TBT: The Cancer Series-Part 5 (The one where I wean my baby)

If you want to read earlier posts from the Cancer Series or learn more about why I am posting these personal blog posts years later, you can do that here. This particular excerpt comes from the private blog that I maintained through MyLifeLine.org at the time surrounding my cancer diagnosis and treatment. It highlights the emotional and logistical struggles that I was moving through. I was trying to reconcile the attachment parenting choices that I wanted to make (i.e., exclusive breastfeeding and child-led weaning) with the gravity of the illness that I was facing, coupled with my intense desire to do everything in my power to increase the likelihood of the success of my cancer fight. It recounts my attempts to meet my infant son’s nutritional needs in a way that was healthy for both him and for me.

Although I did not know it at the time, in addition to Asher dealing with a mommy who had cancer, I was dealing with a child who had multiple food allergies and feeding delays (we still attend feeding therapy regularly four+ years later). This is our journey through weaning. I am posting it here to relay my experience and my story. It is not to be construed as medical advice, or any kind of advice for that matter.

This entry was originally published on February 9, 2011, approximately three weeks after I began my radiation treatments.

Let’s cut to the chase. I’m tired. Actually today is better than the past two days have been, which is why I have the energy to at least get to item #26 on my “to do” list for the day and post a little update. Undoubtedly, the fact that three weeks ago Eva was home sick the whole week, and two weeks ago Alina was home sick the whole week, and last week the Blizzard of the Century kept everyone home most of the week all contributed to my general exhaustion. I think there’s more to it than that. I’m not sure if the current fatigue is due to the radiation itself or to the need to get to radiation every day or both. I’m hoping that at least a big part of it is due to the need to get to radiation every day, and will thus be temporary.

I go to radiation every morning right after I put Asher down for his nap. This means that the time that used to be my least parentally-demanding portion of the day is now unavailable to get laundry, dishes, cleaning, cooking etc. done. Nevertheless, all of those things are just sitting around still waiting for my attention later in the day without regard to how tired I am feeling. This brings me back to the radiation itself. I do think that the actual radiation is making me tired too. The last two days I woke up wondering how soon it would be before I could get back into bed, and my limbs felt a bit too cumbersome to both lift and move. Bleh. But enough about the tired, let’s move on to the next thing.

Weaning. It’s been almost 48 hours since Asher last nursed. It makes me sad. He’s doing pretty well with it overall, but it makes me sad. And did I mention the sad? In a quiet moment, I took this video of me and Asher on my third day of radiation, when I knew that our days of nursing were numbered. Rich offered to take it for me, but I really wanted to just remember what it looked like to gaze down at Asher while he nursed to sleep. He always rubbed his hand back and forth across my stomach while nursing. I think that it was his comfort object. I guess that’s the best reason to have a soft mommy belly.

To clarify, according to several of the most respected breastfeeding authorities, it is believed to be safe to continue nursing through radiation. In fact, the only instance in which nursing is thought to be contraindicated with radiation is in the case of breast cancer. Even then it is believed to be okay to nurse on the side that is not receiving the radiation. Tuck that away as an interesting fact, because both the nurse at the radiation oncologist’s office and the La Leche League leader with whom I spoke told me otherwise. If I hadn’t challenged them based upon other research that I had done, both they and I would have continued to believe this incorrect information.

So, you ask, if it’s safe to breastfeed then why am I weaning? (Side note: Did you all know that Rich, Alina, and I were the “faces” of La Leche League’s national capital campaign in 2007? We were. Did you know that I have spent every day of the past 8+ years either pregnant or nursing or both? I have. Do you still wonder why I’m tired? I don’t.).

Jokes aside, breastfeeding is very important to me for many many reasons and has been a big part of my mothering relationship with each of my babies. I was not eager to wean Asher so soon. In fact, I have never weaned my children. I followed the girls’ lead on that, but by the same token it is very important to me that I do everything that I reasonably can to restore and maintain my good health so that I can mother my children until they are parents themselves.

I had the very strong feeling that I needed to stop nursing to allow my hormones to regulate. My body does not seem to respond well to the hormone fluctuations associated with pregnancy/nursing (menopause is going to be FUN!) I didn’t want to make this fight any harder on my body than necessary. I also wanted to conserve my body’s energy for healing rather than producing food. In addition, I was hoping that not nursing at night would allow for better sleep, because radiation is exhausting and my body needs the sleep time to repair from the damage done by the treatment. Most importantly though, was my desire to be able to really pursue cleansing and detoxifying my body following radiation, cancer killing, surgery, etc. I can’t detox while still nursing, or my body will dump the toxins into my milk, and then into my sweet boy, and that’s not a good option. So, here we are at weaning.

Now, this is an appropriate time to remind all that both of the girls are on gluten and dairy free diets as they seem sensitive to gluten and dairy. Asher too showed sensitivities to gluten, dairy, soy, and nuts through my milk, so I rarely ate any of those. This presented me with the challenge of what to feed him if my milk, and soy or dairy-based milk substitutes weren’t going to be an option, and he was heretofore exclusively breast fed. I tried him on some food (mushed avocado and applesauce). That was a disaster. He hated both, and clearly kept trying to figure out how to get the liquidy evil off of his tongue (he tried gagging, drooling, crying, etc.) He also got all rashy, and the whole thing was generally bad news.

My next step was to look into breast milk banks to see about acquiring alternative human milk for him (before you judge: just how well do you know the cows making milk for the local grocery store? I figure that at least we’re talking the same species here). Well, guess how much milk from a milk bank costs. Just guess…..Okay, so milk from a milk bank costs four dollars AN OUNCE. So after writing Alina a bill for three trillion dollars and talking with my insurance company who said that they would not cover the expense because Asher did not have a medical need (no, just the lady who MAKES the stuff), I looked into other resources. I found two, well, actually three.

1: Friends who know people who lactate 2: milkshare.com 3: Eats on Feets. The latter two are organizations designed to connect moms in need of donor milk with women willing to donate milk. Through these three channels I have been able to find four generous and kind women who have agreed to provide milk for Asher. They have also provided me with copies of their pertinent medical tests and patiently answered all of my many questions (there are questionnaires to guide moms through what to ask potential donors).

Now my freezers are stuffed with milk for Buddy, and we’ve been able to take on the weaning process. *FYI for those still concerned, we follow the recommended procedures for flash pasteurizing Asher’s donor milk to kill potentially harmful viruses or bacteria. This surely degrades some of the amazing health benefits of breast milk, but it seemed to be a reasonable and responsible compromise versus formula feeding. Check out this video if you too want to learn how to flash pasteurize for some such reason.

**Second FYI, no I can’t find donors who are gluten, dairy, and nut free AND other mothers do things like take medication or drink caffeine GAK! The loss of control has me reeling, but I’m trying to be very zen about it all. That said, Asher has developed a white coating with a big white spot on his perfect formerly-pink tongue since starting donor milk, any suggestions? (I don’t think it’s thrush by the way, but what do I know?).

Weaning has been a series of fits and starts (Ha! I so did not mean for that to be a pun, but I guess it is. Yuck. I don’t even like puns. Anyway, moving on). At first we started with night weaning and after a bunch of sad and screamy nights it seemed to be going pretty well. Then Asher got the cold that Eva and Alina had. That put the kibosh on the weaning and he was back to nursing at night.

