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Help, Please: Christine Schmidt of Yellow Owl Workshop

Chief Correspondent and new mom SuChin Pak finds out how other moms parent

yellow owl workshop!

If there is such a thing as a DIY lurker — one who prowls blogs and businesses that beautifully achieve a sense of domestic Zen — I am its poster child. I’ve been watching the Yellow Owl Workshop for years, marveling at how founder and artist Christine Schmidt can turn simple items into objects of desire. But I am head over heels in love with her most recent project, #getwise2013. Christine turned “mommy brain,” the condition that morphs new moms into partial amnesiacs, into an art/research project that makes the not-remembering marvelous. — SuChin Pak


After discovering that mom brain is a real thing (with young moms losing seven percent of their brain capacity), you decided to combat it by learning or reteaching yourself something new every day. How’s it going?
#getwise2013 is my New Year’s resolution for myself, and I’ve enjoyed every day of the project — maybe because it is the only thing I do just for myself every day. I think of it as an exercise, and one more suited to me than running around sweating or cutting carbs from my diet. The thing I’m most proud of is learning not to give the final presentation much thought, which is a huge change for me because so much of my job is about the final presentation.

yellow owl workshop!

What has been your favorite #getwise2013 exercise?
I was clicking my way through the Internet on Valentine’s Day: Buy this! Eat this! Say this! We waste so much time, effort, and money trying to convey a simple message. Looking at all the graphics of hearts, I was thinking about what goes through them: blood. I looked up information on the American Red Cross website and found some fascinating facts, which I shared. I also saved the dates for a local San Francisco blood drive. It was a good reminder that real giving is not about receiving recognition.

Three things at Yellow Owl Workshop you are loving right now:
Our new Carve-a-Stamp kit is perhaps my favorite Yellow Owl Workshop item of all time. It contains all the materials, instructions, and templates you need to carve your own rubber stamps. I also love our new gold and neon pendant necklaces in their quirky test tube packaging. The third (and ultimately best) thing is the great people who work here. Everything is made by hand and in-house, so I would be nowhere without them.

yellow owl workshop!

Hello, kid. When did “Whoa, I’m a parent” hit?
During the first month of being a mom, I said “whoa” every time I looked at my daughter, Emmy. And the first time Emmy burst out a laugh, I startled her with a gasp. I think that was the first time I realized this tiny thing was a little person.

What was your last big parenting success?
I report nothing but successes because we have kept this kid alive for one whole year. Besides, there is no way she will remember my many failings that I have apparently already forgotten. Maybe that is a hidden benefit of mom brain!

The most important bit of advice you’d like to tell friends without kids:
The nicest thing you can do for a new parent is the laundry. Or the dishes. Or run to the grocery store. All those small things feel like impossible feats when you are running on no sleep. And take your girlfriend out for a drink! She needs one (or four).

yellow owl workshop!

Lesson learned from watching other parents?
I grew up in a huge family. After years of watching my aunts’ laid-back ease with little ones, I think the best thing you can do is leave kids alone. All the best things, such as forts, imaginary kingdoms, and invisible friends, emerge when nobody else is looking.

I try to achieve work/life balance by: Turning off my damn phone! 

Don’t forget to: Take care of yourself.

The thing no one tells you about parenthood is: That it reminds you every person is somebody’s baby.

Don’t be afraid to: Pretend those aren’t maternity leggings you are still wearing.

Rule you never break: No work after 7 p.m.

Can’t live without: My husband, Evan. Sorry, y’all, I know he is the best main squeeze and co-parent around. Oh, also, late-night donuts — a pregnancy habit I can’t break.

Know a parent we should feature in Help, Please? Give us a tweet @dailycandykids and @SuChinPak.

yellow owl workshop!

Photos: Aubrie Pick for DailyCandy