Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Children's Wallet Cards | Giveaway

We are so excited about our next giveaway!  Marie-Claire (a fellow twin mom!) has created Children's Wallet Cards, which are both educational and gorgeous.  When we received our sets we instantly fell in love.  While Jolie & Parker and Jude & Sloane are still a little young to grasp the educational aspect, they adore playing with the cards and wallets.  And with how quickly toddlers change and grow, it won't be long before they're recognizing shapes, colors and letters.  Having these cards will be a huge help along the way!

We asked Marie-Claire to tell us a little about her family and how she came up with the idea for the wallet cards.  Her story is both sweet and inspiring.

Hi, my name is Marie-Claire and I'm a twin momma. My tiny babies have grown into preschoolers and are now four-year-olds. 

Silas and Owen were born at 39 weeks and were amazing. We barely slept and for six months were in survival mode. That season of our lives has passed, thank goodness. Now we're learning to read and write in Montessori preschool, nearly done potty training, and I even have my own business.

New twin moms ask me, "Does it get easier?" And I just close my eyes, breathe a heavy sigh, and say, "It gets… different." Sometimes there's a frown on my face, but most of the time there's a smile.

Before being a momma, I was a pretty serious graphic and interaction designer, working 50 - 60 hours a week at a design consultancy here in Michigan. My husband, Victor, did the same thing at another place across town. We were really kicking butt, flying to conferences, leading presentations, and bringing home the bacon.

Before I burned myself out, I quit my job to start a lofty nonprofit. Then we got pregnant. At nine weeks we found out we were having twins. Everything came to a screeching halt. I was not feeling well. I tried to work freelance, but soon developed pregnancy-induced carpal tunnel syndrome and prenatal depression. I was exhausted by a trip to the grocery store and slept most of my days. 

When the boys came, I was in a completely different role than my former professional self. I was anxious and exhausted. I felt jolted. I loved having the boys in my life: we bonded, we breastfed, co-slept and cuddled constantly. But even with this amazing addition to my like, I didn't entirely feel like me. I missed the feeling of accomplishment and the warmth of making something with my hands. I missed the opportunities in my former life that allowed me to be creative.

I was, however, constantly observing the boys as they grew and changed. At about six months they really started interacting with the objects around them in a completely new way. They were absorbing information, changing, blossoming. It was beautiful. 

Silas became known as the "The Beaver," putting everything in his mouth. Gnawing on everything: shelves, walls, toys. It was heinous.    

Owen loved paper, but he would eat it, tear it, destroy it. He loved books, but the "durable" cardboard pages dissolved in his little mouth. They both really loved pulling out the contents of my husband's and my wallets, looking at the tiny type and pictures, putting them in their mouths, and chewing on the edges. Unfortunately, I discovered that 95% of cards in my wallet were made of toxic PVC plastic. Not safe for babies. Nothing they were interested in was made for them to actually use. 

And after both my husband and my drivers licenses were broken in half, a missing debit card during a Target grocery run, and countless gift cards snapping in half, I needed to do something. They were insatiable.

I found a new self in designing something just for them. Something durable, safe, nontoxic, beautiful, irresistible. After months of researching, testing, designing, and prototyping… I had finally found the perfect materials. 

I decided on an alphabet deck of cards, mimicking the cards found in my wallet but educational. I commissioned amazing Australian artist, March Martin, to create 26 unique pieces for the deck. I launched a Kickstarter with some help from my husband, got my project funded, and then proceeded to produce my first deck. The boys loved them. They adored them. I felt proud of myself and my work.

And when I delivered the decks to all the Kickstarter Backers, the hundreds of receiving babies and kids loved them!  It was awesome! Moms and dads loved them, aunts and uncles, grandmas and grandpas too!

When all those hundreds of decks sold out, I made more! I reprinted the Alphabet deck at a higher quantity to keep up with the demand, and then launched a second Kickstarter to make four additional decks. 

The boys grew and the cards grew with them. And they still LOVE THEM! We now have decks to help our little ones learn colors and shapes, numbers, and Montessori parts of speech. We have new artists for each deck: Nomoco, Eugene & Louise, and Jared Andrew Schorr.

Lisa, my amazing mother, was a Montessori teacher for over 20 years. She helped consult on the design and content of every one of the cards. She's been incredibly supportive and has offered so much insight into the growth and learning processes of children. If she says, "short vowel sounds" or "no soft 'G' sounds," I listen! She helped to make these cards strong and hard-working.

With my mother close by and as a former Montessori child myself, I know the importance of allowing my children to have access to similar objects that adults use everyday to learn practical life skills. Our house is especially excited about our new My Wallet set. It's a real wallet with kid-friendly bank and membership cards. It even includes gorgeous play money made from Tyvek (non-toxic, spit-proof). Owen and Silas take their wallets nearly everywhere. They love playing "store" with the play-bills.  They're learning how to count, add and subtract and make change. And they don't destroy MY wallet now!

Victor, our friend Chris Rittersdorf, and I launched a companion iOS app for the My Wallet set too. It has earned a consistent and hefty five stars in the iTunes store.

Having the boys in Montessori school (half days) allows time for me to design, fulfill orders, answer emails, and market the cards. The business helps support our family, it's fun and rewarding, and it scratches my creative itch on a daily basis. 

In the afternoons and weekends I'm with my boys and my amazing/exhausted husband. We watch each other grow and change everyday. It's been a wild ride so far, and we can't wait to see what we do next! 

It's hard, and amazing, and it's more different than even I could imagine. Today there's a smile on my face.


Enter below to win TWO My Wallet Sets as well as TWO Booster packs (extra receipts and cards) as a bonus. Contest ends this Friday, April 25th at midnight.  

You can find them on Instagram, Facebook, as well as their website!  And don't forget to check out their online store!
Winners will be announced on Monday, April 28th!

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  1. These are so cute! Wish I had had them for my son, but hope I can have them for my twins. We send our son to Montessori School, so its great to find a product that can continue that approach to education at home!

  2. Fantastic idea! I know my little one loves playing with my wallet and the cards inside.

  3. These are awesome. Such a great idea!

  4. These are great! I love all the educational sets, but the wallet set with the money and cards is pure genius!

  5. What an awesome idea!!! My twins would love learning with these wallet cards!

  6. Adorable! I think I need alphabet cards. And those wallets are too precious.

  7. LOVE love love love LOVE this!! I need two of these regardless if I win or not!!

  8. These are awesome! What a fantastic idea!

  9. This past teacher LOVED flashcards, so these are perfect! Anything colorful and repetitive.. check & check!

  10. What a unique toy - great idea! Thank you so much for the give-away.