Green lunch kits for back-to-school and a contest

Updated: The winner of the bags is #41 – Jill H.! Congratulations, Jill. And thanks to everyone who entered. A new contest will be coming up next week!

“According to the New York State Department of Conservation, parents who pack a child’s lunch in disposable bags or containers generate 45 to 90 pounds of garbage every year. That equates to 18,760 pounds of lunch waste for just one average-size elementary school.”

When Ava went to the farm camp this summer, I went through a lot of plastic sandwich bags (Disposable plastic baggies can take 1,000 years to decompose!) and napkins and felt that there had to be a better way to pack a lunch and cut down on the trash. I started looking around for a reusable lunch kit to use for preschool and found the Laptop Lunch Kit at Reusable Bags.

laptop lunch kit

I bought the Laptop Lunch Kit for Ava to use for her preschool lunches this year. I love that the small colorful containers allow for a variety of healthy foods to be packed, better portion control, and I won’t have to use 3 or 4 sandwich bags each time I pack her lunch. The kit includes a thermal, zippered carrying case that houses a large snap-shut tray, five reusable microwave safe food containers, a sport bottle, and a stainless steel fork and spoon. Also included is a 96-page “User’s Guide” loaded with healthy recipes and tips for reducing throwaways which I’m sure will come in very handy on those days I’m feeling less than creative about packing a lunch.

I really think this will make packing Ava’s lunches more fun for me and more fun for her to eat. And we will be doing something good for the environment.

1st bento

Here’s a picture of the first lunch I packed in her snazzy new lunch box. It wasn’t that creative (I’m still learning), but I thought it looked pretty. 🙂 It included an almond butter and jelly sandwich (no peanut butter allowed because of another child’s allergies), mandarin oranges, cucumbers and baby carrots, Ranch dressing for dipping in the little blue container, and Annie’s whole wheat bunnies.

Ava’s preschool teacher loved the lunch box and asked where I got it. She is thinking of getting one for her mom to take with her to work. 🙂

Even before I heard of this study, I’d been having my concerns about chemicals from plastic leaching into the kids’ drinking water and had been on the lookout for some stainless steel cups for the kids. I came across the Klean Kanteen Sippy Cup, also sold at Reusable Bags, and decided to get one for Julian. Ava heard me talking about it to Jody and chimed in that she wanted one too, so I got one for each.

I stumbled across an online coupon code for 20% off my total from, which helped soften the blow a bit. If you are in the market for some cool lunch kits for your kids or other reusable bags, water bottles, etc., feel free to give the code – mth6cp – a try yourself. 🙂

Win it!
And now for the giveaway…

Reusable Bags has offered up two of their best-selling reusable bags to one lucky winner : the
Workhorse Style 1500 and the Lightweight Recycled Cotton Tote with Dual Handles, both made by ACME Bags.

Workhorse ACME bag Cotton tote ACME bag

If you’d like a chance to win the bags, please:

  1. Sign Mr. Linky below
  2. Link to this contest on your blog (or tell a friend about the contest if you don’t have a blog)
  3. Leave a comment

The deadline to enter is 10 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 26. The winner will be chosen at random (using on Thursday, Sept. 27, and announced that day. Good luck! 🙂

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Tummy 2 Tummy DVD: review, interview and a contest

Tummy2Tummy Babywearing DVD

I recently had a chance to sit down, put my feet up (ahhh) and watch some of “Tummy 2 Tummy: THE Babywearing Instructional DVD.” If you’ve ever had a question about babywearing, I have to say this is THE place to look for answers.

The DVD is broken down into four sections based on four different types of baby carriers: Ring Slings, Pouches, Asian Back Carriers and Simple Pieces of Cloth, with experts in each carrier type providing the instruction. Each of those sections is then broken down into an introduction, techniques – including safety and comfort, demonstrations of positions – beginner and advanced – including nursing in various positions and wearing two babies, and troubleshooting.

If you are like most moms you probably don’t have time to sit down and watch a 2 1/2 hour DVD in one sitting, which is why I love that the DVD allows you to skip around to the sections that you want to watch. So if you are interested in learning how to use a pouch for the hip carry position for a baby or toddler, you can jump right to that section. Want to find out how to nurse in the front wrap cross cradle position? Skip to that section. It’s very easy and user-friendly.

