designmom

A Few Things

January 23, 2015

www.justinhackworth.com

By Gabrielle. Image by Justin Hackworth for Alt Summit.

Hello, Friends! How are you? I’m writing from Alt Summit in Salt Lake City. It’s been a great conference so far — Lisa Congdon’s opening keynote yesterday was standing-ovation amazing. And I’m equally excited about today. At noon, I’ll be moderating the Keynote Session about Entrepreneurship with Susan Petersen of Freshly Picked and Jess Lee of Polyvore. I’m reviewing questions and I think it’s going to be a terrific discussion. Plus, all 3 of the keynote sessions are being videoed, so I can share links once the videos are ready, in case you want to see them, but couldn’t make it to Alt.

I have to tell you about the outfit I’m wearing today. Last May, when I was in Atlanta for the Mom 2.0 conference, I went shopping at these vintage stores called Labels with Rachel of Handmade Charlotte and Rebecca of Girls Gone Child. They are both fashionistas and helped me pick out some really amazing pieces. One of the things I bought was a vintage red velvet Gucci tuxedo! I’ve been waiting and waiting for a good winter-y event I could wear it to. And today’s the day! I have to say, all that red is really confidence bringing and I’m feeling awesome!! I’ll be sure to have some photos snapped so I can do a “what I wore to Alt Summit” post in the next week or so.

Speaking of which, if you’d like to follow along with the conference, the #altsummit hashtag on Instagram has tons of great photos. I’m off to prep some more for the day, but before I go, here are a few things I’ve wanted to share:

- So cool! Warka Water collected useable water from thin air and provides it villages with no current water access.

- Before there were cell phones, there was boredom. (And that was a good thing!)

-  I didn’t know there were paragliding competitions. This photo is WOW!

Benevolent sexism — when someone tells you you are too special to do something.

100 Years of Beauty.

- Have you read this? Do you agree? — To fall in love with anyone, do this.

- I’m sure I’m the last person to see this Nicole Kidman interview on Jimmy Fallon, but so funny!

- Gigapixels of Andromeda. This made me cry in wonder. Thanks, Jared.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend. I’ll meet you back here on Monday. I miss you already.

kisses,
Gabrielle

P.S. — I fly home tomorrow evening with Maude & Olive (Ralph was going to come, but had some deadlines he needed to attend to instead). It’s been so fun to have them here! But we’re all excited to go back to California and to be altogether as a family. What a full month it’s been!

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Bombas Socks!

January 22, 2015

Bombas Socks + Design Mom2

Images and text by Gabrielle. This post is brought to you by Bombas Socks. Get 20% off your purchase with code DESIGNMOM20.

Ever since Maude became serious about running, socks have become a frequent topic of conversation at our house. Mostly the conversation goes like: Mom, I need more socks! : )

She runs miles each day and goes through socks at lightning speed, and she has strong opinions on sock features, colors, lengths, and thicknesses. Somewhere along the lines, she also discovered she loves socks in general, and the one thing on her Christmas wish list was socks. Not kidding! She received 18 pairs. Hah!

Bombas Socks + Design Mom3

Anyway, my friends at Bombas emailed me about their brand new socks and swore they are revolutionary. So of course, I was curious and did a little research. Conclusion: I’m impressed! The history of the company is really fantastic. When the founders heard that socks are the #1 requested clothing item at shelters here in the U.S., they knew they could do something about that.

Bombas Socks + Design Mom4 Bombas Socks + Design Mom5

They decided they wanted to make the world’s best socks and create a business based on a buy-one-give-one model — every time a pair is purchased, another pair goes to a shelter (they’ve donated over 300,000 pairs already!). And they weren’t kidding about developing the best possible socks. They spent two years and created socks with features that the other socks in your drawer only dream about.

Features like: Stay up technology. Y-stitched heel. Blister tab (this one is my favorite feature — it’s a little cushion on their ankle socks that prevents chafing). Invisitoe. And the honeycomb support system (this is Maude’s favorite feature — it gives extra support and tightness in the arch). Wondering what all those are? I learned about each one in this video (if you want to skip the video, you can read about the features too):

I was impressed enough that I ordered a pair for everyone in the family. And it is pretty dang adorable to see the kids padding around the house in their Bombas. Maude loves them for running. Ben Blair uses his at the gym. Ralph likes his for everyday casual wear. I use my almost like slippers. If your family members wear sneakers as a default, I’m betting they’d love Bombas socks. They’re cool looking, comfortable and really high quality.

Want to give them a try? You can get 20% off your purchase using code DESIGNMOM20. If you don’t like them, no stress — they have a 100% happiness guarantee.

Bombas Socks + Design Mom6

Hooray for Bombas! Hooray for companies that give back!

P.S. — In case you’re curious, the Bombas donation socks are just like the ones you and I order, but with the addition of a few key details: they receive an antimicrobial treatment, reinforced seams, and they come in darker neutral colors to prevent visible wear.

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Cutest, Easiest DIY: Make these Kid-Size Paper Pom Poms for Game Day!

By Gabrielle. Photos & styling by Amy Christie.

TWO! FOUR! SIX! EIGHT! WHO DO WE APPRECIATE?!!

