The Spontaneous Joy of Play

“Will you play with me?” It’s perhaps the most quintessential question of childhood. And it’s the question our little boy asked his uncle during a recent family gathering. 

“Sure! What do you want to play?” came the reply.

An expression spread over our little guy’s face, as if to say, “Oh, wow, I have no idea. I hadn’t got that far yet.” After a pause, he said, “Just run around and play!”

And so they did. Our little girl joined in the fun too, as their uncle chased our kids with bursts of laughter ensuing. Evidently, they decided to roam around and mimic the roars of prehistoric animals, including sabertooth cats and woolly mammoths. They loved every second of it.

Watching my kids chase their uncle, it struck me: this joy just happened spontaneously. It was not planned, researched, or analyzed. It just started with a simple decision: let’s play.

Kids don’t feel the need to have all the answers. Life washes over them, and joy flows naturally.

As grownups, we sometimes forget the wisdom of our youth. We fall into the trap of thinking that, for life to be fruitful, we must plan every hour of every day. Our overreaching minds tell us that we must have all the answers before taking the first step.

To a certain degree, we are right. We have to plan for work and home responsibilities. After all, dinner has never prepared itself.

But we can also embrace the wisdom of our children too. There are moments, everyday, when we can simply play, when we can embrace the present without knowing the future, when we can take the first step in a journey without a specific destination in mind.

If only for a few moments, we too can discover the joy and freedom that our children cherish.

summer shipping break

Our shop is on a summer shipping break through August 14th, as we take a chance to soak up the goodness of summer with our family.  So what does that mean for you all?

USPS First-Class/Standard shipping is on us for all domestic orders during placed during our shipping break (August 7-14).  All U.S. orders will ship out, via USPS First-Class/Standard, on August 15.

And for our international friends, you'll save $5.00 off of your usual shipping costs during the summer shipping break too. A little something for everyone.

There's no promo code necessary (the shipping costs are zeroed out for our US customers and discounted for our international customers at checkout).

Hope you and yours are enjoying the summer too!  Oh, and stay tuned...we're also working on some new styles, including our thermal long johns, to be released this Fall!

With gratitude,

Sarah & JP (Co-Founders)

Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs

Our tradition the past 3 years has been to celebrate the start of spring with our naturally dyed flower imprinted Easter eggs. There's something to be said when you can appreciate each step of the process just as much as the end result. From the gathering of the first blooms in our yard, to the tying of the eggs, to the fishing out from the dye baths- each step generates so many "ohhh it's so beautiful!"s and "oh my goodness how precious!"s, reminding me to find comfort and contentment in this sweet journey of life. I thought I'd share our process for making ours in case you have yet to make your springtime eggs!

naturally dyed easter eggs-001.JPG

What You Need:

-  12-18 hard-boiled eggs (for instructions on hard boiling, here's a basic recipe!)
-  old pantyhose (finally found a use for those old things in the back of your drawer!)
-  string
-  small fresh flowers and leaves
-  vegetables for dyes (I used beets and red cabbage)
-  white vinegar

Instructions:

-  Prepare hard boil eggs and cut the old pantyhose into approximately 4 inch pieces. Since the whole process of flower imprinted eggs can be a bit more time consuming, I try and prep what I can without the kids so that when they are ready to dive in, I can have the materials all ready to go. This is an easy step that I can do the night before.
-  Collect small flowers and leaves. This is one of my 5 year old twins' favorite part. We love walking our yard together and seeing what is popping up, and it's a little celebration of spring in itself. Usually not much is blooming yet, but the tiny flowers we find are just the perfect size for the eggs. Fern-shaped leaves also turn out beautifully.
-  Prepare dye baths. Since the wrapping of the eggs can take a bit of time, I always get the dye baths going so they can boil while we wrap. I used this tutorial for preparing the dyes.

naturally dyed easter eggs-002.JPG

-  While the dye baths are boiling, we wrap our eggs. The actual wrapping is difficult for children, so they help me with picking what they want to put on the egg and laying it on for me. Most flowers we put face down as it is easier to get flat that way.
-  I then take a piece of the nylons and stretch it across the top of the flower and it press down and around the egg and gather it all in the back and twist it. Now that my kids know how to tie knots, they help me take the string and wrap it around tightly in the back while I hold the pantyhose in place (so I don't have to use my teeth to help me anymore to do it all myself ;)

naturally dyed easter eggs-003.JPG

-  Enjoy the beauty of the flower pressed eggs in itself while the dye baths cool to room temperature :)

naturally dyed easter eggs-004.JPG

-  Slowly drop the eggs into the dye bath jars. Usually, I keep it simple with just two dye colors. And in a 3rd jar I mix the two colors together to see what happens! Refrigerate until desired color is reached- we soaked ours overnight. This also teaches delayed gratification since you have to wait quite a bit!

