Minimalism and Slow Living: Slow, Minimal Family in a Fast, Big City

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Tomorrow the Global Guardian Project‘s Rwanda learning capsule will be released. As a little sneak preview, my interview that is included in the capsule (along with articles and information about Rwanda’s wildlife, local recipes, meditation, art projects, inspirational people and lots more) has been posted to the GGP blog.

In the interview, I talk about how our family brings our values related to minimalism and slow living into our everyday way of life and how these are motivated by our commitment to live in a sustainable manner. I talk about the importance of time in nature, unstructured days, our car-free lifestyle and lots more.

I hope you’ll find it interesting!

I would love to know what you think, so please come back and share your views in the comments below.

  • You can link to the interview here.

If you aren’t already a monthly subscriber to the Global Guardian Project, please consider signing up. For $14.99 a month you get a monthly digital capsule full of learning, art and adventure activities suitable for children of all ages, but especially ages 4-13. The capsules include facts, information and vocabulary related to wildlife and sustainability. They also include recipes (including video tutorials), meditations (including audio recordings to guide you), inspiring videos made by children around the world doing great things to support the health of the planet, digital downloads, art projects and more. Each capsule focuses on a different country. Upcoming countries include Rwanda, India, Canada, Sri Lanka, Thailand and many more!

You can read my post about the Global Guardian Project here. Visit their online shop to subscribe here.

  • BONUS: All subscribers are mailed a beautiful world map to use interactively with the capsules or just to decorate your wall with.

Discount code: Please use ‘HIPPIEINDISGUISE‘ at checkout to get 10% off your subscription.

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Tropic of Candycorn Interview Erynn Montgomery Travel with Kids

On New Years Resolutions, Yoga, Self-Care and Travel

Since my early twenties I haven’t been much into New Year’s resolutions. Resolutions, yes. But once a year, on a specific date, no. When I was practicing yoga intensely in my early twenties I found an excellent studio, at the time it was one of only two in town that offered a holistic approach to teaching yoga. What this meant was there was a good sprinkling of other lessons within the classes aside from physical practice.

In one practice, when we were approaching December, my instructor brought up the topic of New Years resolutions. Seemed a bit early to me to be talking about them, but inhale, exhale, I listened to his words. Until this time, I had always made a few New Years resolutions each year. However, on this day, what he said was “If you decide you should do something, don’t wait to do it.” He continued “If you know something is right, that it’s good for you, that you want to set an intention for a full year toward it, then it’s pretty important. Right? So why are you waiting another month, week, or day to start?” He was so right! If I know in my mind and heart that I need to do something, change a habit, dedicate myself to a new project that’s so important that I intend to resolve to do it, well, then I shouldn’t neglect it for another day. I need to start now! Since that day, when I’ve come upon a moment of resolution, I’ve not let myself delay.

Because of this perspective, I haven’t been one to write a long list, or even a modest list, of resolutions each new year. I just start on them as they present themselves. Of course, I’m not perfect, I don’t implement my resolutions perfectly, but I think you get the point of what I’m saying: Don’t delay. Nevertheless, being present on social media for the last two years, I’ve read and heard a lot about other people’s resolutions and reaffirmations, and I can’t help but reflect on myself and what I can improve, what I need to change, how I can do more good with my energy, when I read these.

And so, in the context of social media and conversations with a new friend, Erynn, this year I made a few New Years resolutions; one’s I hadn’t made before. First, travel more. I don’t have a budget for travel, but this doesn’t mean I shouldn’t dream. And it doesn’t mean I have to travel far. It could be travelling to new places within my city. But putting the intention out there is important. Second, take better care of myself. No one will question how much I care for my children and family. I’m wholehearted and unconditional, I give them as much as I can every day. I love to. But in this mix I don’t take exceptional (or even good) care of myself. My friend Erynn who is organizing a Yoga Retreat in May, helped me re-evaluate how much attention and care I give myself. I need to be happy, healthy and balanced to be a good mother. But, truthfully, I am a good mother (I’m riddled with self doubt in most aspects of my life, but mothering is not one of them). However, I’m not the best role model when it comes to taking care of myself. In falling in love with mothering, I let my yoga practice slip, reduced to a very light practice, sometimes going weeks, months, without stepping onto the mat. I realize now that I wasn’t modelling the type of self-care I hoped my children would one day exhibit when they left our nest. The environment in which children grow up, the patterns and habits they observe over time become their baseline. I decided that I needed to shift my baseline of self-care if I wanted it to have an impact on them before they left home. So this year, in 2016, I am returning to my regular yoga practice and running more often, and generally taking better care of myself. I’m also going to travel more, even if it’s only within my own city.

I wanted to share an interview with my friend Erynn. Erynn is a creative entrepreneurial mother who maintained her passions in the midst of raising four children. I’m always inspired by women like her. How did she do it? Erynn has a passion for travel and humanitarian work and fortunately found a creative way to combine these interests with work and family time. Erynn runs a high end travel company, but also runs Tropic of Candycorn a great information resource for people interested in travelling with families, especially the more adventurous types of travel. I hope you enjoy hearing from Erynn – I especially love that she knew early on that she wanted to prioritize experiences over stuff! Go Erynn! And I hope that travel and self-care are part of your ambitions for 2016.

Erynn, please tell me a little bit about yourself. What is your background?

I love raising my four daughters. Before children, I served as the President and CEO of a humanitarian organization helping impoverished South American communities. I traveled a lot and loved meeting different people in many cultures. As my husband and I awaited the arrival of our first child, we swore we would continue to make travel a priority. We started a boutique travel company that designs custom trips for top-tier clients. I find the most joy traveling with my daughters and inspiring other families to go places together.

Tropic of Candycorn Interview Erynn Montgomery Travel with Kids

What part of the world do you live in?

I live in the beautiful Rocky Mountains of the United States.

How many children do you have and what are they like?

Rather than list their unique qualities – because they are each so different and special, but changing constantly – I’ll share their names and how you would know who is who if you met them for the first time. Cora is 11. She would be the first to engage you in conversation, which would typically have a lot of smiles and giggles involved. Hero (age 10) would give you a steely gaze at first, disappear into the pages of a book, and then engage your son or daughter for hours of physical play. Philippa (age 6) is a sprite for whom you will willingly offer anything sweet you may have brought with you. Finally, Minerva (age 3) will listen carefully to everything you say so long as you don’t look directly at her. She will occasionally interrupt our conversation with hugs and kisses on my cheek in order to secure my attention.