Over the holidays, Amy Christie sent me the sweetest little care package, and instead of using packing peanuts to cushion the goodies in the box, she used homemade kid-size pom poms instead. Such a fantastic idea! My 3 youngest went nuts for them immediately. Cheers were chanted. High kicks were attempted. Imaginary teams rallied for the win!

My kids loved the little pom poms so much, that I begged Amy for instructions so I could make some more. My kids played with them for hours and hours that first day, and the pom poms practically disintegrated. : ) I thought you might like to make some for your kids as well. And if you’re hosting a Superbowl party this year, these would make a fun addition to the gathering.

So Amy whipped up a quick DIY. Made with tissue paper and a line of stitching, these pom poms are one of the simplest projects I’ve shared here. They might be made with children in mind but I dare you not to smile while you shake them.

Cutest, Easiest DIY: Make these Kid-Size Paper Pom Poms for Game Day!

The good thing is, you probably already have tissue paper — which is the key supply for this project — in the house. In fact, if you aren’t particular about team colors, then any color will do (rainbow ones would be fantastic!). Scissors and either a sewing machine, thread and needle, or stapler round out your supplies.

Cutest, Easiest DIY: Make these Kid-Size Paper Pom Poms for Game Day!

Ready to make something super easy? Let’s go!

Click here for the full tutorial.

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By Gabrielle.

Barbara Rucci’s house is full of lovely clutter. I look over the scenes she’s shared with us, and I can’t help but think that all her keepsakes on display are nowhere near a haphazard situation, and way more of an ever-changing collection of memories made…as well as those still in the making. Yes, Barbara does clutter right!

Also, if any of you are in the throes of comparing your parenting styles or values or incomes to those families around you, please read on. It seems that living in an affluent community brings with it a wonderful yet problematic set of challenges – maybe you’ve experienced the same dilemmas that Barbara worries over while printing out gratitude quotes from Pinterest! (Barbara, I giggled at the realization of how Pinterest can save us at our most frantic parenting moments!)

All this to tell you that you’re going to love more than the gorgeous photos this week; there’s a lot of wisdom and knowledge well-earned over time in this one. Please enjoy it.

Q: Tell us about the family who lives here!

A: We are a family of five. My husband and I have two daughters who are 15 and 12, and an eight-year old son. My kids are very fun, but really loud. My son plays hockey in a room that was originally the formal dining room. Now we call it the hockey room. It has hardwood floors and is in the center of the house. He commentates every move and shot on goal. His imaginary hockey games are literally the soundtrack to our lives.

The girls love to sing and act, so they usually have something loud going on upstairs. When they were little, they would put on nightly shows. I have hours of video footage that we actually dig up and watch from time to time. It is amazing to see that their passions when they were really young are the same as they are now.

Pure goodness, just ahead!

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The Family Dinner Project

January 19, 2015

FDP-infographic-3-givingtips

By Gabrielle.

Last week, my friend, Christine of Boston Mamas, told me about The Family Dinner Project. I loved (still love!) the idea and am excited to share it with you. Since today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, this post is especially timely.

The idea behind the Family Dinner Project is to get families — parents and their kids — talking about challenging issues facing the world, like race, civil rights, and current events. They want families to enjoy food, fun and conversation together, and they know that dinnertime is a great place for good conversations to happen. Everyone is relaxed at the end of the day. Hunger pangs have died down as the mashed potatoes are passed around. The pressure is off.

At our house, we put a ton of value on these types of conversations. Two weeks ago, I shared a photo of our family prepping for dinner, and when I think of these discussions, an image like that comes to mind. Instead of gathering everyone on the couch and making the situation feel formal or serious, we like tackling topics while we set the table, chop vegetables, and eat. When everyone is working together, the conversation doesn’t come across as a lecture. It feels casual. It gets interrupted. It lets people think about what they’re hearing, and gives them time to process without having to come up with a response on demand.

If you’ve had discussions about race or sexism or poverty or inequality with your kids, you already know how impactful they can be. But if you haven’t tackled some of the tricky topics yet, you’re not alone. Sometimes it’s really hard for families to bring up negative stuff — not everyone knows how to start the conversation, at what ages they should share certain details, or what words are the most effective. But don’t despair! The Family Dinner Project has all sorts of excellent resources (including the infographics I’m sharing in this post) designed to help.

FDP-infographic-convobyage

For example, for families with older kids, at dinner tonight you could share and discuss this article called White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Backpack. Or during dinner preparation or cleanup , these videos from Frederick Goodall and Denene Millner could start the conversation and prompt questions.

And it’s not just about discussing the world’s problems, it’s really about figuring out how to help solve them. These sorts of conversations tend to get kids excited about getting involved and serving in their communities. Perhaps they can collect canned food for a food drive, or serve dinner at a homeless shelter. Ask your kids what kind of service projects they’d most like to participate in and why. It’s a good conversation topic that gives kids agency in making philanthropic decisions.

Tonight’s dinner is the perfect time to start! You could talk about Martin Luther King, Jr. and why there’s a day we celebrate in his honor. You could share some of his quotes and see if they’ve been learning about him at school. You could use this MLK Toolkit for Kids. It’s specifically designed for school-aged kids to engage them in the topic of service. And if you do have a good conversation at dinner tonight, let your friends and family know with the #familydinnerforward hashtag. In January, The Family Dinner Project is using the hashtag to encourage people to share a meal and discuss issues that affect their communities, to increase racial and cultural understanding, and promote unity.

