it’s friday i’m in love

toadstoolsHappy Friday!! I’m starting this one off with one of my all-time favorite 80s songs. I once listened to this song 17 times in a row in a Circuit City waiting for my new car radio to be installed. And it got better every time.

The video is kind of amazing in a very Sketchbook of Patrick Nagel way. But just feel free to hit play and then scroll down and enjoy these links as you let the waves of Norwegian new wave synth pop wash over you. brownie ice cream sandwichesSo I’m a little late for National Ice Cream Sandwich Day (August 2) but Smitten Kitchen’s innovation of brownies for the cookie part of the sandwich are a genius idea that simply Must Be Tried. Preferably before the month is out. Check out this amazing Motion Silhouette pop-up book from Japanese designers Megumi Kajiwara and Tathuhiko Nijima. You use a flashlight to create moving shadows on the pages. Sooo cool. This would actually be an amazing inspiration for some paper engineering/art projects! Speaking of inspiring, how awesome is this softie convenience store in London. Artist Lucy Sparrow (of course her name is like something out of a Beatrix Potter story) recreated the entire inventory of an abandoned corner store in felt, and everything she crafted is for sale, from the packets of crisps to the till. Oooh, look at me, getting my British on. Tea and crumpets, jolly dee, carry on!

While I’m on the subject of awesome British things, here is a heartwrenching story of someone who’s an even bigger Harry Potter fan than I. (And just so you know, my husband and I spent our first wedding anniversary reading book 7 aloud to each other and drinking homemade butterbeer. NERDS IN LOVE!) Anyhow, this is a really wonderful, tear-jerking story of how the Harry Potter books were a lifeline for another boy who lived. This story is part of a project called “Call Me Ishmael,” a collection of voicemails people anonymously leave about books they’ve loved and stories they’ve lived.

In happier news, I just found out that dirt is nature’s anti-depressant. Apparently, there are microbes in soil that are released into the air and inhaled by gardeners, which can stimulate serotonin production. Finally, the science behind why we’re all happier if our lives include a little playing in the dirt. Yay for microbes, our benficent overlords!

And if all that’s not enough to boost your mood on this summer Friday, I give you BABY PUFFIN CAM.

image via awwww-cute.tumblr.com

Is there any bird cuter than a puffin??? (Answer: yes, a baby puffin.) I dare you to watch these little critters and not smile.

Have a great weekend, kids!

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diy nursing necklace

natural wooden nursing-teething necklace

Happy World Breastfeeding Week! In honor of nursing mothers everywhere, here’s a tutorial to make a stylish nursing necklace. I’ll actually be helping moms make these Wednesday morning (8/6) at Windham County Breastfeeding Coalition’s World Breastfeeding Week party from 10-12 in the Tyler Conference Room at Brattleboro Memorial Hospital, so if you’re local, stop on by!nursing necklace

Why would anyone need a necklace for nursing, you may ask? Well, if you’ve nursed a child past the age of about 4 months, you may have noticed that they are always looking for something to do with their hands while they nurse. Sometimes this is something as cute and cuddly as patting mama’s cheek or hugging her waist, but often it is really suuuuper annoying behaviors like pinching or even worse, the dreaded “Tune in Tokyo.” So my best solution has been to proactively give the baby something acceptable to pinch, twiddle, and squeeze, rather than say, my own body.natural wooden beads

These necklaces are especially great because they’re also completely non-toxic, made with Alexa Organics‘ natural wooden beads and rings finished with beeswax and olive oil, and naturally dyed leather cords from The Leather Cord Store on Etsy. After having two babies who loved (and still love, much to my chagrin) to explore the world by putting it all in their mouths, I think it’s important to make sure anything that’s going to be near your baby’s face is safe for them to mouth and chew on. In fact, these are great as a fashion accessory for any mother whose child likes to grab and chew on her jewelry, no matter how she’s feeding her baby.nursing necklace supplies

There are lots of ways you can assemble these materials to make a cool necklace. The simplest way is, just string a bunch of beads onto the cord, let the ring slide on over them, and knot the cord at the back.wooden beads and teething ring on leather cord

I like this version because the teething ring is big enough to side over the beads, so it makes a cool Saturn effect (well, when you are wearing the necklace in a vertical position, it’s more like Uranus), and it’s something interesting for your baby to do with the beads.

