Today is the first of my babywearing giveaways! Counting all extra entries, this giveaway had 203 entries!!

I wish I could give each of you a sling, but I’d be in debt up to my ears, and Rachel would go out of businessif she sponsored the giveaway of 203 slings!! So, I had to pick a winner.

The random number generator at Random.org chose #123, Mary Kavvanaugh, who is expecting twin grandbabies in February! Congratulations, Mary, and I hope your son and daughter-in-law love their Posh Papoose sling as much as I love mine! I’m emailing you now, and you’ll have 72 hours to claim your prize!

Don’t forget…You can still order your own sling from Posh Papoose, and if you order by the end of November, all you have to do is mention my blog and you’ll receive a free wipe pouch!

If you’re looking for a sling that’s barely more than free, why not order a selendang sling from H.U.G.S? With shipping they’re only $24, and the money you pay goes toward an excellent cause.

If you haven’t had a chance to sign up for all my giveaways, there’s still time! Click on the following links to visit these giveaways:

First of all, I must say a HUGE thank you to all the sponsors and participants of the Babywearing Bonanza. This last week exceeded my expectations by far, thanks to all you wonderful, babywearing-promoting people! It’s a wonderful feeling, knowing you’ve promoted such a wonderful parenting skill, isn’t it??

If you haven’t entered all this week’s giveaways, make sure to do so soon. Here’s a rundown of all the giveaways, just in case you missed one:

 

I plan to host more celebration weeks in the near future. Let me know in the comments section below, if you have a theme you’d like to see me cover. I’m thinking that for sure I’d like to do a breastfeeding week, green parenting week, fitness for mommies, and maybe some others, too. Any suggestions??

If you love Etsy as much as I do, be sure to come back here next Monday for the beginning of my weekly Etsy blog carnival. Want to know what that entails?? Further details later this week!

One last announcement: I’ve purchased a domain: http://ChocolateFingerprints.com

At the moment, I have my new domain redirected to this blog, so if you type in ChocolateFingerprints.com, it should automatically bring you here. Very soon, though, I’ll be employing a blog designer and moving to my new domain for good! Expect some exciting things!!

 Today is the last day of the Babywearing Bonanza, and here is my last interview and Giveaway. I didn’t discover the “mei tai” style of baby carrier until my daughter was over a year old, and so independent she hardly ever wanted to be cuddled, much less worn! If I do have another baby someday, one of my first purchases will be a Kozy Carrier. Kelley Mason created the Kozy in 2002, and it’s still considered the “gold standard” of “mei tai” carriers. No wonder, it’s marvelous! I totally covet Kozy Carriers, and I appreciate the fact that this company, like all the companies I have featured this week, was brought into being by an innovative mama who saw a niche in the market and has filled it wonderfully! Kozy Carrier is truly a family business. In fact, Kelley’s sister, Kristi, is her partner and runs the business aspect of the company. I love that these two sisters work so well together and believe so much in their product!

Please enjoy this interview, and read on to learn how you can win your own Kozy Carrier.

Kelley Mason

 Andrea: I am amazed by the fact that you came up with the wonderful design for the Kozy carrier all by yourself! How much trial and error was involved? How many carriers did you make before you were satisfied with the results?