If it’s a great conversation tonight, why not make a habit of it? You’ve heard of Taco Tuesday. How about Current Events Monday? On Monday nights over dinner, you could make it a regular thing to go over some of the big headlines and how they are affecting your family’s world.

Now it’s your turn. I’d love to hear if you’ve ever discussed challenging topics with your kids. Did you discuss the verdicts that came out of Ferguson and New York? Did you talk about #likeagirl or #yesallwomen? Do you teach your kids about race and racism? Chime in with what has worked best!

———

Official Disclosure: I partnered with The Family Dinner Project to share this post.

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Video and text by Gabrielle.

Hello, Friends! How are you? Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day! Are your kids out of school? Are you doing anything good or fun to commemorate the day?

Hey. I know I never published my Friday links post. I fully intended to! But this has been an unusually busy January. I mean, January is Alt Summit, so it’s always quite full schedule-wise. But this month, there is Alt plus a whole bunch more. For example, on Friday, I was touring around D.C. with Maude for #action15, my book went to the printer (HOLY COW!!), all the Alt Summit printed materials went to the printer as well, and we flew back to Oakland that evening. It was a little nuts. But good nuts!

This week will likely be a little nuts too. Ben Blair and Ralph returned from Haiti on Saturday night. We enjoyed the loveliest of Sunday mornings altogether as a family, and then I flew to Salt Lake City Sunday afternoon.

Yep. I’m writing this from Salt Lake City! I arrived last night, and I’ll be here all week for Alt Summit. And this year, my oldest three — Ralph, Maude & Olive — will be coming to the conference too! They’ll join me on Wednesday afternoon. When I unpacked last night, it hit me that maybe this month has been a little too busy, when I realized I forgot to pack my coat, my hat, and my glasses. Hah!

Despite the full schedule, I’ve got some really good posts ready to go this week. In one of my first posts of the year, I mentioned I wanted to do more with video, and this is my first attempt! Years ago I was speaking at the Mom 2.0 Summit and I talked about an idea I had to make videos of shopping at Target. I would share my shopping list, then walk through the aisles and talk about why I chose one product over another — sort of shopping through a graphic designer’s eyes. But I never made the videos happen.

Design Mom Target Accordian Folder

Then, my daughter Olive introduced me to “haul” videos. It’s the same idea, but filmed at home instead of in store. Essentially, vloggers will go shopping at whatever store (or multiple stores) they like, and then share their finds on video. Pretty straightforward. So I thought I’d try one. Olive coached me, and Ralph filmed+edited. Take a look and let me know what you think!

I realize some of you are not into video, so feel free to skip it. But if you do watch it, and want to see more, I’d love feedback! Are there stores you’d like to me to shop? Should I stick to a regular series of Target hauls? Or maybe go with a theme (like natural beauty products, or pre-conference wardrobe shopping). How often would you like to see something like this?

P.S. — Though I work with Target regularly, this is not a sponsored post. It’s just me as a regular Target shopper. I promise, I will always make it clear when I’m sharing a sponsored post.

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#Action2015

January 15, 2015

By Gabrielle. Photos by godgrrl, cc_chapmansavethechildren.

Such a BIG day! I’m waving hello from Washington D.C.!! My daughter Maude was invited to come here with a group of fellow 15-year-olds to take part in #action2015. That’s right. 15-year-olds, meeting up on January 15th, 2015 to discuss policy that will affect the world for the next 15 years.

action2015

The movement is called action/2015, and there are groups meeting all over the world. Here in D.C., this group started the day early with a photo in front of The White House, then they heard from Tom Hart, Executive Director of the ONE Campaign, and Mark Shriver, President of Save the Children‘s Action Network over breakfast.

Maude White House

Next was a trip to The State Department where the met with Heather Higgenbottom, Deputy Secretary of State, and Dr. RAj Shah, from USAID. Many of the kids also got a chance to be interviewed by NBC!

Maude interview NBC

During lunch, the kids heard from Michael Elliot, CEO of the ONE Campaign, and Carolyn Miles, CEO of Save the Children. Then it was off to The World Bank to meet with Cyril Muller, Vice President of External and Corporate Relations. And right this minute, they are on a bus tour of the Washington Monuments.

I’m writing this from the hotel room, waiting for Maude to get back and knowing she’ll be happily exhausted. : )

With my work, I get to attend special events frequently, but this one wasn’t about me, or any of the grownups, we’re just here as chaperones. Action/2015 is focused on the kids, and what a treat it was for us as parents to get to see our children shine, and to use their words for good. If you’d like to get involved with action/2015, you can sign the pledge here — ONE never asks for your money, they just need your voice.

P.S. — With Maude advocating in D.C., and Ralph volunteering in Haiti this week, you can imagine I’m feeling like a very proud mother!

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DIY: Lacey Clay Containers

January 14, 2015

Gorgeous DIY containers with lace imprints. Made with air-dry clay they are easy as can be!  |  Design Mom

By Gabrielle. Photos & styling by Amy Christie.

