, you may add it to your Netflix queue at any time.

The (mostly) Green Girly Gift Guide and Giveaways

PLEASE NOTE: As of now, 12/19/07, this giveaway is now closed for entries. Thanks!

Green Girly Gift Guide

A few weeks ago I posted my holiday toy gift guide for kids, but now is the time to start thinking about yourself and all of the women (friends, aunts, grandmothers, mothers, sisters) on your list, because let’s face it, we women deserve some great gifts too! πŸ™‚

In keeping with the crunchy spirit of reducing, reusing and recycling, I’m happy to say that most of the items in my girly gift guide are green (good for the environment). These gift ideas aren’t just for Christmas and Chanukah, they also make great birthday presents.

What could make a mostly green girly gift guide even better? How about the fact that this guide is chock full of great giveaways and coupon codes to help you with your holiday shopping or to score some cool stuff for yourself! πŸ™‚ See the end of the guide for instructions on how you can have a chance to win one of the giveaways.

Lookin’ Good and Green

Choose happiness t-shirtTees for Change – Including positive messages like: “Choose Happiness,” “Live Mindfully,” and “Today Matters,” Tees for Change shirts ($28-$38) are out to make the world a better place. I don’t know about you, but I often need to remind myself that happiness is a choice. Rather than getting caught up in the moment or events of the day, I can decide to roll with the punches, laugh it off and choose happiness. That’s why the Choose Happiness shirt is my favorite. I love that these tees have such a great message for the person wearing them, as well as everyone he/she comes into contact with. Oh, and I’m also keen on the fact that they are the brainchild of a local mom who also had a home birth. A Boulder, Colorado-based company, Tees for Change is very eco-conscious. All of their tees are made from 100% organic cotton or 70% bamboo/30% organic cotton mix, are dyed with low impact dyes and screen-printed with water-based inks, and they plant a tree for every shirt sold. It’s a win-win and now you can win too with this giveaway!
– Coupon Code: For 15% off, use coupon code “goddess” at checkout.
– Win It! : I’m giving away (1) Tees for Change short-sleeved t-shirt of your choice

For the jewelry-lovers

  • BeadforLife unique necklaces and bracelets – “BeadforLife eradicates extreme poverty by creating bridges of understanding between impoverished Africans and concerned world citizens. Ugandan women turn colorful recycled paper into beautiful beads, and people who care open their hearts, homes and communities to buy and sell the beads. The beads thus become income, food, medicine, school fees — and hope. All profits from BeadforLife are invested in community development projects that generate income and help people work their way out of poverty.” Necklaces range in price from $10 to $30. Bracelets range in price from $5 to $15. They also sell loose beads (for use in making your own jewelry or other crafts) and gift certificates. I bought a few BeadforLife necklaces at a BeadforLife party I attended (and blogged about) a couple of years ago. I love that the pieces are beautiful, unique, made from recycled paper and are helping such a worthy cause. If you are in the Boulder, Colorado area, you can stop in the Bead for Life store to see all of their unique styles and colors.
  • Sea glass necklaceSea glass jewelry from Oceano (an Etsy store) – I remember my mom first introducing me to sea glass (broken pieces of glass that have been made smooth by the ocean) when I was a child. I always thought it was beautiful. I love that someone else appreciates the beauty of sea glass and thought of the wonderful idea of making it into jewelry. What a creative way to recycle/reuse discarded glass!


For the aspiring photographers

  • Photo cuff braceletsHere’s a unique gift idea that any aspiring photographer and/or mom would love to have – a Photo Cuff Bracelet from Mama Needs It. The Photo Cuffs are made of die cut vinyl (vegan friendly) and are a cool way for you to show off your favorite photos of your children, grandchildren, pets, whatever! I have the Chelsea Photo Cuff Bracelet and love it! Of course I have mine filled with pictures of Ava and Julian, but you can fill yours with whatever you like. I also like that you can swap out new photos whenever you choose.
    – Coupon Code:
    Receive 10% off any purchases from Mama Needs It by entering the discount code “CDGknowsgifts” at checkout.
    – Win It! : I’m giving away a $25 gift certificate to Mama Needs It
  • The holiday season generally means we moms will all be taking more pictures than usual. If you are looking for a quick and easy way to get those holiday photos printed and into an album, you might be interested in HP’s Photo Books. They are available in two sizes: 5″ x 7″ or 8.5″ x 11″ and a variety of colors. HP photo book“The HP Photo Book includes all the things you need: a professional looking hardcover photo book, easy to use layout and design software, and HP Advanced Photo Paper (12 sheets). Simply add your photos and creative touch, and you’re ready to go.” I like that they are also customizable and allow you to add more pages or mementos such as cards or invitations any time you like.
    – Coupon Code: To receive a 20% off coupon code (expires 12/31/07) for the Photo Books, visit Snap Shot Chronicles.
    – Win It! : I’m giving away 2 sets of Photo Books – (1) 8.5×11 size and one (1) 5×7 size in each set