Kelley: I was definitely inspired by pictures of mei tais I saw online, and back then I didn’t even know what a mei tai was (not many people did). I started when I was desperate to get my daughter on my back. I was home alone as dh worked out of town and I had a 4mo old and 25mo old, 2 giant dogs and our only heat was a wood stove and I had to bring in the wood etc. Piper needed to be carried ALL the time, and the ring sling wasn’t cutting it with my bad back. So when I saw a picture of a mei tai online I knew I needed one, I just couldn’t afford it. So I took fabric scraps I had at home and pieced something together. After learning how to use it, I put her on my back by myself . . . that was definitely a life changing moment for me, because it gave me so much more freedom and comfort!! I wore her on my back pretty much every day after that. I worked on the design for several months and was able to try another mei tai in the meantime, which helped me realize what it was I was looking for in a carrier. I added things to mine that I hadn’t seen before on a mei tai (because they were all more ‘traditional’ in design) but that *I* wanted. I padded the straps, reversible body, padded head support, body pocket etc. Of course all those things are standard on many mei tais now, but back in 2002 and early 2003 when I made my first and was working on the design, no mei tais available had those features. I experimented with different fabrics, top and bottom strap angles, body sizes and widths, strap placement etc. over about 6mo. before I came up with what I thought would work best for me. I say for ME because I was designing it for me and Piper. I had no intention of selling them. Most of my testers ended up being used by family and friends. I did my sewing while Piper slept on my back for her morning naps (Xian was usually playing) and kept very crude notes of my likes/dislikes etc. I was still searching for the best material to use for the padded curved top when people online found out what I was doing and wanted to start buying them. I was more than a little reluctant to start a business but I knew I had stumbled onto something and moms wanted it, and I just have a very hard time saying no, LOL!! Since then the only changes I have made were to make the straps a tad wider and longer and the body about 1” taller. And mostly it was because people wanted that (well *I* needed a longer body because Piper was getting bigger). Oh and we later added some added perks like the strap pocket and embroidery etc.Andrea: Could you tell me a bit about your fabric selection process? How, where, and why do you choose the fabrics you do?Kelley: The Kozy is mostly made up of solid colored 100% cotton canvas. That is what we use for the straps and back. I am really picky about this because I want something that is sturdy, strong and will last. I don’t want the fabric to start to get holes in it where it is turned, and I want to make sure it can hold up to the tugging and pulling that the straps do to it. Canvas is wonderful for being strong and long lasting. It is good about not folding or twisting and staying flat. This is important for the straps that go over your shoulders/back and even over baby’s body . . . they stay flat well when you spread them and don’t roll etc. Canvas also makes a slightly larger knot that is easier to untie. The downside of canvas is that it is a bit stiff at first, but it breaks in really well (kind of like a pair of jeans). Also the dyed canvas can fade, which is something that I would love to remedy in the future.Most fabrics will be ordered directly from the manufacturer or occasionally from one of their distributors at wholesale prices.   

Nursing

Nursing

 

 

 

 

Andrea: For readers who might not be familiar with the Kozy Carrier, could you tell me what’s unique about your product?
Kelley: The Kozy has often been referred to as the most versatile of the mei tais because it works well for all sizes of babies and parents. The body size of the Kozy allows you to use it for newborn to toddler and beyond. The larger body cradles a newborn and yet is wide enough to fully support the legs of a larger toddler. The fact that the straps simply tie on means that it fits a wide variety of different sized parents. The lack of buckles means that you can do any number of different things to it, scrunch the body, fold the body, wrap the straps around, tie them any number of ways. You can really tweak it to get the most comfortable fit. The sturdy fabrics mean that it is comfortable and supportive for heavier kids and that it will last for many years and through many children. You can wear your baby on your front, hip, back and even nurse in it. And though everyone is different when it comes to how easy they think a certain carrier is to use, or how much practice they need before they feel comfortable with it, carriers like the Kozy (mei tais) seem to be easier to use in general, than other types of carriers that allow you as much versatility.
I think though what makes the Kozy the most ‘unique’ among other mei tais out, is the fact that it was the first modern mei tai, has changed very little (hasn’t really needed much changing) and has still managed to last and be called by others the “gold standard” of mei tais, despite the enormous amount of competition that has emerged in the last 5 yrs since we first started selling them online. I could say I was lucky, considering that the design wasn’t intended to be one that worked well for everyone, I was just making it for myself . . . but I really think that God had a little something to do with it.

Andrea: What is the best thing about owning a babywearing business?
Kelley: The best thing is definitely being able to help others. I LOVE the praise e-mails we get and seeing pictures of moms carrying their babies . . . it is the greatest!!

Andrea:
 What is the hardest thing?
Kelley: The hardest is trying to balance the business with family life, and it is nearly impossible. And trying not to feel guilty for time spent doing business stuff when I would rather be doing stuff with the kids (or sleeping). Something has to give, because though we don’t want to admit it, we are not superwomen! Thankfully I was able to balance by giving over some of the business responsibilities to my sister/partner. 