If you prefer a more static position for the ring, you can make a slip knot around itslipknot on teething ring

and then slide an equal number of beads onto each side of it before knotting at the back.knotting the ends

And there you have it! My fellow breastfeeding mamas, I salute you. May your nursing days be peaceful and rewarding, with a minimal amount of pinching and twiddling!

Oh, and PS, here’s one more diy treat for nursing mamas: my patented recipe for the tastiest ever lactation cookies! Bon appetit! (See what I did there?)

part-time princess

pondering the waterfallThis is a strange time to be raising a daughter. For a million reasons, but in this post I’m gonna stick to those relevant to the four-and-under set, as that is the only kind of daughter I have experience with so far. When I first began to have ideas about raising a daughter (years before I had one, which is the best time to be an expert on parenting, doncha know) I was so overwhelmed by the vast swaths of pink presents at a friend’s baby shower for her daughter that I swore that when I got pregnant I was going to keep the baby’s sex a secret from everyone but its father. And then I had an actual daughter and not only shared the news of her girl-ness, but happily accepted hand-me-downs from anyone and everyone and ended up with this:

pretty in pink

When you are parenting an infant (or just thinking about parenting an infant) you feel so much anxiety and excitement about shaping this little person and their whole outlook on the world that it’s easy for small things like what clothes they wear to take on looming importance. After all, an infant is basically just a lump for you to project all your hopes, dreams, gender politics, and neuroses onto. But as time passes and they grow into little people with their own ideas and desires and interests, it often turns out that our kids are not perfect reflectors of our carefully curated gender-neutral worldviews.

I was a disappointment to my own mother in this regard – as a toddler, I thoroughly ignored all the trucks and cars she kept buying me in her earnest 1970s way, and made a fast favorite of the Barbie knockoff that my babysitter, oblivious to my mom’s anti-Barbie leanings, gave me. My own daughter surprised me with her early penchant for baby dolls and shoes, though she is also passionate about monsters. It’s actually been really interesting raising a daughter who is the younger sister of a brother. His influence rounds out her interests more powerfully than I ever could. Thanks to him, at two she could identify at least two dozen dinosaur species, and by three she knew all the planets in our solar system.

Since my own childhood, we’ve made enough progress at gender equality that a lot of my beloved Free to Be You and Me now sounds strange and dated. And yet. Much has been said about the rapacious pinkification of American girlhood over the last couple of decades. And it’s not just about the ubiquitous pinkness of the “Girl” aisle in toy stores. (Which, why is that even a thing?? What could possibly be wrong with just having toys organized by type, not supposed gender of recipient?) It’s about the constant whittling away at little girls’ idea of what it means to be a girl, from dolls with unattainable body types, to hyper-gendered toy choices, to salacious children’s and doll’s clothing styles, to passive or self-sublimating female characters in countless books and movies.

Which is why it’s been so incredibly heartening to see Disney, the prolifigator of the Princess Industrial Complex famous for its conventionally beautiful, wimpy “heroines,” taking some of this criticism to heart and finally coming out with some truly admirable female protagonists. The two most recent Disney princess movies, Brave and Frozen, both feature wonderful, tough heroines who take their destinies into their own hands and have their richest, most rewarding relationships with other terrific female characters. And then I came across this little gem at our local library (picked out by my son, funnily enough):DSC03570Published in 2013 by Disney’s children’s books imprint, Disney-Hyperion, this cute book by author Deborah Underwood, with pictures by Cambria Evans, tells the story of a little girl who leads an ordinary life by day but at night turns into a kickass princess, capable of not only rescuing herself, but everybody else too.DSC03571

I loved that her royal duties include fire-fighting and dragon-taming,DSC03572

And my amphibian- and mud-loving children appreciated that she goes puddle-jumping with her mom, the queen.DSC03574

There is a royal ball, of course, and the princess quells drama by inviting the trolls to dance with her. There’s also a handsome prince there, but, you know, whatevs.DSC03575

Also did I mention that she drives a monogrammed motorcycle?DSC03576

I love this messy, brave, and fun-loving little princess, and I also love that unlike many kids’ stories, her mother was not only present throughout the story, but a total ally in fun and adventure. Role models for the whole family.

tractor baby