Loveliness- ABC Carpet & Home

We make trips to New York just to visit ABC Carpet and Home.  In love with this store for years, imagine our delight when they recently launched an online store.  It's not a substitute for the brick-and-mortar but if you need the perfect gift or an elevated design element for your home, their site will do the trick.  Classic, timeless, well-crafted pieces that will fill your environment with beauty.  Inspiration for children of all ages!

These children's towels were one of the sweetest finds on our most recent trip and are available online.  Happy Shopping!


A Midsummer's Play

Phipps children c.1914-1916.

 We all know children are supposed to play.  We know about the importance of play.  About the way children learn through play.  But do we really understand it?  As adults we sometimes treat it as though they are simply waiting until something better comes along.  Until they learn to read, write and become like us.  Then no more silly dilly dallying.  On to the important stuff.  But if you have ever been able to bear witness to a child's true work, you would see all that they learn while "fooling" around.  It becomes apparent while watching children play that it is there that our true nature lies. We were meant to play.  To find joy in the littlest of things.  Make the greatest things out of the humblest of objects. 
Allowing children the ability to truly play requires both everything and nothing from the adult. It requires our full commitment to the integrity of their work and their environment.  It requires that we take very seriously what they do during play and then it requires we back away and allow them the space and time to do so.  This is their time not ours.  Children play very differently when adults are not watching.  Their play grows more sophisticated, more elaborate.  They stay focused longer and work harder at solving their own problems.  They can immerse themselves in their work.
Our work as facilitators of play has taught us the delicate dance between children and adults during play.  One thing we know for sure is that the environment we establish will either uplift or uproot a child's play.  One way that we can elevate a child's play is through carefully choosing the objects they will use.
Famed developmentalist, David Elkind speaks in his book The Power of Play on how abundance can lead to contempt in children.  When they have too much. . .they cannot cherish it all.  Children with an abundance of toys and in environments where adults show them how to use the toys are far more destructive and careless with their toys than children who have fewer things and are allowed to play uninstructed.  In our careers as nannies, we have learned the art of pruning a child's play room.  Our rule of thumb has always been to not have more toys out than an adult is willing to clean up at the end of the day.  And as children grow into elementary school, only the amount of toys that they wish to help clean up.  Containers, bins, drawers, closets, and the Brother P-touch have been our best friends at times!  When toys are no longer being used during the day we take it as a cue to rotate them out.  Put them away for awhile and introduce a new container.  Introducing a new container also helps when conflicts are starting between toys.  When this happens consistently and there seems to be no resolution in sight, sometimes simply walking into the playroom and picking up those toys and introducing new ones can change the climate for the day.  Having noticed how important the environment can be to the success of the day,
  we have started to wonder what the message that toys which are poorly made, easily broken, and/ or  easily replaced sends to children versus the message of objects which were carefully constructed, are sturdy enough for them to be used over and over again, and are not easily replaced.  Has anyone else noticed how silly it is that trucks are now made of plastic!  How much filling and dumping can happen if the weight of the wet sand may break it!  How frustrating for everyone!  (This one is still guaranteed for life!)
We mean well when we are buying those flimsy, silly things.  And we are as guilty as anyone of buying something at a gift shop which will just wind up in the trash in a couple of days. (Everyone needs a little novelty in their lives once and awhile!)  But if we are constantly buying without consideration of the message those objects are sending, we are not helping establish an enriching environment for free play.  We are in fact hurting it.

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Sophisticated Baby Nursery

Lauren Liess' dashing baby nursery was brought to our attention by one of our favorite Aussie bloggers, Emma Clement, of the lovely White & Wander.  We loooove navy and what a handsome baby nursery it makes!  Be sure to check out the before and afters of Lauren's entire home on her inspirational design blog, Pure Style Home .  

(photos via pure style home)

Here's a taste of the kitchen.


Going to the Lakes

Being from the land of 10,000 Lakes, Summer to us always means going to the lakes. We happened to grow up in one of the few towns in the state that did not have a lake within a 5 mile radius. On the weekends, an exodus would occur. We would escape the heat and humidity by heading to lake country. Every summer the wish to hop in the car and head to lake country is strong. This is the next best thing to being there. Etsy, which has long been a go-to-stop for handmade gifts, clothes, and art is also an amazing place to shop for fantastic art.
A little food for the soul for those of us longing to be at the lake, sitting on a dock and hearing the loons!

Foresthaus is a Minnesota based Photographer!

 Two above:

Happy Days! Have fun everyone!


Lippiselk Sleeping Bag

Shopping for camping supplies over the weekend at our local sporting goods store, we stumbled upon Lippiselk's Sleeping Bags known as the Musuc Bag.  How fantastic are these sleeping suits?  

Camping out in the backyard just got even more exciting.  We imagine requests to wear them indoors as astronaut costumes or whatever else their bright minds dream up.  They even come in grown-up sizes so you can play along and be an entire family of happy campers!  


