Hi friends, I’m introducing a spankin’ new series called Playdate! It’s a monthly series where I feature creative moms and a cool spot they like to go with their babies. I’m always curious to find new places to go with my kids and I love to make personal connections, so I thought it would be fun to meet up with local moms for playdates and to also seek out insights on how they juggle family, kids, freelance life and everything else in between. I’m also partnering with the talented photog, Eva Kolenko, for this series! As you can see, her work is ah-mazing and she shoots for some of the major publications so I’m truly lucky to have her here. Eva is another kick-ass mom to a super cute baby girl, Parker, who you will also see a lot in my series. Her and my Hadley are literally 5 weeks apart!
Ok, so let’s welcome my first guest, Lisa Wong Jackson. She runs a successful custom design + stationery company, Good On Paper, and has two insanely adorable sons, Lucas, 3 and Theo, 8 months. I first followed Lisa on Twitter and when I found out we were both pregnant at the same time with our second baby, I instantly felt connected to her. We then later discovered that we actually have mutual friends in the city and that she also partners with my cousin on design jobs. Such a small world!
Now that we’re both settled in with our second baby, we finally got a chance to meet up. Lisa took us to one of her favorite (and very delish) local spots in Berkeley and also invited us into her mid-century modern Cliff May home (one of my favorite architects, believe it or not) which has been featured on Design Sponge. Lisa is super nice and sweet and very down-to-earth. Even though we have kids around the same age, I certainly feel like she’s way more ahead of the game than me with being a 2x mother! I certainly learned a lot from her and am so glad I got to know her even better in person. And friends, Lisa is offering a generous 75% off discount to my readers on everything from her shop. See the promo code below at the end of this post!
Where is a favorite spot you like to go with your kids and why? I love going to get lunch at a place called Summer Kitchen in the Elmwood district of Berkeley. The menu is simple, fresh, quick and easy — with ingredients from local farms and food artisans. It can be a bit hard to maneuver if you’ve got a stroller but quite often we will go in and take something to go. Some favorites of mine are the chicken fingers (perfect for kids and Lucas loves them — I always order a few extras for myself), the Dailey Method salad, the crispy chicken sandwich, the roasted broccoli, the house made margherita pizza, and the grilled arctic char for dinner. Oh, and you can’t leave without a dessert. My favorite is a tie between their carrot cake (best I’ve had) and their Valrhona chocolate cupcake.
What’s the biggest challenge going from one kid to two? I think the biggest challenge for me is having less time to do everything. I had to become an even bigger multi-tasker which also worsened my “mommy brain” (it’s no joke!). Luckily, I still remember all the really important things. Oh, and my lower back kills me.
Top left: Lisa’s adorable younger son, Theo! Bottom left: Eva’s adorable daughter, Parker!
Where do you go for tips/advice for motherhood and parenting? For me, the hardest part of parenting so far has been the toddler stage (2.5-3). Taking care of a newborn or an infant seem like a piece of cake compared to this age. So what I need now are tips on positive discipline, setting limits/boundaries, and eliminating conflict. I have a couple of friends who I call my mom idols. I also have a big support system of friends with kids and other parents I’ve met along the way. But every child’s temperament is different and every parent has a different way of disciplining. What works for one kid may not work for mine. It’s a bit of trial and error for us and we have some methods we’ve learned that Lucas really responds to so we stick to it. Surprisingly, a lot has to do with the way we say things to him. We’ve learned that we need to be clear and concise, say what we mean and mean what we say, and make a clear distinction between a requirement and a request. A couple of books I found helpful are How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and How to Listen So Kids Will Talk and Setting Limits With Your Strong-Willed Child. I also subscribe to Baby Center for email updates on milestones and other age-related information for both kids. It’s a constant work in progress and right when I’m at my wits end (Calgon, take me away!), it stops. And then something else starts a week later.
Hadley’s double chin is getting a little out of control. :)
Do you own a diaper bag? If so, which one do you use or recommend? I actually use a Fjallraven Kanken Laptop bag as a diaper bag. I am a pretty practical person and didn’t want to be stuck with a bag that looked or felt like a diaper bag when I no longer needed one. I figured I could use this backpack long after the kids are out of diapers and even pass it on to them for school.
