In defense of toddlers

This past weekend we saw Toy Story 3.   If you haven't seen it, beware spoiler alert!
Toddlers get a bit of a bad rap in this film.  But we think that Buzz makes a solid point.  There is something to the idea of age appropriateness in regards to toys.   If you haven't seen the movie, Andy's toys find themselves in a daycare toddler room and are sorely abused.  They are thrown, colored on, tossed about, sucked on, licked, and ripped apart.  The toys hate it and plan their escape.  Buzz pleads to the big-bear-in-charge to be moved to the preschool room, where the children play lovingly with toys.  He explains that Andy's toys are not meant for the toddler room, that they are not age appropriate for toddlers.  He makes a point, and its one we would agree with.
Far too often, toddlers take the rap for our poor planning.  We give them things that aren't for them, inundate them with rules and expectations, and then become shocked when they protest.  They get called willful and difficult.  They are referred to as Neanderthals by renowned pediatricians.  Synonymous with their stage is the word terrible.  We would be cranky too! 

In full disclosure, we adore this age!  Adore it!  Most people are suckers for the little faces, sweet little hands, and the their language quirks.  But we are suckers for the parts that most people are hell bent on getting rid of.  We say bring on the will.  Bring on the opinions, discernment, and speaking up for themselves.  We should mention that we are big talkers and consequently so are the toddlers we have had the pleasure of knowing.  It has always been confusing for us when we read the conventional musings on toddler's lack of ability to communicate.  This has not been our experience.  We've always found that if we are listening they will let us know what they need.  Have you ever noticed that toddlers often are modeling the adult we wish we could be?  The ability to say "no" efficiently and with no regrets, willingness to express their feelings without censuring themselves, and the ability to get their needs met whether it be for a nap, snack, or "Help me!!".  
What makes them difficult from the adult point of view is our inability to control them.  Just a few short months ago, we could pick them up and plop them down.  Take things away.  Make all the decisions without any consultation.  But now, gone is the go-along-to-get-along spirit that we are used too.  Now we have this person demanding to be heard and often adults don't like it.
They have ideas about how things should go, what they should wear, and what they want to eat.
We have found that working with a toddler is always much more enjoyable than trying to control them. If we want our walls to stay clean- perhaps no crayons or markers until older.   Crayons and markers are so much fun, especially if you have older siblings because it is something that older children use, but since young toddlers don't have amazing fine motor ability yet- drawing on paper can sometimes stifle their creative juices. (Tip: sidewalk chalk washes off in the rain and stays outside. Paint brushes and water leave no traces.)  We have found that generally when toys are played with roughly, then something in the environment needs to change.  Maybe it's nap time.  Or maybe they need more space to run free.  Or maybe the toys in the space do not hold a toddler's interest not because toddlers have short attention spans (gosh, we wish we had a dollar for all the times we were twiddling our thumbs while waiting for a toddler to be ready to move on!) but rather because the toy isn't right for them developmentally.  Often, the toys are too specific.  There is not much to do with a Buzz Lightyear except role play with him.  And since they aren't quite there yet- they make  up new ways to play with him. Toss him, pull on him, lick him.  Toddlers thrive on open ended toys.  Toys that do not have specific rules, expectations, or purposes.  They are developing their creativity, imagination, ingenuity, and autonomy.  This is why they will play with a cardboard box instead of the toy.  They want to be the master of their domain.  They want to be the one creating the play.  Not piggybacking on an other's idea.
 And shouldn't they get to have someplace free of the word that is said over and over to them throughout the day, "no". We smiled for days after hearing Ellen mention on her show that it's no wonder it's a child's first word when that's all we say to them!  Smart lady!  Their play space should be a "Yes Zone". Free of constraints and safe to explore. Then the environment can make everyone's day go a little easier. We don't have to manage their play- hallelujah!  And they will be happy not being controlled!

p.s. One more thought on the impulse to control toddlers, when you think about it it's pretty silly, as a teacher of ours once pointed out "Toddlers got the memo [on who's in charge]. The height gives us away."


Found on Etsy!

Love these prints from Etsy's Beauchamping(via Poppytalk).  Xylene prints to smarten up any room.  
 After seeing a street sign on the Santa Monica Boardwalk with just a frame and missing a sign, the idea for this Street Art poster was born.  But the post and frame were taken down before Beauchamping could hang his artwork.  

Everybody needs a tribe.

We love that the States are proportional, too.


Bergdorf's was listening. . .

We are happy to report that one of our favorite lines for girls, Hucklebones will be making its Bergdorf Goodman debut this Fall.  Awhile back we posted on what we would carry at Bergdorf's and apparently they are finally getting their act together.  We couldn't be happier for Hucklebones!!!


