Giveaway featuring Mama Merit Badges

birthday.  tantrum.  
A few months ago, I took my older two ladies to a birthday party for a dear friend’s one year old.  After good food, indoor party games and the sweetest cupcakes an Oliva-themed party had ever seen, everyone went outside to experience the new birthday playground.
Betty followed her best buddy and most certainly the love of her life briskly up the playhouse ladder.  His slide-eager foot kicked back at just the right moment to knock out an almost-wiggly top tooth.

[Shrieks.  Sobs.]
Mommmmmyyyyyyy!  Maaaammmmmaaaaaa!
I looked at Betty, tearful with a mouthful of blood.
Oh no.  That’s a lot of blood.  You’ll be alright.  Let’s get someone to help you.
Seriously.  I said that.  No reassurance that I would make everything alright.  I led her by the shoulders to  a good mama-pal, a calm mommy friend I knew would take good care of her.  
I stood in the doorway, rubbed Betty’s back and tried not to faint.  I don’t like blood, especially that of my child.  It took me a long time to regain my composure, about as long as it took to calm Betty down.

About twenty minutes later we emerged into a worried crowd of birthday party players and worried parents.

She’s fine, she’ll get a nice visit from the tooth fairy tonight, I said.
[Silence.  Laughter.  Pointing.]
Where’s Lucy? I said.
Um, Jenn, you’ve got to see this, a good friend said.

I don’t know what anyone said for the next five minutes.  All I heard was,

Sorry, Mama.  Mama, I’m sorry, said Lucy.
She and her best buddy had found an open can of paint around the corner from the playground party.  Bubble wands and sticks had sounded like brilliant tools to dip into white paint and fling along the backside of my friend’s newly painted green house.  

Lucy had paint in her hair, on her clothes, along her earlobe.

[Silence.  Laughter.  Pointing.]
I wanted to freak out.  I had a crying, newly-toothless girl and a girl who’d been caught white-handed.  
We’re leaving.  Let’s go.  Get in the minivan, now! I said.
I wanted to freak out, but I started rehearsing inside my head the lecture I needed to yell throughout the entire four minute drive home.  It was going to be serious.  
Just then, a calm mommy friend, the very one who’d helped Betty in the bathroom with the bloody tooth, asked for a ride to the ferry terminal.  
She got me laughing about it all as we peered in the rearview mirror.   
I needed that five minute diversion to funny.  She pointed out that we were at an Oliva party and in one of the books Olivia visits an art museum and after seeing a Jackson Pollock she goes home and paints on the walls.
I needed that five minute diversion to funny, and I needed a mama merit badge for worst birthday party exit.

Today I bring you a giveaway from Baby by the Sea sponsor Mama Merit Badges.  In the words of Amy:

Mama Merit Badges was started as a response to the dearth of authentic recognition for the very hard work of mothering. Overly sentimentalized depictions of motherhood belie the actual daily duties that alternately feel like drudgery, brave political acts, and absurd performance art. This irreverent award system invites public dialogue about and visual recognition for the unpaid and often ignored labor that is parenting.

The badges are 1½ inches, iron on, and 100% embroidery. They can be worn on your diaper bag, purse, tote, jacket, jeans, scarf or baby carrier. Stick them on your wall, fridge or bulletin board. They make a wonderful shower or blessingway gift. Present one to a friend after a mama-roic episode. Use them when journaling or scrapbooking about your life as a mother. Each badge come individually packaged with a description of the badge included

You can follow along the Mama Scouts blog to read all about a mama of three’s navigation of adventurous family living on the creative frontier.

Baby by the Sea:  Tell us about the beginnings of your business.

Mama Merit Badges:  I was feeling pretty proud when I took my 4yo, 2yo and newborn out for the first time by myself. I quipped that I needed a merit badge for it. And then,  I actually went looking for them – I assumed they had to exist. But they did not, so I created them. They are meant to be funny and irreverent but sort of poignant, too. I mean if you have to hold your child’s face still while they get stitches and you manage to make the kid feel safe and hold back your vomit – you do deserve some tangible recognition. Even if you have to buy it for yourself.  Also, I might have been getting a little jealous about the steak knife set my husband got at work. 