Rainbow Bright

Earlier in the week we posted on painted driftwood but check out this tree, known as the Rainbow Eucalyptus(via Honestly. . .wtf).
(image via flickr)

It looks painted but is a natural coloring that happens when the tree sheds its bark at different times throughout the course of its life.  Amazing.  Have you ever seen one?  We would have thought to paint bark a lot sooner had we seen these brilliant trees.

What's more?  The blog, Honestly. . .wtf has fabulous summer crafts for all of your tweens and teens.  Remember friendship bracelets?  Well, they have a great tutorial in case you've forgotten and want to teach your hipster child.  Plus, with D.I.Y. ideas for shredding t-shirts and Shibori(Japanese tie-dying) you'll be the coolest adult around.  Their ideas are so chic that you can tell your tween pals you are doing a "design project" rather than a "craft". . ."honestly".


Eco Friendly Beach Toys by Green Toys

We love Green Toys and this year they have expanded their line.  They continue to be the leader in BPA and PVC free toys.  Their beach toys are durable and will make great additions to the sandbox once summer has passed.  Check out the great design on the tugboat allowing it to double as a watering can!


To Share or Not to Share ... Part 2.

 Now what if someone took the latte?
Does it matter who takes it?
George can have it with a smile.
We were gonna give it to our friend.
We don't want it now that the smelly guy has it, but are completely bummed that he took it.
And that rude guy- we are probably gonna take it back and mention that it was ours!
Obviously somebody doesn't understand possession. The latte was ours- not his. We generally assume that those guys understand that taking a latte that looks delicious means that someone else no longer gets to delight in drinking it.
When a young toddler takes a truck away from another at the park- there is no thought of the other person's feelings.  It's pure impulse for the shiny object. Young children, because they do not understand possession, cannot be asked to share. They simply won't understand that by taking what they want there is an effect to another. What many toddler experts have found is that children who have been allowed to observe another child's reaction to an object being taken are more likely to develop empathy quicker than children who have not.  When Sarah takes Henry's toy and Henry cries, if an adult can hang back and not "fix" it ( i.e. admonish Sarah for not being nice, friendly, or not sharing and returning the toy to James), Sarah will generally notice James' tears and in more situations than we can count return the toy or find a new one for James' to play with. If we do not provide the solution sometimes they will find a better one.  Famed developmental theorist Jean Piaget once said "Every time you teach a child something you forever rob them of the chance to learn it for themselves." In so many situations between small children our desire for them to be good outweighs all the good that can come from them learning on their own.
If you are feeling really uncomfortable with just watching situations happen some advice that has helped us throughout the years is from from famed child psychologist Haim Ginott- remember to speak in "I" statements. "I want you to give that back" "I don't want you to take that shovel" And speak only to the problem."James is crying. He wants the truck." 
And keep in mind the old saying "Monkey see, Monkey do" -if we are models of generosity and kindness, wee ones can't help but follow suit. And as long as we aren't constantly reminding them of how magnanimous we are (no one likes a show off) they are sure to ease into sharing because it's just what we do!

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To Share or Not to Share... part 1

Should a 15 month old be expected to share?
Parents were split on this question, which would explain the chaos at any city park.  Grandparents and non-parents were slightly more sure of the fact that young toddlers should in fact be expected to share. Unfortunately, for those adults and more to the point the young children in their care, research offers the opposite answer. Children this young cannot be expected to share their toys. In fact many developmental experts place the age of expectation (where you can reasonably assume consistency) around late preschool for comfortable relationships and early elementary school for less familiar relationships.
We know at this point you may be reeling and thinking "That's ridiculous! It would just be a free for all!" or "How can they learn if we don't teach them?" or "They will all be brats!"
This is a rather complicated issue. In one of our favorite books, Becoming the Parent You Want to Be- this topic takes up a whole chapter.
So bear with us, there's a lovely middle ground between forcing a child to do something they cannot developmentally handle and feeling like the world is going to cave in on itself if you don't teach your child manners.
But just take a moment and think about your day.
How often do you share something that's really important to you?
The next time you are at the park and you've brought your morning latte think about how likely it is that you would share it.
What would make you give away your morning treat?
What if the person was a perfect stranger? You may offer help- you may mention where you stopped for your desirable drink and give the other person directions. 
What if the person was rude? Nope.
What if the person was dirty and creepy? Not a chance.
What if the person was George Clooney? Certainly- who needs to drink coffee-you're awake now!
What if the person was your friend and you knew she was having a hard week and looked like she could really use a pick me up? You might offer it to her.
And what is the difference between these scenarios?
Empathy and a connection. True sharing is more than just the giving up of an object. The act requires the ability  to empathize or predict the need of another and act on this assumption.
(So sharing with Clooney isn't so much sharing -as it is bribery.)
It's the ability to understand that other people have feelings and desires too. " I can see you want it. Your want is greater than mine so you have it." But you cannot understand an other's feelings until you understand that you are an individual and you understand your own feelings and desires.
This act cannot become a series of rote rules. It loses the lesson. When we tell a child to go against their personal desire to please another we've just taught the art of people pleasing not the act of sharing.