I could tell you that this project came about because I wanted to organize my makeup drawer (and I do need to organize that drawer), but the truth is, I got the idea to imprint lace into clay, and wanted good excuse to try it. Hah!

A few months ago, I came across a plate that had a crocheted doily imprinted onto it, and I wondered if lace would work just as well. So I combined some lace samples from the fabric store with air-dry clay, and tada!, now I have the cutest little set of containers in world. I’m using them here for makeup brushes, cotton balls, and jewelry, but I’m sure they would work fabulously on a desk as well.

Gorgeous DIY containers with lace imprints. Made with air-dry clay they are easy as can be!  |  Design Mom

Air-dry clay is so easy to work with. Just sculpt and allow to fully dry. It is easy to manipulate and holds texture well. Oh. And did you know air-dry clay can be tinted any color you like? I’m kind of into the ceramic look of the plain white, but if you’re craving color, the skies the limit with this project.

Gorgeous DIY containers with lace imprints. Made with air-dry clay they are easy as can be!  |  Design Mom

Let’s begin!

Click here for the full tutorial.

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Bathroom Refresh2

Photos and text by Gabrielle. This post is sponsored by Target. Shop Home Décor for modern luxury made easy.

Target reached out about working on a “refresh” project to celebrate the new year, something simple that I could do in a day. I thought and thought about different projects and was narrowing down my ideas, but then I saw my sister’s bathroom refresh and I had one of the OF COURSE! moments. Outside of cleaning them, I have systematically ignored our bathrooms since we moved in, and they definitely need attention.

Oh the bathrooms! They are truly due for a full overhaul. If you’ve been following along on our Treehouse renovations, you know we’ve been going room by room, moving walls, updating flooring and electricity, and giving the walls a fresh coat of paint. But we’ve been here for a year and a half, and until this little refresh, we hadn’t touched the bathrooms at all! I’m totally intimidated by the bathrooms. I feel like there are a million options, and that the budget for a project like a bathroom overhaul can skyrocket super fast. Plus, knowing our big family will be without access to one of the bathrooms while it’s being renovated is not something I’m looking forward to.

So it’s no surprise the bathrooms keep falling to the bottom of my list of home projects. Who knows, it probably won’t be that big of a deal, but as you can see, I’ve built it up in my head as a super hard project, and I’ve completely put it off.

That said, when I saw my sister’s mini-update, I knew I wanted to do something to improve the kids’ bathroom as it stands right now. So I gave myself a budget of $100, and I made a trip to Target. It was fast and easy and the little changes made a big difference. I wish I had done it the week we moved in!

The biggest thing I did was go all-white with anything I had control of, meaning anything not permanently installed. It went a long way in making the bathroom feel more intentional. The kids’ bathroom has white counter tile, a cream colored ceramic sink, an off-white bathtub, and bath tile leaning toward light tan. Nothing about the surfaces is unified at all. So my goal was to use white to make the space feel a little less hodge podge. And it worked!

Bathroom Refresh1

We started with fresh towels in all-white. This made the biggest difference by far. With six kids sharing the bathroom, we use a whole bunch of towels, and whether they’re stacked or hanging on hooks, they take up a lot of visual space. The kids had been using a random set of towels that came with the house in various colors and patterns, so switching them out for all-matching, all-white made a big impact. Plus, fresh, fluffy towels are wonderful no matter what — I would say switching out towels is for sure the easiest way to refresh a bathroom.

Bathroom Refresh6

Next, I updated the soap dispenser. I went with this good-looking “oil-can” version. Our soap dispensers get used so frequently that they tend to get grimy — old soap residue gets caked on the spout and the label starts to flake off. Even after a good-scrubbing, they can look tired and a bit depressing. So replacing the soap dispenser was an instant refresh for sure. Plus, because the dispenser is clear and label-less, it keeps the bathroom visually simpler — which was my goal.

Bathroom Refresh7

I also added some handsome glass containers — this short one, and this tall one. These did a good job of adding something pretty to the room, plus they’re practical. They opened up precious drawer space by moving the cotton rounds and q-tips to the counter.

Bathroom Refresh3

Then, I added a basket to hold the towels. This one is lined with canvas, and the inside of the canvas has a wax-like coating that makes it ideal for dealing with wet stuff. So smart for the bathroom! Though I intended this basket to hold fresh towels, I think I might turn it into a bathroom hamper instead — a place to throw used washcloths and hand towels. We’ll see. Whatever we end up using it for, it makes a good-looking addition to the space.

Lastly, I got rid of the horrible, grimy wastebasket which was in the room since we moved in, and which I had been meaning to replace from the first day we arrived! I chose this simple frosted version.

Bathroom Refresh5

Much better! I feel like the bathroom is so much more civilized now, and that it’s much more livable while we consider a full bathroom renovation.

Have you ever renovated a bathroom? Am I right to be intimidated, or did you find it to be easier than expected? And what’s the state of your bathroom? Is it already awesome? Would a simple refresh like this improve it? Or does it need a major overhaul? I’d love to hear!

——–

This post is sponsored by Target.

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Living With Kids: Shira Gill

January 13, 2015

By Gabrielle. Photos by Vivian Johnson.

I promise I’ve got some wonderful homes sitting in chillier locales in the queue, but I’m giving you another California home and sunny interview to warm us all up today. Meet Shira Gill, a sweet mom and wife who turned her 25 house moves into a thriving and much-needed business that edits pretty much an entire life.

