MamaCycle

Star has a song that she sings at school.

“Madison is wearing pink pants,
pink pants, pink pants.
Madison is wearing pink pants,
all today.”
Then they go on to the next kid.
One day, Star was singing that song to me while I was getting dressed.
“Mama is wearing a blue sweater,
blue sweater, blue sweater…”
The problem was that I kept changing my outfit.  I couldn’t settle on something that felt right for my workday.  So, Star very politely and patiently, kept modifying the song based on what I was wearing.
“Mama is wearing red pants..”
“Mama is wearing a black skirt…”
“Mama is wearing no pants…”
“Mama is wearing a green shirt…”
A few days later, I told Scott that I needed to go shopping and I wasn’t happy with my current wardrobe.  He, a bit too enthusiastically, agreed.  Then, he said, “You need MamaCycle.”  Genius.
On my best day, I am not a good shopper.  I don’t enjoy it.  Also, my weight is changing (long story, but I’m working on losing a bunch of weight and it’s going in the right direction so far!)  So, my clothes don’t seem to be working right on me.
I need to get rid of a bunch of my clothes, and find some new-to-me stuff that fits now without spending too much money because hopefully my weight will continue to change.  Does this sound familiar?  Yes, it totally sounds like KinderCycle, but on an adult scale.  Do I have time to take on a new project?  Possibly not, but maybe.  What do you think?  Would you be interested in a MamaCycle – swapping women’s clothes?  The tables would be organized by category and size – tops 0-4, tops 6-10, tops 12 -16 and so on.  Thoughts?

Isn’t it ironic

Don’t you think.
It’s interesting to think back to when I started KinderCycle.  I needed to get rid of Star’s stuff that she was done with, and I needed to get new stuff for her.  Nothing existed like I envisioned, so I created it.
Today, KinderCycle is a great resource for me to get rid of stuff.  For this swap, I had so much stuff to get rid of, I had a volunteer come over on Saturday night and I filled up her SUV with stuff of ours to bring to the swap.
Am I able to get rid of stuff through KinderCycle?  Absolutely.
But, unfortunately, I’m so busy during the swaps, that I get almost nothing for Star.  At yesterday’s swap, I somehow got a super cute pair of purple Tea Collection pants in her current size, and some blue corduroy pants in size 3T.  I’m not sure how we ended up with the cords, but they are 70s fabulous, so I’ll hold them for a few months until she can rock these pants.

Is it time for the next swap yet?

Judging by the pile up in Star’s closets, it should be time for the next swap!  But, we still have over a month.  Full swap details are on the swap page.  Sorry for the grainy pictures – these were taken in the early morning light, but I think they capture the pre-swap chaos that Star’s closet and my craft area become.

Oh, Jennifer, did you say you have a craft area?  Yes, I did; and yes, I do.  I’ve mentioned elsewhere that I’m a passionate crafter.  My current crafty obsessions are jewelry making, sewing, quilting, knitting and crocheting.  During my pregnancy, I was super into mosaics, and I had hoped to have a belly cast done and cover it with a beautiful mosaic.  But, as I’ve also said, our daughter came early and I hadn’t yet done the belly cast.

My craft area takes up about one-third of our living room, or “front room” as we call it.  You can see an overview of the area in this picture.  Behind Star, and behind the doggies on the table, is my craft area.  You can see my sewing machine set up on the table.  You can’t see the boxes full of fabric, and the tower full of yarn, but you get the idea.  I try to keep this area for mommy’s special craft area – Star knows that she’s not allowed there, and I try, but fail, to keep KinderCycle out of there as well.

My craftiness has resulted in a few guest blog appearances recently.  My Jellyfish Tutorial was featured on Rookie Moms.   And, last week, the sweater that I turned into a skirt for me and pants for Star was featured on New Dress a Day!  I love both websites and it is such an honor to have my stuff deemed worthy!

Maternity Clothes!!!

I loved being pregnant with Star.  I thought I looked beautiful – womanly and curvy.  And, I loved shopping for maternity clothes which is really strange for me because I am not usually excited about shopping.  I felt like maternity clothes were made to fit the curves that I had (even when I’m not pregnant!)  I mostly bought used maternity clothes – this picture is me in one of my favorite pair of maternity jeans with a super comfy top.

I wish I had saved my maternity clothes.  No, not because we’re going to have another kid, but because now you can now get rid of and get maternity clothes at KinderCycle swaps!  This was requested by many of KinderCycle swappers and I’m happy to accommodate.   I can’t wait to see all the super cute maternity clothes coming to the swap!