Baby by the Sea:  What inspires you?  Is there a quote you’re fond of these days?

Mama Merit Badges:  I am inspired by interesting people, the ocean, wind, the golden hour, contrasting elements, worn furniture, anyone’s old family photographs, citrus, the Florida sky, old cast iron bathtubs, walking through my neighborhood smelling everyone’s dinners in progress,  but mostly mothering. 

I love quotes and have them handwritten in books and journals and scraps of paper everywhere. One that I particularly like is by e.e. cummings. “i imagine that yes, is the only living thing.” It is great advice. As long as I am saying yes, or moving in that direction, good things always happen.

Baby by the Sea:  Have you always been a maker?  How does design fit into your daily routine?

Mama Merit Badges:  I have always wanted to make things, both objects and moments. And I love learning how to do new things, like quilting or stained glass. I remember in junior high altering my clothes into some pretty wacky get ups. Since I could not really sew, they all involved alot of safety pins. Now, I am more interested in making things that are useful or add to our home and family life in some way. 

Learning side by side with my kids is probably my biggest inspiration. They are constantly making and inventing things: to play with, to eat, the wear, or to take over the world with. So, I get to do some crafting during the day with them. Also,  I keep a journal around and take notes on my personal ideas and then work on them in the evening or when the kids are running errands with their dad. Once a month I get together with grown up friends for a creative night where we share writing and do a hands on project. I really treasure that night and leave feeling super charged. 

Baby by the Sea:  What ritual/tradition makes your family unique?

Mama Merit Badges:  Hmmm… probably that we homeschool in a very relaxed and organic way. Our family spends most of our time together learning, creating and playing. We love to travel and camp, go to yard sales, see plays, cook together, grow things, read aloud and in general follow each others’ interests. My daughter is a big swimmer right now, one son is really into carnivorous plants and the other one spends a big chunk of the day thinking of ways he can use his strength for good (he is the one who brought his muscles to show and tell and said something along the lines of, “I’ve got your show and tell, right here!” and then flexed them for everyone to admire). 

I also run a small, neighborhood produce subscription service and my kids help me every other week. They go with me to the wholesale markets, help buy, package and deliver produce. They know alot about fruit and vegetables and have a good sense of how the supply chain works. That is probably unique. 

Baby by the Sea:  Tell us about your background.  What led you to do the work you do today?

Mama Merit Badges:  My background is in art history and American studies. In the past, I worked in art galleries and taught humanities and American culture classes. I have always loved material culture, so I find the scouting connection to my merit badges pretty interesting. I also enjoy writing for my blog, mamascout. I feel connected to cool mamas all over the world and love the conversations we are having.

Baby by the Sea:  What is your favorite word?

Mama Merit Badges:  Wonder. 

Amy of mama merit badges is so talented, so creative.  Her product validates our parenting peaks and valleys with humor and merit.  I spent 46 1/2 months of my life breastfeeding my three daughters.  I’ll proudly wear my breastfeeding badge.  I’m pretty sure I’ve got a mini-narrative for each image.
For today’s giveaway, mama merit badges is generously offering the following gift to TWO lucky winners:
You may salute yourself with this merit gift, or stock up for the mama friends in your life who share the peaks and valleys of parenting.

~ Explain what you deserve a merit badge for.  TWO lucky winners will receive a package of badges in the mail.
Extra chances:
Check out mama scout on Etsy.
Find mama merit badges on Facebook.
Check out mama merit badges’ awesome blog Mama Scouts.  Her life is painted in such lovely prose, sweet pictures.
And if you’re not already, become a follower of Baby by the Sea.
Thank you to mama merit badges!
To enter, please leave a comment in today’s post.  
Comments will close on Sunday by 9pm PST.  Winners will be chosen by Random Number Generator and announced in this post Monday morning.

Yippy to Cockeyed Sock Monkey and Rainblissed.  
Please send my your contact info, Rainblissed.  
Sock Monkey, you talented gal, I already have yours!