Are you hanging on tightly to too much? Do you dread opening your closet in the mornings, not to mention – shudder – your child’s over-crammed wardrobe? Do your afternoons careen into crazy town no matter how well you think you’ve prepared for the chaos? Call Shira. I bet she’s either experienced or seen and solved much worse!

Q: Tell us all about the family who lives here!

A: Hi there! My husband, Jordan, and I both grew up in the SF Bay area a mere ten minutes from each other. Although we had several friends in common, we never met. We met working at Camp Tawonga, a children’s environmental education summer camp near Yosemite, when we were 20 years old. It took several years for him to convince me to date him, probably because I was balancing a busy schedule of dating the wrong people and traveling as much as possible. He works as the director of development for a non-profit in San Francisco, and I run my own business helping busy families streamline their homes and simplify their lives.

I’m so relieved I came to my senses and married him because it was the best decision I ever made. Jordan and I are opposites in many ways, but truly compatible and complimentary. I am creative, energetic, and impatient, while Jordan is grounded, practical, and calm. I help to motivate him when he is feeling a little bit lazy, and he is one of the only people that can calm me down when my mind gets racing. I often get restless and crave adventure and, luckily for me, he is always happy to be along for the ride…

Gorgeous home, gorgeous words…just ahead.

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Olive Us: Cracks

January 12, 2015

By Gabrielle.

I guarantee you will LOVE this month’s new Olive Us episode. It’s sure to capture your child’s imagination — and your imagination too! After you watch it, I hope you and your kids will picture the world a little differently next to time you take a walk together through your neighborhood — or even across a parking lot!

Olive Us - Cracks - Behind the Scenes

We first showcased this episode in the Olive Us newsletter last week and it’s getting shared like crazy. I can’t wait to hear what you think of it. Enjoy!

P.S. — Fun fact, since Olive Us launched, we’ve made 46 episodes total. You can find them all here. Subscribe to the newsletter to be the first to see upcoming episodes!

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Haiti Partners

January 12, 2015

Haiti Partner School 4

By Gabrielle. Images by Haiti Partners.

Did you know today marks five years since the devastating earthquake in Haiti? You can go here and scroll down to refresh your memory of what happened that day. So many people lost their lives, that we’ll never know the true number.

Ben Blair and Ralph are arriving in Haiti as I type, and I am looking forward to hearing from them and getting a report. What are they doing there, you ask? Great question. I’m excited to tell you.

Haiti Partner School 1

We have a good friend named Jesse Engle, who I met years ago at the very first BlogHer I attended. Jesse and his family live here in the Bay Area and he works in the tech and startup sector. Jesse’s brother John lives in Haiti and started Haiti Partners, an organization that is dedicated to helping Haitians help Haiti through education. You can read about their approach here, and their work here. Jesse is also very involved with Haiti Partners, and we’ve been getting involved with the organization through him.

Haiti Partners School 3

Broadband internet has recently come to Haiti, and Haiti Partners is figuring out how to make the most of it. One of the things better internet makes available is video chat. So one of the big ideas Haiti Partners is considering is to create a community of English speakers who can have conversations, via online video chats, with Haitians who are trying to learn English.

The new program is going launching this week, and that’s why Ben & Ralph are there. First, to help with the launch in general. Second, because Ben Blair’s education and professional experience is heavy on language learning techniques and he’s very excited about the possibilities of this program. And third, because Haiti Partners would love to have a video made so they can show people what the program is about, and Ralph is going to capture the footage and create the video. French is one of Haiti’s national languages, so Ralph’s French is going to help as well.

Haiti Partners School 2

We’re so impressed with Haiti Partners — it’s a really top notch team doing important work. And as a family, we’re over the moon that we can be involved and use our skills to help in even a small way. I’m sure many of you would love to get involved as well — if you have an internet connection and a computer, you could be a video chat volunteer! The program is so brand new and experimental, that they’re not ready to sign up volunteers yet, but as soon as they are, I will let you know. I think it would be a really cool thing to get your kids involved in, and could open their eyes to how big (and small!) the world is.

Tell me, Friends, have you ever been to Haiti? Or maybe followed updates about the country since the earthquake? As you’re picturing it, imagine warm, warm warm — the weather is supposed to be 90 degrees there this week! If you’re curious to know more about the status of Haiti right now, the links and videos here and here are informative and helpful. Is there a cause or organization or program you or your kids is working with this year? I’d love to hear!

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A Few Things

January 9, 2015

Blair Family Dinner Prep

Image and text by Gabrielle.

Hello, Friends. How are you? Is your new year getting off to a good start? Any good stuff going on this weekend? Today is Oscar’s birthday so we’ve got celebration plans! We started the day with breakfast in bed, we’ll have cake and open presents tonight, and tomorrow we’re picking up the cousins for a day trip to the Monterrey Aquarium. Oscar could not be more excited if he tried.

We’ll also be packing up Ben & Ralph for their big trip to Haiti — they leave Sunday, and I have my next hair bleaching appointment tomorrow morning. Should be a big full weekend at the Blair house. But before I sign off to get Oscar’s birthday stuff prepped, here are a few things I’ve wanted to share with you:

- Oh so heartsick about France. I’m watching the news and following the #charliehebdo hashtag on Instagram, and talking with the kids about freedom of expression. I’m sure you are too.