Our hearts are in the right place, we want world peace and so we will start at home or the park. We want our children to be kind, loving, generous, giving people. But here is where our belief of the world fails us, we think we need to make that happen instead of trust that they are fundamentally kind, loving, generous, and giving. And when you can trust that -giving up on sharing at the park gets a little easier.
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Driftwood Art by Ginette Lapalme (via Design for Mankind)

We love this whimsical Painted Driftwood by Ginette Lapalme.   Many Summers were spent collecting driftwood from Minnesota's lakes but we didn't think to paint it.  What an inspiring indoor art project for a triple digit Summer afternoon.  Look for driftwood on your next trip to the beach(or lake if you're landlocked) and you'll have the perfect canvas for painting.  Even if they don't turn out as precisely as Ginette's we guarantee you'll have a blast.
(image via designformankind)


Petit Fournier-Winter in July

We know it's hot but Fournier's gorgeous 2010-2011 line is too beautiful not to show you.  Available beginning in August here is a sneak peek.  Made from baby alpaca or an alpaca/bamboo blend they are hand knit, making them truly one of a kind.

(Photos via Fournier's lovely blog andsoiwhisper)


Water Filtration through Play

(from LA Times)
Have you all seen this? This is innovation. Amazing. There is nothing better in this life than when brilliant minds use their power for good! Atopia Research, along with the Annenberg Foundation created this soccer field  (otherwise known as a pitch) which has used shipping containers underneath that will hold classrooms, health clinics, and community meeting rooms. The top is made of perforated polypropylene material allowing water to pass through and be filtered then collected in cisterns below. The architects predict that in areas which receive five inches of rain a year the soccer field will be able to capture, filter, and store over 2 million liters of water!


Swing Beds

Two of our favorite things: swings and outdoor beds join to make the glorious swing bed.  An outdoor nap during the cool hours of a Summer day is rejuvenating for adults and kids alike.  Magda Gerber, one of our child rearing gurus advocates outdoor sleep and so do we.  Do you have fond memories of sleeping outside maybe on a porch, beach, dock, or tent?  We do.  Fresh air and feeling a bit like a rebel.  Heavenly Freedom.

(Photos via BHG)

(Photo via Coastal Living)
(Etsy's Tim Laursen)


Silly Grownups

(still from Mike Leigh's  Grown-Ups)
Sometimes we aren't as smart as we think we are. A survey conducted a decade ago this month through the combined efforts of the Zero to Three Organization, Civitas (a non profit), and Brio (the toy maker) revealed the awful truth about the knowledge American adults have in regards to child development.  This survey of over 3,000 Americans (some with children, some without, and some with grown children) exposed the deficit that most American adults have when it come to the world of children. It's often joked that babies don't come with an owner's manual and parenting certainly isn't taught in our schools. So most adults rely on information they receive primarily from their spouses and their mothers. Unfortunately for them this study shows that their spouses know some, but their mothers are even less informed than they are.
(Voyage en douce by Michel Deville)
This survey shaped the way we see children and the way we care for them forever.  In many ways it allowed us to see down the rabbit hole and have that moment when you realize that you don' t even know what you don't know.
The questions asked in the survey had such interesting answers that became even more amazing when we researched the topic a bit further.  Simply reading the survey and the comments made by the authors allowed us to gain a much deeper understanding into a child's world.  It also pointed us down a path filled with teachers and philosophies that changed our lives.

We are saddened to admit that if this survey were conducted today many adults would answer the questions the same.  There are many beliefs that are deeply entrenched in the adult psyche.
There is so much rich information in this survey that we are going to take the questions one at a time, but for now here is a sampling of the questions we will be speaking to in the coming weeks... Please feel free to take part in our own informal survey by leaving your answers anonymously if you wish...
Should a 15 month old be expected to share his toys?
Is a six month old too young to spoil by giving her too much attention?
How young can a child experience depression?
Does spanking your child teach them self control?

We will tackle each of these questions in posts to come. Some of them may seem hard to answer with a simple yes or no, feel free to give us your full answer.
If you want to see the whole study, we have the pdf saved and can email it to anyone who emails us. It's getting harder to find online these days.


Organic Beachwear

Kate Quinn Organics has us in love with their organic French terry line.  Terrycloth is so soft and super absorbent; defiinitely a match for the beach!
Perfect Sunhat.
Sweet bikini.

Nothing like a traditional sunsuit!


Eco Friendly Pool Toys

What a difference a year makes.  Last year, there was only one company(that we could find) making pvc-free flotation devices but now there is EverEarth, too.  PVC becomes toxic at temperatures above 86 degrees and let's face it the Summer Sun can bring the temp to triple digits.  That's why we love that EverEarth is offering swimming supplies made with biodegradable and phthalate free TPU(thermoplastic polyurethane).  It's definitely the safer choice.

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