For the Foodies on your list

  • What’s Cooking Weekly menu planning service will help you answer the age-old question of “What’s for dinner?” Each week there are five healthy meal recipes, as well as shopping lists, “Call the Kids” section with suggestions to get your children involved in the meal preparation, nutritional information and tips for eating foods in season. It is a mom-owned and operated business.
    I had the opportunity to give the service a try and was very impressed. The meals I made were all delicious and a big hit with my family. This is a great time-saver for anyone who has a million and one things to do every day and doesn’t necessarily have time to figure out what’s for dinner. The shopping lists are organized by grocery department and the recipes are easy to follow. I especially like the “Call the Kids” section to help get children more involved in their meal preparation. I find that my daughter enjoys her food more when she helps make it herself and she loves telling daddy, “I helped!”
    A What’s Cooking Weekly Subscription makes a great gift (and generates no waste – how cool is that?!). A 6-month subscription is only $35 – less than $6 per month!
    – Win It! : I’m giving away a 6-month subscription to What’s Cooking Weekly
  • BYOBagsBYO Bags – reusable mesh produce bags from What’s Cooking. These reusable mesh bags are a great way to cut down on the number of plastic bags used. They can easily be stuffed into your purse and pulled out in the produce aisle when you need them. $10 for 3 bags.
    – Coupon Code:
    To receive 10% off any purchases from What’s Cooking, enter the coupon code “Eat_Well” at checkout.

For the woman who has everything

  • Consider a gift subscription to Green Dimes – For only $15 $12 (reduced for the holiday season), GreenDimes pledges to “cut your junk mail up to 90%” and plant 10 trees.
    My mom bought me a subscription a while back and I really have noticed a reduction in our junk mail. Plus I love the fact that they plant trees for you.
  • What if there was a way to have a tree planted for every book you read? Now there is with Eco-Libris. “Every book you read was once a tree. Now you can plant a tree for every book you read” with Eco-Libris. Give an Eco-Libris gift certificate to the people you care about, with which they will be able to plant trees for the books they read. For every tree planted, Eco-Libris will send them an Eco-Libris sticker to display on their bookÒ€ℒs sleeve. (Thanks to GreenStyleMom for bringing this cool site to my attention!)

Other sources for groovy green ideas

  • Green Feet – Green Feet is a groovy online store that is sure to have something for the women (men and children, too) on your list. bambu dishesThey carry the full Bambu line, which includes bamboo dishes, cutting boards, serving trays, baskets and more. Wonder what’s so great about bamboo? It’s durable, beautiful and sustainable. It’s a grass, not a wood, grows incredibly fast and never needs replanting. Green Feet carries all sorts of other cool things like jewelry made from a bike chain or a record, recycled sari purses, hemp bath pillows, aromatherapy diffusers, a kitchen compost crock, Coco Zum Chocolate Soap, water bottles, reusable bags and much, much more.
    – Coupon Code: 10% off your order. Use the code “Crunchy” during checkout. Not valid with other offers, sale items or memberships.
  • happy bagsReusable Bags – Reusable bags have come a long way, baby. Check out their Gift Ideas for Her and you might be surprised by the variety of hip reusable bags available. There are also some great reusable bottles, a reusable gift bag set, and a reusable bamboo utensil set.
    – Coupon Code:
    10% off your entire order. At checkout, enter the following code in the Gift Certificates/Discount Coupons section: “49c7fg” (note that it is case sensitive) – Good through Dec. 21. One use per customer.



For those who love the written word (magazine subscriptions for thinking mothers):

  • Mothering : Natural Family Living – Buy a one-year subscription at the reduced price of $19.95 (regularly $22.95) and you can order additional one-year subscriptions for friends and family for only $17 each.
    – Coupon Code: Use code X7DE in the promotional code box.
    Mothering also has a digital subscription option to help save the trees!
  • Brain, Child : The magazine for thinking mothers- A one-year subscription is just $17.95 for a full year of reading pleasure. (That’s 25% off the newsstand price)
    – Coupon Code: Use code MWX07 at the checkout.

