Birthday Basics: Picking Gifts For A Four-Year-Old Girl

Edie will be four in less than two weeks. It seems quite impossible. The old saying that “the days are long but the years are short” is so completely true. Today is a Friday and usually by Friday I feel pretty bad about my stay-at-home parenting skills. I’ve lost my cool a few times and let Edie push my buttons a bit today as only an almost four-year-old can do. I think she must have asked me several times , “Are you mad, sad, or frustrated?” When my answer was simply “Yes.” Her response was “Don’t be Papa.”

It is so strange to watch your child grow from a docile lump into this person with will and opinions. That will and those opinions are often at odds with my own and a struggle ensues. I love the person she is becoming, however, and mostly I just have to learn to let her have power when appropriate and to pick my old proverbial battles.

At 4, I feel like I can begin to describe who she is as a person and while I know some of those will change, it’s still fun and fascinating. The thing is, I really like her. I feel so lucky to be her Papa and as I get to know her more I like who she is becoming.

Edie, or Edith, as she now prefers, is observant. She is quiet and often serious as she observes every single detail in her surroundings and remembers everything. Edith is kind. I have seen her offer kids a hand of help when no one is watching. I have seen her face true concerned when she sees someone else who is upset. Edith is expressive. She loves creating and dancing and painting and singing. I can’t wait to see what she creates as she ages. Edith is funny. This one is important in our family. She loves to laugh and make others laugh she will gladly fall down to get a smile from someone. Edith is perfect. I know that some parents disagree with saying that to their kids, but I tell her that almost every day. She will hear the opposite plenty in her life so I want her to know she is exactly who she should be and that she is enough.

Ok, I’ll stop gushing now. Edie is adored and she is loved. We will celebrate her with a simple party at home. Some brunch (hello…gay dads) and some cake with a gymnast design on it per her directions. We will have a few games and some face painting. Here are a few of the gifts she’s getting. Check them out for the fourish year old in your life.

(This post contains some affiliate links. This means I might get compensated at no cost to you)

1. We are big Waldorf Education fans. We hope that Edie will attend a Waldorf in the future. She learned about candle dipping at a Waldorf event and she loved it. She is getting this nice kit from one of my favorite shops, Bella Luna Toys. Check them out!

2. Edie loves taking pictures and clearly we think she’s brilliant so she’s getting a camera. This one is a good deal and is waterproof, too. A bonus for beach visits and rainy days!

3. Obviously, Edie is getting dresses from Primary. These are so cute and only $14 right now. Annnnddddd they are so soft and wash perfectly. Want to buy cute spring looks at 20% off and free shipping?? Well, here you go…
Get 20% off your first order at Primary.com with code AFF20PCT

4. Ok, one more from our faves at Bella Luna. This adorable little Loom is the perfect starter model. Low commitment and low price until we see if she enjoys its. Bella Luna also has great dolls and some wonderful wooden toys as well.

5. I mentioned the face paint we will be doing at the party. It’s comes from a shop we have mentioned before, Ecokids, from our favorite state of Maine. Edie is also getting a few art supplies from them. We love their paint and their finger paint as well.

These picks are simple and hopefully help to encourage Edie to be her true self. We look forward to celebrating her and loving her more every day. We also look forward to when the tantrums stop. They do stop right?

Happy Spring. Happy Birthday, Edith Daring. You are loved.

Papa’s Picks : The Ultimately Easy and Affordable Girl’s Style Guide

Spring is coming and that means so many things are coming back to life. As a gardener, Edie and I are obsessively checking for new sprouts in our garden. We have also all but finished our Spring clothing shopping. Find the task daunting? Let us help you to make it simple and affordable.

When I first became a dad I way overdid it with clothes. In fact, if you ask my husband I still have that tendency. Setting a spending plan (budget is such an ugly word) helps to give you some guidelines. Make sure you are also aware of how your little one is growing and changing at the time. Don’t want to buy too much if in the middle of a growth spurt and always try and buy a little too big.

In New England, where it is winter for a really really long time, Spring is about adding some color again and also pieces that can be layered. Some of the pieces will transition into summer and some will not. Keep that in mind when prioritizing and sizing. After that I like to think about what things are priorities and what things I can get with leftover money as splurges. Here are the three categories I like to think of:

The Affordable Basics, Layers and Mix and Match, and Holidays and Splurges

This post contains some affiliate links. While I might make some money off of your purchases it comes at no additional cost to you.