- This morning, I was feeling particularly tenderhearted about the gloomy news, and I saw this sweet and funny little photo and was surprised to find it comforted me a bit. I suppose, I’ll take any bit of sweetness I can get!

- On a more light-hearted note this article made me laugh: Today I learned something about my boyfriend that no girl should ever have to discover.

New Year’s Resolutions by Myer’s-Briggs personality type. Is your description accurate?

- Skip the mall ear piercing booth and take your kids to the tattoo parlor instead. Thanks, Wendy.

- Hah! A note to post when you leave on vacation.

Good dads will change the world.

- Why women need more sleep than menThanks, Sarah.

- Half the country is freezing right now, but these guys have figured out how to make the most of a polar vortex. Thanks, Beccah.

- If you’ve followed the media outrage over Shiloh Jolie-Pitt’s preference to be called John, this call for acceptance might hit home. Thanks, Mary Ann.

- An interesting idea: Why we need to change how we use the word “blessed.” Thanks, Erin.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend. I’ll meet you back here on Monday. I miss you already.

kisses,
Gabrielle

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By Gabrielle. Pendant found via Forget Me Not on Etsy.

Oh, goodness. This story left me with such an ache in my heart. Although the writer requested anonymity, I still want to shower her with so much support and hope that it empowers her to truly believe that she is a mom. The bravest, most courageous, kindest mom I could imagine.

And so, wherever you are, K., know that we are with you. A group deep and diverse, from all walks of life, who want nothing more than to hold your hand and give you a squeeze. I hope you find peace.

You will be moved by her kind heart…

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2015: Thoughts & Goals

January 7, 2015

Sonoma Coast

Image and text by Gabrielle.

Ready for a rambling post? Things I am feeling and thinking today:

- I love my life! I can’t believe how lucky I am. This marriage, these kids, this work, this house — so much joy to be found in this life I’m living. I’m feeling a huge dose of gratitude at the moment, and I’ve been feeling it ever since we’ve had our family back together again. I’ve got this sort of non-stop awareness going on of how precious this time in my life is. Feeling good!

- Related, holy moly I’m excited for 2015! Our family calendar is filling up with really good stuff. And so is my editorial calendar. I have lots of ambitious goals, possibly overly ambitious. But I don’t mind. It gives me something to shoot for.

- As I went through my inbox this morning, it struck me how amazing it is to be the receiver of stories. My inbox holds treasures. Treasures written by YOU. I read your emails filled with stories of encouragement and sadness and frustration and discovery and questions and excitement and laughter, and I’m moved at the strength and compassion of human beings. And I want MORE! One of my 2015 goals is to make some video interviews of the amazing women in this community.

I’m picturing the experiences shared in the house tours and birth stories, but in person, from the mouth of the storyteller. I’ve had the chance to interview some truly outstanding people in my life, and I find it so satisfying. I really love talking to people! My vision for these interview videos is only partly formed, so I look forward to seeing what comes to fruition.

- Speaking of video, I also like the idea of more casual vlogging interspersed with the more produced videos (read: Olive Us) that we make. Like one of my discussion blog posts, but in video form. Speaking conversationally in front of camera would be very new to me, and perhaps it won’t be a good fit, but I’ve been thinking about this long enough that at this point, I’m like, why not give it a try? So I’m definitely working on video in 2015.

- As I was making goals, I also thought a lot about contributors for this site. You may remember that one of my first posts in 2014 announced that I was no longer going to have contributors on Design Mom, and that decision was well received. The conversations over the last year have been terrific and I loved feeling like the blog was my own again!

But I can’t help feeling like I’m missing some big potential for this website by remaining the sole author. The name of the site, Design Mom, is bigger than me. It’s a big enough idea that I don’t think it should belong to only one voice. Over the years, I’ve used this platform to build the careers of talented women, and offer opportunities to all sorts of people. And I’ve missed that this past year. So I’m thinking and thinking and trying to figure out a solution that would allow more voices here, without alienating the readers who come here to hear from me specifically. I don’t have this figured out at all. But it’s on my mind for 2015. Isn’t there a way? I think yes.

- Related, I’m committing to redesign the site this year. It’s time for a refresh. I would love to have a new site design that launches at the same time my book comes out. It’s a goal I’m shooting for.

- We did a ton in The Treehouse in 2014. There was a front porch makeover including a new front door. We finished the living room. We created a colorful reading loft with DIY crate shelves. The boys’ room was totally redone — we even had to move a wall. A fresh canvas was created in the girls’ room and I’m almost done with the details in there. In the yard, we made the swing installation and a Mother’s Day hideaway. We created a music nook in the family room, and added new flooring in the office and family room. But I’ve only shared finished photos of about half of what we’ve done. So this year, I want to post some room tours. I’m thinking of the girls bedroom (that will happen this month!), the family room, and the home office. I’m working on a little bathroom refresh to share next week as well.