Tropic of Candycorn Interview Erynn Montgomery Travel with Kids on www.hippieindisguise.com

What are your core family values?

We value time together – near or far. We value an exploration of the world with open hearts. We value learning and experiences. Above all else, we value kindness.

Kindness is the trait I hope to instil most in my daughters. I do not want them to be naïve, or docile, or even sweet. No. Sweet people, especially women, can be taken advantage of. What I want is true compassion—for them to be mindful of others and to understand a wide range of life circumstances. I want them to barter fiercely for something, but leave a little more behind than what was agreed upon. I want them to see the beauty in different ways of life, compare it to the life they have, and then create something new based on their own ideals. I want them to reach out to others and make a difference, and then allow people to reciprocate.

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What do you love to do as a family?

We love to spend time together. We love to experience things in nature. We love to read and bake and have tickle fights. We also love to travel. Travel has a way of condensing life lessons. We decided early on that we would rather buy experiences than stuff.

Tropic of Candycorn Interview Erynn Montgomery Travel with Kids on www.hippieindisguise.com

What are you passionate about? And what inspires you?

I love the world and I love people. As an introvert, it’s sometimes challenging to reach out to others, to allow myself to be vulnerable. When traveling, you’re in a constant state of vulnerability – new places, new people, new languages. It can be very overwhelming. Before we make lasting friendships, I typically spend a few days observing people in their own environment. Witnessing what makes them happy inspires me. It’s always the simple things.

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Can you tell me about your work as a travel planner?

I think so. It’s kind of a weird gig. Ha. Ten years ago, I co-founded a boutique travel company called Mosaico Travel. We provide custom travel to top-tier clients. Most people, especially in the US, have short vacations. Time is their most precious resource. They want vacations to be special, but they don’t have a lot of time to research the best places and activities for their family. Getting to know people and designing something that will become part of their family heritage is very rewarding for me.

However, I miss my humanitarian roots. I love it most when I can introduce some of my travel clients to the communities that I have served and loved. These experiences always end up being what they remember and cherish most.

Tropic of Candycorn Interview Erynn Montgomery Travel with Kids on www.hippieindisguise.com

Tropic of Candycorn Interview Erynn Montgomery Travel with Kids on www.hippieindisguise.comWhat is Tropic of Candycorn?

As Mosaico Travel grew, I noticed something that concerned me. People wanted to travel, but they weren’t sure how to make it work well with children. Unfortunately, as a culture we tend to focus on the difficult parts of raising children: painful childbirth, sleepless nights, crying babies on the plane, etc. Although I admit parenting requires resilience, I have found it to be incredibly rewarding.

I began answering questions, even from very seasoned travellers, about what they should bring or do on a vacation with kids. They didn’t understand how I would travel with my daughters (often without another adult) for weeks at a time and love it!

Although I consider myself a private person, I began to share. I wrote stories that I hoped would inspire. I wrote tips on how to make things easier or less intimidating. I wanted to create an online resource, Tropic of Candycorn, where people could come and learn from our community and discover what works for them.

Most of all, I wanted travel to be accessible to a wide range of families, not just the top-tier. I know that most children’s happiest memories will be away from home and I want those memories to be spent together.

Tropic of Candycorn Interview Erynn Montgomery Travel with Kids on www.hippieindisguise.com

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Top three places to travel with kids and why?

Oh wow. I’m not sure I could narrow it down. We love places where we can explore in nature, relax, and have fun. And eat ice cream! I often get asked the question, “Where’s the best place to take children?” My response is usually a variant of “wherever there are children.” Some places are easier than others and some destinations are better geared for individual families, but if the local children are happy, healthy, and safe, I think it’s a destination worth considering.

Don’t be afraid to stretch yourself. Most places on your bucket list are safe enough that you’re considering them. If a destination doesn’t make you a little nervous and a lot excited, you might not be trying hard enough. Go for it!

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You’ve organized a retreat catering to moms. Can you tell me more about it?

I would love to. This motherhood thing is awesome. But it can be exhausting too. I realized I was giving everything I had to my children, my husband, my work, and had little (if anything) left for me. As I began to talk to other mothers about my struggle, I discovered I was far from alone. We jokingly said, “Someone needs to plan a vacation for moms.” I got some lovely, genuine women involved who I knew needed a break – a way to recharge themselves so they are better prepared to care for the people they love.

The retreat is a way to replenish body, mind, and soul. There will be daily yoga and surf lessons. There will also be daily workshops geared to inspiring mothers: letting go of fears and insecurities; making magic every day and inspiring wonder in  ourselves and children; owning your expertise and sharing it with others; living simple, beautiful lives full of meaning and mindfulness.

It will be from Monday, May 2 – Saturday, May 7 at the JW Marriott Guanacaste in Costa Rica and we would love for any mothers who need this to join us. It will be the most epic Mother’s Day.

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Did your priorities and life goals change once you had children?

Not drastically. I always enjoyed helping and serving people, which made my transition to motherhood easier since that’s the bulk of the work.

What’s next for you, do you have any fun projects or vacation planned?

My oldest daughter turns 12 on April 2. Long ago, before we realized how quickly our children would grow, we told them they could choose a parent-guide and a destination for their 12th birthday. They would be required to work within a budget, and plan their adventure with some parental input. When Cora realized that I needed to attend a work conference in Switzerland in mid-March, she asked, “Well, if you’re already in Europe, then your airfare doesn’t count toward my budget, right?” She figured out that she could take a direct flight to Paris to meet me. She shopped for the best price and then nervously stood by as I finished the payment. We’re both excited. For Cora, it’s a right of passage – learning to navigate the world with more independence. For me, it’s a chance to spend one-on-one time and create memories that I hope will buoy us during the teenage years.

We’ll be sharing a travelogue on Tropic of Candycorn about our experiences including a daily breakdown of how she’s working within the budget.

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What are your dreams for yourself as a mother?

I dream of raising four women who become strong, independent forces for good in the world. I hope to embrace my imperfections so that they can too. Ultimately, I want to leave this world a bit better than I found it.

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Thank you Erynn! Readers you can find Erynn on Instagram @tropicofcandycorn or on Facebook here.