He never really took a bottle, but we were able to get him to consider using a sippy cup. He was taking in about 6 oz. of donor milk each day, and nursing the rest of the time. Over the past few weeks we have worked his donor milk intake up to 25-30 oz. per day, although he was still nursing once or twice a night.

Last night, Rich and I finally got our acts together enough to flash pasteurize milk and set it on ice in our room in anticipation of Asher waking up. I warmed the milk in our sink and fed Asher that when he woke up at 2:30am rather than nursing him, and voila! Just like that it’s been almost two whole days since I’ve nursed.

I’m not ready for it. I knew that in a way I would probably never be totally ready to wean my last baby because it means closing a chapter on a very special and unique aspect of mothering. I really was not prepared for it to happen so soon or for this reason. That said, I feel confident in my decision. I know in my heart that if the adult Asher was talking to me right now he’d say, “Mom, I’ll be okay. Take care of yourself.” That doesn’t mean that I don’t still have tears streaming down my cheeks as I write this.

I will note though that it hasn’t been all bad. For 10.5 months Asher has almost always fallen asleep nursing. Whenever he is tired or hungry he makes a rather violent horizontal dive bomb for my chest to make his desires known. Since the weaning process has progressed, Asher has stopped diving to nurse when tired. He now cuddles his head against my shoulder, a move that he had previously reserved for Rich. Now, after I give him his sippy of milk before bed or naps, I stand up and hold him. He snuggles into me and I get to kiss his head and tell him how much I love him, before putting him down to sleep. It’s not the same as nursing him to sleep, but it is still loving and special, and I know that he feels cared for by his mom. I’ll take that.

That all got way longer than I’d planned. Sorry. According the MyLifeline.org, I’m supposed to try to end on an entertaining and uplifting note. Here, I like this. Enjoy.

-C

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As a final note, I cannot possibly post this without extending a very heartfelt thank you to the many mothers who fed my son when I could not. It was the greatest possible gift that we could have received at that time; making it easier to do something very difficult. I will never forget it.

I wanted to share this story that I came across today. It is from a mother who donated milk as a way to connect with, and honor the baby whom she lost (I do not know this woman, only her story). Donation is a beautiful and special gift from child-to-child and from mother-to-mother.

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What I Learned By Taking My Daughter to My Cancer Yoga Class

Photo credit: Patrick Savalle / Foter / CC BY-SA

Photo credit: Patrick Savalle / Foter / CC BY-SA

I’d mentioned here a while back that I was bumping up my self-care commitment to include yoga class for me once again. In the spring, I started taking a weekly class at a nearby cancer center. There were a few reasons why I chose the class, not the least of which being that I feel compelled to keep myself involved in a community of people living through and beyond cancer. It keeps me grounded and connected in a way that a traditional yoga class cannot. I also remember that when I was first diagnosed almost five years ago, it was very important for me to see and be around survivors. It gave me hope to interact with people who were okay and living their lives, knowing that they had once been as scared and overwhelmed and uncertain as I was. I want recently diagnosed people who are at the cancer center to see me, to talk to me, and to know that there is hope beyond diagnosis and treatment. I also appreciate that the class strongly emphasizes mindfulness and meditation in addition to the strict yoga practice. It helps me to actively tune into calm.

As the school year was winding down in the late spring, Asher was enrolled in a morning camp program held at his school, and Eva had a summer school program on her schedule. Alina however was not interested in the idea of camp or classes at all. It was a difficult time for her. She was coming to the end of the school year, having finally become settled at the school where she had started in October when we moved from our old home into my parents’ house. She knew that we were looking for a new house of our own, and that although we were committed to staying in the same town and school district, it was likely that she was going to have to change elementary schools again before the next school year started in the fall. For a child who craves security and is slow to warm up to new people and situations, the idea of another new school, her fourth school in four years, was daunting. She was adamant that she was not going to go to camp over the summer too; too many new people and places in the recent past and on the horizon. She did not want a new school and she WOULD NOT go to camp. Despite many attempts at revisiting the conversation from every angle, she was adamant, and I was going to respect her limit. I decided that it might just be what she needed to have some one-on-one time with me during the summer while her siblings were away in the mornings.

I enjoy Alina very much, and she is an easy companion. Unfortunately however, that left me with the challenge of having to figure out what to do for the hour each week that I had set aside for my Cancer Yoga class. The easy answer would have been to just take a break from the class for the summer, but I hoped to find a way to meet both of our needs. I took a chance and asked the yoga instructor if she would mind me bringing my nine year-old to the class on occasion when there was nobody available to stay with her at home. She was open to the idea, and even a bit excited when I told her that Alina might be tempted to join in; she has an enviable tree pose.

It has only been within the last year that we have been talking openly and more frequently with the kids about me having had cancer. There were many reasons for that decision that warrant their own post entirely, but nevertheless my cancer is now part of the family culture. This class was going to be a chance for Alina to take a step with me into the cancer community at a deeper level. Before the first class, I talked with Alina a little bit about the cancer center and who would be attending the classes. I wanted her to be prepared for the possibility of seeing people in different stages of their cancer treatment and recovery; some might be bald, many would be wearing compression sleeves to address lymphedema. I wanted her to know that everyone there would be doing what they could, and what they needed to, so that she wouldn’t be upset if she saw someone take a break or sit out during a pose. We talked about what she could bring to keep her quietly occupied throughout the hour-long class if she decided that she wanted to observe rather than participate. She opted to bring a notebook and colored pencils to the first class, and to watch from the sidelines.

The yoga class is held at the cancer center in a large room with a wraparound window and a view of a pond across the street. As I prepared for class, I once again offered to lay out a mat for Alina next to my own in case she wanted to join in on any pose. She declined and seated herself on the floor near the wall a few feet from my mat. The teacher welcomed her and began instruction. Alina watched quietly while she drew a picture in her notebook. On occasion, as I moved through poses I would sneak Alina a little wink or a quick kiss. She mostly smiled shyly and watched. At the end of class the teacher acknowledged her for being a good observer and presented her with a small gift of candies and tumbled stones carved with some inspiring words. Alina was in heaven.

As the weeks wore on, there were many times when my parents were home to watch Alina during my class, but Alina still wanted to come with me. She did not bring a book or pencils after that first class; she preferred to watch me and to watch the instructor. She only joined in once after repeated invitations. She stood in front of me on my mat as we did tree pose. Her little body stood straight and strong in front of mine. She did not waiver until the teacher tried to snap a photo of the mother and daughter trees; then she quickly retreated back to her safe space by the wall. She would not return to the mat for yoga the rest of the summer. Slowly however, she came to take comfort in the rhythm of the class. After a while, I was able to entice her to come snuggle up next to me under a blanket at the end of the classes. We would relax in our “spooning shavasana” and listen to the guided meditation together.

I often thought that I would have found the experience rather uncomfortable and boring if I had been in her position. Spending an hour each week during the summer watching a bunch of grownups do yoga doesn’t sound like much fun to me, yet she always wanted to come with me to class. As I observed her in life, it became evident that she was gaining more from the class than I had realized. In quiet moments of our days, especially when we were out in nature, she just started to assume poses on her own. It became her own silent practice; something that she did in her comfortable space and at her own pace. The experience of attending class with me also helped her put faces to cancer; to demystify what is often a scary and overwhelming word. She saw many people, standing straight and strong, breathing their way through challenges and stretching themselves just a little bit beyond what was comfortable.

Tree pose at the lake.

Tree pose at the lake.

