A Few Things

August 15, 2014

Ben Blair in Stockholm

Image and text by Gabrielle.

Hello, Friends. How are you? Was it a good week? I’m so glad to be here in Sweden with Ben Blair. I’m just pinching myself I feel so lucky! But at the same time, it’s been such a heavy week. I’m sick about the shooting of Mike Brown. So troubled. I can’t get it out of my head. I’m also heartbroken about the suicide of Robin Williams, and angry at the helplessness people feel against depression. And I was an emotional wreck leaving the kids as Ben and I went to the airport. They are in excellent hands, and I travel often enough that I should be an old pro, but it feels so different when both Ben and l leave them together.

All that heaviness, and yet, here I am in tourist mode, holding hands with my husband as we leisurely wander the old streets of Stockholm. Life is strange. The amounts of happy and sad that can be held in one head at the same time is beyond bizarre.

We’re off to do some more sightseeing, but before I go, here are a few things I’ve wanted to share with you:

- An important essay from Kristen Howerton on race, police brutality, and the dangerous act of being black.

- The advice new moms need. Thanks, Molly!

- I think this is fantastic: A free new cookbook aimed at helping America’s 47 million food stamp users create healthy meals on $4 per day.

- What not to say to a step-parent — or in front of a step-child, for that matter.

- Kids today have less freedom than we did. Is this true in your home?

Coloring pages from contemporary art.

- What you wish someone had told you about miscarriage. Thanks, Jenny.

- A really cool explanation of how optical illusions work. Thanks, Ryan!

- Norm MacDonald on Robin Williams.

I hope you have a fantastic weekend! I’ll be Instagramming from Sweden like crazy if you’d like to follow along. I’ll meet you back here on Monday. I miss you already.


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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Anna August 15, 2014 at 10:51 am

I hope you both have a wonderful time!

(and good luck on missing the kids)


2 mamalang August 15, 2014 at 10:52 am

Thank you for your matter of fact posts on your own depression. Sharing like that helps us move forward in making mental illness less tabu.


3 Design Mom August 15, 2014 at 5:34 pm

I appreciate your note, Mamalang. Thank you!


4 Amy3 August 15, 2014 at 10:54 am

Enjoy Sweden! It already looks like such a great place.

My husband found the cookbook earlier this week and is excited to try some of the recipes. :)


5 Melissa August 15, 2014 at 11:09 am

You’re right, it has been a tragic week. I noticed that you brought up Robin Williams and Mike Brown, but was there any reason that you didn’t bring up the Middle East as well? I’m not discounting the deaths of either Williams or Brown (because, again, both are heartbreaking), but the destruction that ISIS is causing is something that all of us need to be aware of too.


6 Design Mom August 15, 2014 at 5:55 pm

So true. I’m sure I could have listed a dozen links about what’s happening in the Middle East, and I fully agree it needs to be talked about. I certainly wasn’t intentionally trying to ignore it, and I’ve spent hours of the past weeks reading up on ISIS and what’s happening in Gaza. But this week Mike Brown and Robin Williams took up more of my brain space. It’s not an excuse, it’s just what I happened to focus on.


7 Melissa August 15, 2014 at 9:01 pm

Thanks for your response. One of my favorite things about your blog is that you always respond to commenters with such respect, and I definitely think you do a good job of discussing all kinds of world issues on your blog. I just was surprised when you didn’t mention it and thought I’d ask- and I completely understand your answer!


8 Jenny also August 15, 2014 at 11:22 am

“The amounts of happy and sad that can be held in one head at the same time is beyond bizarre.” Yes. Yes! YES!!

That pretty much sums my experience of this life. Yesterday, I found myself in the car by myself raging aloud about the death of Micheal Brown. And then not 30 minutes later I was happily enjoying drippy popsicles in the backyard with my boys feeling that all is right in the world.


9 Design Mom August 15, 2014 at 5:35 pm

Now I have a lovely summery picture in my head of drippy popsicles in backyards. Thank you!