The Affordable Basics

One super important thing I have learned is that leggings are not an option they are a necessity. I also have learned that really 3-4 pair are plenty. I do laundry every day. Duh. See this post- Plastic Free Love. If you don’t do laundry every day, first off I envy you, secondly then add a few more pair. I used to buy higher end leggings and it is not worth it at all!! Target Leggings are where it’s at! $6? What? Yeah, $6 and they last and are soft and you need every color. Check out the unicorn ones! The basics go with everything!

Layers and Mix and Match

Next you need some layering pieces to add to your leggings. I can not say enough good things about Primary. Some of you still haven’t tried them and I’m really not sure why. Gooooooo!!! So soft. No stupid logos or goofy pictures. Just great colors and fit. I find the stuff to run a little big, which is great because you get a few seasons out of it. Their dresses have pockets: a must for Edie and most other dress wearers. Here is Edie in her black dress from Primary


Get 20% off your first order at Primary.com with code AFF20PCT
Enjoy a great discount code here!

Holidays and Splurges

With most seasons comes a special occasion or Holiday. When I can I like to splurge a little for an outfit. With Spring, I always look for a Birthday outfit and an Easter outfit. For those I usually do Hanna Anderson or Boden. As a newbie parent, I used to buy a lot more from them. As we are getting closer to paying for Kindergarten and in order to keep my marriage intact I try and shop at these spots only when on sale or for special occasion. If you have the resources, go for it. I particularly love Boden’s quality, and both brands are committed to representation and diversity. Win!

Look at this number we are eyeing for Easter:

Hello gorgeous

A shoes and accessories post will be coming soon and separately…but take a look here for the best shoes ever…Zimmerman Shoes.

Let us know what you think! How do you manage seasonal wardrobe changes? Share your successes and favorites with us!

Spring Springing

This morning Edie saw a robin at our bird feeder as well as some bluejays. We also noticed larger quantity and variety of birds than we have seen in months. Also exciting is that we noticed that there were the beginnings of buds on some of the same trees holding those feeders.

Some snow is expected in a few days, but February is about half way over and even in dark and dreary New England, spring is on the way. In the following weeks my almost 4 year old, Edie and I will pick out our seeds from Baker Heirloom Seeds. Just looking at their catalog and the colors can make you happy and hopeful.

One of the other exciting things about Spring prep is that you get to start picking out some brighter colors to wear. Well, at least Edie does. I pretty much stick with blue and gray all year long except for some Nantucket Red thrown in for good measure in the warmer months. In fact, even today Edie wore a bright pink cardigan to church that had a warmth that promised spring was on the way.

Here are some colors and styles we are excited about for spring!

1. When we first had a girl we said absolutely no pink. We didn’t want her to be a princess-imitating gender-norm-loving girl who overly obsessed with body and image and all things traditional used to keep women and girls down. But, we have softened. We still want her to smash the patriarchy but she can wear some soft pink while doing so. We bought this shirt this week because I just love a kid in an oxford or button up. Too cute. There are several colors available but the pink is adorable! Thanks, Target.

2. If you have never shopped at Primary then follow the link and start now. Lots of logo free, basic, good quality, comfortable basics for all genders. This is the first year they have offered raincoats and they are perfect. I love a Classic Yellow Raincoat , but they have several colors to choose from. Buy it a size up and you might just get two years out of it! Maybe…

3. You guys know how we love love love head wraps and turbans. Spring means we get to update fabrics and add bright colors again. Please take a look at this one here from our absolute favorites at Dillon Joy . It’s everything! Go ahead and buy it now because they will sell out!

4. Finally, everyone needs good quality shoes for Spring that will keep you warm and dry. Edie and I wear our rain boots to the beach everyday when we are looking for sea glass and other treasure. My mom always says you should never buy cheap shoes. And I always listen to my mother. You really can’t go wrong with classic Hunter boots. They are well made and are a spring classic.
We could go on and on, but we won’t. These are just a few things to help us lean into Spring a little bit. What things are you excited about this Spring? Let us know! Let’s keep hope alive.

A Bald Man Does Hair

Whether biological or adoptive parents none of us can really be totally prepared for all the changes that happen when we are lucky enough to have a baby. When I look back over the last 3 and a half years I’m astounded at how different life is as a parent and all the things that I have learned. I can change a diaper, make a booboo feel better, carry another human while walking the dog and carrying groceries, and I am pretty good at doing hair.

As a white middle aged bald man (wow, that’s depressing to write) my hair care routine for years has involved some clippers and that’s about it. No product necessary, not even shampoo, just the same bar of soap I use everywhere else. Admittedly, one of my trivial fears about having a daughter was that of hair care. Yes, those fears pale in comparison to the fears that she will face being treated as a second class citizen, unequal pay, victimization, etc., but a fear nonetheless. Having a girl of color made this an even more challenging feat as my husband and I are both white. But here we are loving our perfect girl and learning every step of the way how to do that. We make mistakes just like we do with everything else almost every single day but I am determined to get this one right and work hard at doing so.