As summer drew to a close, we found a house and moved in a week before the start of the school year. Alina was leaving her grandparents’ home and going to a new house and a new neighborhood across town. She would be attending another school in the fall, as she had feared. She was miserable. Beyond miserable. It was a lot of change. One day, just prior to the move, Rich took the kids to the park so that I could focus on packing. He sent me a picture from the park with the message, “I think that this is your influence.” It made me smile. She was breathing her way through challenges too. Finding space for peace and calm amidst tumult.

"I think that this is your influence."

“I think that this is your influence.”

The first day of school was approaching, and the energy within the house was pretty intense. Three kids starting new schools, and for Alina it was especially difficult. She did not want to go. We made the decision to have Alina and Asher ride the bus on the first day so that they could get any initial instructions about bussing to school, and begin to become familiar with the routine. I then drove to the school on my own to attend a meeting that was being held for the kindergarten parents just after the school day began. I had not told the kids about the meeting because I thought that they would balk at taking the bus if they knew that I was going to be driving. I was also afraid that Alina might refuse to get out of the car if she rode to school with me, and this would send her brother into a tailspin too.

I arrived at school while all of the students were still standing outside waiting to be let into their classrooms, which I had not anticipated. My eyes found Alina, standing alone, head bowed while the other fourth graders around her chatted and laughed with their friends. Before I could even think about the wisdom of my action, I approached her and gave her a hug. As soon as she saw me, she burst into tears. I held her and promised her that this was the last first day when she wouldn’t know anyone. I reminded her to breathe. I took a few deep breaths myself as the bell rang, she wiped her tears, and she headed in through the doors.

Parents’ Night at school was the following week. It was a chance to meet teachers and to see the classrooms. Alina wanted me to be sure to introduce myself to a couple of moms because their daughters were her newfound friends. As I walked into the fourth grade room we were encouraged to look around before locating our child’s desk. Strung up along the perimeter of the room were essays that the children had written and mounted on bright construction paper; “What is something fun that you did this summer?” This is a start-of-school essay that my kids tend not to enjoy. They have never attended fancy overnight camps or gone on a family vacation like many of their classmates, and it sometimes leaves them feeling sad about what we haven’t been able to provide. We try to encourage them to remember the simpler, but still fun things that we do, and to write about those. I saw Alina’s essay “Yoga with My Mom.” As I started to read, I found myself fighting back tears.

cancer yoga with my mom essay

The thing is, we all find ourselves at times having to do something that we really don’t want to. Not just math homework or eating blue cheese, but something that we would give anything to avoid, like saying goodbye to our friends and being the new kid at a new school again, or being diagnosed with a scary disease that makes you wonder if you will live to make any new memories with your children. What began as a creative solution to a logistical problem became a life lesson for my girl, and for me. Sometimes life is hard in ways that nobody can change. When it is, look for the simple joys, find peace in the quiet moments, turn inward for strength, and outward for support. Above all, remember to breathe.

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Poppin’ Tags: A Guide to Shopping and Selling at Kids Resales

Crunchy Parent Tips for Buying or Selling at Kids Resales or Consignment Sales

I am a long-time tag popper. I started shopping at thrift stores, children’s resale stores, and “pop-up” resales before I even had children as a way to shop for gently used clothing, books, toys, and gear at a significant discount. In the whole “reduce-reuse-recycle” circle of product life, shopping previously-owned results in a lowered carbon footprint and allows us to tread a little more lightly upon the Earth. As my own children have outgrown their clothes and toys we have handed things down through friends and family, but find that there are always items that are the wrong size or gender for the littler ones in our lives at a given moment. Many end up being donated, but selling some of these items at local “pop-up” resales lets me squirrel away a little money for the kids’ clothes for the season ahead. Selling and/or volunteering to work at sales often comes with the added bonus of getting to shop the sales before the general public, when the best selection and deals can be found. For those who may have less experience with children’s resales or consignment sales, I wanted to take a minute to pass along some tips so that you can take advantage of the bargains to be had in and around your town.

How do you find the sales?

In order to sell and shop at sales, you first have to know where to find them. I have found sales through a number of channels. The first (and probably best) is through word of mouth. Talk to other mothers at playgroups, school, place of worship, around the neighborhood, etc. Do they have experience shopping or selling at any sales in the area? Are there sales that they recommend or have had poor experiences with in the past? If you have experience shopping or selling at a particular sale that you like, ask the volunteers or sellers there if the can recommend similar sales in the area. It is not uncommon for “resale moms” to be familiar with other sales that happen nearby at other times.

Another resource for finding sales is through listings like Craigslist. I suggest looking in the “for sale” listings using search terms like “resale; kids” or “consignment; children.” This can be a good way to find sales to shop, as well as places at which to sell. Remember to also keep an eye out around town. Schools and churches will often post signs weeks in advance to announce upcoming sales.

Finally, as clothing resales have grown in popularity online resources have become another way to find local sales Consignment Mommies is a site that lists sales by state as well as by date; often providing additional information such as sale dates and hours, location, admission costs, and discount day options. The site also has great tips and information for the new shopper or seller.

What to look for in a sale as a shopper, seller, or volunteer?

Sales can vary greatly in the quantity, quality, and variety of merchandise sold, as well as the type of shopper that they aim to attract. Some sales are held in very large venues with tens of thousands of items piled onto tables and in bins by size and gender; requiring more time to sort and sift through. Other sales are smaller and designed to emulate a resale shop; with items hung and displayed on racks and shelves. Some sales focus on higher-end merchandise; restricting the brands sold to higher-end chain store and boutique brands, whereas other sales may be a goldmine for play clothes and baby/kid gear. It helps to know what you are looking for when shopping a sale as well as the types of items that you might be looking to sell, and the time and motivation that you have to dedicate to finding that great deal.

In addition, when considering where to shop and sell, think about the price that you are looking to pay, or the dollar amount that you hope to earn as a seller. Sales aimed at a boutique market will often price clothing higher overall, even though some of those same brands may be found as lower priced “diamonds in the rough” at more general sales. As a seller, it is also important to know what percentage you will earn if your items sell. Seller earnings typically range from 50%-80% of the item sale price, with lower earnings from more “full service” sales where your items are tagged, priced, and prepared for you; and higher earnings from sales where you fully prepare your items and volunteer to work to support the sale during promotion, preparation, sale, and/or clean-up. In addition, some sales welcome volunteers who are not actually selling at the sale with the incentive of being able to shop the sale before the public; other sales may require volunteer hours of all sellers.

Tips for success as a seller:

As the kids outgrow their clothes or when I rotate the wardrobes with new season, I sort their items into what to keep; what to pass along to friends or family; what to donate; and what to sell. Sale items have been given the once over to make sure that they are in good to excellent condition and free of stains, spots, or holes. These items then go into bins labeled by season (fall/winter or spring/summer). When sale time rolls around, I pull out the bins and get to tagging my items. Sales will differ in their tagging and display rules, so be sure that you know if you are handwriting or printing tags; pinning to the item or tagging with a tag gun; hanging all items, or pinning outfits together. I keep my supplies (pins, tag gun and fasteners, sweater shaver, etc.) in one of the stored sale bins so that I’m not scrambling each season. I also keep items that may have been leftover from other sales in bins all ready to go so that I don’t have to do my work again. Some things may need a quick ironing or other freshening, but that is all.

Bin of shoes, boots, & slippers ready for the sale.

Bin of shoes, boots, & slippers ready for the sale.

