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.

On Rhythms

I swim.

I swim to stretch, to breathe, to become lost in my own thoughts, to get to the point where my body stops fighting me and just turns loose in the water.

On some of my best swim days, I forget to count laps.  I get in a rhythm.  Stroke, breathe, kick, repeat.  My mind wanders.

At some point, my consciousness kicks back in.  I stroke and kick to the wall and pull off my goggles.

After I stop swimming, I notice that I’m breathing heavily and my arms and legs feel heavy with use.  I became aware, once again, of my basic bodily sensations — sensations that moved into the background in my rhythmic meditative swimming.

Life is all about rhythms — the automated processes that govern us from dawn to dusk.  The thing is though, we don’t see the rhythms when we’re in one.  It’s not until we stop and catch our breath that we see the rhythm.

For me, swimming is a healthy rhythm. It stretches my body and gives my active mind a little peace.

But life is fraught with negative rhythms too.  It’s all too easy to get caught up in a rhythm that detracts from life’s goals.

For us, our children made us keenly aware of these rhythms — the good and the not-so-good ones.  As we set out to create a life as a family, we started asking each other questions about what kind of present and future we wanted to share together.

In a way, we became attuned to our role as the artists of our lives, not passive figures blindly wrapped up in daily rhythms. 

We do not have all the answers, but we have gained a degree of clarity and a sense of direction. Whether we are cooking a family meal, reading books to our children, or dreaming up a new line of merino long johns, we strive to make conscious choices.  

Choices about what enriches our lives.  Choices about what we wish to share with our kids.  Choices about the community to which we want to contribute.

So, let’s all remember to stop and catch our collective breath, so that we can become aware of the rhythms in our lives. Let’s consciously throw our collective energy into what is true, beautiful, and good.

Summer Shipping Break

Our shop is on a summer shipping break through August 21st, as we take a chance to soak up the goodness of summer with our family.  So what does that mean for you all?

USPS Priority Mail shipping is on us for all domestic orders during placed during our shipping break (August 11-21).  All U.S. orders will ship out, via USPS Priority Mail, on August 22.

And for our international friends, you'll save $8.00 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 a complete re-stock of our windmill-printed thermal long johns as well as some new long john styles for the fall :)

With gratitude,

Sarah & JP (Co-Founders)

Denver Starlight Market - Spring Recap

There's nothing better than connecting with mamas, papas, and little ones in real life. We held our 2nd Starlight Market, this time in celebration of spring and right before Mother's Day. With tasty treats, cocktails, mini photo sessions, flowers, and of course small business shopping, it was a festive and fun day for all.

Big thanks to all who came out, and especially to our friends:

Venue: Suzy Holman of the Denver Photo Collective

Vendor Booths: Hazel Village, Chasing Windmills, Izzy & Ferd, Give Lovely, Wunderkin, Remy & Rose Soap, Lil Bellies, Lana's Shop, and Premastyle

Treats: Cookies, brownies, cupcakes baked with organic mixes by Foodstirs and pasture-raised eggs and butter by Vital Farms

On site portrait station photographer: Alexandria Ramon (who took the last photo in this post of my kiddos!)

Sharing One of Nature's Little Secrets

“Look Mama and Daddy, the flowers close up at night and then open when the sun warms them up.”

Standing in the backyard with our little girl, we were looking at the tulips in our garden—a telltale sign of spring’s arrival.  That’s when she very matter-of-factly told us about how the tulips close at night and open during the day.

I had never before noticed how our tulips follow the transition from day to night.  I felt like my little girl let me in on one of nature’s secrets.

I asked her, “How’d you know that?”  She said that she just watches the flowers.  When she leaves the house for preschool in the morning, they are closed.  And when she returns home, the flowers are open.

So I looked it up.  Scientists call this process “nastic movements,” as flowers respond to various stimuli, such as sunlight.

Like most kids, our little girl didn’t need a textbook on flora and fauna to understand how flowers react to their environments.  She just relied upon her keen powers of observation.

And it got me thinking.  What else am I missing all around me?  What other phenomenon do I observe everyday without ever really noticing?

Our children—yours, mine, all of ours—have a special gift for observing the world.  They look at nature with discerning and open eyes.  They notice the little details, Mama Nature’s little secrets, like tulips opening and closing as day fades into night.

Now, when I leave the house in the morning, I look at our tulips—still closed from the night’s cold.  I smile, knowing that they will soon open their blossoms with the morning sun.  And I smile with gratitude, being able to soak in and see the world through our children's eyes.