Now that I’ve seen all of the different positions you can wear a baby in and the various carrier types available, Jody is going to have to seriously restrain me from buying more! I’d love to have a pouch for use around the house, a pretty mei tai for more formal occasions (wait, when do I have a formal occasion? hmm, it could happen), as well as some nice pieces of cloth just because I was blown away at how easy it is to MacGyver a simple piece of cloth into a great baby carrier!

I think Tummy 2 Tummy would make a wonderful gift for a mom-to-be or a new mom or any mom for that matter! I wish I would’ve had this when Ava was a baby and I was having so much trouble figuring out my ring sling (which I have since donated). I spent a lot of time holding her in arms when I really just needed to find the right carrier for me.

Tummy 2 Tummy sells for around $19.95 (depending on the retailer). You can find a retail store near you or purchase online. Visit this page for more information.

I also recently had the opportunity and privilege to interview Sharon Pickersgill, the creator of Tummy 2 Tummy. It was wonderful to learn more about her (we have more in common than I originally thought!) and the process of making the DVD. What a labor of love!

Amy: Can you tell me a bit about yourself and your family?

Sharon: I am a stay at home mom with two small children. Ashley is 4 years old and Trinity is 17 months. I love to cook & bake, workout at the gym, take Yoga and read books. I’m currently reading Wayne Dyer’s newest “Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life”. My husband and I met in college and have been married for 12 years. So we waited quite a while to have children. I worked full time before having Ashley as an accountant for Coca-Cola and planned on going back to work, but everything changed the moment she was in my arms. I didn’t know anything about breastfeeding or Attachment Parenting but all I did know was I wanted to be there for her and I didn’t want her to “cry it out.” I soon discovered Dr. Sears and knew that this was for me. I applied to be an Attachment Parenting Leader for North Phoenix and started the first ever group in Phoenix, AZ. After getting to know many natural parenting mothers through API, I found the courage to have a beautiful home birth with Trinity. (Ashley, my first, was born in the hospital with an epidural and many complications.) The biggest thing I’ve learned over the last year is to take care of myself. Having two instead of just one has been a lot harder and I consistently take small breaks just for me, like working out at the gym, Yoga, going out on dates with my husband and doing meditation at night after the kids are asleep.

Amy: What was your inspiration for creating the DVD?

Sharon: In 2003, I had my first baby and like most parents went out and bought a Baby Bjorn. After just 6 months, I thought my back would break and saw someone else use a sling. I went to a local breastfeeding store where they sold slings and asked someone who worked there to please show me how to use it. After spending almost an hour with me, I quickly fell in love with babywearing and wanted to learn everything I could about it. I did a lot of research on the Internet and found a few small video clips with a home camcorder but the quality wasn’t that good. At the time, there were only 1 or 2 big name baby carriers that had their own DVD to accompany it, but it was specific to that particular carrier. My husband is a videographer and I said to him that we need to make a DVD on how to wear your baby that is non-product specific and can be used with any carrier. I contacted four babywearing experts throughout the country and flew them to our home, one by one, to videotape the DVD.

Amy: How many months did it take from when you first began working on the DVD to it’s completion?

Sharon: I came up with the idea in Aug of 2004 and got all 4 babywearing experts to agree to do the project within a month. Our first filming took place in Oct 2004. Each expert had to fly out separately for a weekend and we filmed non-stop except to eat and sleep. It was exhausting! A couple of the experts had to come out twice because the first time around didn’t turn out the way we wanted. Babies are tough to work with. They didn’t like the bright lights and heat from the cameras and there was a lot of screaming and stopping because they needed to nurse or sleep or just weren’t happy. It was challenging. As we got further into it, we realized “This is why no one has done this before.” We completed filming at the end of January 2005. Slowly over the next 7 months, my husband edited the movie. He had to go through hundreds of hours of tape and many, many takes to find the best one available. In August/September 2005 we had members of NINO (Nine In Nine Out…a babywearing organization) review the DVD to make sure we were on the right track. They did have a few comments but overall were very impressed with the DVD. By the end of September 2005, after watching the DVD literally hundreds of times, we finally sent the final proof to our DVD manufacturer in California. Because the DVD is so long (over 2.5 hours), we had to make it a duel-layer disc, which is more expensive and can hold more data at a higher quality. Duel-layer discs are what all the Hollywood movies are made on. The DVDs took four weeks to make and ship to us and on Nov. 1, 2005 we started selling them on our website, After the first year, we made the decision to only make the DVD available through our distributors so that it would place more importance on them instead of us. Our DVD was made to be sold with a baby carrier and not really on it’s own.