 

Andrea: Do you have any personal babywearing stories/anecdotes you’d like to share with my readers?
Kelley: I keep thinking back to a picture of us at the zoo back when Piper was a baby, shortly after I started making them and back when I was still testing out the design. She is on my front and we are looking over a fence at an animal. She is right up there with a great view, able to interact etc. Around us are other mothers and babies also looking through the fence, but those babies are down low in strollers with a blocked view. We stand out for sure, and I think it just kind of summed up all the great things about babywearing in one picture. Now if only I can remember where I put that durn thing, LOL!!

Thank you, Kelley, for taking the time to answer my questions, in the midst of mothering your four beautiful children and having a computer crash! You and your sister are warm, wonderful people, and the pride you have in your product is well deserved.

To win your choice of  Kozy Carrier, simply click over to Kozy Carrier and have a look. Then, come back here and leave a comment on this post, telling me which Kozy Carrier  you like best.

To Obtain Extra Entried for all This week’s Babywearing Giveaways, you can do one or all of the following things:

  •  Blog about the Babywearing Bonanza
  • Grab my Babywearing Bonanza Button (see my sidebar) and place it in your sidebar
  • Email five people about the Babywearing Bonanza, and Cc me at: wamcmann(at)telebeep(dot)com

If you choose to earn extra entries, be sure to let me know, so I can give you credit for your hard work!

This giveaway ends on September 13, 2008, at 11:59 p.m. CST.

This amazing non-profit was started after the infamous Indonesian tsunami that occured in December of 2004. Help Us Give Slings (H.U.G.S.) sells Indonesian slings to help tsunami and earthquake affected mothers. They also gift slings to mothers in Indonesia. The photo above says it all, really. These slings, sold by an internet boutique, would easily sell for four times as much as H.U.G.S. is asking. If you, or anyone you know, is in the market for a baby sling, consider this worthy cause! If you don’t know anyone who needs a sling, consider buying one and donating it to No Mother Left Behind!

 

This is the final installation of this week’s five-part babywearing non-profit profiles. If you’d like to read about the other four parts, here are the links:

Elizabeth and the Kids

Elizabeth and the Kids

Today, I have the pleasure of introducing another interview and giveaway. I had the opportunity to speak with Elizabeth, the founder of Sleepy Wrap. She has also graciously agreed to sponsor the giveaway of one wrap for my Babywearing Bonanza.  Read on to learn how you can win your own Sleepy Wrap.

As I mentioned in My Babywearing Journey, I used a wrap baby carrier extensively during my daughter’s first year of life. To this day, I still don’t know what I would have done without my wrap! I highly recommend wrap carriers; they are they are so comfortable and versatile! I admit that I did use a different brand, because I didn’t know about Sleepy Wrap back then. Since those days, I’ve become enlightened, and if I am ever blessed with more little ones, the Sleepy Wrap will be my wrap carrier choice. For one thing, the fabric of the Sleepy Wrap is far superior to the wrap I used. My other reason is the last paragraph of this interview. Read on to discover what I’m talking about!

Andrea: How is your wrap different from all the other wraps out there?

Elizabeth: The “no guess” tying method that gets mom and her little one the perfect fit.

Andrea: How did you go about finding the perfect fabric for the Sleepy Wrap?

 Elizabeth: I wanted ultimate comfort for my aching back and for my son, I did not want anything that would bunch up, pinch or sag.  While gorgeous hand woven fabrics lured me in, I opted to go and check out the knit section instead. Ultimate comfort for my aching back and for my son was my priority. I compared single interlock, double interlock, and french terry knits.  When I saw how durable the french terry was and that it retained its original shape when I stretched it and pulled it in different directions I imagined how snug it would hold my son.  And although it was nearly twice as expensive as the other knits, I knew that my son and I were worth it.   

Andrea: What is the best thing about owning a babywearing company?  

Elizabeth: The best thing has got to be that we bring moms and babies together.  It makes the deepest impression on me to see a mother effortlessly nurture and calm her baby as she holds her little one close in the wrap.   That baby grows in love and simply thrives.  It is truly rewarding to know that we help facilitate this incredible bond between mother and child. 

 Andrea: What is the hardest/most challenging thing?