naturally dyed easter eggs-005.JPG

-  Fish out the eggs with a spoon and carefully cut the nylons open and remove from egg. Gently pat dry with a cloth and enjoy each unwrapping as your children squeal in delight!

naturally dyed easter eggs-006.JPG

The left ones were the beet and red cabbage dyes mixed- I expected them to turn more purple-y but perhaps I had more cabbage dye than beet! The middle ones were the red cabbage and were my favorite. The right were the ones soaked in the beet dye, which didn't come out as intensely pink as they had in years past but I love the subtle nature of them!

Thanks to Michelle @danceypantsdisco for inspiring me years ago to try this with my kids. I love that it is now our own little tradition.

A Day Without Being Plugged In

It’s only by keeping a distance from the world that I can begin to see its proportions and begin to try to sift the essential from the fleeting. I feel that so many of us now have the sensation of standing about two inches away from this very crowded, noisy, constantly shifting big screen, and that screen is our lives. It’s only by stepping back that we can see what the screen is communicating.” - Pico Iyer, on his TedTalk "The Art of Stillness.”

This past Sunday, we tried something new. From sunup to sundown, we treated our iPhones as, well, just phones and nothing else. We did not check email, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or browse the Internet.

At first, it felt a little strange not to wake up in the morning, check email, check the news, check the weather, and check social media. As the morning wore on, we both felt the urge to unlock our iPhones and “connect” with the digital world out there.

But then, something unexpected happened. As the day continued, our desire to check our iPhones began to fade. We felt liberated from being plugged in. We didn’t sneak away to check email, monitor new orders coming in, or see what’s happening politically.

At the end of the day, I suspected that I would be excited to catch up on the day’s news and reengage in social media. But truth be told, my urge to plug back-in diminished as nighttime approached.

In our own small way, we practiced what Pico Iyer would call the “art of stillness,” helping us to re-focus our attention and re-establish our intentions by taking a break. We chatted with friends after church while our kids played on the playground; we sat around a gathered table as a family to enjoy a good meal; and we just slowed down—a refresh we needed as we headed into the week.

Importantly, we discovered that just one day is enough to start disrupting unconscious habits and impulses to check our phones. As a small business, we rely upon technology—and heavily on our iPhones—to connect with mamas and papas around the world. We are grateful for this digital community, which has even blossomed into friendships outside the digital realm.

We do not want to disengage from technology. Rather, we want to engage in our digital lives more deliberately. To us, it’s just as important to step back, if only for a day, to help us re-focus on the truth, beauty, and goodness all around us.

Medium Far Behind

When biking through the neighborhood with our 5-year-old twins, I’m usually a few feet from their back wheels. They lead the way, but I follow closely to make sure they look both ways before crossing a street, to pick them up if they fall, and to mediate any disputes on which way to turn next (yes, those do happen!).

But this weekend, something changed. Our kids turned around and told me, “Daddy, follow medium far behind.” After some negotiating, we determined that “medium far behind” meant roughly one block — close enough to see them, call to them, and speed up to them quickly…but still far enough away to give them the sense of camaraderie together, on their own little adventure, making their own choices, and looking out for each other and themselves.

Proudly, I watched them stop at each crosswalk, hold out their little arms to stop the other from going, and then pedaling away together. They didn’t argue over who led, which way they turned, or how fast to pedal. They seemed really happy.

And I wasn’t there to listen to their happy chatter and be part of their adventure. I was medium far behind, close enough to zoom in if needed and yet far enough away to give them space.

Part of me wanted to pedal within a few meet of their back wheels again and soak up their companionship. But I knew that my presence would spoil their moment, their sense of adventure, their reliance upon each other, and their confidence in themselves. They needed those moments of me being medium far behind.

And that’s when I realized that, if I’m doing my job correctly as a parent, I’ll sometimes need to be medium far behind. They need to experience the joy and responsibility of thinking for themselves, being on their own, and growing into confident and independent human beings.

It may sound cliched, but this journey of parenthood is like none other. When our kids were newborns, spending their first week in the NICU, they needed us to be super close — none of this medium far behind stuff. 

But as they mature, they’ll need their own adventures; they’ll need to test their own mettle. They’ll need us to step back so as to let them step forward. It’s bittersweet to be a parent sometimes, knowing that progress sometimes means becoming less so our children can become more.

