Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Toddler Gift Giving Guide

I always swore I'd never have a kid with a Christmas birthday (because we have so much control over these things), so naturally my little girl has a December 19th birthday. The year she was born was the best Christmas ever, but her 1st birthday honestly sort of overwhelmed me. I put everything off until the last minute and felt pretty beaten down by my expectations versus the quickly approaching less fantastical reality and the general holiday pressure (which can happen whether you're dealing with a December birthday or not). Don't let it happen to you again! I've vowed to finish 80% of my holiday shopping by the end of November, and with all these Black Friday sales I'm feeling on track. My friend Claire from and I put together a gift guide in case you need some inspiration. We focused mostly on small businesses because I know when I have to spend money it feels a little less painful putting it back into my own community, or into the pocket of mama-owned shops. Claire put together the first 2 and some of my favorite gifts follow. 
These gifts give my little lady that that girly-ness she craves, without making me want to barf. It’s all about compromise with toddlers, right?

Madeline Books:
My toddler LOVES the Madeline book series, and they were some of my favorites growing up too, so they are something we can enjoy together. Also, anything that will distract her from making me read "Cat and the Hat" 300 times a day, is a win for me. These books are available almost anywhere.

Nico Nico Long Johns:
This is one of my favorite cozy outfits of the season. A great gender neutral piece that is actually made for day, but I won't judge you if your child wears it to bed. This romper is made of super thick, sweater like organic cotton, and is perfect paired with fuzzy slippers and hot cocoa. 
Yumbox Lunch Box:
As a first time mom I learned quickly, you basically should have an entire meal in your handbag at ALL TIMES. These adorable and modern lunch boxes can hold just about anything without leaking or making a mess, even yogurt!!! My daughter loves hers so much, that she sometimes requests to eat her meals at home out of it. The insert (the part that's holding the food) even pops out, so you don't have to wash the entire thing after each use. I can't say enough about how much we love our Yumbox.
Fly Tots Cushion:
This gift is a personal favorite. I bought one for each of my kiddos and we just love them. My daughter likes to throw herself on to anything soft and this fulfills that need in a stylish way. They're the perfect size to make a comfortable seat but are easily carried around the house by the handy handle on the side. They move from our reading nook to our train table to the center of the living room floor and look good wherever they end up! 
Hanna Anderson Slippers:
These are the cutest slippers I've found this year. We definitely have a footwear power struggle in our house, and I know my girl is going to be so excited to wear these because they look like adorable animals, and i'll also love them for aesthetic reasons, as well as for practical reasons like knowing they will stay on her feet because they are boots. 
Mini Rodini Leggings:
I LOVE leggings on all toddlers. Why should boys have to wear uncomfy jeans and cargo pants. Blah! This print is great for both genders, and seriously, who doesn't like tiger stripes? These super soft pants are made of 100% organic cotton.
Quin Twizzle Lollipops:
Quin candy is handmade in Portland Oregon by some pretty special gals that I happen to know personally. These Lollipops are a reimagined version of an old classic using real ingredients like actual strawberries, blackberries and chocolate. They make such a good stocking stuffer for all family members, as long as you can keep from eating them all yourself.
Tattly Temporary Tattoos:
Tattly makes the most beautiful and artistic temporary tattoos around, that are appealing to both children and adults. I love the idea of a subscription, because your child can look forward to receiving new tats in the mail every month. 
Disney Vans:
I'm not usually a fan of character shoes, but for some reason all the new disney themed vans seem to be tugging at my heartstrings. With options like the jungle book (shown here), alice in wonderland and Winnie the Pooh, you seriously cant go wrong. 
Bright Light Labs:
These colorful lights are not just for the holidays. With options to mix and match colors, you can coordinate with any child's room and taste. I see these as a great alternative to a night light, and a fun way to help a child who is scared of the dark.
Puppet Theatre:
I’m really trying to focus this year on toys that encourage imaginative play (versus pressing a button over and over or whatever), and I LOVE that this pirate-themed puppet theatre can be hung in a doorway or outside! I find my toys get the most longevity when I can put them out of site when we’re not playing with them. Fold this up and easily store it to maintain its wow factor, then hang it up in seconds for hours of fun! 
Maps, by Aleksandra and Daniel Mizielinska 
Maps is loaded with intricate artwork and fun facts. This is fun to read to your kids, but also a blast for your little one to pour over at quiet time, looking at which animals and people are found where. Look for it at your favorite local bookstore!
Boy + Girl outfit, Nico Nico vest and Hansel from Basel socks 
I love to shop and gift in outfits, and this is soft and warm and easy for your little adventurer to throw on for exploring and playing.
Forest Friends Nesting Dolls: 
It’s always a pleasure to find a toy that makes your space more beautiful, whether it’s neatly put away on a shelf or strewn across the floor. These are just cool to look at. I’m overflowing with nostalgia remembering playing with the nesting dolls I had as a girl and love that this toy is in vogue right now.
Black Cat, White Cat by Sylvia Borando:
This book has so much visual interest! It’s a relatively short, sweet story about what happens when a black cat from the day time meets a white cat from the night time. It’s a great way to explore what is different about day and night and satisfy my little girl’s love for all things kitty. Available at all major online book retailers, and likely your local book store too!
Anthem of the Ants Dress, Ultra Violet Kids turban and Hansel From Basel leggings: :
It is so fun to play with color when dressing kids but in my own wardrobe I’m very partial to neutral dressing and think it looks just as sharp on kids (let’s be real, they usually look way sharper than I do). Obviously this dress is everything, and with a turban (this season’s must-have kid accessory) and footless tights it’s easy to make it play-ready. I can’t say enough good things about these footless tights, they go with everything, it takes way longer to grow out of a footless tight, they’re soft and thick, and we’re saved from the slips and falls that come with footed tights. 