THERE ARE STILL A FEW SPOTS LEFT IN The Tropic of Candycorn YOGA & SURF RETREAT IN COSTA RICA, MAY 2-7, 2016

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How to Get Started with Minimalism

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2015 Moment of the Year

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Last year, when my blog was still brand new, I shared some of my favourite photos from 2014 from people I follow on Instagram. I love photography for what it can capture that our eye misses, the way in which it aids and embellishes our memories, and for its beauty. But photography, for me, is never about honing technical skill or developing expertise with an apparatus. This approach to photography makes the skill and the photo objects in themselves, often demanding more value than the content of the photo or the memory it captures. I’m always much more drawn to photography that tells a story, that captures a moment rather than constructing one. In this sense I don’t concern myself with improving my photography skills, I want my photos to be organic and to capture something real. This means that I don’t capture much of our life indoors, because the lighting is too low in our home and I would need to improve my skills to capture moments in the way I experience them. In contrast, when photographing my children outdoors I feel as though the photo captures the moment as I experienced it. All this to say, as way of an introduction, that my favourite photo from 2015 is my favourite because it organically captured a number of ideas that are important to me; they are themes in my photography and the ideas I strive to convey in the photography and writing I share here and on Instagram. These themes are: sibling love, nature connection, and minimalist fun.

In the last week of 2015, I began looking through my roll of photos from the past year, rediscovering moments shared with the children and Matt, remembering fun times at home, in our city and while travelling. I collaged some favourites of each child, which I like to do as a way of tracking their change over the year and honing in on their dominant personality characteristics. Ro inspires me with her innate connection to the natural world; we all have that connection, but she feels it deeply and honestly. She inspires me with her creativity, her kindness, her compassion for all life of earth and for her organic way of being. She knows who she is and she lives it every minute of the day.

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Sen grew up a lot in the last year, he’s still my baby, but he’s very much a child most days. I’m still grateful everyday for our surprise pregnancy that brought him into our life. His birth brought everything that was important to us into very sharp focus; that’s what struggles do, and I’m so thankful for him and that struggle. Over the last year, Sen has shown his sweet character each day. He’s full of wonder, innocence, adventure, belly laughs and pure brilliance.

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Capturing siblings moments of interaction, shared space, love and laughs is something I strive for. I want Ro and Sen to have a record of their adventures together and how they got along. I have a hard time with the notion that sibling rivalry is a normal aspect of sibling relationships, and so I strive to ensure that I capture them happily co-existing. I also try my hardest to ensure they are in a space that keeps both of them happy, which is almost always an unstructured natural space. Has anyone else noticed how arguments and conflict evaporate when you take your children into the great outdoors? Somewhere without play structures and curated fun, somewhere where their curiosity and imagination are ignited, and perhaps, even, an inherent biological disposition to get along in the wild kicks in?

And so, my favourite moment of 2015, is captured in an image, it was a fleeting perfect moment. In that photo sibling love shines strong, Ro and Sen are connecting with each other and the moment, enjoying each other’s company, experiencing more joy than any toy or thing will ever bring them, doing so with their bodies hugged up against the ground, the earth, connected physically to the planet that sustains them. When I see my children enjoying life to the fullest out in nature without toys or gear or gadgets, but simply relating to each other or reflecting inwardly, I feel as though I’ve accomplished something great. Allowing them to experience first hand that all they need in life are good relationships, the rest is decoration. True happiness never comes from things, it comes from within and from our relationships. When they experience this happiness in the natural world, more often, more easily, they feel drawn to it, collect fond memories of time in natural spaces, and feel that nature is part of them. It is only natural then that they should seek to protect and nourish that which sustains them and their happiness.

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In a sense, there were many moments of the year in 2015, when exactly these things were happening. But by luck I captured an image of it. One that set me on a path of reflection, asking myself what is it that I understand in an embodied, unconscious way, but can’t articulate? How do I describe what I know to be the value, the story, of this image? Capturing what the eye often misses, my camera caught one of the many moments of the year and helped me articulate embodied knowledge.

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Top post: Any Occasion, Sustainable Gift Guide for Children 

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Join us for a Botanical Advent

Around this time in 2014, my friend Emma (on Instagram as @takeapicturelady) invited her friends and followers to participate in a botanical advent. She had started one, somewhat spontaneously, the year before and, as is often the way with Instagram and other social media, it’s more fun when people join in.

The idea of the botanical advent is to work with flowers and plants (or other natural / botanical materials) to make an arrangement each day of the advent. For example, many people arrange petals and leaves in the shape of a number (the day of the advent). I personally was challenged enough by the idea of coming up with an arrangement each day, that I didn’t need the added challenge of making a number. Instead I enjoyed playing with colour (as I do!), texture and pattern to come up with a botanical arrangement to mark the advent each day.

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I soon realized making an arrangement each day was even more of a challenge than I expected, with very little daylight in December (and me away from home for all but about 20 minutes of daylight) it was hard to get an arrangement done and photographed in so little time — each day. Then there’s the fact that we don’t buy cut flowers or pick plants; we only collect. We soon realized we had not sufficiently collected enough natural materials over the fall to have a lot of variety to work with in making the arrangements. And then there are those days, when you don’t have creative inspiration. Some days I pushed myself through and made something anyway, and other days I asked Ro or Sen to make an arrangement for me. (Of course, I gave them full credit!)

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Botanical heart advent in process

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Botanical Heart Advent, by Ro

It turned out to be an excellent idea to ask Ro and Sen to contribute to the botanical advent making. Ro loved having a fun early morning project to wake up to, and Sen was very proud to do as his big sister and make “beautiful flower rainbows like Rowee.” He loved, too, that he was trusted to handle the delicate dried flowers. I was particularly delighted to see how gently he handled the fragile dried flowers and the fine motor skills he used to arrange tiny dried berries, the patience required to move a berry back to its place 4, 5, 6 times when it rolled away. After the advent was done they both continued to ask to play with the flowers over the course of the winter. (Previously we had mostly done this outside in the summer making nature mandalas and natural story boards.)

botanical advent flower art

botanical advent flower artSo this year, having learned from last, I’m involving the children from day 1, we’ve gathered more natural treasures (pinecones, flower petals, dried leaves and so on) and are ready to start our botanical advent on Tuesday, December 1st. Please join us! And, feel free participate even if you can’t do an arrangement every day.

Visit the posts that were tagged #botanicaladvent to get an idea of the arrangements people shared last year.

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Flower Rainbow, by Ro

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Have you subscribed to the Global Guardian Project yet? They are monthly learning capsules for children and families to learn about global stewardship. Each month features a different country’s wild life, landscape and challenges, and includes art projects, activities, meditation, recipes and more! Use my discount code: HIPPIEINDISGUISE for 10% off , you can read more about it here

 

A Thoughtful Guide for Children’s Gifts

Update: I developed this list for December giving, however it is suitable for any season or occasion, including Valentine’s day and birthdays. 