It is important as a seller that you understand a bit about the sale that you are selecting. You will want to know what percentage of your ticket price you will receive. You will also want to understand the volunteer responsibilities, drop off and pickup arrangements, and sale times. If you are hoping to shop the sale, be sure to understand if and how you will qualify to shop earlier than the general public. As a seller, I also like to know how well the sale does overall (i.e., what percentage of the total items typically sell); are they well-established, is the sale at a desirable time and location, how do they get the word out to potential customers, and how many customers generally come through their sales (hundreds? thousands?)? I also ask questions about security available at the sale because sellers must often sign a waiver releasing the sale sponsor from liability for damaged or stolen items, and knowing about security allows me to make informed decisions about what I choose to put in the sale. Finally, I ask about pricing. If their customers are looking for $1.00 shirts and onesies, a European Boutique outfit probably won’t sell for $25 even if that is a small fraction of the retail price. This helps me find the right sale for the types of items that I am looking to sell.

If you are new to selling, tagging guns, needles, and fasteners can be bought inexpensively on eBay or on Amazon. Some sales will specify plastic hangers, wire hangers, or will accept either type. Plastic hangers can often be obtained for free from stores like Carter’s or Old Navy who often otherwise dispose of their excess hangers. A quick call to the store’s manager is usually all that it will take to see if a store has free hangers available. Friends and family may be more than happy to unload their wire hangers that have accumulated from trips to the dry cleaners (I can’t even type that sentence without having “Mommy Dearest” flashbacks). Zip ties may also be required to attach shoes together. Amazon or home improvement stores can be good sources for these, although if the sale allows, I prefer to tie shoes together with yarn or ribbon (prettier and more eco-friendly).

When it comes to pricing, a general rule is that items in good to excellent condition can sell for 25%-35% of their full retail price. This percentage may be a bit higher or lower depending on the item. For instance, an outfit from a brand with a cult following like Matilda Jane might fetch a higher percentage, but that gorgeous French designer outfit that was a massive splurge, may have to be reduced even less than 25% of the full retail to sell to the general resale crowd. Of course, if your items are “priced to sell” you will likely end up selling a larger percentage of the items that you brought to the sale. Likewise, if you price an item too high and it ultimately goes to half price toward the end of the sale, you may end up making less than if you had priced it a bit lower to begin with and sold it for your full asking price earlier in the sale.

Tips for success as a shopper:

To best prepare yourself for any sale, you first want to have a sense of what you are looking to buy. If you need some really special outfits for holidays, a special portrait, or an upcoming occasion, or you have a preference for higher end brands, you may want to head over to a “better brands” boutique-type sale, which is not to say that the same items could not be found elsewhere, but it may be hit or miss. If you are looking for a lot of varied items, especially for everyday, a large sale with lots of items may help you cross more items off of your list.

Kids looking cute in their sibling portrait. Fancy dresses bought at a “better brands” resale. Asher’s shirt was bought later at a thrift store to work with the color story (yes, I watch Project Runway).

Kids looking cute in their sibling portrait. Fancy dresses bought at a “better brands” resale. Asher’s shirt was bought later at a thrift store to work with the color story (yes, I watch Project Runway).

Speaking of lists, I would recommend that you make one. I try to review the boxes of hand me-downs, last season’s clothes, and things that I’ve picked up here and there to see what I need to fill in the wardrobe for each child. I also note shoe sizes and other necessary sizes on my list, as well as current clothing preferences or needs for each child (e.g., will only wear dresses and leggings; needs elastic waist or adjustable waist pants; brown or black dress shoes). Then when I hit the sale I know who needs a winter coat, boots, or snow pants; who needs layering t-shirts, play dresses, a bicycle with 20” wheels, etc.

As a shopper, it helps to know a bit about the sale before you go. If resale shopping or a particular sale is new to you, here are some general tips to consider. Resale enthusiasts often show up early. Do not be surprised if there is a line outside before sale doors open. If you want to get the best deals, by all means line up early, but don’t assume that if you arrive later all of the good items will be gone. The shoppers before you may have needed different sizes, different items, or have different preferences. Admission to the sale may be free or they may charge a nominal fee such as one dollar. Exact change helps move that line of eager shoppers along when they are excited to get in.

It is often helpful to bring a container with you to hold items while you hunt, gather, and shop. Sales generally have sorting areas set aside from the main hustle and bustle to let you review items and make purchase decisions, but you’ll need a “shopping cart” to transport items to the sort area and to the payment line. Shoppers often bring a laundry basket or large box or bag for this purpose. A wheeled laundry basket like this one can be a big help. I got mine at Target and I didn’t have to buy three of them like the Amazon bundle. It is worth noting that sales often do not allow children or restrict strollers for safety and space reasons, so inquire before heading out with children in tow.

When I arrive at the sale, I consider my list and prioritize heading over to areas with less selection like shoes, coats, gear, or special occasion clothing. Once I’ve taken a look through those areas, I make my way over to the clothing; working from the size of the child who needs the most, to the child who needs the least. Books, games, and toys are usually pretty abundant, so unless there is something really specific that I am looking for, I save those areas for last. It is sometimes also worth looping back to areas to see what has been put back by other shoppers who have “rejected” items that they initially scooped up but decided not to purchase after sorting through their items.

As a shopper, you want be sure to review your purchases carefully before buying as sales are almost always final. Volunteers often try to check items for quality control before they make it to the sale floor, but sometimes spots, stains, or holes are missed. You will want to look items over carefully, checking behind tags as well if tags are secured to the front of the garment. Another thing to consider is how tags and items have been attached. If a plastic hang tag or pin has been poked through the garment fabric you will want to consider the likelihood of it leaving a hole and damaging the material when the tag is removed. As a buyer, I far prefer when items are hung (not pinned) and when tags go through the manufacturer tag or are secured at a seam to minimize holes. Likewise, fabrics like knit jersey or silk are more susceptible to hole damage than more robust fabrics such as fleece, velour, or denim. When looking over items, review factors such as wear and shrinkage (i.e., is the fabric pilled, are the knees worn down, is the item likely true to its labeled size?). Consider whether the price fits the quality and purpose (play clothes or daycare outfits with some wash wear for cheap are not necessarily a bad thing). Be mindful of reasonable item value as well as gear and toy recalls. A quick search online with your phone before buying can be a big help. As a general rule, buying previously-owned car seats and cribs is often discouraged for safety reasons. Likewise, if you stick to low-tech toys made from natural materials as we do, it is far less likely that the item would have been involved in a recall.

While you have that smartphone out, give that older child, tween, or teen a ring. I have found that as children get older and embrace their own style and preferences it can be harder to shop for them without having a number of “misses” when their personal shopper arrives home with the loot. I have sometimes taken photos of items at the sale and texted them to Rich to show to the girls for a thumbs up or down. Recently, Eva and I FaceTimed while I was at a sale and I gave her a live-action show of what I had selected, allowing her to provide her input before I made my purchase.

What do you think girls, yes or no?

What do you think girls, thumbs up or thumbs down?

Another thing to be aware of as a shopper is that some sales will have discount days or hours where some or all of the items that have not yet sold will be reduced. It may help inform purchasing decisions to know if an item will be 25%-50% off at a later time when you might be able to revisit the sale or if it will not be reduced further. Of course if it is an item that you really want, you may not wish to wait as it could be gone by sale time. Likewise, you do not want to assume that an item is on sale during “discount time” only to find out at the register that you are wrong because you are unfamiliar with sale rules; some sales designate discount-eligible items with tags of certain colors or with a specific symbol on the tag such as a star, dollar sign or the words “Discount” or “Do Not Discount.” Before you show up at the register, it is also worth knowing the forms of payment that are accepted and if credit cards will carry a fee. In addition, some sales are affiliated with a charity and are tax-free purchases, whereas privately-hosted sales will often require the buyer to pay sales tax.