FOUND on Etsy!

Holy Cow, these are some costumes!  If ever you needed a replica dress fit for Queen Elizabeth it seems the Etsy shop Nellie Carave is the place to saunter off to.  For the girl who would live in her princess dress if she could, each dress is "couture finished lining plus inter-lining, heirloom quality fabrics, lightly boned bodice, hand cartridge-pleated skirt and has an adjustable corset-style fitting".

We want one for kicks!



Fall is in the air and these hats from etsy's sweetpeatoadtots are too precious not to share.  Our guess is last year's hats are now too small.  So whether you have a lion or lamb at home, get one of these and let Halloween start early!  


Is it Fall yet?

We have been spared heat much of the summer here in LA, but it's finally found us and, well, we are ready for it to be over.  Is it Fall yet?  Looking forward to cool nights and crisp leaves, we peeked at pictures of leaves changing colors, apple picking, and pumpkin patches.  This amazing swing made by UK company Myburgh Designs really gets you ready for Autumn or pretending you're Cinderella, which we aren't completely opposed to.  Made from recycled copper and handmade by artists, this swing simply reinforces our love affair with all things swing.  What a cozy little nook!
 Once we started thinking about Fall, we were on to Halloween which led to thoughts of costumes.  Here are a couple of fun ones from UK company Cox and Cox.
 We have previously mentioned our love for wings and these feather ones are adorable!
 Who couldn't use a Victorian Character Mask from time to time?
 But aren't you just ready for this?


Marie Chantal

Back to school clothes fit for royalty by designer Marie Chantal, Crown Princess of Greece.  We're lucky to have a store in Beverly Hills but online shopping is available at Marie Chantal


The Green School

Another school that inspires is Bali, Indonesia's Green School.  At the Green School they believe that what, how, and where information is taught matters.  We agree.  These pictures speak for themselves . . .


Back to School

It's that time of year again!  Where did the summer go?  While you are getting your last days of summer fun in, we thought we would show you some of our favorite school designs around the world!

From Tokyo with love!  How fun is that slide?  But who's coming down when the top floor looks like that?
This kindergarten is in Austria.  Do you see the puppet theater?!  Love that!
The architects of this private school in Tel Aviv have thought of everything.  Ball pit! Swings!  Trike path!
And if that's not enough- notice the built ins in the art room. All those little slats to house art work- brilliant!
Oh Berlin- how did we not think of wheelbarrows in the sand pit! Wonderful Idea, thanks!  If you look closely you can see that the children can climb on the yellow mats at the entrance.
For those of us who dream of spending our days outside...Germany gives us the outdoor classroom.


Silver Cross Doll Pram

Don't let the gorgeous craftsmanship deceive you, these are prams for dolls not babies.  Oh how we would have loved one of these for our dolls!  An investment piece that your children and the generations that follow will delight in.  They're going to the top of the wish list!

Find them at Mother Goose.


Bruno Torf's Garden

We are in the midst of a landscape and garden obsession right now and have been sifting through web page after web page and book after book compiling our favorites.  Here is one of our favorite sculpture gardens.
 At one time, it was likely one of the largest in the world.  An amazing 115 piece collection was created by Australian artist Bruno Toro .  Located in the plush forests of Australia's Victoria territory, this garden was located in a magical space filled with whimsy and grace.  Unfortunately, a brush fire ravaged the area in 2009 destroying the artist's home, studio, and many sculptures.  The forest was completely destroyed.  However, they are in the process of rebuilding.  We would love to visit and see the rebuilding process.
We have to say that we have always been a fan of John Williams Waterhouse. So it seems fitting to leave you with the poem that inspired the painting below and the sculpture above.
The Lady of Shalott
Alfred Lord Tennyson
Part I
On either side the river lie
Long fields of barley and of rye,
That clothe the wold and meet the sky;
And thro' the field the road runs by
To many-tower'd Camelot;
And up and down the people go,
Gazing where the lilies blow
Round an island there below,
The island of Shalott.

Willows whiten, aspens quiver,
Little breezes dusk and shiver
Thro' the wave that runs for ever
By the island in the river
Flowing down to Camelot.
Four gray walls, and four gray towers,
Overlook a space of flowers,
And the silent isle imbowers
The Lady of Shalott.

By the margin, willow veil'd,
Slide the heavy barges trail'd
By slow horses; and unhail'd
The shallop flitteth silken-sail'd
Skimming down to Camelot:
But who hath seen her wave her hand?
Or at the casement seen her stand?
Or is she known in all the land,
The Lady of Shalott?