10 AmyC83 August 15, 2014 at 11:37 am

Thank you so much for weekly round-ups that are actually interesting and thoughtful! Each week, there is at least one link you share that either moves me to tears (today’s about miscarriage – I had one last year at 9 weeks and am now pregnant again, due just one day after that poster) or makes me say, “Yes!” (last week’s about spanking). I appreciate you sharing parts of yourself with us.


11 Design Mom August 15, 2014 at 5:37 pm

Yay! Thank you for the kind feedback. I love searching out great links to share. I’m always glad to hear when something resonates.


12 Ashlea Walter August 15, 2014 at 1:27 pm

“Life is strange. The amounts of happy and sad that can be held in one head at the same time is beyond bizarre.”

SO TRUE. This is how I have felt all week, but couldn’t quite put it into words.

Enjoy your dream trip!


13 Jessica August 15, 2014 at 2:02 pm

Thank you so much for including a piece about Mike Brown in this space. I read a lot of design and/or parenthood blogs, and yours is one of a tiny handful that consistently addresses pressing issues like this that impact our country in huge ways.

Police brutality and systemic, violent racism are enduring American problems, and it will take all of our attention for them to begin to be resolved. Thank you for your contribution to this.

And, because there’s plenty to be happy about, too — enjoy your time in beautiful Sweden!


14 Jessica @ Little Nesting Doll August 15, 2014 at 2:05 pm

Your statement that “The amounts of happy and sad that can be held in one head at the same time is beyond bizarre” really resonated with me today. I try to stay out of debating things like Mike Brown and Ferguson, but it was so on-my-mind, I finally had to post about it. Hopefully my take makes sense to someone other than me:



15 Design Mom August 15, 2014 at 5:37 pm

I look forward to reading your post!


16 Traci August 15, 2014 at 5:26 pm

Oooh, I will live vicariously through your time in Sweden!


17 Kelly August 15, 2014 at 7:10 pm

Thanks for the great links Gabrielle! The SNAP cookbook is just brilliant and as others commented – so true that we can live with both pain and pleasure as well as happiness and sadness at the same time. I guess the question can be pondered: Can you have one without the other?

Enjoy your trip – you deserve it!


18 Shanna August 15, 2014 at 8:38 pm

Thanks for being so thoughtful about issues going on in the world, but isn’t it a bit premature to be labeling the Mike Brown shooting an obvious case of racism? It seems kind of reckless to insinuate such a nefarious motive when at this point, all we know is that a young man died and an investigation has been opened. I get very leery of assigning motives before all the facts are in, though I definitely understand the instinct to sink into a ready-made narrative.


19 Design Mom August 15, 2014 at 11:46 pm

I don’t feel it’s premature at all. It’s true there is much that is unclear about the killing of Mike Brown, but from my point of view, the involvement of racism is certain. I don’t know that it was intentional racism — it could have been totally subconscious — but I do know our country (I assume you’re American?) is deeply racist and that as a country we assume the worst of young black men simply because they are black.

Statistics like these make it clear that racism is alive and well in Ferguson, but it’s not just Ferguson. We know similar statistics can be found all over the country. The racism goes so deep, that even people who feel they’ve had all racism educated out of them, take tests like this, and find they are in fact biased towards white people. And it’s not necessarily their fault — they may have learned these biases as children, simply by growing up in certain cities or states. As a country, we have a whole mountain of social conditioning we need to overcome.

Whatever the facts of the killing may be, I can’t come up with a scenario where racism isn’t a factor. And I think it’s essential that we talk about racism in our country openly and matter of factly so that we can truly understand how big of a problem it is, and do everything in our power to combat it.

If I understand your comment correctly (and I realize I may not), it sounds like you would prefer if people wouldn’t discuss racism in relation to the killing of Mike Brown, until all the facts are in. From your point of view, I’m wondering how not discussing racism would improve the situation? Even if there’s a tiny chance that no racism was involved, clearly, this horrible event has a good chunk of the population talking about the deep problems of racism in America, and that seems like a small, but positive step forward.