Final thoughts

Don’t forget about Etsy: “Your place to buy and sell all things homemade” – Check out their gift guide page where you can search according to whom you are shopping for – women, men, babies, children (by age), etc. πŸ™‚

Lastly, here are some other great places to look for unique gift ideas:

* flea markets
* closeout stores (I just saw bamboo cutting boards at Ross for more than 50% off retail)
* thrift stores (You never know what you’ll find!)

GROOVY GIVEAWAYS!

Win It!
There are four great giveaways mentioned above. You get to choose which ONE giveaway you want to enter. That’s right – you may only enter to win ONE of the four prizes. Please note that I’m doing these giveaways differently than I have in the past.

To try your hand at winning one, please send an email to cdggiveaway@gmail.com and make the subject line the name of ONE of the following giveaways:
– Tees for Change shirt
– What’s Cooking Weekly subscription
– Mama Needs It gift certificate
– HP Photo Books
(Only one email per person please)
To receive an additional five entries either post the Green Girly Gift Guide button on your blog and email me the link or tell five friends about this guide and cc me (cdggiveaway@gmail.com) on the email. The winners will be randomly selected using Random.org and posted on my blog, as well as notified via email. The deadline to enter is Wednesday, Dec. 19. Winners will be announced on Thursday, Dec. 20. Note: Prizes will be mailed after Christmas.

Good luck and happy green shopping! πŸ™‚

What *do* babies want?

NaBloPoMo – Day 26
What Babies WantWelcome to November’s Carnival of Breastfeeding sponsored by The Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog. This month we are reviewing books and videos that have to do with breastfeeding and/or parenting. Perhaps this will give you some gift ideas for people on your holiday shopping list. I’ve chosen to review the DVD “What Babies Want.”

What Babies Want – An Exploration of the Consciousness of Infants,” a film by Debby Takikawa and narrated by Noah Wyle (of ER fame), is an amazing and eye-opening movie that explores the “profoundly important and sacred opportunity we have in bringing children into the world.” The movie takes a look at the birth experience and postpartum period through the eyes of the infant. It reinforces what we should already know – babies have feelings and can experience both pleasure and pain right from the start. “The experiences we have at our births sets up our perceptive neurology and influences the way we perceive the events of our lives. These early interactions shape our human ability to learn, to trust, and to develop relationships as we grow older.”

We often think about birth in terms of what would be best for the mother. What can be done to make mom most comfortable and minimize her discomfort? But what about the baby? We also need to consider the baby’s best interests and his/her wants and needs. The things that babies find soothing and calming during and following birth include their mother’s touch, voice, breast, soft lighting and soothing sounds. While the things that can cause them fear and/or pain are bright lights, loud noises, machines, and especially being taken away from mom and dad (to a nursery, etc.) and being denied crucial bonding time.

The film contains stories and remarkable personal experiences from infants, children and adults. Noah Wyle and his wife Tracy also share their son’s birth and postpartum experiences and their passion for “deeper understanding and awareness of what a baby truly is.”

Even though I saw this movie a couple of years ago, many of the images I saw and things that I observed stick with me still today. I remember fighting back the tears when I saw newborns in hospital warming beds, crying out for human contact. I also recall shedding tears when seeing an adult who had a particularly difficult birth when she was born, relive her birth experience and find ways to heal from it and move on. I believe we as a society underestimate just how powerful our birth experience is and how it can shape who we are for the rest of our lives. This movie really emphasizes that point. It made me want to explore the experience I had as a newborn (I was born via c-section, due to being frank breech, and kept away from my mom for several hours following the operation) and made me curious how that may have shaped who I am and the relationship I have with my mother today.

The good news is that there are ways of working through past negative experiences and healing and reestablishing bonds that may not have been formed after birth.

What babies want is to be loved, to be nurtured and protected right from the very beginning. They want to know they are secure and that they are wanted. Babies deserve to have a peaceful start in the world. In the case where a birth isn’t as peaceful as the parents would like, it’s important for them to be aware of that experience, because it will help shape who this little person becomes. If bonding the baby and mother was missed at birth, it can be picked up later in life. Of course the sooner, the better.