When you’re gathering up stuff to bring to the swap, put aside kids’ clothes, toys, books and gear you are done with, and also bring some maternity clothes that you are willing to pass along to another family!  Please remember to clean your items before you bring them.

Our next swap, where we will be launching the maternity table, will be  on March 18th at the South Berkeley Senior Center from 3pm-5pm.

 

 

A Mama’s View

  • Star loves being upside down.
  • She has definite preferences about many things including what she eats and what she wears.
  • It warms my heart when she wants to wear something I made for her.  (In this picture, she’s wearing pants I sewed for her that used to be the arms of a sweater.)
  • This morning, when I was leaving for work, she said “I love you mama.”  It wasn’t the first time, but it is always so touching.
  • Star is very verbal.
  • She loves to sing.  Her favorite songs these days are the ABC song, Old McDonald, Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed, and Row Row Row Your Boat.
  • She also loves any song I make up for her.
  • Last night, Dada brought home used architecture pads (from his office), so Star got to color on big sheets of paper.
  • Star will be 2 in April.  Our former Preemie Burrito has become a full toddler.

Progress Report #2

I posted KinderCycle’s first progress report in June after we had done 4 swaps.  Last week, we had our 8th swap, so, it’s time to do another progress report!

Progress Report #1      Progress Report #2     
# of people signed up on the e-mail list          320 641
# of Facebook likes 123 246
# of Twitter followers not many 80 (still not many)
Swap Attendance 63 families 176 families

 

How KinderCycle Helps Our Communities – I honestly can’t tell you how proud I am that I created an organization that benefits our communities.  Let me tell you how.

  • KinderCycle collects preemie clothes and delivers them to families who request them, and to the Alta Bates NICU.  As many of you know, my daughter was a preemie and most families who have a preemie are in a state of crisis and don’t have time to go shopping for clothes to fit their new little one.  KinderCycle delivers preemie boxes to families in Alameda County regardless of financial resources.
  • Since swap #2, we have had a diaper drive at every swap benefiting Help a Mother Out.  We’ve been able to put diapers on the bottoms of little people who need the help.
  • Swap leftovers are plentiful!  When I tell people about KinderCycle, they are stunned that people can take whatever they want and there is no limit.  I’ve found that people are generally way more generous than they are greedy, and through our swaps, we are able to get clothes, books, toys, blankets, bouncy chairs, strollers, bibs, socks and shoes to families in need.

What’s Coming Next for KinderCycle?  – KinderCycle has grown in ways I couldn’t have imagined when I first launched.  Here are some things that are on the near horizon.

  • I need to figure out how to reach families with 4-6 year olds, or I need to figure out why KinderCycle isn’t a great option for them.  As the kids of the current KinderCycle swappers age, so too will the stuff that comes to the swap.  But, I’d like to do a lot of outreach to attract families with 4-6 year olds.
  • You may have noticed at various swaps that I’ve occasionally had vendors show their products or services.  This last weekend, Urban Sitter came to tell KinderCycle families about their online tool for finding babysitters.  Having vendors allows me to cover my costs (and hopefully someday make a profit!) while not raising the price of admission for my families.
  • With more vendors and with more families coming to the swaps, I need to start scoping out bigger spaces.
  • I’d like to expand my volunteer pool.
  • I’d like to have more charities come to the end of the swap.  Sometimes, my charities get overwhelmed (in a good way!) by all the leftovers.  If I had one more charity come at the end of each swap, each charity would be less overwhelmed.  I’d also like to find a charity to come who will take stuffed animals.  I’ve generally had to take stuffed animals with me after the swaps and then find homes for them.
  • I tweet (infrequently) about KinderCycle, being a mom, law librarianship, knitting, and whatever else is passing through my mind.  I’d like to tweet more, and expand my number of Twitter followers @JPesetsky .

Stuff Coming to the Swap

Happy Martin Luther King day!  I had the day off from my law librarian job and I spent part of the day sorting through stuff that will be coming to the swap on Sunday.

Here’s some of what is coming to the swap from my house.

  • The poncho that Star wore almost every day of the 4 and a half weeks that she had her cast on.
  • A bunch of board books, and potty training books that I picked up from someone who got rid of them through Freecycle.
  • Pants for a tall 3 year old that I found while out on a morning run.
  • A few wooden puzzles – I decided that our house would do fine if we got rid of a few of ours.
  • A pair of white and pink light up shoes – I love these shoes and I’m super sad that Star grew out of them!
  • A bunch of Mega Blocks – our household switched over to Duplo Legos.
  • A Baby Bjorn.
  • The sling that we brought Star home from the hospital in.
  • Some sippy cups that aren’t to Star’s liking.

