Gone Writin’ … kind of

As the summer draws to a close I’ve been counting up my home to-do list wins, like getting back to school supplies early enough before the ravages of parents crazed by complicated lists, or having checked off nearly all of the “Summer Wishes” activities board our family created in June. I’ve also been considering the near-wins and losses, like my yet still half full tub of kid art projects waiting to be photographed for a memory book and recycled, or this poor little blog still languishing with no fresh content. My one consolation was realizing I had posted once since my original Gone Writin’ piece about an epic battle with a stomach flu. (I promise more than infirmity has happened in the following months)

Here’s to all of us who take this season’s change as an opportunity to celebrate our successes, confront our misses, and update our goals.

Field Notes From the Front Lines of the Stomach Flu

[below is the original post from January this year]

It’s ironic that the last post on Niche Envy was about being committed to practicing one’s craft (for me writing) with consistency, and then 11 months pass with nary a keystroke uploaded. The imaginary sign I’ve hung on this humble little blog’s front door reads Gone Writin’, as opposed to Fishin’ or whatever other activity one departs to engage in for any given set of time. It’s also ironic that the absence of words here has meant the sprinkling of words elsewhere. Given the limitations of my time, had I posted on Niche Envy I wouldn’t have been able to submit other pieces.

Perhaps to prove to myself that I’m keeping to Ira Glass’ encouragement, I wanted to round up the various stories I’ve told in the past year or so. I hope you enjoy them!

Finding Our Eye of the Parenting Storm

My thoughts on how having four children in four years has shaped my husband and I as parents and a couple. I hope other parents of young children find encouragement from our experience.

3 Starting Points for Raising Do-Good Kids

Some ideas on how to leverage our kids’ world, talent, and interests to encourage a lifestyle of giving.

How Being a Mountain Guide Prepared Me to Be a Parent

I spend the better part of three summers as a mountain guide. I learned so much more than I was able to teach – and much of it applies to my perspective on how I parent my children.

How We Survived Survival Mode

A small list of not so obvious ways that helped us survive the early days of parenting.

Gratitude in Our Brief Visit to the Pediatric ICU

A look back to when we almost lost our then toddler to a killer virus.

3 Ways to Give Back During the Holidays For and With Our Kids

Exploring how we can make the giving season mean even more for the children in our lives.

My (too) Close Encounter with Virtual Reality and How it Sparked Imagining VR for Good

Putting on a cardboard VR viewer changed the way I think about doing good forever.

Open Source Paper Alphabet

I’ve already noted how much I delight in online sharing and learning and shared learning. Here is another truly lovely example I came across on Pinterest via Jodi McKee (a #mustfollow). Markus of Digitprop has curated, among many other incredible things, a library of three dimensional papercraft letters he designed complete with free downloads and tutorials. Take a look at his work … it’s truly amazing, an inspiring marriage of whimsy and precision. Bravo – for your skill and your willingness to freely share your talent!

Next stop, the craft store for the correct weight paper and an X-ACTO knife … #pumped.

The [doll] House that Crowdsourcing Built

To say “I love social media” on a WordPress blog that will be shared via Twitter and Pinterest – is stating the obvious to the point of blushing. Chances are if you’re reading this, you love social media too (though I wonder if your time would be better spent elsewhere online with much better content). In particular I love the “social” part of social media; the collective sharing, learning, working, meeting. I think it’s phenomenal and it’s what I suppose is one of the altruistic aims. When this aim is in symbiosis with a fabulous product, a fail whale gets its wings. Or at the very least, you have a game changing idea.

I really wish I could remember where I first stumbled upon this genius of an idea, but I do know it was through social media. A dollhouse with simple elegant design that didn’t just leave its walls blank for imagination to run free but comes with an online point of creative departure with crowdsourced ideas to personalize and make it your own. They even crowdsourced their funding through Kickstarter.

Alyson Beaton and her Grow Studio team have designed locally made, eco friendly modular houses using baltic birch and easily replaced recycled paperboard (I’ve already mentioned my affinity for cardboard). They pack flat which is welcome news for those of us whose square footage or patience can’t afford clutter (both apply to me).

I love every aspect of this toy, and what it can become as it’s shared within a online community and IRL. It engages kids to be inspired by the designers’ ideas, share their own ideas and see other kids’ featured work, and learn from how-to tutorials by Esty artisans crowdsourced by Grow Studio.

Having spent untold hours hunting online for a dollhouse that didn’t start its life in an injection mold or display a glaring gender bias, I can tell you that wooden dolly domiciles don’t come cheap. I was thrilled to see that Grow Studio starts their pricing at $12 for adorable mini houses and tops out at $60 for their biggest houses not to mention all sorts of fun add ins and replacement parts to prolong the life of this clever house.

Now that my Christmas list for the girls is locked, I can spend more time fiddling about with the downloads and trolling thrift shops for jazzy fabric the girls can use to make soon-enough-to-be-their Lille Houses theirs. It’s going to be a happy crowd happily crowdsourcing *wah wah* this December!

NOTE: Fab added some of these houses to its list of incredible things to buy – discount is 30%. Sale ends in just under 7 days on Oct 9th 2012. Woot!

Cardboard Chic

One of the traits I aim to foster in my life and my family is good stewardship … simply taking care of the things we’re given, including the environment. One of the ways we’ve tried to achieve this is using cardboard items for the girls – since they outgrow toys or over-love them to the point of destruction in quite short spaces of time.

I wanted to share some of the slickest designs I’ve come across in hunting replacements for the girls’ current cardboard side chairs that are woefully ready to be recycled and replaced. (Note to self: ascertain the best money-making scheme to be able to afford cool new cardboard side chairs).

Designed by Riki Watanabe [1965]
Metropolitan Gallery Inc.

This multiform set just begs to be played with. The stools fit into the table to make a cube to climb, or if you flip the table upside down you have a boat (clearly have spent too much time dwelling on this piece). I love the possibilities here for kids to imagine and play. Comes in stellar colors.

Rip + Tatter designed by Pete Oyler [2010]
Produced by Assembly Design

I adore these clever and comfy looking chairs. Perfect for the girls when winding down after a raucous visit to the kids section in our local library to pour over their literary spoils.

Designed by Manuel Kretzer [2010]
Responsive Design Studio

This last set is entitled Chick ‘n’ Egg Chair – so so so cute. The name is cute, the baby is cute, the shape is cute and artful. I wonder if purchasing this set would necessitate us having a third child to recreate the moment pictured above. Hmm.

Any clever use of recycled materials for kids you’d like to share?