Amy: I imagine that filming a DVD with several small children could present some unique or possibly challenging situations. Do you have any funny or interesting stories to share from the filming?

Sharon: I don’t know about funny. Those poor babies. Some of them were totally fine and happy when they were not in front of the camera and then when we started filming they just froze and started screaming. Having a screaming baby isn’t going to help people to learn “how to wear” their baby. Some babies were amazing and loved the camera and we worked with them as long as possible. But even the best babies could only do it for an hour or so at a time and we filmed for like 12 hours a day while the experts were here. So I learned to have many back-up babies available so we can switch them out quickly. It was a lot of starting and stopping and having a lot of patience and knowing that it would all be worth it at the end.

Amy: How many baby carriers do you personally own? What are your favorites?

Sharon: I used to really be quite a babywearing addict. I had around 12 carriers but some of my favorites are Silk Zolowear sling, Kozy Carrier, Ergo, Hug-A-Bub Wrap & the Kangaroo Korner Adjustable Fleece Pouch.

Amy: If you had to choose one type of carrier (from the four on the DVD) as your only carrier, which would it be and why?

Sharon: Hum…that’s not really a fair question. Seriously, I have one of each in my car right now and use them all frequently. As long as people are wearing their baby with any type of carrier, I’m happy to see it!

Amy: Lastly, do you have any plans for future babywearing DVDs or other projects in the works?

Sharon: We have talked about possibly doing an updated version of the DVD but it would be several years away. I’m seriously not sure if I would do it or not. It was so much work making this DVD and so very worth it but I wouldn’t want to go through the process again. My husband is working on all sorts of other video projects but mostly his aspirations are to make movies full time. This fall, he is going to do just that. He is filming his first full-length feature independent movie. I’m hoping that someday I will accompany him to the Oscars for a movie that he made!

For me, I will continue to stay at home with my two girls, become a better cook, read, exercise and work on Tummy 2 Tummy. Someday, I would love to see my DVD selling at Babies R Us, next to more and more slings as babywearing becomes more mainstream.

Amy: Thank you so much for your time, Sharon, and for sharing a bit about yourself and your wonderful DVD. Best of luck to you, your husband with his film, and your whole family. 🙂 We’ll be watching for you at the Oscars!


Win it!

If you’d like to win your own copy of “Tummy 2 Tummy: THE Babywearing Instructional DVD”:

  • Sign Mr. Linky below
  • Link to this contest on your blog. (Don’t have a blog? That’s OK. Just be sure to tell a friend or two about the contest.)
  • Leave a comment saying why you’d like the DVD (is it for yourself/for a friend/for an AP or babywearing group?)

You must do all three things to be eligible to win the DVD. The deadline to enter is 10 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 12. The winner will be chosen at random on Sept. 13 and announced later that day. Good luck!

Updated to add:
On a related note, Steph at Adventures in Babywearing is giving away a Strawberry Fields Forever sling by Rockin’ Baby (valued at $102). Check it out.

Best Shots Monday – 8/27/07

I started off this impromptu photoshoot with Ava trying to get some good pictures of her new Livie & Luca shoes which she won through a contest Katja from Skimbaco was sponsoring. I’m happy to say not only did I get a few good pictures of the shoes, I also captured some beautiful pictures of Ava that I intend to use for her 3-year-pics since I hadn’t had a chance to take any yet. (She’s 3 yrs, 2 months now.)