It is getting to be late in the season to sign up to sell at most fall or winter sales, but there is still time to buy. It is also a great opportunity to check out the sales as a buyer and learn about how you can be alerted of future sales or how you can participate in the future as a buyer or a seller. In my area, most established pop-up sales have a fall/winter sale in August or September, and a spring/summer sale around March. So make your lists and head on out there. It’s a really great way to give the environment and your wallet a break.

Have you shopped or sold at kids resales before? Please share any tips or great finds. I’d love to hear them.

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Mindfulness Box Subscription Unboxing and Review-September 2015

Crunchy Parent Mindfulness Box subscription unboxing & review September 2015

Mindfulness Box is a relatively new lifestyle subscription service aimed at promoting mindfulness, inner peace and balance by giving people the tools to live with more intention and in the present moment. This lifestyle box includes holistic and homeopathic, essential oil, and mineral based health care products, handcrafted jewelry, delicious biodynamic treats, natural minerals/crystals and more. Each box contains 4-5 items accompanied with guided dialogue to enrich the recipient’s journey to balance and inner peace. Boxes cost $29 per month, which includes shipping, and are less with multi-month subscriptions. Use code CRUNCHY10 for 10% off.

Mindfulness Box kindly sent me this box to review. I received no additional compensation, and all opinions are my own. See more of my Mindfulness box reviews here.

As you may recall, last month Alina and I filmed the video unboxing just days before our scheduled move and I was so distracted and overwhelmed by the move, I was being anything but mindful. While editing the video, I noticed how much I rushed her through the process of discovering and exploring the items. This month, I tried to create space for the unboxing during a less hectic time, and approach it with gratitude and mindfulness. Alina, Asher, and I all had fun unboxing this much-anticipated box and I smiled and laughed while editing the video; thankful for the fun that we had with one another and amused by my children’s clear observations of me in previous unboxings as they mimicked me here. They are truly little sponges and it always serves as a great reminder to me that I want them to see how mommy greets life in a positive way more than in a hectic harried one. If you prefer to skip right to the product close-ups and details, scroll down past the video.

The box came with it’s bright, smiling symbol and “Present Moment. Beautiful Moment” message to set the tone to best appreciate the contents. Everything arrived to me safe and intact.

Mindfulness box unboxing & review zen calcite crystal sacral chakra meditation

As always, Mindfulness Box included an enclosure card listing the contents along with descriptions and values, as well as suggestions for how to integrate the items into our life in a way that would promote mindfulness. We set the card aside so that we could discover the items on our own, but referenced it at the end to help us learn about what Mindfulness Box had curated for this month. Alina unwrapped the first item, which was a a polished piece of orange calcite (4.5 oz., listed value: $8.00). According to Mindfulness Box, orange calcite is for energizing and cleansing and encouraging positive energy in the areas of sexuality, creativity, and emotions. Orange in color, it is associated with the sacral chakra, also represented by the color orange. Mindfulness Box included suggestions and steps for a guided sacral chakra meditation.

Mindfulness box september 2015 review-white sage, red abalone shell, & Yum Earth organic candies Crunchy Parent

Asher helped to unveil the next item which smelled so fantastic, I was swooning. Mindfulness Box included a beautiful red abalone shell along with about 1/2 oz. of small white sage pieces (listed value $6.50). You may have heard me go on and on about white sage before, as I adore the smell of this sacred Native American herb abundant in the Southwest (home of many of the most intoxicatingly odorous plants, in my opinion). I have used white sage for smudging before, as the smoke from burning the plant has long been used to clear negative energy from spaces and to purify. I have always used bundled sage for this purpose and have not seen it “potpourri-sized” before. Mindfulness Box suggested that the shell be used as a vessel for holding a small pinch of the burning herb while the smoke dissipates into a room. I think that the abalone shell may be too pretty to burn things in so I may just display the sage in the shell and enjoy the scent that way. However it ends up being used in our home, I know that I will love it.

While Asher checked out the abalone shell (which Alina thought looked like a “mermaid’s tail,”) Alina rooted out four Yummy Earth Organics butterscotch candy drops from the box (only two made it to the photo; Eva and Alina had to taste test swiftly). We are very familiar with this line of organic, natural candies and have always appreciated how they are made without ingredients that I cannot or choose not to feed my kids. The butterscotch flavor was one less familiar to us, and was an welcomed treat. (listed value $0.50).

Mindfulness Box Review-Crunchy Parent September 2015 Ganesh statue, mandala coloring book, and pencils

Asher found the next item, which was a small “lost wax” Nepalese copper statue representing Ganesh, not Dumbo as Asher had guessed (listed value; $12.00). I enjoyed Mindfulness Box’s description of the lost wax process, which is a laborious and delicate one; each hand carved mold can only produce about thirty statues, and each statue is later enhanced by hand using miniature chisels and hammers. When I saw the statue, I speculated that it was Ganesh and Eva later chimed in with, “Does he have four arms and an elephant head?” to help me confirm the identity. I strive to expose my children to many cultures, stories, and ideas, and am glad that they grow up knowing about them. That said, I am likewise mindful of the relationship to symbol and belief. Although I enjoy and honor the stories of the Hindu religion, I am not Hindu myself. I think that I will look to pass along the Ganesh statue and his positive energy to a home where he will be properly revered and appreciated.

The final items in the box were a big hit with all of us. Mindfulness Box tucked in The Mini Mandala Coloring Book along with a set of eight Crayola colored pencils (Book value: $9.95; pencil value not provided so I’m considering them to be a bonus item). Coloring books for older children and adults have been gaining in popularity as coloring is increasingly being promoted as a calming and meditative activity. This particular book was created by art therapist Suzanne Fincher, who includes information about mandalas and their connection to the self and to personal growth. The coloring pages are paired with text that describes each traditional mandala’s theme and message. Alina has been coloring with this book in the mornings after breakfast as a calm, quiet activity before school. I think that it is centering for her and a far better before-school activity than getting annoyed with, or trying to annoy one’s siblings. We’ve even used it to practice math, “Mommy, I want to color rainbows. The rainbow has six colors. If the design has thirty diamonds can I do it just with rainbows or will I have extra spaces at the end?” I think that I will put the coloring book and pencils in a central location so that anyone looking for a quiet activity can let their creativity flow within the pages.

Mindfulness Box September 2015 unboxing & review complete

Since so many of the items are unique to Mindfulness Box, I defer to the values listed on the enclosure card. According to the values listed on the card, the total value of this box is $36.95 (plus the bonus colored pencils, which did not have a value listed). I think that this is a good value for the $29.00 box price. Moreover, I think that a great deal of the value of this box goes beyond the sticker price of the items and is about the mindful practices and peace that the box brings to your life. For people who are looking for a subscription to gently remind them to center and care for themselves and those around them and to create a culture of mindfulness and peace, I think that the box value is greatly enhanced. I think that Mindfulness Box is very well curated, and reflects a depth of knowledge with the “niche” of a mindful lifestyle. I have recently started taking a Mindfulness Meditation class at the Cancer Center, and can see myself using many of the items in the box to support my learning and practice. As a mother I greatly value how much my children appreciate, and look forward to receiving the box. It makes me happy that they are delighted by organic treats, natural treasures, and simple, quiet activities that teach them to calm from within when they become overwhelmed.