It’s that time of year when many people are thinking about gifts for the children in their life. So I decided to share my best recommendations in the interest of thoughtful acquisition. We are very minimal when it comes to gifts: for birthdays it’s one gift, for Christmas it’s two gifts. Over the years the children have grown a nice collection of thoughtful toys, books and play things, that are sustainably made, high quality and heirloom worthy. This list is based on our favourites (and a few wish list items) that both Ro (age 10) and Sen (age 4) enjoy now and did so at a younger age too.

 

Full Children's Gift Guide 2015

I didn’t include any clothing on the list because my children get little enjoyment from what they wear, but if you are looking for clothing recommendations, you can always email me or leave a comment, or check my Label Love series of posts, featuring ethically made, sustainable clothing.

  1. Studio Escargot Doll – small, soft loveable dolls that are beautiful but can still be played with, handmade by Sophia Smeekens, available here
  2. Mozartkugel Music Ball – handmade in Germany from sustainable wood sources, this wooden ball contains a wind up music box that plays Mozart, beautiful sound and beautiful to look at, available here
  3. Once Upon a Balloon – written by Bree Galbraith, a story about the magic and whimsy of childhood imagination, widely available, but you can find it here
  4. 12-piece Wooden Rainbow – made by Grimm’s Wooden Toys, this toy is deceptively complex and yet simple enough for a toddler to enjoy, hours of creative fun, available here (note: the entire line of Grimm’s toys is amazing, you can’t really pick something your children won’t love)
  5. Play Silks – hand dyed silk and cotton play scarves and scapes, hours and hours of creative fun, your children will never cease to come up with something new with these scarves, available from Sarah’s Silks here (note: you can’t really go wrong with anything from Sarah’s Silks)
  6. Global Guardian Project Learning Capsules – monthly digital magazine (including videos, podcasts and art downloads) for children and families to learn about global stewardship. Each month features a different country’s wild life, landscape and challenges, and includes art projects, activities, meditation, recipes and more! You can use my discount code: HIPPIEINDISGUISE for 10% off  and find them here
  7. Felt Bee Costume – handmade felt bee wings and mask from Wishing Elephant and Opposite of Far collaboration available here
  8. Ocean Warrior Necklace – handmade necklace made from amber and sterling silver, a reminder of our connection to the health of our waters and planet, from Tribal Dreaming available here
  9. Dancey Pants Disco Doll – sweet homesteading, yet adventurous dolls handmade by Michelle Housel available here (but often sell out quickly, so keep checking)
  10. Felt Vegetables – handmade felt vegetables, a friend of mine made Ro and Sen a set and they have been enjoyed for hundreds of hours, you can find the set shown as well as many others on Etsy from Little Farmer Felt here
  11. Slingshot with Felt Balls – handmade wooden and felt toy, made in Canada from sustainable wood source with eco paints, by Des Enfantillages and available here
  12. Swurfer Swing – handmade wooden surfing swing, watch some videos here to understand how fun and versatile this swing is, available for purchase here
  13. Blank Notebook – always in use for drawing, taking notes, blank notebooks are a staple, but always exciting as a gift, our favourites are from klt:works available here
  14. The ABCs of Homesteading – a fun, beautifully illustrated book with a hand screen printed cover, written and illustrated by McKenzie E. Ditter available here
  15. Jump Rope – handmade adjustable length wood skipping rope, made from sustainable wood and rope, water based paint, in Canada by Des Enfantillages and available here
  16. Toy Camera – handmade wood and recycled bamboo and finished with oil, made by Park Wood Shop available here
  17. Coloured Pencils – our favourite colouring pencils are made by Lyra, beautiful colours and great hand feel, widely available, but you can find them here for sure
  18. Binoculars – handmade wooden toy binoculars made by Fanny and Alexander and available here
  19. Sonya’s Chickens – beautifully illustrated book about love and nurturing, the realities of nature, life and death, written and illustrated by Phoebe Wahl available here
  20. Pencil Case – young artists need to be able to travel easily with their pencils, handmade from upcycled materials and available in a range of styles and colours, made by El Quiltro and available here

My favourite toy shop in Canada is Three Little Monkeys, they are located in downtown Ottawa, but have an amazing online shop and ship everywhere, so check them out.

Check out my Thoughtful Women’s Gift Guide — good for any season or occasion.

*Full disclosure: I’m not compensated for purchases or clicks to sites. I’m recommending these gifts because my children enjoy them, they are durable, sustainably made, and are likely to be kept and passed on to their children. They are heirloom quality gifts that children will thoroughly enjoy, that inspire creativity, open-mindedness, care and nurturing. UPDATE: I have updated some links on this page as Amazon Affiliate links, purchases made from links to Amazon from my site I will receive a small commission for.

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12 Photography Tips from a Bad Photographer

I don’t ever fool myself into thinking that I’m a good photographer. I know that I’m not. This is not me being falsely humble, it’s me being real. I don’t know the first thing about operating a film or DSLR camera, I haven’t studied photography techniques and I know that my photos are not technically strong, in fact, they are probably weak. What I do know is that people, generally, respond well to my photos and some would say I’m good at photography. I’m not, but I’m good at faking it. What I’m good at is making pretty pictures – I can compose a frame that is visually appealing, and hopefully also tells a story. At least that’s my hope.

Until about a year ago, all my photos were taken on a several generations old Blackberry. Sorry, Blackberry, but your camera is pretty awful. I now photograph and edit exclusively with an iPhone and it has made a huge difference, especially with regard to the number of photos I need to take to capture a good image (less blur, less grain, better, more natural colours). Boy, did that Blackberry make me work hard at figuring out how to capture an image in a smart and strategic way, to disguise both the fact that I’m not a skilled photographer and that the camera itself was very weak. (In hindsight, working with a bad camera probably was the biggest help to me, it made me learn some key principles of photography and how to creatively get around difficulties). I got by and managed to take some beautiful images with the Blackberry, by practicing and being persistent, and by following a few simple rules.

Pick a beautiful subject: This might seem obvious, but it bears being said. Your photos will look better when you pick beautiful things to photograph. How often does a flower or a natural landscape look bad? Similarly, when photographing children take a moment to wipe the peanut butter off their cheeks and straighten their hair band. Unless you are going for that authentic childhood look.Processed with VSCOcam with g3 presetWork with interesting backgrounds: While having a beautiful subject to work with helps immensely, don’t forget that a stunning background can also take you a long way in making a beautiful photo. Look for pretty murals, brick or stone walls, gardens, ivy, fields, these will give your photo more visual impact and interest. Whenever I am walking around town, I take mental notes of interesting backdrops for photos.