I strongly feel that this movie should be required viewing in childbirth classes because it offers such a unique perspective to soon-to-be parents by offering a baby’s eye view of what their own baby may experience during birth and how that experience can affect their baby for the rest of his/her life.

You can read more about the movie, including a detailed synopsis, here. As far as I can tell, What Babies Want is not available for rent on Netflix, but you can purchase your own copy here (it would make a great gift for an expectant mommy) or arrange for a screening among friends.

—————————————————————————————–

There are many other participants in this month’s carnival. Please take a moment to check out some of their reviews. (More links will be added tonight.)

The CDG Holiday Toy Gift Guide

12/13/07 9:14 a.m. Mountain Time: THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED TO ENTRIES.
The WINNER (selected by random.org) is #40 Caryn of Bailey Family. Congratulations! πŸ™‚
NaBloPoMo – Day 21

Crunchy Domestic Goddess Holiday Gift GuideIt’s time to get serious about toy shopping, not only because the holidays are just around the corner, but because lately we’ve had recall after recall concerning toys made in China and toy shopping has had to become serious business. Serious business because it’s proving to be more important than ever to do your homework and know that the toys you are purchasing for your children will be safe (i.e. free from lead paint or any other toxic substances). If we can’t count on the government and toy manufacturers to protect our children, then we must step up and be vigilant on their behalf.

Since we are trying to weed out most of our plastic toys in our home and replace them with quality wooden toys, that’s what I’ve been on the lookout for for the past few months. It’s not just because of the toy recalls (though that’s been a definite motivating factor), but also because wooden and organic toys feel so much better, promote imagination (a big part of the Waldorf school of thought), and are generally built to last.

This gift guide is a bit different from traditional gift guides in that it primarily contains information about the places where I’m doing my holiday shopping this year, but I hope you will find it to be helpful as well. πŸ™‚

Where oh where can I find quality toys without breaking the bank?

– When time is no object –

If you have time, some patience and a little bit of luck, you can score some great toys for the kids for little to no money at all, you just have to know where to look.

hobby horse

    1. Freecycle – Freecycle can be a great resource for finding used previously loved toys. The good news is that everything listed on there is free and you are saving the items from otherwise ending up in the trash. The bad news is the fact that you may be “competing” against a lot of people for any one item so you have to pay attention to the listings and be quick to respond, and even then you aren’t guaranteed an item since it’s up to the person giving it away to decide who gets it. But if you have some patience and persevere, you could end up with some good finds. As they say, “one person’s trash is another person’s treasure.” In addition to my recent Christmas tree score, I also got this cute little hobby horse from Freecycle last week. πŸ™‚
    2. Craigslist – Another good resource for previously loved toys. Most of the items on Craigslist do cost money, but the nice thing is that you are recycling and giving the items (toys or anything else) a chance at being loved again (and again, keeping them out of the landfills).
    3. Consignment store, thrift stores and garage sales – You never know what will turn up in consignment and thrift stores so my advice is to visit them often since they are always putting new merchandise up for sale. I recently found a handful of wooden toys at a local children’s consignment shop. You can also score some real treasures from garage sales. Can ya tell I’m a big fan of second-hand toys?

Crunchy tip: One of the many wonderful things about buying quality wooden toys is that they can be passed on from child to child, family to family, even generation to generation and most are built to last for the long haul. πŸ™‚ Plastic toys, on the other hand, tend to wear out or break, and end up in the landfills. πŸ™

– When it’s getting to be crunch time –

When it’s getting down to the wire and you are still in need of quality toy gifts, there are still deals to be had if you know where to look.


  1. Closeout stores – Stop in closeout stores like Tuesday Morning and Ross, among others, and you may be pleasantly surprised by some of the quality toys they carry. At the suggestion of a friend, I recently went to Tuesday Morning and found a large selection of German wooden toys (brands like Spielmaus and HEROS) for 50% off the retail price. Germany’s safety standards for toys are among the strictest out there. They also had Melissa and Doug toys, as well as Ryan’s Room toys in stock. Although their inventory can vary greatly from week to week, it is possible to find great toys at closeout stores for a fraction of the retail price. I ended up walking out of there with a wooden ring stacker, a wooden doll house, HEROS wooden blocks, a Spielmaus wooden workbench (that I’m saving until Julian is older), a children’s garden tool set and gardening gloves, two Melissa & Doug wooden puzzles, and a HEROS train set, and then Jody went back later and bought a 131 piece train table – all for 50% off!
  2. Plan Toys dishes