To see other crunchy subscription box video unboxings, look here on the Crunchy Parent You Tube channel. If you are interested in finding “crunchy-friendly” subscription boxes to enhance the way you live, eat, craft, play, care for you home and body, etc. you can find that here. If you have any suggestions or requests for future videos, please let me know in the comments, and be sure to subscribe to CrunchyParent!

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GlobeIn Benefit Basket Subscription Unboxing and Review-August 2015

GlobeIn Benefit Basket August 2015

GlobeIn is a subscription service bringing fairly traded artisan items from around the world. Their Artisan Box subscription packs 4-6 items from a selected theme into one of their signature, handwoven, Mexican baskets for $35.00/month. Their newly introduced Benefit Basket subscription takes one of the items from the monthly Artisan Box and sends it to subscribers in a Mexican basket for $19.99/month (shipping free, and less with multi-month subscriptions). GlobeIn recently ran a promotion offering one month free with a three month Benefit Basket subscription, bringing the cost down to $12.65/basket. I thought it was the perfect opportunity to try out this new service.

I purchased this box and all opinions are my own.

Globein Benefit Basket subscription August 2015

If you would like to see the live-action unboxing please enjoy the video unboxing below. I’m still trying to find the right setting in the new house for unboxing so please bear with the boring backgrounds and poor lighting while I try to figure it all out. If you watch the video you might get to see me juggle (or perhaps not). If you prefer to skip right to the product close-ups and details, scroll down past the video.

I really liked the Globe In box. It has great artwork and I really liked the graphic “clue” about this month’s theme and what was inside. It definitely had a unique personality.

GlobeIn benefit basket review August 2015

One of the reasons that I felt confident giving this subscription a try was because I knew that each month’s box would include one of GlobeIn’s beautiful palm leaf baskets (value $12.00). I really appreciate the reusable packaging and the covered basket is such a versatile size. I can seeing us using it in the kids’ bedrooms or playrooms to hold anything from craft supplies, crayons, toys, shells, rocks, and more. I can also see using these as reusable gift wrap. They would add so much to the presentation of a gift. I thought that the vibrant fuschia basket that I received this month was really beautiful. I also thought that the added touch of the beautiful photograph, name, and brief story about the artisan and group who crafted the basket was very nice; it gave a sense of humanity and individuality to the item rather than being just another mass-produced thing.

GlobeIn benefit basket laundry theme-wool dryer balls

I opened the basket to find a tan, organic cotton interlock, drawstring bag. Inside the bag were three natural wool dryer balls (value $17.50). For those who are not familiar with wool dryer balls, they are designed to replace fabric softener sheets. They offer a natural way to soften and scent clothes in the dryer (just add a few drops of essential oil to the dryer balls). They even cut down on drying time, saving electricity. I have been using dryer balls for a long time, and some of you may have even watched my wool ball tutorial on YouTube (to make decorated balls for child or pet play, or plain balls for the dryer). GlobeIn also included beautiful photographs of the dryer balls as well as the artisan who made them. They also featured a story about the cooperative who makes the dryer balls and a map of where they are located.

GlobeIn Benefit Basket Laundry theme August 2015

In total this month’s GlobeIn basket had a retail value of $29.50, which includes the GlobeIn basket. I think this is a very good value for the price that I paid. I really like what a “feel good” box this is. GlobeIn takes such care to connect its customers to the artisans who product the items for the basket. That intention is really shown through the beautiful inserts, text, and photographs. I also plan to sit down with my children and show them the baskets and the products, and teach them about who made the items. I think that it will go a long way towards making somewhat abstract concepts like world populations, economy, geography, and differences more concrete through actual examples. I am looking forward to receiving my next GlobeIn basket, which is going to feature a Wellness theme.

What do you think of GlobeIn’s new Benefit Basket option?

To see other crunchy subscription box video unboxings, look here on the Crunchy Parent You Tube channel. If you are interested in finding “crunchy-friendly” subscription boxes to enhance the way you live, eat, craft, play, care for you home and body, etc. you can find that here. It has been newly updated and expanded. If you have any suggestions or requests for future videos or unboxings, please let me know in the comments, and be sure to subscribe to CrunchyParent!

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Barganic Alerts: Yoga, green beauty, and organic baby items

I usually like to post my Barganic Alerts individually to highlight each and every one, but the green, crunchy bargains are piling up. I’m going to post a few all at once so be sure to give ‘em a good look. I think there’s something for just about everyone in this mix. I am not affiliated with, or responsible for these companies; just looking to pass along bargains.

Vegan Cuts is one of the many crunchy-friendly subscription box services featured in the Crunchy Parent List of Crunchy-Friendly Subscription Boxes. They source and send quality, 100% cruelty-free cosmetic, skin care, and beauty products to their monthly subscribers. On occasion, Vegan Cuts curates limited edition themed boxes available for purchase individually.

Vegan Cuts Ltd. Edition Yoga Box

Due to the popularity of their recent yoga-themed box, Vegan Cuts has decided to offer a second limited edition box for yogis everywhere. The Yoga Box (pictured above) includes sixteen items for yoga enthusiasts to eat, wear, use, and enjoy. The box costs $39.00 (shipping is free) and features $139.00 worth of jewelry and accessories, yoga props, healthy snacks and tea, and aromatherapy products. See the link for the complete item listing and to order (yoga mat not included).

As an added bonus, Vegan Cuts is running promotion code OHSOPRETTY for $10 off orders of $50+ (through 8/28). I am not 100% sure if the code will stack with this deal, but it can’t hurt to try. Please let me know if you try the code and succeed.

Petit Vour Leaping Bunny Box

The next offer comes from another company featured on the Crunchy Parent List of Crunchy-Friendly Subscription Boxes. Petit Vour focuses on cruelty-free products, but tends to feature product lines that are also natural and organic. They too are offering a limited edition, single-purchase box at the moment.

The Petit Vour Leaping Bunny Limited Edition Box is filled with a luxurious collection of five Leaping Bunny-certified, non-toxic, vegan cosmetic and skincare items. In addition, 10% of sales will be donated directly to Leaping Bunny.

The Petit Vour Leaping Bunny box costs $50.00 and includes shipping. The retail value of the items included is $142.00. Please see the link for item specifics and to order yours.

Bambino Land sale 50%  off with Blissmo code

Last in the group is another subscription box service featured in the Crunchy Parent List of Crunchy-Friendly Subscription Boxes. Blissmo offers a monthly box of premium organic, non-toxic and eco-friendly personal care and food products.

For this Barganic Alert, Blissmo is partnering with Bambino Land for a limited time promotion. Bambino Land is a mom-owned product line of 100% certified organic baby clothes, swaddling blankets, crib sheets, gifts, and accessories. Through Friday, August 28th 10 pm PST, shoppers can use code BLISSMO for 50% off their entire Bambino Land purchase. Many items on the site are already marked down. When I added both sale and full-price items to my cart, the code deducted 50% from all items. This deal looks like a great opportunity to stock up on cute and cozy clothes, blankets, baby leggings and more made with organic materials.

Did you find something in the Barganic Alerts list that you can’t pass up?

Make sure that you don’t miss out on any Barganic Alerts, these babies tend to be time-limited. Subscribe to Crunchyparent.com, or follow Crunchy Parent on Twitter or Pinterest to get these alerts delivered straight to you via your favorite social media outlet.