Elizabeth: The most challenging part of running the company is not having direct physical contact with the moms who are trying out the wrap for the first time.  Although the internet is incredible and it’s possible to communicate pretty effectively through cyberspace, there’s nothing like a smile or a helping hand when a mom might need just a little extra encouragement.

 Andrea: What is the best feedback you’ve received about your product?

Elizabeth: I just read through our long list of testimonials to see if I could find the best feedback and to tell you the truth- each one is truly so touching.  Here I was, a mother simply trying to find the best way to carry my son, and now almost every day since we started selling the Sleepy Wrap I have gotten an email from a mom who can’t imagine her life without the Sleepy Wrap.  One mom said that it was the only thing that comforted and put to sleep her “insomniac baby”.  That made me laugh.  The testimonials section is pretty extensive, I reread them sometimes and it really puts me in awe and makes me feel so good that we decided to put all of our energy into building this business.

Andrea: What is your best piece of advice for parents who are new to babywearing?

Elizabeth: Get something that is comfortable and that goes over both shoulders so you won’t end up crooked.  Remember that your baby needs good support too.   And don’t give up to easily!  Once you get the hang of things you’ll never consider lugging around a car seat again.  As one mom said in her testimonial “it makes mothering sweet”. 

Andrea: Do you have any personal stories about babywearing that you could share with my readers?

Elizabeth: I’ve sat in the movie theater through a three hour movie. Bounced on the turf and explored the cliffs of Ireland. Walked through lush meadows in Slovenia.  Nursed on a camel while visiting the pyramids.  Haggled in the bazaars in Turkey.  Rode in rickshaws in Pakistan.  Explored ancient cities in Iran.  Walked the labyrinth streets of Venice in the rain.  Sat through the Nutcracker.  Fought with the guards in Alexandria to allow me to take a baby into Alexander’s great library.  Hopped over to the islands of the Adriatic. Not to mention swept the floor, did the dishes, and danced like nobody was watching-all while babywearing.  You honestly can do mostly anything and bring your baby with you- and still feel free.

Thank you, Elizabeth, for your awesome words and for putting your heart into a product that has helped so many parents!

To win your choice of  Sleepy Wrap, simply click over to Sleepy Wrap and have a look. Then, come back here and leave a comment on this post, telling me which color of Sleepy Wrap you like best.

To Obtain Extra Entried for all This week’s Babywearing Giveaways, you can do one or all of the following things:

  •  Blog about the Babywearing Bonanza
  • Grab my Babywearing Bonanza Button (see my sidebar) and place it in your sidebar
  • Email five people about the Babywearing Bonanza, and Cc me at: wamcmann(at)telebeep(dot)com

If you choose to earn extra entries, be sure to let me know, so I can give you credit for your hard work!

This giveaway ends on September 12, 2008, at 11:59 p.m. CST.

Read on to learn how to win a Peekaru Original!

If you haven’t figured it out already, I’ll confess: I am a babywearing fanatic! I truly do love all things babywearing, and I get almost absurdly excited when I find a super-cool new babywearing product, especially when you consider the fact that neither one of my kids will allow me to wear them any more!

Recently, I made what I consider to be a tremendous babywearing discovery. It’s called the Peekaru Original, and -call me a nerd if you must- it’s one of the coolest things I’ve seen for quite a long time! There are several basic types of carriers out there, and although each brand modifies and individualizes, the carriers can still be classified into a certain group (slings, mei tais, wraps, etc.). However, once in a while a fresh, completely new baby carrier or accessory will come along and make me think, Wow, I’ve never seen anything like that before! That’s how I felt when I saw the Peekaru Original. This baby carrier accessory looked so cool that I just had to try it out and see how it worked first-hand. Thanks to the good folks at TogetherBe, I got my chance to try out a Peekaru Original, and I’d like to give you a chance, too. But first, my review:

The Peekaru Original is a fleece vest that fits over any soft baby carrier, when baby is on your front. Approximately 85% of this fleece is recycled, saving about 25 plastic bottles from lanfills with each Peekaru made! I found the Peekaru very easy to use. The packaging includes detailed instructions in both words and pictures, which made slipping it on a breeze! It was very warm and cozy, and the mom and baby head holes fit just like shirt openings, with a zipper at the collar of mom’s (or dad’s). In colder weather, a coat can be worn, unzipped over the Peekaru Original. Best of all, the Peekaru is available in several sizes and colors, perfect for women or men. My only regret is that I didn’t discover this amazing product earlier. When my daughter was a happily worn baby, there were many times I had to stick her in her car seat -kicking and screaming- so that I could keep her warm when we went somewhere. If I’d had a Peekaru back then, the car seat would have been reserved for car trips only!

