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July 5, 2011

An A-List Interview: SunHee Grinnell

SunHee and her husband, Toland.

This week we go behind the scenes with SunHee Grinnell, the Beauty Editor of Vanity Fair magazine and a New York mom we love. I have to say, I adore what SunHee calls her greatest achievement: “Being a good (working) mom and wife without losing my sense of humor.”

As someone who also juggles a busy career and a family, I couldn’t agree with her more about the importance of being able to laugh. And I can’t help but wonder if laughter would also be one of her top tips for looking good, too!

Ali Wing: What’s your motto?

SunHee Grinnell: Things happen for a reason.

AW: What inspires you?

SG: My husband, Toland, and my son, Roman.

AW: What color are you loving right now?

SG: Right now, shades of blues and grays.

AW: What are you currently reading?

SG: Aside from all the beauty press releases that I have to read, I am re-reading A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean. It’s one of my all-time favorites. It takes me away and it’s very calming to read.

AW: What is your favorite city/location/destination?

SG: I couldn’t pick just one! I love: Brooklyn, New York; Paris, France; Elbow Beach, Bermuda; North Shore, Oahu; and Snowbird, Utah.

AW: Who is your favorite composer, or what is your favorite music genre?

SG: I love all music, from classical to classic rock — and everything in between. A few of my favorites are: Jean-Philipp Telemann, Maurice J. Ravel, Keith Jarrett, ACDC, Aerosmith, The Walker Brothers, Amy Winehouse, Shirley Bassey, Frank Sinatra, Barry White, John Lee Hooker and Muddy Waters.

SunHee's son, Roman.

AW: What was your most favorite baby gift?

SG: A baby blanket and baby scarf from Hermes.

AW: What is your proudest parenting moment?

SG: I nipped Roman’s whining from day one when he started and I succeeded! Because of that, Roman never whined as a toddler. (Thank God!)

AW: What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?

SG: Picking up snowboarding at the age of 41! And being a good (working mom and wife without losing my sense of humor.

AW: Please complete the following: … makes me laugh.

SG: …unexpected remarks from my son, Roman.

June 28, 2011

Packing the Perfect Summer Diaper Bag

Skip Hop Versa diaper bagSummer is officially here, which means it’s time to get out and have some fun! So what should you pack for summertime adventures? Here are some tips for packing smart and traveling light.

Of course it all starts with a great bag, preferably one that includes a changing pad. (If you’re still looking for the perfect diaper bag, our Diaper Bag Gear Guide gives you lots of great thoughts on what to look for.)

There are a few key items that you should never leave home without, but you also don’t want to go overboard and pack too much. Here are my top picks for a manageable set of essentials:

•    First things first: Invest in a diaper bag you love that also fits your needs. One of our favorites at the moment: the Skip Hop Versa, which expands to be 20% larger!

•    Muslin swaddles are super lightweight for summer and serve a multitude of purposes.

•    Sunscreen wipes make application super easy and foolproof.

•    A protects your baby’s scalp, eyes and ears.

•    Binkies are an essential for soothing and pacifier clips keep them from getting lost.

•    Stash a travel-friendly portion of Babyganics Baby Wipes in this terrifically portable swipe case.

•    Don’t forget hand and face wipes for quick cleanup.

•    A fashionable onesie takes up almost no room and is perfect if you need a quick change.

•    Pack a snack to go in a smart feeding set.

•    And of course, don’t leave home without diapers and some Knot-It bags to stash the dirty ones!

What are some of your summer diaper bag must-haves? Share below!

June 17, 2011

An A-List Interview: Julia Pimsleur-Levine

Julia with her son Adrian when he was just a few weeks old.

If I could go back in time and change one thing about my childhood, I would have been raised speaking more than one language. As we now know, small children can pick up a second language almost as easily as they can pick up germs at daycare. But growing up in Montana, foreign language programs were not easily accessible, and great tools like Julia Pimsleur-Levine’s “Little Pim” series weren’t yet available.

In my (humble) opinion, nothing teaches you more about your own language, culture and biases than speaking another language, full of its own culture and biases. So I think my follow-up question for Julia would be, “When are you going to make an easy solution for the adult mom still trying to learn a second language?”

Ali Wing: What’s your motto?

Julia Pimsleur-Levine: Every parent can be his or her child’s first language tutor.

AW: What inspires you?

JPL: French lullabies, like Alouette, Frère Jacques and Fais Dodo, Colas mon Petit Frère. I love singing them to my boys at bedtime. They know all the words now and we sing them together. Singing these songs together reminds me why I love sharing the French language and culture with them, and making it possible for other parents to share a second language and culture with their children.