    Plan Toys xylophoneHazelnut Kids – Selling only “Natural, earth-friendly, wooden and organic cotton toys for children and babies” including brands like HABA (made in Germany), Plan Toys (a huge variety of wooden toys made in Thailand), Under the Nile (dolls and more made in Egypt), Elves & Angels (wooden kitchens made in USA), and Kathe Kruse (Waldorf dolls made in Germany), Hazelnut Kids is a new favorite online toy store of mine. I recently had the chance to try out one of their MiYim organic cotton teether rattles, well, Julian tried it out, but mama was very impressed.punch and drop It’s an adorable rattle and very well-made, and I love the fact that it’s organic cotton since it’s going in his mouth. I was so impressed with Hazelnut Kids and the variety of quality toys that they offer (Note: each toy has a yellow box next to it that tells you what country the toy was made in) that I purchased several toys from their online store for upcoming birthday and Christmas presents like a wooden tableware set and modeling beeswax for Ava and a car, xylophone, and a punch and drop for Julian. The toys shipped the SAME DAY that I ordered them and the prices seemed very reasonable to a penny-pincher like me. I also like that for each toy you buy, Hazelnut Kids gives you “Loyalty Reward Points” that allow you to take money off future purchases. Their flat-rate shipping charge is only $5.95 for delivery within the contiguous United States. And if you sign up for their newsletter, you will receive coupons and free entries into drawings. I seriously can’t say enough good things about this company.


More ideas – Go indie!

Rather than support the big name toy stores this season, why not shop the local and independent toy stores in your area? You might pay a little more money, but you are also likely to receive better customer service and better quality toys.

vegetable pitaOogaBoogaOne great place to shop indie online is Etsy – the place to buy “all things homemade.” I like Etsy because you can find a wide range of unique toys and many other items (purses, jewelry, clothing, glass, soap, art, and much more) all in one place. Some of the cute things I’ve seen on Etsy include a Doorway Puppet Theater, OogaBooga capeplush dolls, sock monkeys, Vermont Fairies hand-felted fairy dolls, a felt vegetable pita set, custom
super hero capes
, hardwood puzzles and toys, a Waldorf “Cheery” Rattle, and Au Natural Building Blocks. The list could go on and on because there is no shortage of cute, quality, original and otherwise great toys on Etsy.

Another cool feature about Etsy is that if you’d like to shop for items made by a seller in a particular city or state or country, you can use the Geolocator to enter in that location and it will show all sellers matching that description.

Let’s get creative!

Kitchen in a box

Lastly, if you are feeling the creative juices flowing this holiday season, you can make some pretty awesome toys out of things like cardboard boxes and Fome Cor, including a kitchen in a box (made out of a carboard box!), a portable playhouse and a puppet playhouse. In addition to instructions on making cool toys for your kids, the Family Fun site has tons of craft ideas to do with your kids as well.

Some final thoughts on holiday shopping

Do your research. Buy brand names you know and can trust. Ask questions and don’t be afraid to contact the manufacturer if the store can’t answer your questions. The quality toys are out there. We just may need to look farther than the big box stores to find them. Cheers and happy shopping! πŸ™‚

And now for the giveaway…

Win it!
Hazelnut Kids teether and dollHazelnut Kids has generously donated two great toys – a MiYim organic cotton elephant teether rattle and a Keptin Jr. organic cotton cuddle pants doll – to one lucky Crunchy Domestic Goddess reader. The MiYim elephant has a sweet, sewn-on face and a knitted, 100% organic cotton body. “It’s the perfect size for babies to hold and to teethe on.” The Keptin Jr. cuddle pants 100% organic cotton doll is filled with pure wool. “The simplicity of the design stimulates the child’s creativity, and the high quality of the product guarantees it will last.”

If you’d like a chance to win these great toys, please link to this gift guide either by writing a post about it or by placing the gift guide button from above (with a link back to this guide) on your blog. If you don’t have a blog, please send a link to this post to three of your friends and copy me on the email: amygeekgrl (at) gmail (dot) com. Once you’ve done one of those things, please leave a comment below and you will be entered into the drawing. The winner will be selected using Random.org on Thursday, Dec. 13, and announced that day. Good luck! πŸ™‚

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I Love You More – book review and giveaway

EDITED TO ADD: This giveaway has been concluded. 