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When backgrounds fail, lie your subject on the floor or ground. Instant background!

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An interesting mural and flora make an otherwise boring image interesting

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetTake lots of photos: On average, I take about 10 photos for every one photo that I like or would bother saving. With digital cameras we are fortunate that we don’t have to be as conservationist about our roll, like we would have been with film. If there is a moment you want to capture, snap a series of 10-20 photos in a row in rapid succession (maybe from different angles). When you look at your roll you will probably have a good one there. You don’t need to put all your eggs in one basket, take a few photos so that you are more likely to get something you like.

Photograph in natural light: Every photography tips list will tell you this. Why? Because it is the most important thing if you want crisp lines, clean colours, natural looking images. This is one of the reasons you almost never see a photograph inside my home. Our home does not have a lot of natural light, and with yellowy-white walls the tones in photographs do not come out well. If you do have a penchant for the indoors and want to capture these moments, try photographing near a window or skylight. If you are still getting yellowy tones that you don’t like, you can try editing the photo in black and white and this can often make the photo look beautiful. Painting your entire living space white, including the floors, also helps, but probably not an option for most of us.

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No filter or edit needed on this photo, natural light and colour makes for natural beauty

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A photo taken indoor with little natural light, saved by a black and white filter

Edit: Virtually all professional photographers edit their photos. This is not cheating or hiding mistakes. Okay, maybe sometimes it’s hiding mistakes. But the point is, try editing your photos, it can make a huge difference. I like to use VSCO, which is an app for iPhone or Android, because it has a wide range of filters (overall colour treatment for the photo) and tools to adjust the image (such as grain, white balance, saturation, straightness). A good friend once suggested to me to use the tools first to adjust the image and then apply a filter, and I agree, this is generally a good way to go.

Don’t over-edit: Edit, but don’t go nuts with all the options. I usually use the rule of making 2-3 adjustments to the image and one filter, as a maximum. Otherwise the image can begin to look too processed. For me, the story of the image is more important than the beauty of it or the technical ability of the photography, so I don’t want editing or technical skill to stand out more than the story.

Style your photos: Take a moment, where possible, to style the photo. For me, this means before I take a photo I look at the subject on my phone screen, and then adjust the placement of things to make a better picture. This might mean moving the hair off of Sen’s face when he is napping, or straightening his shirt a little. It might mean adding or taking away some element, such as removing a dirty sock, or adding a flower to the frame. Basically, adding visual interest or removing distractions. I take a fairly laid back approach to styling. I style “light” because I want my photos to be as natural as possible, so my tip would be to try not to overthink the styling. Most moments don’t need any styling, but sometimes removing a food wrapper can make all the difference.

imageThink about composition: Similar to styling your photos this tip is about the overall balance in your photo. So, looking at your screen or through the lens of your camera, look at the whole frame, not just the main subject. Is the image too busy, with patterns and textures, does the eye know where to look? Or is the eye overwhelmed? Typically if I have a simple subject I like to contrast this with a textured or patterned background, or vice versa. You will develop your own composition style, there is really no right and wrong here, it is more about thinking and considering the whole image as composed and balanced.

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White and light colours pop out of this image’s bright and textured background

Cropping can make all the difference: This goes back to editing, but cropping is especially important. All too often people will delete or never share a photo because there is something awkward or ugly in frame. Hello?! This is what cropping is for! I have photos where one of the children is making an awkward face, but sometimes cropping can save it. Read: crop their face out of the frame (It doesn’t make you a bad parent!). Sometimes unconventional cropping can make the photo more interesting, so use it to your advantage.

imageStraighten the horizon lines: Again, editing. Straighten out the horizontal plane on your photos, it is so easy to do, whether in your photo editing app or directly in Instagram. Straighten the landscape out, or whatever horizontal lines are in the background (fence, book shelf, house, etc). This will keep from visually distracting the viewer, so they can focus on your adorable kids or the delicious food in your photo.

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    Look how distracting that horizon line is! Straighten, straighten!

    Find interesting angles: Sometimes all you need to do to get some visual interest in an otherwise boring or mundane moment is to photograph it from an unusual angle, for example, from very low to the ground or overhead. No matter how beautiful the subject is or how technically perfect a photograph may be, after a while images that are photographed head-on at a flat angle get a little boring, especially on repeat.

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    Using an unusual angle and then rotating the image, it looks like she’s lying up the stairs or lives in an Escher world

    Break any of the above rules if your visual instincts and intuition tell you to: Having explained some of my rules, I should also admit that I often break them. I do this when, in my opinion, the image loses impact or honesty when I apply a particular rule or edit. When my instincts tell me not to edit or follow a rule (for example, horizon line straightening) then I go with my instincts, for better or for worse. I figure that my intuition knows something that my conscious self hasn’t figured out yet.

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    Not a straight photo, but I like it anyway, because the moment was perfect

So, there you have it. A few of my tips for improving the look and quality of your photographs. I would love to know if this is helpful or if you have any tips to add to this list, I still have lots of room for improvement.

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Love Your Mother in Luv Mother

“We wanted a name to represent more than just the collections we put out, something that truly defined the spirit, integrity and intention behind the brand. The two words ‘love’ and ‘mother’ are packed with positive meaning and we tip our hats to all moms, mother earth, the mother of invention and the idea that with a little luv anything you put your mind to is possible.”

Kevin, Co-Founder and Creative Director, Luv Mother

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We were fortunate to receive samples from a new Canadian brand, Luv Mother, just before our trip to the United States, where we travelled to big cities, small towns, a peninsula, an island and beaches. I know, from my husband’s experience that merino wool is a very versatile and a durable material for clothing, and that it also transitions well from cold to warm weather. So I was excited to test it out with the kids, especially for our beach days when the warm sun would give way to cool windy evenings on the beach, best enjoyed with a bonfire, s’mores and good friends.

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Luv Mother makes merino clothing for children. My husband, Matt, has worn merino almost exclusively for his tops for the last decade. Having read about the durability of merino wool, and some of the amazing stories of people wearing a single piece for 40 or more days straight without washing (or 100 days in a wool dress shirt), he was sold on their light environmental touch (imagine how much water and energy are saved when you can wear something 10, 20, 100 times before washing it!), which was only made better by the durability of wool. Add to all this, that being a natural fiber, wool is biodegradable once there is no life left in clothing, it gives new life by nourishing the soil.

