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.

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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! :)
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. :)

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. :)
    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. :) Plastic toys, on the other hand, tend to wear out or break, and end up in the landfills. :(

– 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! :)

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! :)

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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 Lily’s 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 Lily’s 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. ;)

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 Lily’s 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 Lily’s 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! :) 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? :)

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.” :) 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.