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Fav Kid Books Ages 2-8

Living with a Toddler, Family/LifeTabatha HansenComment

Reading together is one part of our daily life that we don’t screw around with.

It puts our kid to sleep, it puts us to sleep, it connects us to drawings on a page, which translates to empathy/connecting us to humans we don’t know. Most of the books we’ve come across aren’t well-written, published for a quick-fix of Peppa Pig or a rehashing of a poorly structured kids show. I call these “crap books.” Our kid calls these “crap books.” We acknowledge that they foster a sense of feeling good real quick by showing us familiar characters and plots we already know. “Crap food” fosters a sense of feeling good real quick by spiking our blood sugar and making us feel warm. “Crap TV” lets our brains do minimal work for maximum feeling of oozy puddle body. It’s important to occasionally indulge in all of these things, if no other reason than to not make our kid feel like she needs to rebel and grow up to indulge all the time to spite us.

When we go to the library, Iris gets to come home with one crap book. All other books are mom-approved. We go to the library to restock every couple of weeks, and we have an agreement to read any book that is enjoyed as many times as she likes. We have had a solid six months of this, and there are few books that make it on the “repeat” list. Since summer, we’ve read a couple hundred picture books. Surprisingly, no crap books have made it on this list. We read two books/day from May-August, and currently, we have been working through long, science-y non-fiction books about bats and bee populations dwindling.

Quick note: We read books that feature a single character with the pronouns “they/them.” Try it sometime, you’ll find it a good segue into gender when your kid eventually starts asking questions.

Quick note: We read books that feature a single character with the pronouns “they/them.” I could dissect my reasoning, but maybe I’ll leave my griping to another post another day or find someone else who has already articulated this specific gendered problem with children’s lit because today I feel good and these books make our family and our kid feel good. Main goal here is to not associate “genders” with “interests” and most kids books are written with our society’s gender “rules” right up front.

Behold, our favorite kids lit since 2014!

Waiting for High Tide  by Nikki McClure. The kid finds a barnacle and puts it in their eye while exploring a beach. Ages: 3-8 Years

Waiting for High Tide by Nikki McClure. The kid finds a barnacle and puts it in their eye while exploring a beach. Ages: 3-8 Years

Ooko  by Esme Shapiro. A fox wants to be loved by humans—or at least they think they do until they get a chance to play with one. Ages: 3-7 Years.

Ooko by Esme Shapiro. A fox wants to be loved by humans—or at least they think they do until they get a chance to play with one. Ages: 3-7 Years.

This is Not My Hat  by Jon Klassen. Tiny fish takes a bigger fish’s hat and is pursued. Ages: 2-8

This is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen. Tiny fish takes a bigger fish’s hat and is pursued. Ages: 2-8

We Found a Hat  by Jon Klassen. Two turtles find a hat in a desert and don’t know what to do. Ages 2-8.

We Found a Hat by Jon Klassen. Two turtles find a hat in a desert and don’t know what to do. Ages 2-8.

Say Zoop!  by Herve Tullet. His entire collection of books are created for kids to interact with, some have no words at all. They were our kid’s very first books, and we have worked through his whole collection. This particular book was a perfect transition book into teaching reading. It introduces the idea of shapes and symbols representing sounds. Iris started learning to read at three, and I think it was because of the way Tullet is able to help kids make that connection. Ages NB-5.

Say Zoop! by Herve Tullet. His entire collection of books are created for kids to interact with, some have no words at all. They were our kid’s very first books, and we have worked through his whole collection. This particular book was a perfect transition book into teaching reading. It introduces the idea of shapes and symbols representing sounds. Iris started learning to read at three, and I think it was because of the way Tullet is able to help kids make that connection. Ages NB-5.

I Don’t Like Koala  by Sean Ferrell. A kid tries to do away with a weird stuffed animal. Ages 2-8.

I Don’t Like Koala by Sean Ferrell. A kid tries to do away with a weird stuffed animal. Ages 2-8.

Robo-Sauce  by Adam Rubin. Kid finds out how to turn everyone into robots. Ages 3-8.

Robo-Sauce by Adam Rubin. Kid finds out how to turn everyone into robots. Ages 3-8.