The Little Pim staff, celebrating at their annual holiday party.

AW: Who is your hero?

JPL: Amelia Earhart, first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, for her persistence, mastery of her craft and ability to dream big.

AW: What are you currently reading?

JPL: Integrity by Henry Cloud. I’m also reading A to Z Mysteries with my older son, Emmett, and almost

everything by P.D. Eastman with my younger son, Adrian (Are You My Mother? is a current favorite).

AW: What’s your favorite city/location/destination?

JPL: Antibes, France. I spent summers there as a child and adore that it’s barely changed since then. My family goes there every summer for simple French-style living, beach fun, delicious food and dazzling sunsets.

AW: Who is your favorite composer, or what is your favorite music genre?

JPL: I love pop music. My boys and I like to make up dances to Lady Gaga songs. We also listen to a lot of French music and music from around the world.

AW: What is the favorite baby gift you received?

JPL: Zip on and off crib sheets. They saved me on so many nights when I could change the sheets and get back to bed within 15 minutes!

AW: What is the one baby product you can’t/couldn’t live without?

JPL: My Stokke high chair. Both boys used it from infancy right through toddlerhood. I loved having a functional yet attractive high chair that blended with my dining room and that they loved to climb into. It was like a member of our family — I had hard time giving it up when they outgrew it!

Julia's sons, Adrian and Emmett -- ready to set sail!

AW: Please complete the following:

…make(s) me laugh.

JPL: Chasing my three year-old into his room after his bath while saying, “I’m going to get you!” and hearing his delighted peals of laughter …that’s about the best sound I can think of.

My proudest parenting moment was…

JPL: …when my son, Emmett, helped a little girl who was crying on the playground (at age four ). He had never seen her before, but when he heard her crying because she hurt her leg, he stopped playing, went over to her and offered her a Band Aid and a hug. I was so proud of his big heart.

June 2, 2011

An A-List Interview: Kevin Brodwick

Kevin Brodwick's son, Hudson

Kevin's son, Hudson. Age 1.

I’ve mostly known Kevin Brodwick, founder of thinkbaby, as a guy with a deep commitment to doing the right thing for the environment and our children with smarter products — starting with his bottles.

What I didn’t know about Kevin before this interview was his deep-rooted science background or his clear love and respect for his father. Having lost my own father far too early (a man who was my hero, just as Kevin’s dad was his) I was touched by Kevin’s willingness to share such a personal insight with all of us.

Kevin and I seem to have been similarly affected by great men who helped shape our lives by living life with the greatest example of all – a passion for it.

(Speaking of dads — Father’s Day is just around the corner, and we at giggle would love to hear your stories about the dads in your lives. Enter our Share Your Story contest, share your favorite Father’s Day memory, and you could win an Oeuf Perch Bunk Bed!)

Ali Wing: What’s your motto?

Kevin Brodwick: I don’t know if it is so much a motto or more of a realization.  But my motivation can often be best summed up by Mr. Whitman.  (The bolded section in particular.)

O Me! O Life!

O ME! O life!… of the questions of these recurring;

Of the endless trains of the faithless—of cities fill’d with the foolish;

Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)

Of eyes that vainly crave the light—of the objects mean—of the struggle ever renew’d;

Of the poor results of all—of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me;

Of the empty and useless years of the rest—with the rest me intertwined;

The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?

Answer.

That you are here—that life exists, and identity;
That the powerful play goes on, and you will contribute a verse.

AW: What inspires you?

KB: Honestly, I’m inspired by the little hands that hold our products. I’ve always been motivated to fight for the underdog.  After working for a lab funded by the National Institutes of Health, I saw firsthand the amount of potentially harmful chemicals leaching from consumer products — no matter if it was made in China, US, Europe, or Canada.  I attempted to get the major bottle companies to change; their push back is what led me to create thinkbaby and thinksport.

Kevin Brodwick's dad

Kevin's dad, sitting in the famous rock garden, Ryoanjo.

KB:My dad.  He passed away March 16th of this year unexpectedly.  Besides being a top neuroscientist, he excelled at everything academic.  He gave lectures on everything from Japanese and Chinese art history to music history.  He even taught himself Japanese.  He was a published poet and accomplished pianist. His curiosity and passion have been a great gift passed onto me. I once had a Nobel prize winner tell me, “Your father forgets more in his sleep than I know.” I feel very fortunate to have grown up in the world that he created.  And I admire that he kept all paths open for our own exploration.  I miss him deeply.

AW: What are you currently reading?