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Blinded by the Light and Toddler Fingers

In case of eye injury:
Step 1 - create a makeshift eye patch out of pajama pants
Step 2 - take a selfie and send it to everyone so people
will feel sorry for you
Step 3 - seek medical attention
     There’s nothing anyone can tell you to prepare you for being a parent. Still, a heads up about the frequency and severity of eye pokes from little fingers or toys would have been good. I’ve been brought to fetal position by a baby fingernail to the eye enough that it wouldn’t have been unreasonable to adopt protective eyewear as an everyday accessory. Usually the poke hurts like hell for an hour, there’s some sensitivity for 24 hours and life goes on. This time was different. Tuesday night after Jake had left for some sort of outdoor woodsy hiking fishing manventure, the kids and I were cuddled on the couch watching a movie, when Edie suddenly began wildly flailing her arms about some toddler crisis and my open eyeball was violently swiped with a freshly cut fingernail. I screamed, terrifying the dog and children as I fell to the floor clutching my eye as if my eyeball would rocket out of my skull if I moved my hands. As I continued to feel the searing pain balled on the floor I calmed down enough to let out an unconvincing “it’s okay honey, mama’s fine.” I waited for my words to become true but man, it hurt. After 30 minutes I got up from the floor but it still hurt. It hurt all night but became seriously worse after I drove Holden to school the next exceptionally bright and sunny morning.

     Following the drive I pretty much went blind, but was fortunate to be in the best possible place for it to happen (besides an eye clinic which would have been ideal). I could write a book about how much I love my son’s preschool but on this day I became more thankful than ever for the environment of support fostered by our co-operative preschool (at the co-op there’s one teacher and parents take turns volunteering so we all work together and are invested together in the program and in one another’s kids, it rocks). Mamas immediately surrounded me asking what was wrong and how they could help. The drive messed up my already messed up eye enough that it became too painful to open either eye. You may not have noticed, but your eyes move together, so any movement in my good eye caused my right eye to move, resulting in horrific stabbing pain. I remember saying in all seriousness that I'd rather be in labor. I was too stunned to really know what I needed but before I could figure it out sweet mama friends had ushered Holden into class, adopted Edie into the toddler class for the day, volunteered to drive the kids back from school, babysit in the afternoon, made a plan to bring me dinner that night, and then I was being walked to someone’s car to drive me to the doctor. Without hesitation those mamas took me from overwhelmed and vulnerable to wrapped up in a big community hug of unconditional support. 
Here they are, threateningly wielding their weapons. No one is safe.
      Jake didn’t have any cell service and was hours away anyway so I had to rely on a lot of people and while it was an uncomfortable feeling it also made me feel hardcore #blessed to have so many caring people in my life who I didn’t have to feel bad about leaning on. Feeling completely helpless with 2 kids was terrifying, plus there was the significant pain, anxiety about permanent damage, a head cold piled into the mix, and the fact that I was supposed to be getting on a plane for a long-anticipated girl’s weekend away (still bitter about canceling that). Sometimes you need a lot of shitty stuff to amplify your appreciation for the overflowing cornucopia of goodnesses all around you. Without detailing minutiae, Jake got home that night and spent the next few days shuttling me around to opthalmology appointments and doing everything for me and our semi freaked out kids. Turns out Edie punctured and ripped off nearly the entire top layer of my cornea. It took 3 nerve-racking, trying days to see any improvement, and today, 5 days later, is the first time I can see out of both eyes with minimal pain. I’m elated! Vision is the best! 

The perfect opportunity to
experiment with new looks.
     Life without sight did give me insight into a few things (in-sight lol). Vulnerability and gratitude dominated the experience. It was intensely distressing for me to ask for help but people are so strong and kind and generous, and accepting help is just another way to accept love that people are truly happy to give, even to me! Even to you! When I started to let go of the guilt in accepting help I was able to feel all the love around me and was filled with an eagerness to get better just to pay it forward. The other cool side effect was a sort of calm that filled me during what was essentially sensory deprivation. I never realized how distracting vision is from our other badass senses. After the initial shock and anxiety of not having sight as a tool you can embrace the other stuff and the lack of distraction was actually really peaceful. When my husband finally came home I was able to really hear the butter and gravel in his voice and experiencing the familiar sound in a new way made my heart so happy. I felt my daughter’s cool squishy cheek pressed against mine and my son’s sturdy little arms wrapped around me in a way I wasn’t able to when I was looking past their hugs at whatever else was going on in the room. Even eating was more pleasurable...until I wasn’t hungry any more, which happened much sooner without eyes than it does when I’m staring at my phone, mindlessly shoveling food into my mouth until I feel physical pain. At its best, temporary blindness was like an extended meditation session for me, forcing me to really be in my body and experience that being-ness. Also, I was able to test out the theory that if you do something enough times you can do it blind. I can load the dishwasher blind, I can change a diaper blind, I can feed the dog blind, I can almost make coffee blind but forgot the lid and flooded the counter with coffee grounds and water.

     If I had to choose one takeaway it’s to open your eyes and look at all the color and compassion and love around you, then take the time to close your eyes and feel it too.

 Oh, and wear safety goggles while interacting with children of age 2 months - 3 years.