One of my good friends just gave birth last week, and OMG I nearly had a panic attack on her behalf. It seems most mothers I know stand planted in two single-file lines: those who love the fresh scent of newborn babies and find them endlessly intoxicating, and the mothers who have panic attacks on behalf of other mothers the moment that baby emerges from the birth canal. I’m the latter (obv) – the mother who holds memories of nursing issues and chronic tears and clouded judgment in those early days of child-rearing; the one who has a hard time seeing past the hard to acknowledge the good. Pregnancy was hard(ish). Birth was harder. The newborn phase, for me? HARDEST.
I haven’t shared product round-ups or design finds in what feels like years, but I had to take pause and celebrate my dear e-friend Joy‘s newest collection for Land of Nod. Inspired by her daughter Ruby’s own transition to a big girl room, it’s filled – quite literally – with sugar and spice and everything nice. Last night, I opened the most beautiful package with #4, the ice cream pillow, nestled inside, and I couldn’t help but pull together a few more sundae-inspired finds for the young and young at heart alike. (Isn’t that jump rope darling?):
I get a lot of emails asking about what I keep in our home, the types of toys and books and activities that sprinkle our days. And I will first say this: although I am a minimalist, I am also a peacemaker. If it overjoys Bee’s uncle to gift her a thirty pound stuffed Minnie Mouse to display in our living room, and if said stuffed Minnie Mouse delights Bee, then welcome to the sofa, Minnie. Please don’t leave your cheese between the couch cushions, but otherwise, make yourself at home.
Indeed, there are things you don’t choose for your kids – items that are gifted with love that, sure, aren’t your style but are made tasteful by sentiment. The handmade outfits from grandmother, the battery-operated push toys, or if your child is anything like Bee, the plastic army men she perpetually steals from the nursery at church. (This child has very sticky fingers, word to the future.)
For everything else, we get a choice. And while she’s still tiny, I choose to surround herself with a small handful of beautiful, well-designed toys that we both love to share. Here’s the list!
I’m always on the hunt for quirky baby gifts that area (1) easy to personalize, and (2) easy to mail. With so many friends and colleagues spread throughout the states, it’s important to me to celebrate the milestones with a sweet snail mail surprise. So of course, I was crazy thrilled to find these darling handmade flashcards from Hong Kong-based artist Rabbiteartwo.
I have a love/hate relationship with confetti. Sure, it’s beautiful in the moment – a dazzling display of color and whimsy – but then there’s clean-up. And more clean-up. And still more clean-up, months later when you find bits of hued paper remnants stuck to the bottom of your shoe. Enter Throw & Grow confetti, a genius creation that blooms into beautiful wildflowers wherever it may land!
I never tire of a mom-inventor story; a tale of an everyday woman navigating the frenzied world of motherhood when – suddenly – a spark of creativity inspires her to better her surroundings. There’s Michaela. And Tina. And Ayelet and Tiffany and Maiken. And today, I’m adding to the ever-inspiring list with an introduction to Inna Florentin of Ettel Bettel fame.
Museum gift shops are kind of my best-kept secret for discovering new and unique (unewque?) kids’ gifts. From books to games to educational toys, the variety can’t be beat when shopping for all ages. (Also of note? Membership discounts!) And although I don’t have a museum we frequent here in the Midwest, I often take advantage of the following online museum gift shops to satiate my discovery-loving appetite!:
I recently shared the creative journey of Bryony Shearmur – a musician-turned-photographer-turned-author-turned-designer (are you as exhausted by that title as I?), and she mentioned something that has reverberated in my ears ever since – the idea of a creative ecosystem. The realization that our creative lives and passions and dream jobs are the sum of little more than our past experiences or failures or experiments. That our creative life isn’t necessarily linear, but spiraling closer and closer to our core – the point where each interest overlaps and meshes together, creating the ultimate nucleus of passion. And although I haven’t yet reached my core center (although I like to think I’m rounding a close corner!), I was thrilled to read that England-based artisan Becky Kemp is happily crafting in her own passion-fueled nucleus of a kid’s shop, Sketch Inc:
Raising Bee to have a respect and fascination for cultures other than our own is of utmost importance to me. Our world is small, indeed, and we have much to learn from those that walk this great Earth among us – whether they’re poets hiking aimlessly through the mountains of Austria or, in this case, artisans settling into the dry foothills of West Africa. And until Ken and I gain enough confidence to travel the world with an infant, we’re making efforts to surround her with objects that tell the stories of those living elsewhere. Exhibit A: charming baskets handwoven in Senegal.
I’m often asked where to find modern baby books – the kind that aren’t sugar and saccharine, but that are meaningful and high quality and will serve as a landing pad for the scattered memories we so desperately want to hoard during those first few months. And although my old favorite was an admittedly expensive Binth design, I’ve found a new kid on the block that I love even more (at a fraction of the price):