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Mindfulness Box Subscription Unboxing and Review-August 2015

Mindfulness Box is a relatively new lifestyle subscription service aimed at promoting mindfulness, inner peace, and balance by giving people the tools to live with more intention and in the present moment. This lifestyle box includes holistic and homeopathic, essential oil, and mineral based health care products, handcrafted jewelry, delicious biodynamic treats, natural minerals/crystals and more. Each box contains 4-5 items accompanied with guided dialogue to enrich the recipient’s journey to balance and inner peace. Boxes cost $29.00 per month, which includes shipping, and are less with multi-month subscriptions.

Mindfulness Box kindly sent me this box to review. I received no additional compensation, and all opinions are my own.

If you would like to see the live-action unboxing which features my devoted Mindfulness Box sidekick Alina (who was apparently auditioning for a Mindfulness Box commercial at the end), take a look at the video unboxing below. Forgive that I was rushing a bit with this month’s video. As I mention in the video, the unboxing was three days before we are scheduled to move and I think I was being less present than I should have been; something that tends to happen when we are feeling overwhelmed and could probably most benefit from a moment of mindfulness. In viewing and editing the video, I wish that I had taken a few extra minutes to let Alina explore the items as we opened them, rather than rushing her along. I will take this to heart next month and follow her lead more. She so enjoys receiving this box in particular, and I am grateful to share in her excitement. However, if you prefer to skip right to the product close-ups and details, scroll down past the video.

The box came with it’s bright, smiling symbol and “Present Moment. Beautiful Moment” message to set the tone to best appreciate the contents. The outer box was marked “fragile” to protect the contents. Everything arrived to me safe and intact.

Mindfulness Box August 2015 review: lollipops and tea

Upon opening this month’s box, Alina and I were both excited to see some edible treats tucked in amongst the larger items. Alina snapped up four Yummy Earth Organic lollipops, and immediately started thinking about friends and siblings with whom she could share the goodies (value: $0.50). Each of the flavors included (strawberry, blueberry, watermelon, and cherry) are packed with a full day’s dose of vitamin C. We have been long-time Yummy Earth fans because they are organic and non-GMO as well as being free of artificial colors, flavors, and many common allergens. They are also really delicious. I zoned in on two bags of Yogi Relaxed Mind tea, which blends a host of fantastic herbs and flowers to create a delicious cup of tea. I received this tea as a bonus in a previous Mindfulness box and really enjoyed it, so I was excited to have some more. This item was not listed on the description card included in the box, so it may have been a bonus this month as well.

Mindfulness Box August 2015 Essential oil and diffuser

Among the next discoveries in the box was a .5 oz. bottle of Aura Cacia sweet orange essential oil (listed value: $5.00, although Aura Cacia lists it at $4.15 on their website). The oil came packaged in a box that gave some recipes for using the oil to make a refreshing room mist or a brightening body wash. We love essential oils around here and use them all the time. That is why almost any time I unbox an essential oil, my children will recognize it as familiar; this video being no exception. Mindfulness box paired the essential oil with a gorgeous, two-piece, soapstone essential oil diffuser that had been hand-carved in India (value: $15.00). According to Mindfulness Box, soapstone provides for both movement and widening of one’s horizon and assisting one in “changing with the tides.” They go on to add that soapstone emits a calming energy, stimulating one to release old routines for new loving environments. I have to say that it sounds like the absolute perfect addition as we transition to our new home later this week.

The diffuser is meant to be used with an essential oil and water in the top bowl, and a tea light placed underneath to warm and disperse the oil throughout the air, while the light shines through the carvings. Mindfulness Box expanded on this interplay of scent and light by including the instructions for a guided Jyoti (light) Meditation. I have been bringing Alina with me to my Cancer Yoga class this summer and we always end class with a guided meditation. I think that the practice has been grounding and relaxing for us both. I look forward to using the meditation as suggested with the whole family to build a practice of meditation in our new home.

Mindfulness Box August 2015 review: Salve and amethyst crystal

The last two items in our Mindfulness Box this month included a .75 oz. tin of Sage, Lavender, and Orange Enlightening balm from Medicine of the People (value: $10.00). The all-purpose balm is made by Native Americans using herbs that are hand-foraged in their native soil, which used biodynamic farming practices. I find that as I have become more proficient and confident using herbs for healing, we have been using balms more and more. They come in so handy as a gentle, easy way to soothe and nourish troubled or damaged skin. This week alone we have been using the balm on scraped knees and dry, scaly elbows with great results.

The very last item unwrapped was a beautiful amethyst crystal cluster. Weighing over four ounces, Mindfulness box states a value of $10.00. I absolutely love this crystal. Mindfulness Box listed many wonderful qualities associated with amethyst. What resonated the most for me was, “Amethyst energy encourages the mind to be humble and to surrender to that which is greater than itself in order to gain a deeper understanding of how the powers of the Universe can direct and guide one’s life.” I am excited to add this crystal to my collection, which had been growing ever larger and more beautiful thanks to Mindfulness Box.

Mindfulness Box subscription box August 2015 unboxing & review

I really liked this Mindfulness Box a lot upon opening, and the more I sit with the individual items, the more I come to love and value everything that was included. Both girls spent time with me individually looking over the box and asking questions about the items (some of which started with, “May I have….”). It is clear that they are drawn to the items and curious about integrating the practices. As I look forward with tremendous gratitude to moving into our new house this week, I think about what I want to have in my home and what energy I want to create for my family within the space. So many of the objects and rhythms that I hope to integrate into the home have come to us through Mindfulness Box, which I think is pretty amazing for a subscription box.

The total value of this box according to the values listed on the card is $40.50, which I think is a good for the $29.00 box price. Looking at the individual items, I might have guessed a higher value myself. I think that Mindfulness Box is very well curated, and I really appreciate the high quality of the materials used to create the products in the box. I also like that Mindfulness Box includes such detailed and informative descriptions of the items as well as mindfulness activities that enhance my appreciation for what they choose to include in each box, and allow me to use them in a way that brings peace into my life.

I really look forward to receiving Mindfulness Box each month (and as Alina states, it is her favorite box so far). I think that the subscription remains very true to their mission to provide simple reminders to live more deeply in the moment. In this day and age when there are so many commitments and distractions vying for our attention, I appreciate receiving a box focused on helping me take time to be present to what is important to me in my life and to be mindful of how I want to spend my time, create my environment, and care for myself and my family.

For reviews of prior Mindfulness Boxes, look here. To see other crunchy subscription box video unboxings, look here on the Crunchy Parent You Tube channel. If you are interested in finding “crunchy-friendly” subscription boxes to enhance the way you live, eat, craft, play, care for you home and body, etc. you can find my extensive list here. It has been newly updated and expanded. If you have any suggestions or requests for future videos, please let me know in the comments, and be sure to subscribe to CrunchyParent!

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More Crunchy Giveaways: Cloth Diapers, Menstrual Cups, Wool Dryer Balls, and More!


Newsbie Pix / Foter / CC BY

I am amazed by all of the great crunchy giveaways that I’m seeing everywhere. Where were these when I was building my cloth diaper stash? I’m excited to see menstrual cups becoming more widely accepted, they really are the greatest thing since sliced bread, if you ask me (and sometimes I sing their praises when people don’t even ask). Cloth dryer balls too? So simple and natural, yet I hear so effective. I must admit to not having tried them yet, even though I’ve made scads of wool balls for play (two-part tutorial here and here if you want to make your own). I’ll be crafting some plain ones for dryer use soon after we move into our new house next week, and I am happily reunited with all of my fluffy wool. Saving energy by cutting dryer time will be much appreciated on that electric bill. But enough of my chit chat, go enter and win yourself some great prizes. Good luck to everyone!