But truth be known, it’s much sweeter than bitter. Sure, I felt a touch of disappointment that I couldn’t hear my kids talk to each other as they navigated their way through the neighborhood. But that feeling was overwhelmed by a sense of pride and contentment, watching them test their wings and practice flying.

Because someday, they will be ready to fly on their own. And I’ll remember those moments of being medium far behind and be filled with love and joy.

It’s All About the Activity, not the Thing

The best toys focus a child’s attention on the activity, not the thing.  

This subtle insight comes from Kim John Payne, author of Simplicity Parenting — a book that we sometimes find ourselves re-reading as we strive to simplify our own lives and re-focus our family’s collective attention on what is true, beautiful, and good (while stripping away all the excess noise).

As we think about it, our kids’ favorite toys really do focus their attention more on the activity and less on the actual toy itself. We cherish the toys that entertain our kids for long uninterrupted stretches; the toys that make us parents grateful; the toys that add value, not clutter, to our lives.

Take bikes, for instance. Our kids have always loved bike riding — from their first few tentative steps on their balance bikes to their confident riding on their pedal bikes. We explore the neighborhood, cruise down our neighbor’s gently inclined driveway over and over, and bike to the park and farmer’s market.  

Their bikes become the vehicle — quite literally — through which our kids explore. They are focused on pumping their little legs (“Mommy, do you think I’m as fast as the speed of light?”) and enjoying the thrill and freedom of being on two wheels.

As makers of merino wool children’s wear, we identify with the maxim that a well-made product focuses attention on the activity, not the thing. For this reason, we design clothing that lets you and your child focus on life’s important activities. 

Our merino long johns are the coziest softest pajamas while also being a temperature-regulating base layer for winter’s outdoor fun. Designed for cozy sleeping and active play, our long johns allow kids to go from activity to activity without missing a beat.

In our estimation, the best clothes focus a child’s attention on the activity, not the thing. Here’s to celebrating that which is true, beautiful and good in your family’s life.

Denver Starlight Market Recap

Nothing like hot cocoa sipping, wreath making, photo taking, and supporting your favorite indie brands to get in the holiday spirit. This past weekend we hosted the 2nd annual Starlight Market. We are filled with gratitude as we think about all the vendors that came together to put on such a lovely event, and the community that gathered to celebrate the season. It's really the simple joy of gathering that is the most meaningful. May the season be merry!

Big thanks to all our friends:

Booth vendors: Chasing Windmills, Hazel Village, Monroe Workshop, Artifact Uprising, Sunday Supply, Wunderkin, Simplysuzys, Lana's Shop, Winter Session, Remy & Rose

Photobooth (including the portraits in front of the greenery photo backdrop above!):         Artifact Uprising

Florals and wreath station: Flora by Nora

Logo, Signage, Coloring sheets: Lana's Shop

Lounge Area: Leather mats by Gathre, washable pillows and blankets by Lorena Canals, and baby loungers by DockaTot

Hot cocoa: Peteybird

Event Consultation & Setup: A Vintage Affair

Venue: Blanc

Today Is Everyday

Kids don’t mean to be so profound, but they just can’t help it. Their youthful wisdom spills out freely and beautifully.

Yesterday, I picked up our kids from kindergarten and benefited from one of those nuggets of wisdom. Sarah is usually the one to pick up our kids from school, but she’s been working like crazy to plan and prepare for this season's holiday markets.

And so, I had the pleasure of picking up the kids from school. When we change our schedules around, however, we first paint mental pictures of the day-to-day routine for our kids. “Tomorrow, Mommy is going to drop you off at school, where you get to play all morning and eat yummy millet rolls, and then Daddy will pick you up,” and so on and so forth. When they know what to expect, they just seem to digest the day better.

And so, when I picked up our kids from kindergarten yesterday, I launched into one of those mental pictures of what the next few unpredictable days would look like.  I started with, “All right, for tomorrow…” before my little boy stopped me.

He said, “But Daddy, everyday is today.” I stopped myself and smiled.  Yes, it is, little buddy, yes it is.

He is right. We live entirely in the present, but we dwell on the past and plan for the future. As grown-ups, we cannot forget the past or walk blindly into the future. At the same time, however, we must ask ourselves: how much of the present is lost because of worry about what has been and what will be?

For the rest of the day, I tried to embrace my little boy’s mantra of “everyday is today.” I tried to remind myself to be fully present reading stories to our kids and biking around the neighborhood with them.

I allowed myself a glimpse of what it means to be fully present, if only for a few precious moments. Thanks for that gift, buddy.