A Few Things

October 3, 2014

squash

Image and text by Gabrielle.

Hello, Friends. How are you? I want to thank you for the good conversation this week. I love hearing what you have to say! But oh man. I have not been able to participate in the way I usually like to. Perhaps this weekend!

Today is another work day away from my desk. Hah! Some weeks are just like that. I’m shooting photos at my sister Jordan’s house today, and then getting ready for some weekend guests. But before I head out, here are a few things I’ve been wanting to share:

- Crowd-funding a free cancer drug.

- Have you ever used “gentle parenting” techniques?

Safety dance.

- Are you following this story about the New York Fed? You can listen to it here.

- How to keep a toddler busy for an hour.

- Why Sci-Fi isn’t getting Artificial Intelligence right.

- A book for children to drive their toy cars through. Thanks, Jessie.

- ”Because we deserve to do more than just survive. We deserve to thrive.” A heart-wrenching speech and poem from a Marshallese mother and poet to the United Nations.  Thanks, Heidi.

- Dove does it again: what kind of beauty legacy are we giving our girls. Thanks, Rebecca.

How to Spot a Trafficking Victim in an Airport. So important. Thanks, Lisa.

- I was delighted to see this: What to Expect When You’re Adopting.

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

kisses,
Gabrielle

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By Gabrielle. Map by David Imus.

Just checking in with a fairly random post this morning. Work has taken me away from my desk so much this week! On location photo shoots, meetings in the city, stuff like that. But I wanted to squeeze in a quick hello.

Salon wrote about this map. It was made by one person  — David Imus of Oregon. And it won Best of Show in America’s most prestigious map making competition.

I was fascinated by this article. First, because I had no idea there were prestigious map-making competitions. Second, because I love the fact that the top award is typically won by big companies, but this time it went to a solo map maker. And third, because when I read why the Imus map was so good, I was stunned by the careful thinking and design considerations. It’s more useful, more readable, and better looking too! Yet another reminder that design matters.

Did you see the article? You can read it here. I know so many of us love maps, so I thought this article might resonate with you as well.

And that’s it! I’ll be back later today with an awesome giveaway with Minted. (It’s a big one! Definitely check back.) Till then, I’d love to hear if you’ve seen any good design lately that struck you like this map struck me. UPDATE: Oh darn! I’m still not ready on the Minted giveaway. I’m thinking Monday, now.

P.S. — I’m still gobbling up your fantastic comments on the Homework post. I’m dying to find a few minutes to respond! Keep them coming.

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Homework

October 1, 2014

By Gabrielle. Video: How to Set up a Study Space. Image by Lindsey Rose Johnson for Design Mom.

Happy October! We are a month into school and homework is on my mind today. Oscar and Betty are in 3rd and 4th grade and their workload so far hasn’t been too challenging. But poor Maude. Her homework is cutting into her sleep time.

She’s a sophomore now and the work load is definitely heavier than it was for her last year. Part of the issue is that she’s a diehard member of the Cross Country team. Practices are long and she puts in a ton of mileage. In theory, she could quit Cross Country and have plenty of time for homework, but that doesn’t really seem like a feasible option. Cross Country is the happiest part of her life at the moment! And all that running seems to keep her teen emotions balanced — there’s nothing like post-run endorphins to put anyone in a great mood. Taking her out of cross country doesn’t seem like the right thing to do. In fact, I’m reminded of that saying: “Don’t let school get in the way of your education.”

Ralph experienced similar late nights last year, but with Maude perhaps I notice it more because she loves her sleep. Late nights typically hold no interest for her. If she’s tired, she has no issues going to bed early — she’s not one to fight sleep in order to watch a show or something like that.

I get that this homework situation is normal high school behavior — and I did the same thing as a teen and survived. But seeing her stay up late, fighting sleepiness so that she can finish her homework, is frustrating. It just seems like a seriously flawed system. No doubt these thoughts are amplified because I feel like I’ve read over and over how important sleep is for everybody — but especially for teenagers.