NaBloPoMo – Day 14

I love you more

There’s nothing else in the world quite like the love between a mother and child. The book “I Love You More,” written by Laura Duksta and illustrated by Karen Keesler, depicts the tender relationship between a mother and her son, and if you flip the book around, between the son and his mother. That’s right – this unique book can be read from either direction, each way offering a different perspective of love.

The art is beautiful and the prose is rhythmic, creative and sweet. It is a wonderful book that will no doubt be enjoyed through countless readings.

Win it!

If you’d like to win your own copy of “I Love You More,” simply leave a comment below stating who you would give this book to if you won. A link back to this contest would be appreciated, but is not necessary to enter. The deadline to enter is Tuesday, Nov. 20. A winner will be selected that day using Random.org and posted on the 20th as well.

Lily’s Garden Herbals natural cleaners – review and giveaway

EDITED TO ADD: This giveaway has been concluded.

NaBloPoMo – Day 9

In my opinion, there are four things necessary to make a good cleaning product.

  1. It has to be non-toxic.
  2. It has to have a pleasant smell.
  3. It has to be affordable.
  4. It has to get the job done.

Lily’s Garden Herbals natural cleaning products accomplish all of these things.

After our recent run-in with the stomach flu, I needed to do some serious bathroom cleaning. I put LilyÒ€ℒs Garden Herbals All Purpose Clean (All Purpose Cleaner – 32 oz. – $6.50) to the test. The bathroom was sparkling in no time and I didn’t have to worry about keeping the kids at bay while I worked for fear of toxic smells overpowering the house. Made with essential oils and distilled water, the All Purpose Clean is effective and has a pleasant, even refreshing, smell.

I also tried out LilyÒ€ℒs Garden Herbals Glass Clean (Non-Toxic Glass Cleaner – 32 oz. – $5) on our sliding glass door. With two dogs and two little kids in and out of the house all day long, this door needs frequent cleaning. I have to admit it outperformed my simple homemade vinegar and water solution, and smelled better too. And, of course with it being non-toxic, I don’t have to worry if Julian decides to lick the glass. Not that he’s ever done that. πŸ˜‰

Lily’s Garden Herbals also offers a natural dish cleaner, a toilet bowl cleaner and a wood cleaner, as well as a linen spritzer and antiseptic room deodorizer (which also came in handy after the stomach flu went through our house).

Lily’s Garden Herbals were formulated by Kim Falcone, a mother and herbalist with a deep appreciation for the natural world. All of LilyÒ€ℒs Garden Herbals natural household products are homemade, non-toxic, contain NO chemical ingredients or synthetic preservatives, are biodegradable and never tested on animals.

A percentage of profits from LilyÒ€ℒs Garden Herbals sales are donated to local and global charities in areas of environmental protection, human rights and education.

If you are skeptical about making the switch from commercial chemical cleaning products to natural ones, consider this:

  • There are over 80,000 chemicals in commercial use today. Less than one percent
    have ever been tested for safety, especially for neurotoxic effects.
  • Companies are not required to disclose their complete ingredients in household,
    personal care and cleaning products or to test for safety.
  • Over 200 human health conditions have now been linked to environmental toxins. These include not only cancer but disorders such as autism, depression, anxiety, attention deficit disorder, immune/endocrine system disorders, asthma, and migraines.
  • Children are the most vulnerable to toxins due to their size, weight, and also risk of exposure during critical stages of development that could have life-long consequences.
  • More facts about toxic chemicals in everyday products can be found on this fact sheet provided on Lily’s Garden Herbals’ web site.

All Purpose CleanWin it!
If you would like to win a 32 oz. bottle of Lily’s Garden Herbals All Purpose Clean, please leave me a comment stating what kind of cleaning products you currently use and why you would like to try Lily’s Garden Herbals AND link to this review/giveaway on your blog. (Non-bloggers are eligible as well, but you must tell a friend about the giveaway). Deadline to enter is Nov. 19. The winner will be selected using Random.org and announced on Nov. 20.