Now, I’d like to offer you the chance to win a Peekaru Original! To win a black Peekaru Original in size Large (12-14), read more about the Peekaru. Then, come back here and tell me what you like best about this product.

To Obtain Extra Entried for all This week’s Babywearing Giveaways, you can do one or all of the following things:

  • Blog about the Babywearing Bonanza
  • Grab my Babywearing Bonanza Button (see my sidebar) and place it in your sidebar
  • Email five people about the Babywearing Bonanza, and Cc me at: wamcmann(at)telebeep(dot)com

If you choose to earn extra entries, be sure to let me know, so I can give you credit for your hard work!

This giveaway ends on September 11, 2008, at 11:59 p.m. CST.

 

 

 

 

Lysa Parker, co-founder of Attachment Parenting International, had so many wonderful things to say that I decided to break my API post into two parts. See yesterday’s post to learn about API Here’s part two, the story of how Attachment Parenting International was formed, in the words of Lysa herself:

Lysa Parker

Lysa Parker

 

“Barbara (Barbara Nicholson, the other co-founder of API) and I met 29 years ago at our first La Leche League meeting in Nashville . She had just moved to Nashville from Texas , she was a leader applicant with her second child and I was a new mom with a 6 month old baby. We were every LLL leaders nightmare going on with side conversations because we found so much in common; we were both special education teachers, both of our husbands were struggling songwriters, both our husbands were from Texas and they knew some of the same people in the music business, we were both breastfeeding and we both had sons. So you can imagine how quickly we “attached” to each other.  Ironically I wasn’t able to attend too many LLL meetings after that but because our friendship blossomed I learned a lot from Barbara as she went through her leadership process and afterward. I managed to attend LLL area conferences over time and after moving to Alabama , I became a LLL too. After five years of being a leader I went back to teaching in the early 90s and became very discouraged by what I witnessed with my students in 7th and 8th grades- drugs, gangs, sex, fighting, dysfunctional families, abuse and neglect etc.

 

Barbara and I actually got to know each other better long distance because after the boys were in bed we would talk on the phone, or go visit each other and stay up late at night trying to figure out what we could do to get the message of AP out to the mainstream as a prevention model for so many social ills.  It finally evolved into API- we knew that AP support groups were popping up here and there but each had their own interpretation of what AP was that usually included lifestyle choices. As we educated ourselves we learned about attachment theory and were amazed that there was actual science to back up the benefits of AP practices (the Baby Bs that the Sears created.) We wanted to crystallize the essence of AP that related to the baby-parent attachment process that could be supported by research. We were amazed that this research had been in existence for over 50 years yet parents had no clue- it wasn’t being integrated into popular parenting advice. So we decided API would do just that- get the research into the hands of parents as well as professionals through our journal. Currently we have adapted and expanded the Baby Bs into API’s Eight Principles of Parenting which we fully describe in our soon-to-be-released book Attached at the Heart: 8 Proven Principles for Raising Connected and Compassionate Children. We eventually started a leader development process and affiliating support groups around the country. The rest is history…it’s been a real challenge learning how to create, manage and fund a nonprofit organization…still is a challenge. Right now we are solely supported by memberships and donations but are seeking grant money too. We have over 100 leaders, 60+ groups, and right now about 40 leader applicants, most of whom will be starting a new support group. We have approximately 1,000 members and over 6,000 subscribers to our Enewsletter.”

Thank you, Lysa and Barbara, for bringing this wonderful, needed organization into reality, and for putting so much love, thought, and effort into your daily work.

This is the third of five posts I plan to write about babywearing charities. You might also be interested in reading Part I of my interview with Lysa, and my interview with Andrea Howard, owner of No Mother Left Behind.

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