How do you deal with homework at your house? Is it messing with your family schedule? Or have you figured out a good homework rhythm? Do your kids attend a school with no homework at all? Have you read anything lately on sleep — or on homework — that has you thinking about this? Also, I’ve heard some high schools out there are experimenting with late starts so that teens can get more sleep. Has your school tried this? I’d love to hear!

P.S. — Do you kids cover their textbooks with paper? Here’s a cute tutorial on book covers if you want to learn how.

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Oh Baby Wild World

By Gabrielle. Print via Etsy’s Letters on Love.

Whew. Lindsay Gault Drakos’ experiences are going to fill you with hope, helpful information, and maybe some anger. With three babies born in three countries, there’s bound to be a story or three! As with all of my Growing A Family posts, I hope you find even just one sentence or shared moment to make your day (or delivery) easier. I will warn you that Lindsay’s birth experience in Athens is difficult to read, but rest assured: Lindsay’s three babies are all thriving and growing up happily ever after, despite the trials of their journeys. (Be sure you stay tuned to the end: I borrow some of Lindsay’s worldly experiences and ask her a few questions. If you’ve still got your own babies to deliver, you may want to borrow Lindsay’s advice, too.) Welcome, Lindsay.

Click to read Lindsay’s birth experiences…all so different!

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Living With Kids: Alisa Burke

September 30, 2014

By Gabrielle.

Inspiration overload. You’ve been warned. If you only look at the pictures, you’ll want a wall of floor-to-ceiling blooms bursting into your life and a drawn-on dishwasher. But, oh! If you read Alisa‘s words, you’ll suddenly see everything around you in a crazy haze of beauty. (She’s an artist; she has that effect!)

Her perspective is one that I can’t wait to share, and I truly hope you’ll leave this post overwhelmed with encouragement. Friends, please help me welcome Alisa and her family!

Q: We can’t wait to meet you all! Tell us everything…

A: I live with my husband Andy and two year old daughter Lucy in a small town on the Oregon Coast. My husband and I have been married for ten years, and together we live a very creative and non-traditional life working as artists. A few years ago, we put a plan in motion to chase after the dream of simplicity. We wanted to leave our fast-paced life in Southern California, and move back to my small hometown on the Oregon Coast where we could focus on raising our daughter and running a creative business together.

My husband quit his job as a structural engineer to be a stay-at-home dad and pursue his own art career, and my business became the means for our survival. We knew that if we decided to start a family, there was no looking back! We wanted to say goodbye to the predictability of steady jobs and income, and choose the road less traveled.

More gorgeous, straight ahead!

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U2 & Madonna

September 29, 2014

u2 songs of innocence

By Gabrielle.

We have been listening to the new U2 album, Songs of Innocence, pretty-much nonstop for a couple of weeks now. Have you had a chance to hear it yet? It’s the free album that was causing some drama on iTunes. We love the album. We are big U2 fans so we tend to like everything they produce, but that said, we feel like this album is especially good. Bono mentioned it was their most personal album, and I think it shows.

Anyway, this is not an album review, it’s just that the album has Ben Blair and me talking about music and age. Bono, the Edge, Larry Mullen Jr., Adam Clayton — these are not young guys. But seeing them sing and play and move and rock in performances like this, seems totally normal to me. They don’t look out of place at all in my eyes.

U2 songs of innocence

But. If a random 54-year-old — someone I’ve never heard of before — came out with an album of music, an album that was totally current and sounded completely modern and fresh and up-to-date (whether it was rock, or hip hop, or pop, or whatever one’s favorite genre might be), what would my reaction be? Would I like U2′s album if I didn’t know their earlier work, if I didn’t have context? Would I even be willing to listen to it?

We had similar thoughts when Madonna’s last album came out. Madonna is 56. She was 54 when she started singing Give Me All Your Luvin’. And I sang right along anytime I heard it on the radio. It’s a really fun, catchy song. But every once in awhile I would remember she was in her fifties and I would laugh that she was singing what I thought of as pop-y, high school lyrics. Again, if any other 50-year-old had hit the scene with that song, would he or she have been laughed from the stage?

Related, I LOVED this article written by a women who almost accidentally found musical success in mid-life. This line from the article struck me: “It was heartbreaking how many people — mostly women, some with a better background in music than I have — told me they’d put away their drum kit, electric guitar, bass, whatever, because they were too old to play rock and roll.”