20 Melissa August 17, 2014 at 7:15 pm

Shanna, I live here. I live about 15 miles from Ferguson, MO. It’s absolutely not premature at all to say race played a huge part in this shooting. I don’t know the officer to say that it was a deliberate thing, but it ABSOLUTELY factored in.

A good read: http://www.newrepublic.com/article/119106/ferguson-missouris-complicated-history-poverty-and-racial-tension?utm_content=buffer33155&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

Otherwise, an unarmed young person with his hands up wouldn’t warrant being shot in the back multiple times for any person’s logic.


21 Megan August 18, 2014 at 11:04 am

I just wanted to say thank you for your well thought out comments and responses. Sometimes it’s exhausting to engage in debates that can be so polarizing- yet I find that you often communicate in such a respectful manner and I appreciate the time you take to do so.


22 Marcy August 18, 2014 at 1:49 pm

I agree with Shanna. How can you be so sure about Mike Brown being the innocent victim of racism? Are you aware of what goes into police work? You have six lovely children who happen to be white, would you suggest if one of them were to become a police officer…. if they were threatened by any other race that they should not defend themselves? No police officer goes out wanting to shoot anyone. They do a job not many people can stomach doing. Furthermore, the officer did not have a history of disciplinary action with any of the departments with which he was employed over the past 6-8 years. If he were a cold-blooded executioner, don’t you think he would have acted prior to now? Wouldn’t he have shot the friend if he had a penchant for killing those of other races? Did you see the witness/friend had lied? They were not necessarily angels….they had just committed strong arm robbery at a store in the neighborhood. Also, autopsy shows Mike Brown was not shot in the back. You see since you published your opinion other revelations have come to light and things are not as cut and dry as you seem to believe. We are all human…thus living by the mantra: judge not; lest ye be judged…..seems like a much better way to live.


23 Design Mom August 18, 2014 at 3:59 pm

Marcy, your comment shows you are passionate about discussing the killing of Mike Brown, which of course, I’m all in favor of. But please don’t misread my comment. I don’t know the name of the police officer who shot Mike Brown. I don’t know him personally, and I have never implied that he was intentionally racist, or that he is a cold-blooded killer, or that he has a policy of shooting all teenage boys who aren’t white.

What I did say is that our country is deeply racist, and that Ferguson is no exception to that racism, and that racism was certainly a factor in this sad, sad event.

Please know that if the statistics were reversed — if there was a long-standing pattern in our country of black police officers killing unarmed white teenagers — I would be just as convinced that racism was a factor.


24 michelle August 15, 2014 at 10:42 pm

Excited to hear all about your adventures in Sweden, that’s on my travel list :)


25 Ann August 16, 2014 at 7:32 am

My older son wants to live and work in Sweden someday. I look forward to hearing more about your trip. The hotel looks lovely too! Enjoy!


26 Chandra August 18, 2014 at 11:48 am

Dear Gabrielle,
I just want to take a second to say an honest to goodness thank you from the bottom of my heart for recognizing that outside of design, giveaways, back to school and all of the other oh so important things in our life, the real world outside of our daily lives and experience is happening. I find that overwhelmingly design sites/other blogs that I legitimately enjoy rarely comment on some of the injustice that’s happening in the world and right here at home. And while I can understand the need for a site/blog to have focus, it sometimes feels so irrelevant to me to be discussing paint colors when war is going on or an innocent Black child has been executed by law enforcement that is supposed to protect him and his community. Thank you for your compassion, thank you for your acknowledgement, thank you for your awareness. It is greatly appreciated and one of the reasons I will continue to read and support your site.


27 Design Mom August 18, 2014 at 4:01 pm

Thanks for taking the time to write such a kind comment, Chandra! You made my day.


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