  • I think I'm worthy of the Breastfeeding badge. With 3 kids, I've breastfed for 6 years (combined) – and I'm still not done breastfeeding the 3rd, who is almost a year and a half. My breasts have ranged in size from Dolly Partton's to Kate Hudsons'. I've gotten blood blisters, been bitten, and had clogged ducts. I've nursed while pushing grocery carts, in Home Depot & Lowes, at Restaurants, in the car, in malls, the Library, at work, bathroom stalls, and just about anywhere you can imagine – and I don't use a “shield”. I've weaned 2 times, and am not looking forward to the third time because for my children, weaning is like going off heroin. I strongly believe in the benefits of breastfeeding, and I don't think there should be any shame in whipping out a boob to feed a baby (or toddler).

  • rainblissed says:

    Oh I LOVE these. Here's my story from the way back machine: (hope you can access the link).

  • Ok, I just snorted my coffee! What did the family dooo? Did the paint come off?

    You are right, that is probably the worst birthday party exit ever! Funny!

  • @ Rainblissed, the link didn't work.
    @ Counting Fireflies, the family is so super cool – they just laughed and actually delivered a set a paints a few days later to our budding artist. My hubby will fix their house sometime soon with more green paint. We had Lucy knock on the door hours later and say, “sorry I pained your house.” Now, I can really laugh about it all.

  • Gnat says:

    I think I'll deserve the breastfeeding one once I reach my goal of a year…only 5 more months to go! 🙂

    This week I deserve the Medical one for having to take my daughter to get blood drawn for an allergy test and not killing the nurse who tried to take blood but really didn't know what she was doing!! Umm…don't poke my 7 month old unless you are sure you have a vein! The big guns handled it nicely! 😉

    Love all the badges!! So fun!

  • Cory says:

    Glad you had a way to get sidetracked and not get too mad. That is always a plus, in my book. ; – )

    And glad it wasn't a permanent tooth!

  • rainblissed says:

    Bummer! Well her's my long-winded story when I posted about why I deserved the Tantrum badge:

    The up side to JumbleSon’s 2 year old tantrums (as opposed to his 2 day old, 3 month old, year old, 15 month old, etc…you get the picture…tantrums) is that they don’t last long. The down side (like his 2 day old, 3 month old, year old, 15 month old, etc. variety) is that they happen when you least expect them and they are shrill.

    “Shrill” as in glass breaking pitch. And “when you least expect them” as in, he’s lulled you into a false sense of calmness for as many as 18 hours between fits, so you’re breathing normally again and think it’s safe to go out in public, or even a restaurant.

    So there we were. The last night of our trip. We thought a meal at the Body Cafe would hit the spot. We’d had the most successful dining out experience of JumbleSon’s life just 28 hours before at La Posta in Mesilla. I was feeling confident.

    The Body Cafe was lovely. Modern. Zen. Quiet. Calm. People were eating alone with books, or talking in subdued tones with their dining partners. It felt good. The food was divine. All was going well until…

    There was 1 slice of avocado on JumbleSon’s plate. He was done eating and done sitting patiently in his chair. I suggested he give it to Grace. Fussing ensued. I asked for the check. Pressed the issue (why?? oh why???). Then it came.

    The loudest, most horror-movie-inspired shriek to end all shrieks.

    With ear drums popping, my dining partners leaped up in shock and bolted for the door just as I was about to grab the little JumbleBanshee and do the same. But they were faster. The check had not arrived yet. We couldn’t just walk out without paying the bill.

    So I just sat there. Totally dumbstruck. Trying, unsuccessfully, to hold back tears. I was afraid to look around because I knew how everyone in that small dining room was feeling. To say that I was mortified is an understatement.

    But bless the woman sitting behind me, “It’s incredible isn’t it? That such a sound can come from such a small person?” She went on, “I bet he’ll grow up to be an opera singer.” And she chuckled kindly.

    I tried not to vomit.

    And was most grateful that my friends quickly returned in time to help pay the bill, and comfort me without holding me solely responsible for their premature deafness.

  • Staci says:

    i deserve a merit badge for delivering my baby at home in 3 hrs and for enduring my husband's struggle to understand what it is that i do “all day”…or maybe it's more remarkable that he's still alive…

  • Jennifer says:

    Would love to wind for my mama friend who just birhted her first girl – with two older brothers. She was a week late with each pregnancy and babies all weighed over 9lbs (and my friend is average sized) Love her so and would love to gift these to her.

Post a Comment

Your email is never shared. Required fields are marked *