Can’t wait to see what’s coming from your houses!  See you at the swap!

Gift Giving

I’ll admit that we are difficult to buy for.  We’re vegetarians which eliminates many restaurant gift certificates and sausage of the month clubs.  Our beverage of choice is water which eliminates the standard dinner party gift of wine.

For our daughter, we’ve chosen not to have toys with batteries (some people think this makes us horrible parents, but she seems to be turning out fine.)  We prefer to limit (although not eliminate) the amount of plastic in our lives.  We prefer unique toys – not ones that are the latest fad and easily obtained at a huge box store.   We like bright colors (not pastels), we love wood toys and we try to ensure that she has some colors in her life other than pink and that not all her toys are specifically targeted to the female demographic.  We also prefer used items over new.

We know that we are difficult to buy for and, luckily, we are not the kind of people who think that gifts are required.  We would much rather spend time with friends than receive a gift from them.

Since none of my readers are friends and family who have bought us gifts (ahem, I hope?), I’m happy to disclose that, not surprisingly, there are some gifts we receive that we don’t want.  What my family doesn’t like might work perfectly for another family!  When Star was relatively new in this world, we received as a gift some plastic light up sleep soothing thingy which we definitely did not want to keep around.  I advertised it for sale on BPN and the woman who came over to buy it (to have at her in-laws’ house) has become one of my close friends and our daughters have become very good playmates to one another.  (Once we became friends, I refunded to her the money she paid me for the plastic thing.)

Since we just got through a season which is often associated with gift giving, did you get things for the holidays that are not your family’s style?

Oh, hello!

Ummm, hello there!  It’s always surprising (and gratifying!) when people tell me that they read my blog.  So, I guess I should blog more frequently…

It’s almost 2012, and the next KinderCycle swap is scheduled for January 22nd.  You can see details over at the webpage.  It’ll be at the South Berkeley Senior Center which has become my current favorite location.  It’s not cheap, but I love how many tables there are, the big room and the dependable staff who get there on time to let me in the room to set up for the swap!

I announced the swap on KinderCycle’s facebook page last week, but I’ll do the big publicity push this week and next.  Do you have some friends in the bay area that you think would love to swap kids’ stuff?  Please let them know about KinderCycle and help us grow.  Thanks!

Encore

I love the concept of Encore and I’m guessing you will too.  Encore enables moms and dads to-be to “register” for what they want without specifying brands or colors, so their family and friends can give used or second-hand items.  Felicity, the founder of Encore, agreed to answer some questions for me about Encore.
Jennifer:  Did you have a baby shower?
Felicity:  I had two baby showers, one at work and one hosted by non-work friends.
J:  What were your baby showers like?
F:  Both showers included friends, cake, some shower games, and gifts to help celebrate and prepare for our son’s arrival.  The shower hosted by friends (outside of work) was also a co-ed brunch.  The one thing that was different from any baby shower I had been to before was that we asked for and received secondhand and hand-me-down gifts along with the new items we registered for at our local baby store.
J:  How did you come up with the idea for Encore?
F:  Throughout my pregnancy, I had generous co-workers, friends and family offering me hand-me-downs and asking if I wanted to borrow or have this or that and it was hard to keep track of it all.  There were also friends who wanted to purchase gifts for us and we knew there was tons of pre-owned baby gear out there that would not only meet our needs, but have less of a carbon footprint and a lower price tag than buying new.    Encore was what my husband and I wish had been available for us – a place online where we could register for hand-me-down, secondhand, and new baby gear all in one registry.  A gift registry that was easy to use, had sophisticated features like item pictures and descriptions (because a “bouncer” to me may be a “jumper” to you and an “Exersaucer” to the salesperson at the consignment store), offered a tracking option for keeping items vs borrowing items, and included information about secondhand gift etiquette, and product safety.
J:  When did you launch?
F:  After much planning and work on the site, Encore Baby Registry launched in July 2011.
J:  How do you hope Encore will grow?
F:  I would like to see Encore further legitimize the idea that giving something to someone else, whether it is your time, talents, or material possessions, is still a gift, even if it doesn’t come directly off a store shelf, zip-tied, shrink wrapped, and sealed in a box.  From an operational standpoint, the response has been excellent.  In less than 4 months, Encore has gained users from all 50 states, and we have a growing world-wide presence.  Currently, Encore is in its first phase, and I have many exciting ideas that I will be implementing.  I’m looking forward to our conceptual expansion and continuing to be a resource for expectant parents and families with young children.