1. Cloth Diaper Geek and Green Planet Baby Giveaway: Win one of two prize packages; the winner’s choice of either a Diva Cup menstrual cup and a Glad Rags cloth pantyliner or a Glad Rags Daytime and Nighttime Set Total Value: not stated Enter Until: Friday August 7th

2. Cloth Diaper Whisperer Pink Lemonade Menstrual Cloth Giveaway: Win a $25 Pink Lemonade Menstrual Cloth Prize Package. Total Value: $25.00 Enter Until: Wednesday August 5th.

3. Dirty Diaper Laundry Lena Menstrual Cup Giveaway: Win a Lena Cup Menstrual Cup Total Value: approximately $39.95 Enter Until: Thursday August 6th.

4. Keeper/Mooncup Giveaway: Win a Keeper or Moon Cup Menstrual Cup Total Value: approximately $35.00 Enter Until: Monday August 31, 2015 at 10pm EST.

5. Not Quite Crunchy Mommy Wooly Naturals Wool Dryer Ball Giveaway: Win a set of six organic wool dryer balls. Total Value: approximately $25.00 Enter Until: Wednesday August 12th, 12:00 AM CST.

6. Grinning Cheek to Cheek Glow Bug Cloth Diaper Giveaway: Win a Glow Bug Cloth Diaper of your choice. Total Value: not stated Enter Until: Monday August 10th,11:59 PM CST

7. Latched on Mom Kushy Tushy Giveaway: Win a Kushy Tushy AI2 Cloth Diaper. Total Value: $24.99 Enter Until: Tuesday August 18th

8. Viva Veltoro Accessorize Your Stash Giveaway: Win a prize package featuring Buttons Cloth Diapers, LooHoo Wool Dryer Balls, and Spray PalTotal Value: over $150.00 Enter Until: Monday August 17th,10:59 PM CST

**Some of the above may be affiliate links. I don’t actually think that any are, but ‘m not 100% sure, so I’m going with better safe than sorry on this one**

**Barganic Alerts are an effort to spread awareness about affordable crunchy goods and services. They are not endorsements, nor am I compensated in any way. They tend to be time-limited, and often go quickly. To make sure you are always in the know, subscribe to CrunchyParent.com to receive emails of all Barganic Alerts as soon as they are posted**

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Barganic Alert: Kloverbox Limited Edition Back to School Box

Klover Box BTS box

You may be familiar with Kloverbox from the Crunchy Parent List of Crunchy-Friendly Subscription Boxes. They are a recently launched subscription box service featuring natural, cruelty-free and organic beauty, health, nutrition and home products. Kloverbox has just announced that they are launching their first ever kids special edition box.

The Kloverbox Kids Back to School Box will only be available for purchase from today through Friday August 7th according to their Twitter release. The link above lists a 8/9 order deadline, but you might want to order by 8/7 to avoid possible disappointment. The box is specifically designed for children ages preschool to age 8. It will contain an assortment of goodies, including eco-friendly school essentials, organic health & nutrition, and some additional unique finds. Kloverbox will also be asking for the child’s gender, name and age to personalize the assortment, which has me wondering if monogramed items will be included.

Boxes cost $50.00 and will ship in late August/early September. This is a one time purchase and will not initiate a rebilling subscription through Kloverbox. For those who are as intrigued as I am, Kloverbox will reveal a spoiler on their Facebook page next week. Are you going to order one or more for your kids (and how is school right around the corner)?

**Barganic Alerts are an effort to spread awareness about affordable crunchy goods and services. They are not endorsements, nor am I compensated in any way. They tend to be time-limited, and often go quickly. To make sure you are always in the know, subscribe to CrunchyParent.com to receive emails of all Barganic Alerts as soon as they are posted**

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Barganic Alert: 10 Great Crunchy Giveaways


Newsbie Pix / Foter / CC BY

I can’t seem to wrap by head around all of the great crunchy giveaways that I’m seeing everywhere. If you follow me on Twitter you may have seen me tweet about some of these giveaways, but the Twitter world moves so fast, it can be hard to tweet everything or to catch all of the tweets. I wanted to gather ten of the great crunchy giveaways that I’ve seen recently into one place for ease of entering. Good luck to everyone!

1. A Night For Green Beauty and Goodebox Giveaway: Win all five limited edition Goodboxes featuring skin care, body, and cosmetic items from the amazing ANFGB green beauty brands. Total Value: $1600+ Enter Until: Thursday August 6th

2. Wee Folk Art and A Child’s Dream Giveaway: Win a Wood Doll Making Collection – An exciting assortment of natural supplies for making wood finger puppets, peg dolls and fairies. Included in this giveaway: Holland 100% Wool Felt, DecoArt water-based acrylic paints and paintbrushes, Tacky Glue and plenty of wood doll bases. Total Value: unknown Enter Until: Monday August 3rd, 8am EST.

3. Cottonbabies Giveaway: Win a bumGenius Outing Wetbag and two solid-colored bumGenius cloth diapers of your choice. Total Value: approximately $63 Enter Until: Thursday August 6, midnight EST.

4. Mama Smith’s Fuzzibunz Giveaway: Win a FuzziBunz Sweet Beginnings Cloth Diaper. Winner can select a First Year (6-24lbs) diaper or a One Size Adjustable (10-40lbs). Total Value: approximately $25.00 Enter Until: Tuesday August 11th.

5. Sprinkles on Top and Simba and Mama Giveaway: Win a Simba & Mama Cloth Diaper of your choice. Total Value: $25.00 Enter Until: Tuesday August 11th.

6. Biokleen Prize Package: Win an assortment of Biokleen green cleaning products, gDiaper Sweet Bundle, and one Mama Box from Mama Boxes. (side note, squirting the awesome smelling Biokleen Bac-Out onto the dipes was always one of my favorite parts of washing our cloth diapers). Total Value: unknown Enter Until: August 31, 2015 at 12am EST.

7. My Lucite Dreams and Vickery Giveaway: Win three top-selling products from Vickery’s green beauty brands, Herbivore Botanicals, Lotus Love Beauty, and Farmaesthetics. Total Value: $120 Enter Until: Saturday August 8th

8. TLV Birdie and Graydon Giveaway Win a collection of four Graydon green and beautiful skincare items. Total Value: $120+ Enter Until: Saturday August 8th

9. The Little Foxes and Embody Beauty Giveaway: Win a selection of personally curated green, cruelty-free beauty products from Embody. Total Value: $150+ Enter Until: Wednesday August 5th

10. ConservaMom Tula Baby Carrier Giveaway: Win a Tula Ergonomic Baby Carrier in the Incognito print. Total Value: $149 Enter Until: TODAY Saturday August 1st, 11:59pm EST

**Some of the above may be affiliate links. I’m not really sure, so I’m going with better safe than sorry on this one**

**Barganic Alerts are an effort to spread awareness about affordable crunchy goods and services. They are not endorsements, nor am I compensated in any way. They tend to be time-limited, and often go quickly. To make sure you are always in the know, subscribe to CrunchyParent.com to receive emails of all Barganic Alerts as soon as they are posted**

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