- Beyond sharing these, I’d love to “finish” this house. I laugh as I type this, because I know our home as an ever changing work-in-progress, so I’m not sure what I even mean by “finished”. But probably I mean a few big projects — the things I sort of apologize for when I showing friends the house. The master bedroom and bath needs some big work. The yard needs a jump start. And I would love to finish some overall details like interior door knobs. That would leave the kitchen as the last big remodel, and it’s working well enough as is, that I think it can wait until 2016. Though who knows. Maybe I’ll have a big burst of remodeling energy and get it all done this year!

- We love to travel and did a bunch in 2014. We did some nearby trips like Big Sur and Sequoia National Park. There were a couple of trips to L.A., and work trips to D.C., New York, and Salt Lake City. We took a three week epic road trip in the summer. Olive went to France with her school. And later, Ralph and Olive went to France as exchange students! Lastly, Ben Blair and I took a fantastic trip to Sweden as well. I’m definitely excited for more travel in 2015! We are still trying to figure out our travel calendar, but we re-watched Walter Mitty on Christmas Day, and it always gets me looking up plane tickets and craving an adventure. Let’s pack our bags!

- Happily, we already have some amazing trips happening this very month. On Sunday, Ralph and Ben Blair are headed to Haiti to help Haiti Partners launch their English-teaching program. We’re hugely excited about this! And I’m working up a separate post with more details.

- And next week, Maude and I will travel to Washington D.C.. Maude is one of 15 fifteen-year-olds to come to D.C. on the January 15th, 2015 for the ACTION/2015 event. Such an honor to be invited! I’ll write about more about this in a separate post as well.

- There will also be a trip to Salt Lake City for Alt Summit this month (of course!). Ralph, Maude & Olive will be traveling with me. Such a treat to have kids that are old enough to help out at the conference.

- One of the biggest events for me in 2015 is that my book will be published. What a project his has been! In fact, today is a big book day for me. I receive the “third pass” today and will be sending in any changes/edits by tomorrow. So the book is on my mind like crazy. I’m also shaking my head at myself because somehow my final book deadlines and my Alt Summit deadlines have ended up happening at the same time. Which makes this month quite ridiculous. Hah!

My publisher is discussing a book tour with me and I’m so excited! I will for sure be sharing updates when I know more.

- This goal is more personal, but I want to put my financial life in order in 2015. There have been lots of years where I felt organized and on top of things on the financial front, but in 2013 and 2014 I kept ignoring my basic budgeting tasks and book keeping tasks and now things are messier than they should be. So it’s time to get serious about tidying up.

I get lots of questions about this sort of thing — readers wanting to have discussions about financial organization and budgeting strategies. So perhaps I can create some helpful content as I put things in order.

- This last goal scares me the most, because I’m unsure how to accomplish it, but if I share it publicly, maybe it will be the spark I need to figure it out. The goal: I want to get the French Cottage livable. And that’s no small thing. There is currently no bathroom or kitchen! Can you see why I’m intimidated? We’ll see what I can figure out.

With all this looking forward, I’m also thinking fondly about 2014. It was a good, big year for us. As I mentioned above, we completed lots of house renovations. We hosted 3 exchange students, and sent two of our kids off as exchange students. We traveled. We worked. We went to school. We made ourselves at home in Oakland.

I talked about feeling gratitude at the beginning of this post, and it’s true — I have been bursting with gratitude lately. And I have to say, a major chunk of that gratitude is directed toward you, and to this community as a whole. This is a remarkable group of people! The conversations that happen here are good and important. I can’t thank you enough for joining in the way you do. Thank you.

Here’s to another great year!

Now it’s your turn. (And if you made through all of those ramblings, you deserve a gold sticker!) I’d love to hear what’s on your mind today. Any projects you are working on this year? What are you most looking forward to? What are you most intimidated by? And is there anything in particular you’d like to see happen on Design Mom this year? I hope you chime in!

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By Gabrielle.

There’s so much more to Janette than just a pretty home. Sure, she’s Head of Expansion for Homepolish in San Francisco and so we expect her to have a lovely aesthetic. But there’s a reason I’ve saved her to share with you until the first week in January and the month of fresh starts, especially for those of you in the midst of a change that threatens to shake up your life as you know it. Her advice from the other side of her own struggle is pretty wonderful.

So let’s get it started once again, shall we? Welcome, Janette!

Q: Tell us all about the ones who make this house a home.

A: Viv loves singing, coloring with Crayola Pip-Squeaks, dancing, pink, Frozen, leotards, kitties, and definitely not pants or egg salad. She was born in San Francisco (her middle name is Sunshine!), goes to HolaKids Spanish immersion preschool, and wants to be a sister.

I love textiles, fog on the San Francisco landscape, Big Sur, asymmetry, playing guitar, good friends, and heartfelt conversation. I grew up on a wheat farm in the middle of Kansas, studied at the University of Kansas, and now work with the interior design startup Homepolish as Head of SF Expansion. In any extra time I can find, I keep up Lovemade, an events series for families, and Sun + Dotter, a styling service.

More wisdom and wonderful views, just ahead!

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Happy New Year!

January 2, 2015

Blairs on Ice

Image and text by Gabrielle.

Oh my goodness. I have been treasuring all the family time we’ve been soaking up over this holiday break. It feels like such a gift. Even the sickness feels like a gift because it kept our schedule low-key. I look ahead, and I don’t know if and when we’ll ever get a concentrated family time quite like this again, so I’m eating it up and trying to appreciate every minute of it.

