The Bear and the ShiShi: a birthday gift.

About a year ago, I had an idea. For the sarcastic among you, yes, I’ve had ideas before and since, but today we’re talking about this one in particular. The idea centered around the cute woodland animals that my mom knits:

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Darwin the Bear

I thought that the story of how they came to live with my mom would make a cute children’s book. The idea sort of came and was dismissed–I don’t write children’s stories–but it stuck with me for a while. I daydreamed about it, ruminated about it, and finally gave it enough traction to wonder what would happen if I did write this story. What would I do with it? I finally settled on the thought that I could write it for mom…

Last summer when we visited my family, I–very nervously–posed the idea to my sister-in-law, Crystal. Crystal is an amazing and very talented artist (links to her work at the end of the post)Β and I was hopeful that she would be interested in collaborating with me. Crystal was excited about the idea, so I went home and wrote my story. I sent it off–again, very nervously–to Crystal and she got to illustrating. We worked–she drew, painted, scanned, I edited and edited and edited–and finally got the book printed up in book form.

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The story follows Darwin the Bear as he takes a journey to find himself and become a real bear. Darwin travels through many lands, from Connetet and Merryland, all the way to Nor Caroline. Along the way, he meets people who try to help him and they eventually tell him to find the ShiShi.

Eventually Darwin makes his way to the ShiShi, and she teaches him that all he needs is love and that he is just right the way he is.

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A little bit of behind the scenes: The people that Darwin the Bear meets are my family: Noah and Madelyn in Connecticut; Kevin, the kids, and me in Maryland; Judge and Crystal in North Carolina. The ShiShi is, of course, my mom.

ShiShi’s birthday was last week so Joshua and I drove down to celebrate. We took the book and Crystal and I gifted it to her, Saturday night.

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I’m happy to report that she was very suprised and loved the book. This has been such a magical experience, collaborating with Crystal on such a special gift. I’m lucky to have a mom that is so inspiring.

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The next morning, I went and picked mom up for a little birthday breakfast (which turned into birthday lunch) and some much needed mother-daughter time.

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It was a happy trip, a happy birthday, and I think we left her a happy ShiShi.

Happy making!


I’d like to take a moment to credit the amazing work of Crystal Hurt. Beyond being an amazing sister-in-law and friend, she is a talented artist. She has been comissioned to create artwork for albulm covers and other fun works. She focuses on the natural beauty of our home, the Blue Ridge Mountains. You can see more of her work on her instagram, @artbycrystalhurt, or her website, crystalhurt.com.


 

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