Frog and Toad are Friends  by Arnold Lobel. If your kid doesn’t come from a queer family, this is a good way to start the conversation about people of all genders being together. This convo should start around age 3, with simple words phrases like, “People of all kinds are friends and love eachother. Not just ___ ____ like ____ ____.” Ages 2-8.

Frog and Toad are Friends by Arnold Lobel. If your kid doesn’t come from a queer family, this is a good way to start the conversation about people of all genders being together. This convo should start around age 3, with simple words phrases like, “People of all kinds are friends and love eachother. Not just ___ ____ like ____ ____.” Ages 2-8.

The Dead Bird  by Margaret Wise Brown. Kids work together to figure out what to do with the little critter. Ages 4-8.

The Dead Bird by Margaret Wise Brown. Kids work together to figure out what to do with the little critter. Ages 4-8.

And Tango Makes Three  by Justin Richardson. Based on real-life penguin dads who finally get to take care of an egg. Ages 2-8.

And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson. Based on real-life penguin dads who finally get to take care of an egg. Ages 2-8.

Ballad  by Blexbolex. A story in pictures, with words sometimes, sometimes not. Ages 3-Adult.

Ballad by Blexbolex. A story in pictures, with words sometimes, sometimes not. Ages 3-Adult.

The Little Lost Bat  by Sandra Markle. A bat loses their mother, a mother loses their bat. Bat adoption, weeping, breastfeeding—human parenthood fears in a story about bat adoption, which happens in bat populations all the time. Ages 4-9.

The Little Lost Bat by Sandra Markle. A bat loses their mother, a mother loses their bat. Bat adoption, weeping, breastfeeding—human parenthood fears in a story about bat adoption, which happens in bat populations all the time. Ages 4-9.

What are yours/your kids’ favorite books/favorite kid books? WE LOVE BOOKS AND LOVE RECOMMENDATIONS. Do share. :)


Checklist for New Baby!

Pregnancy/BirthTabatha Hansen2 Comments

Since we make baby and kid clothes, all ADS on all screens are collages of a ton of stuff that is unnecessary for taking care of a human.

If I even think about the incredulous reality of $300 designer baby carriers, suddenly I’m being pitched one like ten times a day.

I did a reflection of stuff to get for a kid (before and after having our first kid), but here I’m skipping all of the reflection part and just posting the list of important things to have. We are parents who exclusively breastfeed, cosleep, and babywear, and we are more into baby fitting into our lives than us developing a baby lifestyle. We ogle our babies, but we aren’t into others ogling our babies so looking at matching bedroom decor for great Instagram composition+color isn’t a consideration. We also found that we raised baby Iris like she was a full human, so we were into whatever she was into. If she wanted to sit around and crinkle balls of paper, that was her toy. No special playmats or containers to put her in, just a blanket and a couple pillows on the ground.

We love traveling, and when we travel, we like spending our money on getting clothes for ourselves and Iris that are designed by local artists.

We are designers who create what we like to splurge on. Clothing in our country is heavily gendered and we hate all those rules, so when we find something we dig we go all-in. So, consider this a list that will allow you to splurge on whatever thing it is you can’t control yourself over. If you have friends or family that would like to pitch in, we recommend making a wishlist and asking them to PLEEEEEASE split costs of a couple big items instead of piling up tons of clothes and toys and things they “think” you need. If they’d like to buy clothes, request bigger sizes! 3-6MOS, 6-9MOS, 9-12MOS. You know, all those sizes you don’t think about when you think about an 8-lb baby loaf. (Or request they buy newborn clothes from us, they’ll be extra special and you can hand them down to the next baby you know if you aren’t too attached)


List of Shit to Aquire for Your Kid When You've Never Had a Kid

GLASS BABY BOTTLES (We <3 Lifefactory)

  • (1) 4-OZ bottle with silicone cover

  • (1) 8-OZ bottle with silicone cover

  • Set of flat caps

  • Set of sippy caps

BOTTLE+SIPPY CUP CLEANING BRUSH/SET

SINK BATH CUSHION (WE LOVE THE BLOOMING BABY BATH)

STORAGE FOR CLOTHES (A CARDBOARD BOX WORKS JUST FINE TO START OUT)