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Luv Mother’s clothing is designed and sewn in Canada, and the merino is sourced from Australia and New Zealand. As many of you know, I am very particular about bringing animal products into our home. But I also consider the durability and environmental impacts of my purchases. This is why we opt to buy durable leather shoes over plastic or foam ones that may be kinder to some animals, but breakdown more quickly from use and yet ironically live on in landfill forever (plastics will eventually breakdown into plastic ‘dust’ but they don’t actually biodegrade), thereby harming many animals in the long run. Wool is another animal by-product that we include in our home, on occasion, when we can be assured that it is from an ethical source, where the sheep are free roaming, are treated well, are not mulesed, and are from farms that are monitored and certified to treat their animals according to animal welfare principles (RSPCA and the New Zealand Animal Welfare Act). Fortunately Luv Mother is a company that sources exclusively from ethical producers.

It makes sense, then, that Luv Mother’s tag line is “sourced in earnest.” For them this phrase is all about being conscious about every decision they make. And they really do follow through on this, every aspect of sourcing and producing their clothing is done sustainably and ethically. For example, Luv Mother: has carbon neutral shipping (they purchase carbon offsets/credits for the emissions resulting from shipping their clothing); all paper products and hangtags are printed on FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified paper; working with their clothing factory to reuse and upcycle fabric scraps through creative partnerships.

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In addition to the sustainability and great usability of the clothing, I love how “packable” their merino clothing is. The clothing is  very lightweight and easily packed into my minimalist travel bag (an oversized purse from Nena & Co). What little wrinkling occurred while the clothing was in the bag fell out quickly as the children wore it. Great, because fussy clothing is banned while on travel! (Merino is machine washable and can tumble dry on low, but really it dries so fast it’s easy to air dry it and save some carbon emissions). Oh and did I mention the merino is soft? The kids didn’t complain of itching at all. Win-win-win-win.

The merino proved itself to be an exceptional fibre. But, then again, nature doesn’t often get this stuff wrong. Thousands of years of evolution has led to smart hairs growing on sheep. They are able to keep you warm when you need it, but keep you cool when the sun is out. We used the tops to transition from afternoon to evenings at the beaches, on windy ferry rides, and even an impromptu dip in the ocean — I forgot Sen’s swim suit on one occasion, so he went in with his merino top on. I would have let him swim naked, but he was too quick to run into the waves. I was delighted to find that his top had completely air dried within about 30 minutes, his cotton pants, on the other hand, were still soaked hours later. It was a good lesson for me: on those occasions when the kids might get sweaty or wet, dress them in wool!  While I didn’t know it at the time, I’ve since learned that wool is also considered a firesafe fabric and is self-extinguishing, it won’t melt or stick to your skin. Winning!

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All in all, we loved the clothing and found the brand name quite apt. The children played in  the sand and sea, climbed rocks and dunes, enjoyed the wind on a blustery ferry ride, enjoying the elements mother earth offered them in this part of the world. While their spirited childhood hearts would have fueled the fun and enjoyment no matter what, I’m pretty sure comfortable clothing helped them extend their fun a little longer.

Clothing details: Ro wears top and skirt from Luv Mother; Sen wears top from Luv Mother and organic cotton leggings from Mabo; best, most durable and stylish sandals around Salt Waters from Mini Mioche.

Find Luv Mother on Instagram @luvmthr

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Swan by Kellie Diguanco Interview with a Minimalist

Interview with a Minimalist: Kellie

Kellie Diguanco artist Interview with a Minimalist Vancouver

The visual artists I know personally tend to be obsessive collectors, with studios and homes filled with supplies, found objects and inspiration. I don’t consider myself an artist, but I do like to make pretty things, arrange dried flowers, and sketch. Keeping in check the amount of supplies I have around the house is an ongoing battle for me. Whether we are minimalists or not, we all have objects, stuff, things, paraphernalia, gadgets and gizmos that accumulate. They may be very practical items, they may be sentimental items, or somewhere in between.

What I have found interesting in much of the writing about de-cluttering and minimalism is that people struggle most when it comes to parting with sentimental items such as souvenirs, diaries, and family gifts. While I do understand this perspective, what I have found I struggle with most is parting with practical items, like the four extra bath towels, the second muffin tin and the wall clock, that I definitely don’t need, but know are very useful items. I suppose this is when my environmental consciousness really kicks in, because each time I am ready to part with an item, I need to know that it is going to someone who will use it well. I can’t simply de-clutter my house by putting things in the waste bin. Finding the time to donate items to the best places, like bicycle parts to Bicycles for Humanity, running shoes to the Soles4Souls or the Running Room, kitchen tools through the Freecycle network can be a challenge, when all I want to do is say goodbye to my stuff and hello to clear space. It takes patience and time to do it right. And so, I am constantly reminding myself of this, when it would be really easy for me to put things in the trash or donate them to a generic charity bin that may not be able to make good use of the items. All this to say, I think that the environmental impacts of de-cluttering need a bit more air time and consideration, and so I was very pleased when Kellie (interviewed below) mentioned this to me in her interview.

Kellie is a minimalist, mother of four, artist and book lover. I was excited to talk with Kellie and hear how she lives minimally because, well, four kids, art and books usually make for a very cluttered existence! Kellie shares how having less stuff allowed her to have a more open mind, free of mental clutter. She also talks about how her boys are thriving having less stuff and more experiences. I hope you enjoy the read.

Interview with a Minimalist

Let’s start with a little bit about you. Who are you? What are you passionate about? How do you like to spend your time?

I am a Texas transplant to Vancouver, British Columbia [Canada]. I’m passionate about children, the creative mind, and inspiring others. I spend my time reading LOTS of books to my children and students and getting outside to explore nature with my four boys because Vancouver is a beautiful place to explore.

You are an artist, what inspires your work?

Children are the biggest inspiration for almost anything I create. They have a raw, uninhibited imagination. I like to create things that will inspire imaginative play or thoughts. I also keep in mind the lasting effects, how it impacts the environment. The state of the world has everything to do with what we teach our children now. Having less, but something with good quality.  Everything I make has a person in mind, and I put so much passion into it, that it must be something so beautiful and worthwhile that I would keep if for myself.

Interview with a Minimalist Nature Collection

How many children do you have and what are they like?