What’s your take? Do you ever think of this topic? Do have opinions on age and music? Is there an age limit on rock? How about for pop music? Do you think women age out before men? Do you like the new U2 album or did you delete it immediately?

P.S. — Check out this beautiful video of Madonna, made by a fan, that morphs images of Madonna from 1983 to 2014.

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A Few Things

September 26, 2014

Design Mom Living Room

Image and text by Gabrielle.

Hello, Friends! How’s it going? Any weekend plans you’re looking forward to? We’re thinking of our European kids this weekend, because Ralph is headed from England to France tomorrow. He’ll be in the same town, and attend the same school as Olive, but they’ll be living with different families. Oh man, the thought of them getting to see each other on most days makes me super happy, and is somehow hugely comforting. Which reminds me, I should totally share an update about how both Olive and Ralph are doing — hopefully next week!

Beyond thinking of my kids-across-the-ocean, my weekend will be mostly taken up with responding to copy edits on four of my book chapters. Anytime there’s a circumstance that requires me to make a ton of purposeful decisions all at once (like when we cleared out our storage unit in Colorado), I have to really psyche up for it and getting in a particular frame of mind. A thousand decisions that need to be made during a short time period is so overwhelming to me! It’s the exact opposite of busy work, and I find it completely exhausting. I’m sure I’m not the only one!

Before I dig in to my book work, here are a few things I’ve wanted to share with you:

- I totally need this — Pep talk of the week!

- I had no idea Bridge to Terebithia was a frequently banned book.

- To mark National Public Lands Day, all National Parks are free on Saturday. Woot!

This restaurant wants to be the worst-reviewed on Yelp.

- Did you get a chance to see Emma Watson’s UN speech? Any thoughts?

- The best built-in beds for kids.

- DIY jump rope. (I love jumping rope.)

- Murder in a time before Google.

- Meta Coleman’s class on Creative Children’s Spaces looks so good.

- The A-Z of dance.

- Dying to try a pair of these drapey pants from Banana Republic — they look comfy as sweats, but elegant too! There’s a code to get a discount — use BEHERENOW to get $25 off of every $100 you spend.

- It’s Like They Know Us. So many good ones, but this might be my favorite: ”Oh, really? My little guy never fusses at mealtime. Have you tried feeding him on a white couch?”

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

kisses,
Gabrielle

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Olive Us: Oscar’s Project

September 25, 2014

Oscar with tools

Images and text by Gabrielle.

Oh my goodness. Watch this one with your kids! They will love it, I promise. And I think you’ll like it too. In fact, maybe it will get you excited for a weekend project. : )

Every time we share a new Olive Us video, I think to myself: this is my favorite one yet! But this time, I think I mean it even more than usual. Hah! The idea in this new video is simple as can be, but I hope it will inspire kids everywhere to get out there and tackle their own projects.

Take a look:





I have to say, this was a really fun episode to film. It was the first one we filmed here at our house in Oakland, and we loved putting our new backyard to work. Honestly, it was the first time we started day dreaming about what we’d like to do with the backyard, and this episode ending up having a lot of influence on this particular installation.

Oscar at work OscarBlair

I hope you enjoy the video! And if you have a child, or grandchild, or niece, or nephew that would enjoy it, I hope you get a chance to share it with them as well. Yay for the satisfaction of a job well done!

P.S. — Would you like to know more about Olive Us? Here you go:

- Find the official Olive Us website here.
- Find all the posts I’ve written about Olive Us — including every episode — here.
- We’ve made 44 episodes so far and ulive commissioned 20 of them! You can find the Olive Us page on ulive here.

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fashionABLE Kickstarter

September 24, 2014

FA-AltKickstarter-PinterestVert1-668x1024

By Gabrielle.

I’m so excited about this! Remember the Alt Summit + fashionABLE scarf design contest I mentioned? Well, today I’ve got a happy contest update for you. Over a hundred scarf designs were submitted, and the top choices were voted on last month. Then, on Monday, we announced the winners — the vote actually ended in a tie!