CAR SEAT (WE LOVE THE EVANFLO SYMPHONY CONVERTIBLE FOR ITS MEGA EASE TO INSTALL+ADJUST+ITS LONG LIFESPAN FROM NB-120LBS)

LANSINOH MANUAL BREAST PUMP

NAIL SCISSORS

BABY SOAP/SHAMPOO (BAR OATMEAL SOAP FROM A LOCAL SOAPMAKER IS OUR TOP CHOICE ALWAYS)

NOSEFRIDA

THERMOMETER (WE GOT A NO-TOUCH TEMPLE THERMOMETER)

HUMIDIFIER (SICK BABIES MAKE YOU FEEL SAD)

WIPES (CUT UP OLD T-SHIRTS IF YOU WANT A REUSABLE OPTION)

BABY CAGE (WE LOVE THE LOTUS TRAVEL CRIB BECAUSE IT IS SUPER LIGHTWEIGHT AND FOLDS DOWN INTO A BACKPACK-SIZE AND HAS A FRONT ZIPPER SO OUR KID LEARNED HOW TO UNZIP INSTEAD OF CLIMBING HEADFIRST UP AND OVER THE WALLS)

CHANGING PAD (MORE IMPORTANT TO HAVE IN THE CAR THAN ANYWHERE ELSE)

A WET BAG (A BAG LINED WITH A WATERPROOF MATERIAL FOR DISGUSTING PEE PEE CLOTHES OR CLOTH DIAPERS)

A BABY WRAP (WE LOVE THE MEI-TAI BECAUSE IT WEIGHS NOTHING, HAS NO ADJUSTABLE CLIP THINGS, LASTED FROM 1 WEEK OLD-3.5YEARS AND I SEWED IT MYSELF FROM AN INTERNET TUTORIAL. LOOK AROUND, SEE WHAT YOU THINK YOU WOULD LIKE, AND GET WHATEVER THAT IS.)

PLASTIC BUCKET FOR DIAPERS AND PEEPEEPOOPS CLOTHING

PREFOLD DIAPERS, TWO PACKS OF SMALL, TWO PACKS OF MED, ONE OF LARGE

(5) DIAPER COVERS

STROLLER (WE DIDN’T WANT ONE BECAUSE OF ALL THE BABYWEARING AND TRAVELING TO CITIES, BUT OUR FAMILY INSISTED SO WE FOUND ONE THAT WAS APPROPRIATE FOR OUR HEIGHTS AND IT CAME IN HANDY DURING THIS ONE DEPRESSIVE YEAR WHERE I WAS BEING DEPRIVED OF NUTRIENTS AND NOT EATING ENOUGH BUT NEEDED TO GO TAKE WALKS TO GET SUNLIGHT)

BABY BASSINET THING (WE GOT A THING THAT WAS PORTABLE AND HAD OPTIONS TO RAISE INTO A LITTLE SEAT FOR TO SWADDLE THE BABE AND STICK HER IN IT WHEREVER WE WERE IN THE HOUSE. DIDN’T USE AT NIGHTTIME.)

(2) SMALL BLANKETS WITH WATERPROOF BACKING SO SLEEPING PEEPEE BABY KEEPS THE BED CLEAN IF A PREFOLD OVERFLOWETH BEFORE WE SAVE THE BUTT VIA A DIAPER CHANGE

(3-5) BURP CLOTHS

(3) VERY NICE RECEIVING BLANKETS, FOREGO ALL MEDIOCRE ONES

(2) PACIFIER CLIPS, IF YOUR KID DOESN'T USE A PACIFIER USE IT TO CLIP TOYS TO THEM SO THEY CAN'T FLING THEM ON THE FLOOR REPEATEDLY MUAHAHA!