We want Edie to love herself. No small feat I know, particularly for a girl of color with two gay dads living in a world where racism, sexism, and homophobia are still rampant and viciously alive. This is part of the reason why I am a bit obsessed with Edie’s clothes, wanting her always to put her “best foot forward” for herself. I want her to be determined, confident, and brave. She already asks for straight long hair. This breaks my heart. We tell her every single day that her hair is perfect and that she is gorgeous and exactly right. We show her other people, famous and ordinary, with hair similar to hers. We hope that this sticks. We tell her she is in charge of her body when random white ladies tru and touch her hair and we show her how how to say, “No, don’t touch me.” We hope that this sticks too.

We read books to her where people with hair similar to hers are characters and hair care similar to hers is discussed. (White parents of white kids you should read these to your kids too. Here is a great one: https://www.amazon.com/Emis-Curly-Coily-Cotton-Candy/dp/1503144941 If we all do this, it’ll really stick!

I won’t get in to hair routine too much with you. There are others that are far better at that than me, and I have learned from them and other women of color in our lives. https://www.today.com/parents/white-moms-black-hair-blogs-teach-adoptive-interracial-families-care-2D79488068Women and men of color all have different hair textures, needs, and routines just like all white and other people do. I will say that moisture if key for Edie and we make up for the money saved on my hair care needs by investing in plenty of product for her. She is worth it.

Our very favorite products are all from Miss Jessie’s . Everything. The smells are delicious and the quality is not to be beat.

We are also OBSESSED with this awesome mother and her handmade turbans: https://dillonjoy.com. Try one out! Perfect for a day when letting your hair rest or recover or just feeling like you don’t want to do your hair. Turns a mess into glam in no time. Edie doesn’t love hats at all and is often freezing because of that. However, she adores these turbans and keeps them on all day. Plus she looks so glamorous in them. The shop owner is so sweet and responsive and you can get a nice discount as a first time buyer.

I’m a middle-aged white guy (God, I really have to stop saying that) and I do hair. I wash, and condition, and co-wash (https://www.devacurl.com/blog/co-washing-101/). And I love it. I love it because it’s an experience that I’ve never really had with someone who looks different from me who is also my daughter. I love it because it’s intimate and relaxing and a time for bonding (and usually YouTube gymnastics videos). I love it because it slows down time and the day for a minute. Mostly though, I love it because it’s a time when my growing brown daughter sits on my lap and I can whisper, “You are beautiful. You are perfect. You are exactly as you should be.”

And then I pray that it sticks.

Edie’s Clothes

To get started I should tell you about the name of this endeavor: Edie’s Clothes. I recently started an instagram account for my amazing 3 year old, Edith Daring, with the same name. I love sharing pictures of her. I am a stay at home gay dad (actually I am Papa) and to be honest I am starting to realize that my time in this role that I cherish so much isn’t going to last much longer (much like Edie’s actual clothes).

This blog and the instagram are my way of marking and remembering these days of adventure, and perhaps a bit of an existential crisis.  While I would be lying if I said that I didn’t love dressing and styling my daughter, there is a little bit more to it than that. At least, I should say there are different layers. Yes, I am THAT kind of gay guy.  I love clothes and aesthetics. I like to keep house and make beds and grow flowers. I like things to look nice and picture perfect.  I like Edie to look good and to feel confident.  I also want Edie to feel loved and admired and full of worth.

Raising a girl of color is complex and complicated, particularly since my husband and I are white. We have had many moments of humility and embarrassment about our privilege on our journey to being more woke.  I was at a salon with Edie recently and apologized for gushing over her when her stylist whispered: “Tell her over and over again how smart and beautiful she is.  A black girl can not hear it enough.  She will get plenty of messages to the contrary.”

So, here I am hoping to help Edie (and maybe other brown and black kids) feel seen and beautiful and smart.  Most days I hope to highlight what Edie is wearing and doing.  Edie’s clothes often do not last a season.  There are a lot of metaphors I can dig out of that and I am sure you can too. As a slightly older parent, a parent that always dreamed of being a parent and for along time didn’t think that was a possibility I hope to help myself and to teach Edie  to slow down and enjoy the moment. Or if not to enjoy it, then at least to be in it.

I hope you can follow along with Edie’s Clothes. If there are ever any topics you want to hear about let me know. If not, I will stick with what we know best: clothes, cooking, playgrounds, crafts, gymnastics, play, singing, and beaches. Here is to making the most of the next year and a half left of being stay-at-home-papa.