I have 4 little boys and they are so different. My oldest is the introvert, passionate, with an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. He gave a TEDTalk in November. My second son is very gentle and cheerful, you can always find him skipping or singing. My 5 year old is a cuddle bug and 3 year old has quite a Batman obsession. My house is full of noise and energy but also a large amount of curiosity and we are all relentless about reading.

Interview with a Minimalist Children Playing Outdoors

Do you have a favourite quote or words that inspire you?

I have many, I love a good quote but this one always fits me:

“You have more to do than be weighed down by ‘pretty’ or ‘beautiful.’ You are a fiery heart and a wicked brain. Do not let your soul be defined by its shell.” ~Michelle K.

I believe there are many ways to be a minimalist and many forms of minimalism. What does minimalism mean to you?

Living in Vancouver as a family of 6, minimalism is a way of life. If you want a tidy house with a big family, you need fewer items.  Minimalism, to me, means owning fewer things.

Why do you identify as a minimalist? In what ways are you a minimalist?

We have always purged and kept our house full of fewer things for space reasons, but it started to make a big difference in the way we felt. We felt better, happier with fewer items. I have always been passionate about caring for the environment and fewer, better things makes less of an impact on the world. I am always hoping the world will be a better place for my children.

Interview with a Minimalist Children Playing Outdoors by Kellie Diguanco

What is your story? How did you get started on a minimalist path? What drew you to minimalism or what motivated you to become a minimalist?

We have always purged and donated our things, but our biggest change came when we had to stage our home for putting it on the market. We became minimal very quickly, and we all actually enjoyed it better. The kids even talked about how clean their room felt and how they liked the feeling of it.  We found ourselves outdoors more, it’s hard to explain it,  but that’s how it impacted us. We always loved camping and going outdoors but we began exploring more spaces and our lives were focused much more on experiences.

Interview with a Minimalist Children Playing Outdoors by Kellie Diguanco

Are there people you look to as minimalist role models?

I really enjoy Alison from 600sqftandababy. I love her hashtag #fewerthings. I have learned so much, like recycling your running shoes at Running Room. I love reading your journey and all the interviews you have. I think everyone has a different journey and we can all learn from each others experiences.

Are there any books, websites or other resources that have inspired your minimalism?

I read The Life Changing Art Of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, I enjoyed it but it didn’t talk a lot about recycling, which is also an important issue to me.

In what ways/areas do you struggle with maintaining your minimalist goals/values? What is your weakness?

My weakness is children’s picture books. I am very choosy about the books I actually buy for my home, they must have exquisite illustrations and I prefer they have teachable moments. That being said, they can add up because there are lots of wonderful books. It’s my struggle.

Frida Kahlo by Kellie Diguanco

Does your household abide by minimalism or is this more a focus for yourself?

We all abide by minimalism. We store our kids toys away and they alternate them in and out every now and then. It’s like getting a new toy but it’s actually ones they have already had and forgotten about. We have only kept the ones that have a lasting life either by quality or by fad. If they won’t love it in a week, it can’t stay.

Have there been any struggles with the other people you live with about living in a minimal way?

My husband likes clothes, but I can see the impact in his choices now.

Have you had any positive or constructive experiences with friends or family related to minimalism?

It has had a positive influence. When I started to minimize my art supplies, I realized I had more than I needed. I was able to find great homes for what I didn’t need. I decided to only make something for someone specific or for the shops that sell my items by their request. I want to make special things, that someone can treasure and that will have a lasting impact. I started making wood dolls for people that inspired me. At first people thought that it was strange. I think because most people that give you something want something in return. For me, it was a way of creating something unique and beautiful for someone that sends beauty out into the world. It’s been a fun and interesting art process.

Interview with a Minimalist Kellie Diguanco 4 boys

In what ways has minimalism improved your life?

Having fewer things leaves your mind open to less clutter in life. You focus more on the essentials, which for us is health, family and experiences.

What have been some unexpected experiences you’ve had with minimalism?

I didn’t not expect my children to flow with it so well, they enjoy less clutter, that was surprising to me.

What advice can you offer to people interested in living a minimalist lifestyle?

Start now, for some it’s one big purge and others it takes longer to let go.

Interview with a Minimalist Kellie Diguanco

Do you have any goals for this year or the next few that you want to share?

I have some big dreams, focused around children and literacy. The current project I have just finished, is a line of cards for kids that promote creativity and handwriting , called Lisky and Lulu, and I will continue to share my love of books over @thekaleidoscopeca.

Readers: You can also find Kellie on Instagram @kelliedigs and on her website The Kaleidoscope. She’s a busy woman!

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Summer Lists: Of Sun, Sand and Strawberries

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetThat first day of summer vacation is amazing, right? There is so much time ahead of you, so much excitement and anticipation about all the fun and adventure that will be had.

My mind always spins a bit with all the things I want to do with children during my few weeks off with them. So, a few years ago Ro and I decided to make ‘Summer Lists’ of our top 10 things we didn’t want to finish the summer without doing. I don’t like to pack our days with activities, but I do want to make sure that we feel as though we’ve had the chance to do our favourite things, and while summer is a time to relax, we still have a sense of accomplishment, even if our accomplishment is making a mud pie. The lists worked really well as a way to orient our summer, with just ten things each, it left time for serendipitous activities, and on days when there was nothing obvious to do we turned to our lists. With a sense of success that first year, we’ve continued making them each year since — however, without limiting ourselves to ten things.

Our five weeks together start next week, so with that in mind we worked on finalizing our lists last weekend.

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Sen painted the background, and I wrote out his list

This is Sen’s first year making a list. We talked, in the weeks leading up to summer vacation, about all the things he loves about summer and these activities turned into his list:

  • build a sand castle
  • make a mud pie
  • ride a zoom boat
  • visit a cottage
  • go to Gramma and Grampa’s beach house
  • collect shells
  • make a toy boat out of supplies
  • save animals
  • eat pizza at the park
  • go camping
  • sleep in a tent
  • eat s’mores
  • dance a lot
  • play hop scotch
  • make brownies
  • build a fort
  • swim everyday

And he wanted to make sure we left some room on the page to add things as we go. No problem, Sen!

Ro really enjoys making her list each summer. It’s like a Christmas list, but way more exciting, because she is imagining memories instead of things. The first few years I had to talk her off of things like “take a trip to Paris” because this is too far outside our means, so I expected the same this year, but was happily surprised there was no trip to Bora Bora or a theme park on her list.