The photos here feature both of the beautiful winning scarves. The blue one is the Zeritu, designed by Hannah Coulson. The peach one is the Tigist, designed by Drew Pistilli.

As with all fashionABLE products, these scarves help provide jobs for at-risk women in Ethiopia. Each scarf is handmade of custom-dyed, 100% Ethiopian cotton. I’ve seen both of the winning scarves in person and they are gorgeous!

But here’s something new: Instead of selling these scarves on the fashionABLE website, we launched them on Kickstarter instead. And they are only available through the Kickstarter campaign. By crowd-sourcing them, it allows fashionABLE to know exactly how many scarves to produce. If 150 of the Tigist scarf is ordered through the campaign, then only 150 scarves will be woven. And that’s it. If 500 Zeritu scarves are ordered, then 500 will be made.

The neat thing about doing it this way, is that it means fashionABLE can offer the scarves at a significant discount — because they don’t have to make manufacturing guesses. The other neat thing is that we can offer tons of fun incentives as well!

So head on over and take a look — you can even see me in the intro video!

We announced the campaign on Monday and it’s already 70% funded. Which is fantastic! I hope you’ll join in the fun. And remember, if you want to buy one of these winning scarves, ordering them through this Kickstarter is the only way to get them.

I’d love to hear what you think. Do you wear scarves? Do you have a favorite between the winners? Are you already familiar with fashionABLE, or are they new to you?

P.S. — Did I mention we’re running a contest to celebrate? If you share the campaign you could win of the of the scarves! Find contest details here.

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Tea Collection Giveaway

September 23, 2014

DMgiveawayBanner

By Gabrielle.

You know what sounds like fun today? Giving away a $200 store credit to Tea Collection!!

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Tea Collection is a clothing line that is beloved by parents and children everywhere. The company finds inspiration for their easy-to-play-in clothes from all over the world. In fact, each line is influenced by a specific place. Morocco, Buenas Aires, a sunny island in the Pacific — could be anywhere!

The latest collection was inspired by Bavaria and the Black Forests of Germany — famed for fairytales, quaint villages and cuckoo clocks, for folksy Old World paintings and charming cottages. Tea Collection clothes are high on style and high on quality as well. These are clothes made to last.

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Extra fun: There’s a BIG SALE happening at Tea Collection right this minute! It’s a Friends & Family event where you can get 20% off using the code: FALLFRIEND — and the sale only last for 2 days, so act fast. I want to stock up on my favorites — stripey rompers, sweet dresses, hardworking outerwear, and the cutest shoes!

To enter the giveaway, visit Tea Collection and leave a comment below — I’d love to hear what you’re shopping for these days. The winner will be announced on Friday. Good luck!

———

Kelsey is the lucky winner. Thanks for playing!

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By Gabrielle.

Is it just me, or are we all a bit fascinated with New York? I know so many people who either reminisce fondly about their time in The Big Apple, or else dream about someday living there. And tell the truth: When you hear the first few chords of New York, New York, you can’t help but belt out all the lyrics, right?

LaTonya Staubs lives a colorful life in Brooklyn. From the red and white polka dotted rug to turquoise chairs and on to orange spotted walls, this is an explosion of creativity. And yet, it’s still a calm from the storm that is the city, just outside their front door. That’s a trick that requires constant attention to balance and intention. But I wouldn’t expect anything less from this designer, mama, and lovely blogger. Friends, please welcome LaTonya!

Q: Tell us all about your family. (Also, your babes have such unique names, so please share how you chose them!)

A: My family and I live in Brooklyn, NY in a small and loving space. We started our family at a pretty young age, by total surprise. I was 21 and Peter was 24. River was and is still the most amazing surprise!

Before I got pregnant with her, Peter and I were young people just having fun in the city. There was always a party or show to attend, and my life was pretty much the typical life for a girl just barely out of her teens working and living in the city. I wanted a peaceful pregnancy and baby, after all the hoopla. I also wanted a baby girl with a unisex name, so she wouldn’t be judged about a job etc. before others ever met her. It goes so well with her personality.