NaBloPoMo kickoff and giveaways galore

NaBloPoMo – Day 1

NaBloPoMo

Today, Nov. 1 is day one of NaBloPoMo, otherwise known as National Blog Posting Month. I know it’s getting late in the day and you may have thought that I was going to throw in the towel before things even got started, but oh no no no. I’m in, baby! I’m in! πŸ™‚ I just got a bit sidetracked today what with the shuffling Ava to and from preschool, the baby that wouldn’t nap for hours, making apricot nut bread (it’s so yummy!), making dinner, grocery shopping, and working on a new project (more on that another day, I promise). The time definitely snuck away from me today. Any old who, if you’ve signed up for NaBloPoMo, please feel free to look me up. I’m there under “amygeekgrl” (not sure why I didn’t use crunchy domestic goddess, but c’est la vie).

With a whole month of posting goodness ahead of me, I figure November will be a great time for giveaways (heck, December will be too!) and I have several things coming up for you to take a chance at! In fact, if you haven’t already seen, I have three giveaways going on right now – a Bitty Braille shirt, a Mommy Blogger shirt and an I make milk. What’s your superpower? shirt.

What else will I be reviewing and giving away over the next couple months? Hmm. Should I share? Oh OK, OK. You twisted my arm. Here’s a taste of a few things I have lined up

Be sure to check back here regularly so you don’t miss anything. K? πŸ™‚

And now, because I am tired, I’m ending this post. In fact, we’re all pretty tired around here. This week seems to have thrown us all out of whack what with Halloween falling smack dab in the middle. When Jody was getting the kids ready for bed earlier and putting Ava in her pajamas, she kept saying “ow.” As he was trying to figure out what was hurting her, he discovered he was trying to put her in Julian’s pajamas! Size 4T vs. size 18 months. Big difference. In his defense, they are roughly the same color. Too funny though. No wonder she was saying “ow.” πŸ™‚ The point of that story is – we’re all spent.

Good night and happy NaBloPoMo!!

Bitty Braille – review and a giveaway

Update: THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED.

Ava in her Bitty Braille teeI love discovering cute and unique clothes for kids, and Bitty Braille tees for infants and toddlers are both of these things.

Bitty Braille tees feature simple “kid-friendly” words set in Braille type in either sparkly faceted metal studs for the girls or simple metal studs for the boys. The translation is hand-embroidered underneath in a simple print or cursive. The idea behind Bitty Braille is to introduce children to Braille through original designs. The concept is the brainchild of Julie Dutt, a busy mom to three home-schooled children.

Ava in her Bitty Braille tee

Some of the designs available feature the words “happy,” “cutie,” “darling,” “silly,” “buddy,” and “dude,” or shirts may be personalized with the child’s name. In addition to infant and toddler shirts, Bitty Braille also sells Bitty Blankies, hair clips and birth stone charms.

Bitty Braille donates 10% of every sale to the American Foundation for the Blind.

Ava is wearing a personalized long-sleeved toddler tee in size 4. The shirt is 100% cotton, very soft and Ava thinks “it’s neat!” I agree and think Bitty Braille shirts would make a wonderfully unique gift for the baby or toddler in your life.

Win it!
Win a Bitty Braille t-shirt of your choice, excluding upcoming holiday tees. To be eligible for this giveaway, please sign Mr. Linky, then share the love and link to this post AND Bitty Braille on your blog (non-bloggers are eligible too, but be sure to tell a friend or two), and finally leave me a comment stating which Bitty Braille shirt you like best. You must do all three steps to be eligible. The deadline to enter is Monday, Nov. 5. The winner will be chosen randomly with Random.org number generator and announced on Tuesday, Nov. 6.

Herb, The Vegetarian Dragon – a review and a contest

Herb, The Vegetarian Dragon

October is Vegetarian Awareness Month, and while it is only Oct. 5, I’m happy to say I have not had any meat yet this month. It honestly hasn’t been hard for me, but then again, I don’t eat meat all that often to begin with. Anyway, the reason I mention veggie month is because my next review and contest is all about a vegetarian dragon! πŸ™‚

I received a copy of the book “Herb, The Vegetarian Dragon” from Barefoot Books and was immediately impressed by the beautiful and vibrant illustrations. The book is about a dragon named Herb who tends to a nice vegetable garden in the forest and is a vegetarian, unlike the rest of the carnivorous dragons in the forest, lead by Meathook, who enjoy raiding the castle for amusement (and tasty eats). The knights of the castle set forth to rid the forest of the meat-eating dragons, but the meat-eaters hear of their plan and hide out in a cave. Meanwhile Herb is the only dragon left in the forest. The knights find him, assume he is a meat-eater as well and capture him. Herb is about to meet his fate at the mouths of hungry alligators when an unlikely hero emerges and saves the day.