(1)BATH TOWEL

(1)BABY SLEEPING BAG (LIKE A SWADDLE THAT YOUR KID WEARS THAT THEY CAN KICK OUT OF SHOULD THEY WANT)

SET OF REALLY SOFT WASHCLOTHS

(5) SETS OF BOOBIE PADS

OH and clothing? Request no one get you NB size clothing because they'll grow out of it within one month**. For that one, sweet month, treat your little one to (in NB size): 

SIX ONESIES THAT YOU LOVE

TWO TWO-PIECE SETS

TWO NIGHTY GOWNS

**obviously you can’t stop grandparents so don’t try

Exclusive Artwork: The Cuttlefish

Down to Business, SewingTabatha HansenComment

For the last couple of years, I have been yearning and avoiding printing my own artwork for the shop. Yearning because I’ve been drawing and painting for years and my work is the perfect amount of weird and fun for kids and adults, avoiding because it means committing to a risk that is much higher than selecting from bolts of fabric printed with artwork I already like (Charley Harper’s work, specifically). The biggest thing that differentiates VT from other online boutiques is our vision of what gender “neutrality” looks like, though, and what has been happening in my brain is now so far from what has been happening in our real-life inventory that it’s time for a makeover.

The original painting, snapshotted on my broken phone with a breath of relief I had accomplished this beauty how I intended.

The original painting, snapshotted on my broken phone with a breath of relief I had accomplished this beauty how I intended.

The first print I have created is of my favorite cephalopod, the cuttlefish. This creature has the ability to change its skin’s color and texture, and uses this camouflage to hide itself from prey for mealtime and for mating. Males have been observed to change up their do like female cuttlefish to avoid being attacked by more aggressive males. Scientists have found that the female cuttlefish dig this, and it keeps the males alive. They swim using a wiggly, ripply wave of fin that encircles their bod, they can turn their eyeballs to look behind them, and their tongues are swift, absurd coils. I adore this monster.

While I have admiration for clean, geometric art, it’s not how I feel inside and it’s not what I think of when I look at dribbling, chubby wobbling babies dancing and children flying across the park.

The print was created with a gauche line painting in black. While I have admiration for clean, geometric art, it’s not how I feel inside and it’s not what I think of when I look at dribbling, chubby wobbling babies dancing and children flying across the park. Charley Harper’s work is minimalist and colorful—a combination I am captivated by, but does not come naturally by my own hand. It is likely I will occasionally source work of his when I am compelled, but potentially only for personal use instead of for our brand. His work, after all, is not exclusive to Velocitoddler.

“What are you doing? What is that face? Why are you smiling? Who is making you smile for pictures? Agh just look at me!”

“What are you doing? What is that face? Why are you smiling? Who is making you smile for pictures? Agh just look at me!”

How is this fabric printed?

The company I love to work with is called Spoonflower. Many people sewing for themselves browse oodles of designs offered by artists. Every month, a new challenge is offered for designers to compete in and users to vote on. It’s a company that allows people to print as small as a 5”x5” piece of fabric up to hundreds of yards. It is accessible to individuals or companies alike, their eco-friendly method of digital printing uses 100% biodegradable inks, and it feels good to buy from a company who does its work in the United States. As our business grows, we intend on continuing to source and work with USA businesses who keep their business here as much as we can. Because our textile milling industry took a serious dive a hundred years ago and has been mostly outsourced, many of our materials will continue to be imported, but we are committed to keeping manufacturing here. We have a local apparel manufacturer here in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and I cannot wait to see our growth reach a point to help support our local economy.


Baby bats drink milk, too!

Baby bats drink milk, too!

What is coming up?

The next print I am working on is a project that is heavily influenced by my kid: bats! It has been about six months of reading books about bats before bedtime. Did you know that their wings are actually hands, and they catch bugs in the air to toss them in their mouths? They eat half their weight in insects with every flight. Many of them are downright adorable, some have peculiar, buggy eyes, and they are the only mammal that can fly. This print will be one I am creating with gauche as well, but it will likely have only one colorway, unlike the cuttlefish in two (purple and blue).

What about basic clothing items?

Creating more unique pieces means I’m devoting less time to organic basics, but there are a bajillion of companies out there that offer solid organic clothing. Right now, I don’t mind those pieces taking a backseat to the fantastic creatures and scenes I am working on. This also means I get to only grab the fabrics that reach out and grab me first to make tonal clothing out of. Right now, I’ve got three unusual colors of corduroy that look like 1990s Nickelodeon and they pair energetically with the cuttlefish. They will be chopped into pants with a roomy crotch and legs, with elasticized ankles and waistband and huge important pockets. My kid calls them “comfy pants.” Pair a color of kiwi corduroys with a purple cuttlefish raglan and kid will look rad.

(insert picture of that combo ASAP!)