We came up with Oak after I had already lost a baby well into my second trimester. I went into my pregnancy with him incredibly nervous and private, with a lot of feelings, and not knowing exactly how to sort through them. I soon realized that the insecurity after getting pregnant after a loss like that doesn’t just go away. All I could do was share my feelings with friends, and later with blog readers. I wanted to be strong and I wanted my baby to be strong. I knew if he made it through all the endless high risk appointments and past that 24 week mark he would be strong. Oak is a representation of that strength, like an Oak tree.

River’s room and those orange spotted walls, just ahead!

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Animal Puppets from Playful - a book of creative projects for kids by Merrilee Liddiard

By Gabrielle. Images by Nicole Hill Gerulat for Playful.

I’ve got such a sweet little project for you and your kids today. It’s an Elephant! The most charming paper elephant you’ve ever seen. And it’s one of the many adorable projects in the Merrilee Liddiard’s fantastic new book, Playful. You can find the full instructions, plus a free downloadable template below.

Playful - a book of creative projects for kids by Merrilee Liddiard

Have you seen the book? Everything about it is scrumptious. Every project, every photo, all the little details. Buy it so you can make fun, imaginative, totally do-able projects with your kids. And buy it because the attention to detail will inspire you!

I’m a huge fan of Merrilee. Such a fan that I sought her out to work on our Olive Us movie titles and illustrations (see examples here and here). She’s endlessly creative and her ideas spark more creativity in everyone around her.

Animal Puppets from Playful - a book of creative projects for kids by Merrilee Liddiard

This simple elephant would be terrific to make with your kids. Hang it on the wall, add sticks to make it a puppet. Or make tiny ones as cupcake toppers. Yay!

Click here for the full tutorial and downloadable template.

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A Few Things

September 19, 2014

gourds

Image and text by Gabrielle.

Hello, Friends! How are you doing? It’s been a good week at our house. Nothing too eventful, but it was one of those weeks where it felt like things ran pretty smoothly. That’s always feels like such a bonus!

This weekend, I’m toying with the idea of getting started remodeling the girls’ bedroom. Pulling up old carpet, taking down the ceiling tiles — that sort of thing. But it’s a big job, and I really shouldn’t start anything new until the book is completely done. Hah! We’ll see how it goes. How about you? Any fun weekend plans?

I’m off to sit in the girls’ room and ponder the possibilities, but before I close my laptop, here are a few links I’ve been wanting to share:

- Rush hour in the Netherlands. Amazing!

- Did you know children with cancer can spend up to four months in isolation in the hospital? That means no playing with other kids. This kickstarter wants to fix that. (And the video got me teary.) Thanks, Macarena.

- I’m still laughing — Happy Birthday from Grandpa and Grandmaster Flash.

- This is what has happened in the 5 months since we found out about #bringbackourgirls.

- The spiritual art of saying no. Thanks, Laurie.

- This speech to a class of pre-schoolers was banned. Thanks, Gillian.

- Breathtaking photos of Ethiopia from an African-based female photographer.

- MIT is hosting a “Make the Breast Pump Not Suck Hackathon.” Yes please! Thanks, Amy.

- Turn your Instagram photos into a light cube.

- A beautiful video on what ballerinas do to prepare their pointe shoes for performance.

- The new common core math is not fuzzy. Thanks, Cate.

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

kisses,
Gabrielle

P.S. — I snapped the image at top at the grocery store yesterday. When I saw them, I immediately thought of this cuss-filled but hilarious article. I know I link to it every year, but it’s funny every time!

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Featured Picture Book: Bonjour Camille   |   Design Mom

Images and text by Gabrielle.

Oh my goodness. I haven’t written a post about children’s books in months — the last post was in March! So I thought it would be fun today to share four in one post. Let’s get to it!

1) Bonjour Camille by Felipe Cano. Illustrations by Laia Aguilar.

Featured Picture Book: Bonjour Camille   |   Design Mom Featured Picture Book: Bonjour Camille   |   Design Mom

Such a gorgeous book. You’ll meet Camille on a sunny Sunday morning. And get ready, because Camille has so many things to do! Eating cherries, jumping on the bed, talking to the wind, and on and on. The pages feel magical — like they’re lifted right out of child’s head.