Herb, The Vegetarian Dragon is a story about diversity, acceptance and living together in harmony. I do want to note that it’s recommended for ages 4-10 and I have to agree that the content is a bit more mature than toddler-level. When the book first arrived in the mail, I read it to Ava (3) before I had read it for myself or realized it was meant for older children. (Oops.) While she expressed some concern about Herb’s safety and other parts of the book, I explained it to her well and she did OK with it. We have since read the book a few times and she knows how it ends which I think reassures her that Herb will be OK even when the knights are tying him up.

Herb, The Vegetarian Dragon would make a great addition to any child’s library. The illustrations are gorgeous and the book teaches some valuable lessons about life.

Barefoot Books – founded by two moms in 1993 – “offers products that are thoughtfully written, beautifully designed and illustrated, and have high educational value.” If Herb isn’t your cup of tea, check out the rest of the site. There’s a huge variety of books available – many of which celebrate other cultures. I love that their books are free of media, toy or candy references, and are unique and meaningful children’s literature. Most of the paperback books sell for $6.99 and the hardcover books sell for between $16.99-19.99. I suggest keeping Barefoot Books in mind for birthdays and holiday shopping for the kids this year.

Win it!

If you’d like to win your own copy of Herb, The Vegetarian Dragon, please leave me a COMMENT below STATING WHAT BOOK YOU LIKE BEST FROM BAREFOOT BOOKS. Make sure to include a valid email address so I can contact you if you win. The deadline to enter is Tuesday, Oct. 16. The winner will be chosen at random (using random.org) and announced on Oct. 17. It’s not required, but please feel free to post about this contest on your blog if you’d like to share the love. πŸ™‚

Housekeeping (of the bloggy variety)

You may have noticed that I’ve added a few new pages lately over in the right sidebar under well, pages, of course. πŸ™‚

The first is the Contest page, where I will list contests of note that I’ve entered around the blogosphere. If you are ever looking for some contests to enter, please check out my list. πŸ™‚

The second is my new submit a product for review page. I’ve done a few reviews here lately (have a few more scheduled) and am interested in doing more. Here’s a bit about what I’m looking for (taken from that page)…
If you have a product that you think would appeal to me and my readers (who are generally moms of young children), please contact me. Things that are of particular interest are items promoting breastfeeding, babywearing, attachment parenting or green living, natural toys, anything photography-related, as well as clothing and shoes for babies, toddlers, kids and mamas. Natural products for babies, children or mamas are also of interest.

I also started up a more linky love page where I have buttons to some contest blogs as well as buttons for my blogging pals. If you have a button for your blog and would like it to appear on that page, please contact me. I’m an equal opportunity bloggy love linker (uh, whatever that means).

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My last matter of bloggy business is that Nell over at Casual Friday Everyday (I love that blog name and her slogan – “Where every day is take your kids to work day” hee hee) recently honored me with the BFF: Blog Friend Forever award.

Ò€œThis award is presented to awesome BLOG owners who keep their readers excited about their posts. Their blog posts are interesting (NOT spammy) and worth reading and keep their subscribers looking forward to each and every post.Ò€

Thank you, Nell. πŸ™‚ I really appreciate this especially because there are some days when I write a post and I wonder if anyone is getting anything out of it. But then the writing makes me feel good so I keep at it. πŸ™‚

I have several blogs I visit regularly, but the bloggers I’d like to pass this on to are:

  • Steph at Adventures in Babywearing (even though she already received it from Nell, I too am always looking forward to her posts) – She’s always posting about current events and challenging her readers. Plus she has some pretty kick ass giveaways.
  • Leigh at Mere Mortal Mama – She doesn’t post as often as I’d like (guess she’s too busy caring for her 2 month old and 2 year old – the nerve *wink*), but I always look forward to what she has to say. She’s a doula, an amazing writer, and I feel like we have a lot in common – including our breech baby home births.
  • Heather at A Mama’s Blog – Heather is my friend IRL (in real life) and I know she started her blog as a way to document her children’s lives, but she also has been touching on many important issues relating to women such as alarming c-section rates, breastfeeding, etc. I feel like she’s doing a great job getting the word out about issues of which we should all be informed.

That’s all the housekeeping I have for today. Thank you and good night. πŸ™‚