Has it been hard to keep in touch with friends who don’t have kids? It’s actually been pretty easy to keep in touch with my friends who don’t have kids. I am so lucky that these friends adore my kids (at least they act like they do) and actually want to hang out with us, bring us food, or go out to eat at 5 p.m.
Your favorite baby gadget? Oh, I have so many! The one thing I couldn’t live without would be the Ergo baby carrier. It’s the most comfortable carrier I’ve tried and one of the most useful baby items I own. I used it when both kids were only one or two weeks old and I still use it today with Theo facing me or on my back while taking a walk or doing household chores. We took an east coast train trip a couple of years ago and with Lucas strapped to my back, I was able to use my hands to carry bags/luggage.
What is your favorite thing to do when you have some alone time? Alone time for me is pretty rare around here. To be honest, I use alone time to do one of three things — work, clean the house, or take a quick nap. Pretty glamorous, huh?
What’s your favorite traits of your two sons? There are so many things I love about my boys. I love that Lucas is silly and goofy, fearless and carefree, and a total sweetheart. I love how ultra mellow and sweet Theo is. About 90% of the time he is smiling, laughing or just taking it all in. The other 10% is all about eating and pooping.
What do you do to make sure you don’t lose yourself? I truly believe that taking care of yourself is part of being a good mother and taking care of your kids. If I am super stressed out, everyone around me suffers and that’s no fun. I never feel guilty for taking time for myself, even if it’s just for a couple of hours. About once a week I go to the Dailey Method to get my butt kicked (plus, they have childcare so Theo comes with me) and I also take a yoga class through my other work. I get monthly in-home massages from my amazing, super affordable massage therapist. I also have an amazing support system of family and friends. I am incredibly lucky that my mom takes care of my kids when we are working. My husband Nick is super calm, patient and supportive. And our families are local which has been really helpful and great for the kids.
How do you organize your day? My days are fairly sporadic in the sense that I am a stay at home mom two days a week, a graphic designer at a “regular” job at an engineering and environmental consulting firm three days a week, and a graphic designer for Good on Paper on nights, weekends and kid nap times. But my priorities are my kids so I generally organize my day around them. Lucas goes to preschool three days a week which gives me some Theo time (second kid usually gets the shaft so I really cherish this time). Both kids are great sleepers so it’s easy to schedule things around their meals and naps. I like to keep things pretty routine and think it’s great for kids to get into a rhythm and generally know what to expect out of the day. And some days are so hectic that I cannot wait for bedtime to come around and for things to be quiet.
Any beauty product(s) you swear by to help you get ready? I have super dry and sensitive skin as well as eczema so I use some pretty heavy stuff. One product I love and use everyday is Skin Savior from One Love Organics. It’s this magical waterless beauty balm that I slather on my face after cleansing. Another product I swear by is the Healing Balm from Honest. It’s actually for diaper rash and yes, I put it on my face.
What’s next on your agenda – work wise? kids wise? Work wise, I’ve been designing a Good on Paper ready made wedding collection. It was on my to-do list before I had Lucas and, well, things got pretty busy for me. But I am excited to move forward with it and hope to debut it later this year. And with that collection will come a new website (finally!). I am currently collaborating with the talented Gloria Wong on White Label, her event planning and decor line. I’m super excited about the launch as I designed the wedding stationery exclusively for this collection. Kids wise, I am just happy where I am. The saying goes, “The days are long and the years are short.” It makes me sad but happy that they are growing up so fast. I really try to embrace every moment I have with them. Even the ones that involve poop explosions. In a restaurant. Without extra clothes.
Thank you so much to Lisa for a wonderful day out! I enjoyed every bit of her answers and advice. For the record, I bought the backpack and the two books she recommended. Sure helps to have like-minded mommy friends like her. :) And friends, don’t forget there’s a 75% off discount from Good On Paper. Just use code “sweetthings” at checkout until 4/30. I especially love these quirky sticky notes! Enjoy!
Photography by the wonderful Eva Kolenko.