Featured Picture Book:  Mix It Up!   |   Design Mom

2) Mix It Up by Hervé Tullet.

Featured Picture Book:  Mix It Up!   |   Design Mom Featured Picture Book:  Mix It Up!   |   Design Mom

Oh. This book is brilliant! It’s interactive and teaches kids about the basics of color theory. They shake the book, turn the page, and discover the colors have mixed together to make something new!

Click here for two more – Lately Lily and The Baby Tree!

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Get Moving!

September 17, 2014

Jawbone UP24

Images and text by Gabrielle.

Let’s talk movement today. Ben Blair goes to the gym five days a week, but I’ve never been very good at incorporating official exercise — like running, or a class at the gym, or yoga — into my daily routine. That said, I think of myself as a someone who uses my body a lot, not because I’m exercising, but because my calendar is generally packed and my commitments keep me on the move. There are certainly weeks where that is true — during Alt Summit I rarely get to sit for more than a few minutes, and anytime I’m in the middle of a room remodel, I’m like a busy bee, constantly on the move. But if I’m honest with myself, I have to admit that on many days, I do a lot of sitting.

Part of that is the nature of my job. Writing means sitting. Editing photographs means sitting. Attending to my inbox means sitting. Researching means sitting. Coordinating with photographers while looking at a calendar means sitting. Taking a phone call while writing notes means sitting. What can I say? If you have a computer based job the same might be true for you as well. But I also know that if I’m in true brainstorming mode and really thinking up ideas, I have to pace or circle the room. I seem to think better when I’m moving.

So, I’ve decided to officially jump on the fitness bracelet bandwagon! I just started this morning (only 250 steps so far!), and I think I might be the last person in America to join in. Hah! I’m partnering with Jawbone for this fitness attempt and using the UP24.

Jawbone Up 24 App

Right now, I have two goals I’m hoping the band will help me with. One is to get a better sense of how much I’m actually moving each day, and improve where needed. I’m really hoping that by being aware of how much I’m not moving on some days, that I’ll be encouraged to get up out of my chair and do some creative thinking on my feet.

And the second goal is to track my sleep and get a picture of what’s happening at night. I know it’s common knowledge that a good night’s sleep is good for you, but I want to find out if I can really see the cause and effect. Am I more active after better sleep? Is the amount of sleep the key factor? Or is the time I go to bed? Related to the sleep goal, I’m also really curious about the Smart Alarm. It’s supposed to wake you up at the ideal moment in your sleep cycle so that you feel the most refreshed. I very much want to try it.

The band, paired with the app, actually does a ton of stuff. You can track food and drink, sync up notes with friends or family members, and set simple daily goals, like: Today I will drink 8 glasses of water. Feel free to check out all the features here. I’m going to use the Jawbone Up24 for a month, track everything on the app, and then I’ll report back in October what it’s been like. I’m very excited about this! I have a feeling it will really jump start my daily movement.

Now your turn. First, are you into working out? If yes, do you like tracking your physical activity? For those of you who are like me, and don’t love formal exercise, do you feel like a fitness band would jump start your daily movement? If you’re already a movement tracking expert, what are your favorite things about using a tool like this? And for those of you haven’t tried a fitness band yet, feel free to join me!

——

This post was brought to you by Jawbone UP24.

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Book Update

September 17, 2014

Design Mom Book Cover Photoshoot

Image and text by Gabrielle.

Ready for another update on my Design Mom book? I haven’t updated you guys since March, but there’s tons of fun stuff going on. Two things in particular I want to report, for those of you who are following along behind the scenes.

First, we shot the photo for the cover! You can see a sneak peek above. This happened in July, and since then, the book designer has sent over several different book cover designs. I’m going to check with my editor, and if she doesn’t mind, I’ll share the options with you guys and see what you think.

Second, in the book process right now, I’m responding to comments from copyeditors. This is how the process has worked for my book. Last March, as I mentioned, I handed in the first manuscript. My editor went through it, sent me notes, and the book went through some major revisions. Sections were removed, the focus of the book was refined, topics were reordered, more actionable advise was added in where needed.