Here’s my choice for my “Best Shot Monday” and then a few others from the session that I liked below:

Ava - 3 yrs, 2 months old - Aug. 23, 2007

Ava - 3 yrs old - 8/23/07 Ava - 3 yrs old - 8/23/07

Ava - 3 yrs, 2 months old - Aug. 23, 2007 Ava - 3 yrs old - 8/23/07 Ava - 3 yrs old - 8/23/07
And now for the shoes…
Ava showing off her Livie & Luca shoes from Skimbaco Livie & Luca shoes from Skimbaco Ava showing off her Livie & Luca shoes from Skimbaco

Ava’s shoes are called Livie’s Red Wings and are available at Skimbaco – a family-owned and operated business in Durango, CO. “Skimbaco’s mission is to promote the ecological and philanthropic ideology by helping people to find exceptional products that are not only fun and functional but also environmentally conscious. Our mission is to spread the sunshine – make people happy.” They succeeded in spreading the sunshine here. Ava and I both love her new shoes! They are easy for Ava to put on and off. The leather is super soft which makes them great for with socks/tights or without. The soles are flexible. And they are just plain cute! 🙂 Thanks again, Katja.

More from Best Shot Monday at Picture This.

If you haven’t yet seen it, please take a minute to check out my latest giveaway.

1 bag at a time – a contest/giveaway

Vitamin Cottage reusable bag

UPDATE: The winner of the bag is Ellen L. Freeman! Congrats!

A few months ago, I was shopping at Vitamin Cottage (the only natural foods store in my city) and I noticed that, in addition to their usual canvas grocery bags for sale, they also had some new reusable bags for sale and they were only $.99 each. While I’d always wanted some of the canvas bags, I couldn’t justify the price, so instead I would just reuse my plastic bags time and time again until they wore out. However, with these new bags selling at only $.99 a pop, I could refuse no longer and bought several.

I later discovered that the bags are part of the 1 Bag at at Time project. Check out the site, it’s pretty cool.

From 1 Bag at at Time:

Each of our bags is designed:
to replace 2 paper bags or up to 4 plastic bags each time it is used.
to be used weekly for two years or more.
to replace up to 416 plastic bags over its entire lifetime.

So far, 1 Bag at a Time has sold over
600,000 reusable bags

Over the next 2 years, these bags together will save:
249.6 million plastic bags.
Enough petroleum to drive a car 17,828,572 miles.
Up to $42,432,000 in disposal costs.
That’s enough money to pay 891 full time teacher salaries!

These bags are wonderfully sturdy and durable and were so worth the cost. I use them whenever I shop at Vitamin Cottage as well as when I go to the other grocery store (Safeway). I’ve actually received several compliments on them by the checkers at Safeway. They are so impressed with how sturdy they are and how much more food you can fit into them. 🙂 I tell them to go to Vitamin Cottage and get some for themselves. 😉 Maybe I should tell them to tell their manager so that Safeway can start selling them too.

These bags are so functional I use them for more than just grocery shopping. Just today I used one for our towels, a diaper, clothes and some snacks when we went swimming with some friends at one of the city pools. They are so handy!

On one of my recent trips to Vitamin Cottage, they were giving away a free bag if you already had one or more, so I saved mine (it’s brand new and never been used) and would like to give it away to someone who can use it. It looks just like the one pictured above.

All you have to do to enter the contest is leave me a comment stating something “green” that you are doing to help make the world a better place. Please make sure you include a valid email address so I can contact you if you win. If you want to mention the contest and link to it on your blog, that would be super cool, but not required. Contest ends at midnight on Aug. 25 and the winner will be selected at random and announced later that day. Thanks! 🙂

New nursing necklace

I’ve been on the lookout for a jade necklace (specifically for the properties jade is supposed to possess) for a while now, but was unable to find anything I liked until recently.

Back when I had the “I make milk…superpower” t-shirt giveaway here last month, a woman named Paty (who I know from a “crunchy” message board) submitted a picture to me of her child nursing while playing with a nursing/breastfeeding necklace around her neck. I noticed from her signature that she sold necklaces so I took a look at her site – Paty’s Loveys. I emailed her back and told her that I was looking for a jade necklace specifically and she tracked one down for me in no time. Paty provided great customer service and was very prompt in responding to me.

The necklace is just what I was looking for, is adjustable and very sturdy and should hold up as a nursing necklace (i.e. something for Julian to play with while he nurses) wonderfully. 🙂

Mommy likes it and Julian enjoys it too!
jade nursing necklace julian chews on the nursing necklace

In addition to nursing necklaces, Paty also makes and sells waterproof bibs, changing pads and wet bags (for cloth diapers), as well as blankets.