KB:Let My People Surf, by the founder of Patagonia. It was handed to me by one of our employees, who resides in Southern California.  I assumed at first that it was his attempt at convincing me to stay for extended surf time… It has surprised me how close my feelings about corporations are aligned with the author’s.  And how strong the desire to do the right thing for the environment and consumers exists between our organizations.

AW: What’s your favorite city/location/destination?

KB: I spent a lot of time growing up in Woods Hole, MA in Cape Cod.  Growing up there provided me the opportunity to explore the infamous marine biological laboratories and even play tennis with Albert Szent Gyorgyi (Nobel Prize for discovery of Vitamin C).  I believe my strong sense of curiosity was largely born from the endless adventures there and being surrounded by scientists from around the world.

AW: Who is your favorite composer, or what is your favorite music genre?

KB: Since my family is related to Mendelssohn, I guess I probably should go with him.  Plus it was the scene in Breaking Away, where they played the famous Italian Symphony No. 4 that spawned my interest to take up bike racing.  My father gave me the choice of playing an instrument when I turned six. I chose drums; he said, “Choose again.” So I chose the cello.  So until I was about 14, I pretty much only listened to classical music.  I could walk into a restaurant and at least tell you the composer.  My musical taste now is very wide.  Living in Austin, it’s hard to escape the love for Stevie Ray Vaughn. There is pretty much an endless supply of new music rolling through between SXSW and Austin City Limits.  I’ve been learning how to play blues guitar and it’s safe to say that I should stick with cello…

AW: What is the favorite baby gift you received?

KB: My grandfather had a hobby of carving sculptures out of wood.  He built me a big wagon with over-sized wooden block shapes.  Great source of creativity as a youngster.  Still have it…

Jackson Pollack Mural

One of the many Jackson Pollack paintings Kevin draws inspiration from.

AW: What is the baby product you can’t/couldn’t live without?

KB: Is it wrong to choose thinkbaby bottles?  I might be biased on this selection…

AW: Please complete the following:

…make(s) me laugh.

KB: It’s pretty much a guarantee that anything that comes out of Dane Cook, Bill Cosby, Dave Chappelle and Robin Williams is going to make me laugh. I wish Chris Farley was still around. He was brilliant.  Although it’s hard to beat when kids turn 2 ½ or so — the moment they make you laugh and realize it.  They will  proceed repeating it over and over again…sorta hard to beat that.

My proudest moment in parenting was…

KB: …actually seeing my parents interact with my little son, Hudson.

 

 

May 18, 2011

An A-List Interview: Sophie Demenge & Michael Ryan

Michael & Sophie

Oeuf has long been one of our favorite collections at giggle, with designs that are simple, tasteful and functional. In fact, we’re debuting their Perch bunk bed as the Grand Prize in our first-ever Share Your Story Contest! And their all-white Robin Crib (a giggle exclusive!) is a perfect example of what we love about them. This week’s A-List interview takes you behind the scenes with Oeuf’s founders, Michael and Sophie. True to their designs, they have a “less is more” approach to life that is near and dear to my heart.

Ali Wing: What is your motto?

Sophie Demenge: Be true and in the moment.

Michael Ryan: Quality in everything you do.

AW: What are you currently reading?

SD: Alice Ferney’s Grace et Denuement, an inspiring and very moving true story of a young librarian who reads books to gypsy kids.

MR: Romain Gary’s The Life Before Us. Read more…

May 12, 2011

An A-List Interview: Jessica Iclisoy

Jessica Iclisoy of California BabyNatural California girl on one hand, worldly sophisticate on the other… Meet the woman (not just the mom) behind California Baby: Jessica Iclisoy. I actually had the pleasure of meeting Jessica and her husband earlier this year. And while I’ve been a big fan of the natural, balanced approach of Jessica’s California Baby line for a long time, what I was most impressed by after meeting her was her genuine commitment to making healthier parenting easier and more affordable — not to mention her down-to-earth accessibility, considering she’s accomplished so much.

Ali Wing: What’s  your motto?
Jessica Iclisoy: Safe, Natural, Fun!

AW: What inspires you?
JI: Wide-open spaces in nature inspire me, whether it’s the countryside, the ocean or the desert. The colors, topography and plant life get my imagination flowing.

AW: What are you currently reading?
JI: The Paris Review – Interviews, Vol.I. It’s a book of interviews with great writers that delves into their thinking process — the how’s and whys, the problems they encounter and how they overcome them.

AW: What is your favorite city/location/destination?
JI: I can’t get over Paris! The fashion, the food, the art… I love the French countryside too, so the combo of Paris and Provence is a perfect fit for me.

AW: Who is your favorite composer, or what is your favorite music genre?
JI:I really love Baroque music; it transports me to the era instantly. There is a beautifully shot movie called, Tous les matins du monde, and the music is Baroque. Check it out on Netflix. (Warning: It’s an art house film with subtitles!)