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Ro painted a lotus for her background

Ro’s list:

  • make strawberry rhubarb turnovers
  • dye hair with beets
  • visit NYC
  • write a book
  • go to a water park
  • wear a rainbow outfit
  • read Nimona to mom and Sen for bedtime
  • get a mani-pedi
  • surprise a stranger with a bouquet of flowers
  • leave cookies on neighbours porch
  • go to Gramma’s cottage and get a pie from the pie shop
  • cross the Rideau River
  • get dad to make the treehouse
  • make a stick fort
  • do some sewing
  • make a doll
  • learn a new way to draw
  • learn to write with right hand

Once Ro had finished her list she realized she had forgotten to include “make kale chips.” Noted!

And finally for my list. There is nothing extravagant on mine, it is mostly filled with simple activities, but things that will fill the summer with fun and my heart with memories.

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My list:

  • go strawberry picking
  • try paddle boarding
  • organize an IG meetup
  • press flowers
  • keep a nature journal
  • wander
  • get lost
  • swim in an ocean, a lake and a river
  • visit Nantucket
  • watch the clouds
  • take the kids stargazing
  • find a new wildflower field
  • visit a farm
  • sail paper boats at the pond
  • visit Philadelphia
  • send snail mail
  • explore a new part of the city
  • spread love

For those of you who are paying keen attention, I included “organize an IG meet-up” on my list. Anyone living in the Ottawa area, or who will be in Ottawa on July 9th (2015), is welcome to meet up with us (me, Ro and Sen) for an informal picnic and play at Vincent Massey Park. I will be posting more details later this week, but wanted to make the date known so those who are interested can plan to be there. Please send me an email or leave a comment below if you are interested in meeting up, and especially if you have ideas for the meet-up, in terms of activities, food and so on. While my inclination is to keep things minimal, simple food and free play, it may also be nice to have something special to mark the event. Please be in touch!

What’s on your summer list? I would love to hear, leave a comment below or on Instagram.

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You might also like my post:

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset   Magic Feathers: A drawing turned shirt graphic

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset   Urban Adventures: Wanderlust with Kids

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A Wild and Beautiful Life: Inspiring Mother Jessica

It definitely takes a lot talent to style and construct a photo well. But it takes a whole other kind of talent and vision to see and capture the beauty of what is already right there in front of you. Perhaps, the most beautiful thing to observe is real human connection, whether this connection is with another human or another species. I think most of us have felt this sort of connection at least once, for some of us we feel this daily. These connections with others are constantly happening between people around us, but it takes patience and a keen intuition to catch a glimpse.

Today, I’m sharing my interview with Jessica Lindgren-Wu, a mother, partner, former dancer, and photographer. When you see Jessica’s photos it is immediately obvious she is an artist. Her photos are among the best I have encountered not only on Instagram and VSCO, but more broadly in the world of contemporary photographers capturing childhood, real childhood. Her photos are at once beautiful and gritty, energetic and calm. In many ways she reminds me of Sally Mann, one of the world’s most famous (and, yes, controversial) photographers, known best for her work photographing her children. To me, the magic in Mann’s photographs lies in how well they display the connection Mann has with her children. It is clear she spent thousands of hours with her children, observing them as their lives, their play, their emotions naturally unfolded. This magic is what I see in Jessica’s work. There is something very pure, very authentic, very genuine about her photography. But more than that, her photos could only have been taken by a mother, a parent, a caregiver, who is deeply connected with h/er children.

I have never been someone who enjoys a photograph for the technical skill it displays or the beauty of the subject alone. There has to be another layer that tells a broader story or conveys a larger message. For me, Jessica’s photographs are technically and aesthetically beautiful, but most importantly they tell a simple but all-important story of slowing down, connecting to each other and to the moment, and being content. Now, that is a beautiful life.

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What part of the world do you live in? 

We live in a Suburb to London, England.

How many children do you have and how would you describe them? 

I have four boys.

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K is 15. He is an incredible focused, caring and self-motivated young man. His plans and dreams for his life are elaborate and thought thru. He is studying 3D design at college since September. He builds computers and free climbs in his spare time. K likes cooking and making yummy veggie curries. He clears tables in a local restaurant on Saturday nights to pay off a loan from me for computer parts. We are amazed at his size as he has outgrown every family member. K is like a big, kind bear. I love that he still hugs me tight every day, and hope he never stops giving his mum a squeeze.

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T is a super social, fast talking, deep thinking and kind 12 year old. He is a self-taught gymnast and does some crazy flips. At the moment he is practicing a 720 backflip. He collects fossils and gem stones and other curiosa, like animal bones.  He deeply dislikes competition, and arguments and is known to solve conflicts with the most unusual techniques. T reads a lot of manga comics and is learning Japanese, so he can catch the new episodes on-line as they become available in Japan first.

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E is a sparkling 7 year old who loves life. He plays hard and plays well. He has intense periods of creative outbursts. One month it is drawing. He can sit for hours producing drawing after drawing. The next month is lego, and he builds whole lands on his bedroom floor, the next it might be robots, minecraft, dragons and recently he discovered skylanders. I swear I can see his brain grow at these times. I adore his focus and intensity. He announced he taught himself to read just before christmas, and indeed he did. He loves music and has some great moves, including a great shoulder spin.
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S is 3, and a half. That half is very important. He can’t wait to grow up. He feels a lot, in that passionate three year old way. He is great fun and likes playing with his brothers and friends. S is full of superhero tales and eye twinkling mischief and tells me his tales with the most endearing facial expressions. He has some amazing lego building skills for his age. S likes animals a lot, especially pigs.
 
What are your core family values?
Our core family values come from my husband and my own personal experiences, our humanist values and our belief in freedom and creative problem solving. We aim to find common preference and try our best to meet every family members needs and wants without judgement at all times. This is of course hard at times and with so many individuals to consider, but for us it is worth the extra effort and very much what we strive to get better at daily. Of course with freedom comes respect for others at all times, just so you don’t think it is utter chaos or kids running disrespectful riot.
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How do you spend most of your days?
Every day is different. We are a very flowing family with somewhat unusual, very flexible timetables. We have a loose weekly plan and daily commitments that we plan our projects, wants and needs around. We spend most days together. I personally look after the home, cook and help facilitate the boys life and learning for the biggest part of the day. I do make time daily for some essential self nurturing.
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What is your favourite thing to do as a family?
We spend a lot of time outdoors. Hanging by the sea, or in a woodland, is something every family member enjoys.
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What are you passionate about?
Freedom, equality, creativity and life.
What inspires you?
Love, nature, people, art and truth.
Visit Jessica online at her website WildWuzle.com, on VSCO or Instagram.
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