I’d originally scheduled today as a regular work day. I’d even made my next hair bleaching appointment for today. But, I ended up pushing things back — I find I’m trying to stretch out this family break as long as I can. I moved the hair appointment till next week and I’ve blocked out a chunk of time for email, but then I’m going back to family time till Monday.

Yesterday, we made New Year’s Resolutions and many of mine related to this website. I have so many thoughts and ideas about what this blog should be! I’m excited to write up a post about my goals on Monday and get your feedback.

How are you doing? Are you back to a regular schedule today? Did you do anything fun for New Year’s Day? We kept it very simple. We put away our holiday decorations, popped a huge batch of kettle corn, and watched The Hudsucker Proxy. Such a good New Year’s movie! How about you?

P.S. — I’m glad I’m pushing back the hair appointment. I feel like I’m still enjoying this reddish blonde color, and I’m hoping to fit in a photo shoot before I change it. I want to have a good record of it. : )

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New Year New You

December 30, 2014

journal

This post is brought to you by Invisalign. Boost your self-confidence in 2015 with an improved smile — take the Smile Assessment to see what Invisalign can do for you!

—–

By Gabrielle. Image by Kristen Loken for Design Mom.

The end of the year is almost here! Have you started thinking about New Year’s Resolutions yet? I definitely have. But, I’m in the loves-to-make-resolutions camp, so it’s something I enjoy and look forward to working on. That said, I don’t put a lot of pressure on myself to keep my resolutions. For me, it’s about coming up with a list of goals that helps me focus on the upcoming year and what I hope to accomplish. Even if the goals change right away, I find it’s nice to have a starting point.

I’ve mentioned it before, but we also help our kids make resolutions — even when they’re little! To get our kids thinking about the coming year, we offer prompter questions:

This year, I want to learn: __________
I want to read: __________
I want to make: __________
I want to visit: __________
I want to change: __________
(The change prompt is supposed to help you think of something like an unhealthy habit you’d like to get rid of.)
I want to be better at: __________
Most of all I want: __________

And we keep a specific family journal (you can see it in the photo above) where we record the answers. The journal is a treasure! It’s a wonderful resource where the kids can see how much they’re growing and changing. These days, the older kids prefer to keep their resolutions in their own personal journals, but they still love to read the resolutions from their early years.

As for me, I’m counting “straightening my teeth” as one of my goals because my Invisalign treatment will wrap up this summer. I can already see my teeth improving — not just getting straighter, my overbite is being corrected too and it surprises me how happy it makes me. I didn’t think of myself as particularly unhappy with my teeth before I started treatment, just sort of generally irritated. So I can’t believe how much I enjoy seeing them improve.

Apparently, I’m not alone in thinking about some physical self-improvement in 2015. In fact, according to this survey, in 2014, 61 percent of women said they let their personal needs take a backseat to other priorities, and only 26 percent of women made time to do things to make them feel good about themselves. Yikes! Related, 47 percent of women said that their confidence is tied to how they feel about their physical appearance, but only 29 percent of women made physical appearance a priority. So no surprise that women are ready for a change in 2015.

2015 Goals

All those stats make me want to shout from the rooftops: Let’s be kind to ourselves in 2015! Let’s remind ourselves it’s okay to schedule some “me time”!

Where do you fall on this topic? Do you feel like you didn’t make enough personal time for yourself in 2014? If yes, do you think you’ll be better in 2015? And are you a goal-lover like I am? Is there a resolution or goal you’re making for 2015 that you don’t mind sharing? Do you make yearly goals with your kids? I can’t wait to read your thoughts!

P.S. — Famous resolutions.

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By Gabrielle. Entry from Mary Heffernan’s old home. (Don’t worry! I’m begging for a new tour of her ranch house very soon!)

It’s been another year of wonderful home tours and words that made our Tuesdays a little more thoughtful. What a lovely thing it is to be able to peek in on how others are living with their families. I’m so grateful to all of my guides for their bravery and openness, and also to my sweet readers for welcoming them in each week with a supportive comment or even a “What color are your walls?”

Join me in a little walk down memory lane, will you, please?

Oh, it’s been a very pretty year. Come look!

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Russian River

December 29, 2014

Russian River

Image and text by Gabrielle.

Hello, Friends! How are you? I’m writing today from a little rental house on the banks of Russian River — about 2 hours north of Oakland. We’re here to enjoy some concentrated family time without the distractions of home. I think this is the most laid back trip we’ve ever taken — consisting entirely of board games, puzzles, movie marathons, baking, napping and reading. We originally planned to do some hiking and exploring, but 6 out of 8 of us are under the weather (thankfully nothing worrisome), so hanging out in pjs feels just right. We haven’t really left the house!

It’s been a nice little internet break for me as well. I took several days away from my phone and laptop, and am just checking in lightly this week. Feels good!

The last week of the year always seems like such a limbo week to me — like I couldn’t keep to a standard schedule if I tried. Are you the same? What’s this week like at your house? Are you back at work? Hanging out with your kids on their school break? Have you put holiday decorations away? Are you traveling this week? I’d love to hear!

Related Posts with Thumbnails
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