AW: What was your most favorite baby gift?
JI: I received a beautiful silver antique frame – a gift that just keeps getting better with age.

AW: What was the baby product you couldn’t live without?
JI: Shampoo and body wash! I rarely used diaper wipes and washed my sons’ bottoms with soap and water at each diaper change, so a non-stripping, non-drying wash was essential for me.

AW: What is your proudest parenting moment?
JI: When my boys were very young, I would melt when they gave me sweet poems on Mother’s Day. That they could express themselves so freely made me feel proud that they were open beings.

AW: What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?
JI: I think my greatest achievements are to come… But, my goal of changing the way parents bathe and care for baby has come to fruition, and I consider that pretty significant.

AW: And please complete the following: …make(s) me laugh.
JI: My dogs.

Jessica Iclisoy from California BabyJessica Iclisoy and sons

March 8, 2011

Orange Alert

In their article “Orange Crush,” the Wall Street Journal has proclaimed orange “the color of the moment.” I have to admit, I’ve had an orange crush of my own for years now — which should come as no surprise to anyone who’s ever noticed the preponderance of orange in our stores and on our website.

Although it’s a trend among the grownup set — it was hot on the spring runways and Jennifer Hudson made a big splash for her vibrant orange Oscar dress — it’s been a hot color for babies and kids for a few years now. What’s not to love? It’s fun, vibrant, and completely gender neutral. So is this one instance where the kids are on the cutting edge and the adults are just now catching up?

December 1, 2009

Recycle, Reuse, Rejoice!

Now that we’re all doing our part to recycle, it’s really exciting to see the innovative ways companies are using recycled materials to create new products.

It’s not that this is a new topic; I was lucky enough to be involved in Nike’s first ever product-recycling task force back in the late 1980s, which led to the idea of using worn-out Nikes to produce new soles. But we’re seeing more and more innovation like that these days, and it’s a great way to bring those little recycling arrows full circle.

One of my favorites is Green Toys, which are made from recycled milk jugs. They’re perfect for safe & responsible play, and they make great toddler classics like dump trucks and tea sets. They’re also adding some baby-focused toys in early 2010 that we’re really excited about!

aw_eco_tea_set aw_eco_dumptruckaw_eco_sandset

Some of my other favorites? I love Whole Foods’ reusable shopping bags, which are the perfect size and construction to really perform as a workhorse. They’re made from recycled plastic bottles and, since they last forever, they also get in on the “reuse” part of the equation. I’m also a big fan of the EcoJots line of stationary and notepads. They’re a leader in recycled paper products and the make fun, cheerful designs that are a great improvement over typical recycled paper fare. And of course there’s our giggle Think Pink Fleece Blankets. They’re amazing because they’re made from recycled soda pop bottles — but you’d never know it, because they’re super soft.

Anyway, with all the great new products on the market, you can feel really great about recycling your trash and knowing it might become a treasure one day!

November 22, 2009

Modern Classic

Who doesn’t love a teddy bear? From Build-a-Bear Workshops to Paddington stories to teddy bear collection series that never end, people love teddy bears. I even remember thinking the cheap dime store-style teddy bear that I got with a  bouquet of carnations from a boy for Valentine’s Day in Montana in the 5th grade was lovable…

aw_bear_modernclassic

So why bears? What about bears inspired our beloved “teddy bears?”  Why not lion cubs? Giraffe calves? Or your average kitty cats?  And while most of us know the origin of the name as credited to Teddy Roosevelt, the truth is that no one is sure who made the first teddy bear. However inspired — traditional, contemporary or modern in style — there’s a place on every shelf for at least one teddy bear.

And that’s why my pick is this modern classic teddy bear. It’s sweet, but fun; classic, but modern;  cute, but not precious; lovable and laughable – a teddy bear, with a twist.  What’s hidden in baby bear’s pockets? A squeaky fish, chirping bird, rattling squirrel, and teether for soothing sore gums are hidden in color-coded pockets for colors and matching! So in very giggle style, its mixed-fabrics and interactive play elements make it just as developmentally minded as it is adorable.

November 17, 2009

High-Tech Balloon

Check out this super fun, lightweight MP3 “balloon speaker” – perfect for turning your iPod time into family time when you’re out for a jog or a stroll.  Ear phones are great when you’re alone, but why not share your tunes with your little one when you’re out together? I ran across this awesome portable speaker in the market late last Summer and have been so excited to launch it among our giggle “holiday picks” this year.  It’s on my holiday shopping list for sure!

(My brothers are so lucky…)