Only reapers, reaping early
In among the bearded barley,
Hear a song that echoes cheerly
From the river winding clearly,
Down to tower'd Camelot:
And by the moon the reaper weary,
Piling sheaves in uplands airy,
Listening, whispers " 'Tis the fairy
Lady of Shalott."
Part II
There she weaves by night and day
A magic web with colours gay.
She has heard a whisper say,
A curse is on her if she stay
To look down to Camelot.
She knows not what the curse may be,
And so she weaveth steadily,
And little other care hath she,
The Lady of Shalott.

And moving thro' a mirror clear
That hangs before her all the year,
Shadows of the world appear.
There she sees the highway near
Winding down to Camelot:
There the river eddy whirls,
And there the surly village-churls,
And the red cloaks of market girls,
Pass onward from Shalott.

Sometimes a troop of damsels glad,
An abbot on an ambling pad,
Sometimes a curly shepherd-lad,
Or long-hair'd page in crimson clad,
Goes by to tower'd Camelot;
And sometimes thro' the mirror blue
The knights come riding two and two:
She hath no loyal knight and true,
The Lady of Shalott.

But in her web she still delights
To weave the mirror's magic sights,
For often thro' the silent nights
A funeral, with plumes and lights
And music, went to Camelot:
Or when the moon was overhead,
Came two young lovers lately wed:
"I am half sick of shadows," said
The Lady of Shalott.
Part III
A bow-shot from her bower-eaves,
He rode between the barley-sheaves,
The sun came dazzling thro' the leaves,
And flamed upon the brazen greaves
Of bold Sir Lancelot.
A red-cross knight for ever kneel'd
To a lady in his shield,
That sparkled on the yellow field,
Beside remote Shalott.

The gemmy bridle glitter'd free,
Like to some branch of stars we see
Hung in the golden Galaxy.
The bridle bells rang merrily
As he rode down to Camelot:
And from his blazon'd baldric slung
A mighty silver bugle hung,
And as he rode his armour rung,
Beside remote Shalott.

All in the blue unclouded weather
Thick-jewell'd shone the saddle-leather,
The helmet and the helmet-feather
Burn'd like one burning flame together,
As he rode down to Camelot.
As often thro' the purple night,
Below the starry clusters bright,
Some bearded meteor, trailing light,
Moves over still Shalott.

His broad clear brow in sunlight glow'd;
On burnish'd hooves his war-horse trode;
From underneath his helmet flow'd
His coal-black curls as on he rode,
As he rode down to Camelot.
From the bank and from the river
He flash'd into the crystal mirror,
"Tirra lirra," by the river
Sang Sir Lancelot.

She left the web, she left the loom,
She made three paces thro' the room,
She saw the water-lily bloom,
She saw the helmet and the plume,
She look'd down to Camelot.
Out flew the web and floated wide;
The mirror crack'd from side to side;
"The curse is come upon me," cried
The Lady of Shalott.
Part IV
In the stormy east-wind straining,
The pale yellow woods were waning,
The broad stream in his banks complaining,
Heavily the low sky raining
Over tower'd Camelot;
Down she came and found a boat
Beneath a willow left afloat,
And round about the prow she wrote
The Lady of Shalott.

And down the river's dim expanse
Like some bold seer in a trance,
Seeing all his own mischance--
With a glassy countenance
Did she look to Camelot.
And at the closing of the day
She loosed the chain, and down she lay;
The broad stream bore her far away,
The Lady of Shalott.

Lying, robed in snowy white
That loosely flew to left and right--
The leaves upon her falling light--
Thro' the noises of the night
She floated down to Camelot:
And as the boat-head wound along
The willowy hills and fields among,
They heard her singing her last song,
The Lady of Shalott.

Heard a carol, mournful, holy,
Chanted loudly, chanted lowly,
Till her blood was frozen slowly,
And her eyes were darken'd wholly,
Turn'd to tower'd Camelot.
For ere she reach'd upon the tide
The first house by the water-side,
Singing in her song she died,
The Lady of Shalott.

Under tower and balcony,
By garden-wall and gallery,
A gleaming shape she floated by,
Dead-pale between the houses high,
Silent into Camelot.
Out upon the wharfs they came,
Knight and burgher, lord and dame,
And round the prow they read her name,
The Lady of Shalott.

Who is this? and what is here?
And in the lighted palace near
Died the sound of royal cheer;
And they cross'd themselves for fear,
All the knights at Camelot:
But Lancelot mused a little space;
He said, "She has a lovely face;
God in his mercy lend her grace,
The Lady of Shalott."
The Lady of Shalott
Alfred Lord Tennyson
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