That took a long time. And I had to break down the tasks chapter by chapter so that I could make it more manageable.

Then, the revised chapters were sent back to my editor, one by one. A team of copyeditors took the revised chapters and have been going through them with a fine tooth comb. They’re looking for simple things like typos and grammatical errors, plus more complex things like places that need clarification or simplification. When the copyeditors finish a chapter, they send it back to me with their notes and changes. I’ve received 3 chapters back so far.

Then, I go through the comments and changes and I respond to each one as needed.

What a process! And still lots more to do!!

For those of you who have written a book or worked in publishing, this sort of info is very likely old news. But to me, the process is brand new. Bloggers don’t generally work with editors. I’ll proofread my posts, or have Ben Blair proof one if I want some extra eyes on it. And my siblings are good about sending me a heads up when they see a typo I missed (even with proof-reading, I miss something in every post). But this process is very different, and I LOVE how it works. It’s amazing to see the improvement from the first manuscript to where the book is now.

Another exciting tidbit is that my book editor, Lia Ronnen, was just named Publisher at Artisan Books last month. Such a big deal!

Anyway, I thought some of you might be curious about how the book process works. I find stuff like this fascinating! Have you ever been through an editing process like this? If yes, what did you think of it? I find it incredibly challenging — and that’s an understatement for sure. : )

P.S. — You didn’t know I was writing a book? It’s been a looonng process. You can read the original announcement here. And you can read about why it’s taking me so long in this post.

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Living With Kids: Agnes Hsu

September 16, 2014

By Gabrielle.

Agnes would be a lovely friend to have, I think. She owns a cupcake shop, is a family photographer, and also runs a kids’ creative site. Life with her must be sweet, DIY divine, and photogenic. (As an extra bonus, she lives in my neck of the woods, so I call dibs!)

But with all those professional endeavors, something’s gotta give, right? If you’re struggling with your own overwhelming schedules, you might like to hear how Agnes deals with it all. From the division of duties, scheduled personal times that refuel the family’s energy levels, and effective out-sourcing, it’s good stuff. Friends, please meet Agnes! Hello, Wonderful!

Q: We can’t wait to meet you all!

A: Hi! I’m Agnes Hsu, mom to two feisty kids who keep me on my toes: Alia, five and a half, and Kian, who is three and a half. I’m married to my college sweetheart, Tim. We’ve been married for 12 years and together for 18, which seems like a lifetime but it’s all flown by so quickly!

I’m the entrepreneurial/creative spirit in the household. I run on energy and am a non-stop person. I’m an introvert by nature and don’t enjoy small talk, but can talk for hours one-on-one with someone because I love getting to know people from the inside. I’m inspired by those who take chances and have gone through trials in their lives. I am an avid reader, particularly biographies and memoirs. I’m typical type A, compulsive and frenetic. But thankfully, my husband Tim balances that out.

He’s an extrovert, super friendly, and people generally love him upon first meeting. He’s solid, laid-back, and is the most optimistic person I’ve ever met. Our interests couldn’t be more different, too. He’s very much into technology and works in marketing at Twitter, and just prior to that he was at a gaming company. He’s extremely witty, funny, and a hoarder, whereas I’m serious and a neat freak who is scared of clutter. It’s a miracle we are married!

Our kids are the center of our amusement and love. Interestingly, they are also polar opposites like my husband and I. My little girl is like a mini-me. She loves arts and crafts, creative projects, and is also super neat (actually loves to clean her room!) and enjoys baking/cooking in the kitchen as much as I do. She’s also on the shy side and it takes her a while to warm up to people, but once she does she can’t keep quiet around them.

Pretty scenes and worthwhile words, just ahead!

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Maude Track

Image and text by Gabrielle.

Last year around this time I talked about the fact that we were enrolling our kids in an Oakland Public High School, rated a 2 out of 10 on the Great Schools website. Since we’ve entered our second year in the same school — now upgraded to a 3 out of 10 — I thought you might enjoy a little update. I don’t want this post to be a repeat of last year’s, so I’m going to focus on the individual experiences of Ralph and Maude at the school.

- I think one fear parents may have is that it might be hard for their child to shine in a big, urban school. But Ralph felt he experienced the opposite. Ralph loved the opportunities the high school gave him. In the fall, he tried out for the school play and won the part of the Italian Father in “Golden Boy”. Since he was a new student, and only a sophomore, he thought they probably wouldn’t consider him.

- He also found opportunities in music. Ralph plays trombone and he joined the Marching Band and Jazz Band. He’d always been pretty casual about his trombone playing, but found he had to really practice in order to keep up with his bandmates. Joining the band really pushed him in a good way, and gave him experiences he couldn’t have had any other way — the band performed in competitions around the state, parades around town, even a renowned jazz club in downtown Oakland. At the end of the year, he laughed when he received the award for Most Improved Band Member. : )

Keep reading. Lots more ahead!

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A Few Things

September 12, 2014

view from the couch

Image and text by Gabrielle.

Hello, Friends! How was your week? I hope it was a good one. As I mentioned at the end of yesterday’s post, September 11th is my father’s birthday. He died many years ago (I was pregnant with Ralph at the time. I was 22.). Yesterday, someone left a sweet little message about him for me, and it was like the floodgates opened — I could not stop crying!

It probably doesn’t seem that strange to cry on my father’s birthday, but it sort of is. Last year on his birthday, I reminisced with my family about fun dad memories, but I don’t think I cried. Sometimes the out of nowhere missing-him-grief catches me off guard. All these years later and the tears come less often, but are still so unpredictable. I’m sure many of you who have lost someone you love can relate.

Anyway, today I find myself a little post-weepy, if that makes any sense.

We have a laid-back weekend ahead. Some fun church activities, but that’s about it. It feels good, like we have time to hang out. What about you? Anything you’re looking forward to this weekend? I’d love to hear!

And before I sign off for the week, here are a few things I’ve wanted to share:

- One method for preventing kids in the classroom from falling through the cracks.

- Piano staircase — 66% more people than usual chose the stairs over the escalator. (Oh Sweden, you’re so cool.)

- Hah! Sir Ian McKellen on acting.

- Ben Blair read this story to me yesterday and I couldn’t stop crying. (Lots of crying yesterday!)

- Best red lipsticks.

- Way beyond my post about online school, this article is about taking your kids out of school altogether.

A dollar store project to spark your (or your child’s) imagination.

- Dear Girls, life is too short for crappy friends.

- What giving birth looks like around the world. Thanks, Heather.

- Remember sticker books? What do you think about this?

- I didn’t realize there was so much turnover in teacher staffing. This is a really interesting article on why teachers quit — and why those who choose to stay do. Thanks, Laura.

- I really like combining textures and came up with these plaster-dipped carafes. Cool or weird?

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

kisses,
Gabrielle

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Olive Juice Kids Giveaway

September 11, 2014

DMgiveawayBanner

By Gabrielle.

Today’s gorgeous giveaway is sponsored by Olive Juice Kids. They’re offering a generous $150 gift certificate. Yippee!

Olive Juice Kids Fall 2014

I’m still working on my kids’ school clothes for this year — no doubt some of you are as well. And the planners among us are already looking ahead to the holidays. Either way,  Olive Juice has us covered.

They’ve been a fantastic sponsor of Design Mom for the past few years and I simply love their clothes! Their designs are consistently beautiful, high quality, and with style that will last.

Olive Juice Kids Fall 2014

If you’re looking for something with a European feel, something that feels unusual, Olive Juice will have the perfect thing. Take a look at their fall catalogue — it’s full of inspiration for putting together outfits! Best of all, their clothes truly are made to be worn by kids — the cuts and materials are comfortable and realistic.

Olive Juice Kids Fall 2014

As I mentioned right now, I’m shopping for fall clothes — the Tilda Shirtdress, Pop Pop’s Sweater, and the Bailey Top are all on my shopping list.

Visit Olive Juice Kids and leave a comment below to enter — I’d love to know what pieces catch your eye. The winner will be announced on Monday. Good luck!

——–

Emily C is the lucky winner. Thanks for playing!

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