Wanderlust, Nostalgia and Linden Bee

@lindenbee, aka Lindsey (aslo found at @wanderingdarlings)  adventure seeker and super mama to four (yes, four!) kiddos caught our eye with her vibrant photos and tales of escapades with her family, not to mention the magical and whimsical toys she sells as shop owner of Linden Bee.
Between the sourcing, schooling and siblings vying for her attention, we managed to sneak in some time to chat with Lindsey about her family, eye for decor and her unique use of toys to spark creativity in both her shop and her home.

{Q} One of your Instagram followers asked you to name one thing you loved about yourself. You answered, being a dreamer. Can you share with us some of your dreams? And have they shifted as you came into motherhood?
{A} Oh my goodness, I have had so many crazy big, shoot-for-the-stars kind of dreams. I always thought I’d be an actress, to the point I didn’t even think it possible not to become one, because I dreamt of it in such a huge way. Clearly, that hasn’t happened πŸ˜‰ I’ve also dreamt of writing middle grade novels for children and to that end, I’ve completed a first draft of my first book. Who knows what will come of it,  but I’m really proud that somehow, with all the hustle and bustle around me, I made it a priority to carve out the time to write. I suppose the dreams of having my children and family are the closest I’ve come to “achievement” in the traditional sense, but I’d take them over all the rest of it;  having a family sort of re-shapes how one measures achievement in general.
{Q}  We couldn’t agree more. And as if all that you’ve done isn’t “enough,”you homeschool in addition.  How did you come to decide to homeschool; were you homeschooled? Can you share some of the challenges and surprises that have come from the experience? 
{A} Homeschooling is by far the most valuable of all of my duties, but I don’t separate it from the thought of parenthood all that much. As their mother, my job has always been to teach them; to drink, eat, potty, sleep through the night, talk, read, do math, learn history. Somewhere along the lines it just blended into how we go through life together daily. Learning together is just another facet of us simply being together. And at the time my oldest was entering kindergarten, homeschooling was the best option. Our neighborhood school was a low rated one and after researching it thoroughly we just weighed the benefits of having him stay home until we moved. We haven’t moved yet and Liam is entering 4thgrade this fall, but every year we reassess and figure out what is best for him and for us as a family.
We travel a lot, so homeschooling is somewhat of a lifesaver in that our children’s attendance would be awful in a formal school setting. I wasn’t homeschooled, so it wasn’t something I was familiar with and truthfully I had a very closed-minded idea of what kind of person comes out of an education given at home, but now I see there are a dozen different ways to educate a child, just as there are dozens of different types of children. I’d say the hardest part is never getting a break from being with your children, you go from mother to teacher to mother, over and over again. At the same time, I think that’s the biggest blessing; I’ve witnessed their wide-eyed amazement at themselves when they conquer a hard math equation or missed the change in their body language when something sad happens in our read aloud for literature. I’ve been given so many extra moments with my children that many mothers aren’t privy to, and I’ll never take that granted.
{Q} Given that your space requires such functionality, how do you think using toys in your families decor helps create a whimsical space?
{A} Children are the essence of whimsy, aren’t they? The way they can skip or spin through a room unabashedly. The way they throw a few dollops of paint on a canvas and don’t ever view it with a critical eye. Their ability to grab a toy car and let it drive them into a pretend city, or how they can give voices to dolls, voices that we as adults can’t hear anymore. Toys out on shelves is like having little keys to imagination set up all throughout your house. We aim for beautiful, wooden, hand-made toys, so they’re pretty as dΓ©cor as well as being wonderful heirloom toys that our children can happily hand down to their own children. I think having the toys on the shelves rather than stowed away in bins or closets, makes the spaces of our home special for all of us. For the children, because they have a sense of pride that it’s their belongings and for us as parents because we get to enjoy the very few years of our life that involve having young children in our home.
{Q} Your home is certainly full of life and color. Who are your favorite interior decorators right now? And might you have a tip or two in how to transform a house into a home? 
{A} Oh man, I could look at home tours on Glitter Guide, Design Sponge and Apartment Therapy all day. Seeing how other people live and fill up their own little worlds is so intriguing to me. I love color, so obviously I get really excited to see other women out there putting bold color on their walls, but I can appreciate a clean, neutral, minimal palette like the rest of them. “Them” being all of the other users on Instagram πŸ˜‰ If I had to switch houses with another person, I think I’d choose @graybenko .  My number one tip for turning a house into a home is to fill it with what you love. A home should feel like your resting place, a place that fills you up and helps restore you. It’s the one safe place in the world that you can express yourself away from prying eyes. It’s easy to paint a wall a bold color and then sit back for a couple days and decide whether or not YOU like it, without others weighing in. So, my tip is to try putting yourself and your family emotionally and physically into all the little spaces of your home
{Q} You mentioned your family travels quite a bit. Can you share some of your favorite places to visit and maybe where you’re headed next? and how have any of your trips inspired your toy shop, Linden Bee?

{A} Our favorite places to visit have definitely been Iceland, Ireland, Greece, Scandinavia and Patagonia.  We are hoping to make it to Spain next; Madrid and Mallorca, and then later in the fall we are hoping for a road trip around Scotland.

Our travels have absolutely inspired Linden Bee. Europe seems to have so many little toy shops, the kind that in America it’s almost hard to imagine because they’re so few. There is something so special about walking into a little shop for children and every single toy feels like it’s a treasure. My husband and I had talked about starting a little brick and mortar toy shop for years, reminiscent of the kind we’ve strolled through with our own children and one day that’s what we hope to create in a little shop, but for now it’s just out of our home. Last summer, we were visiting Portland, ME where there is a darling children’s shop and our children came up with the idea that they’d like to have their own little store someday. Since it hadn’t been that far off from our own thoughts, my husband and I thought that it would be an incredible venture to embark on with the children. They choose everything in the shop, because they themselves have and love the toys, and they have a whole list of brands they hope to carry someday. We are hoping that, obviously, the shop does well to have justified the risk of starting a family business, but more so, that by doing this with and for our children they’ll learn that no dream of theirs is impossible; with hard work and a kind heart you can achieve your biggest dreams.

{Q} And the burning question all our mamas want to know, how do you entertain the kids on your long journeys? 
{A} On long travel days we keep it pretty simple, the more you travel, like anything, it just becomes easier for the child out of habit. For long car rides we always listen to a book on audible. I usually download about four new ones, then we take a family vote on which one to start. But if the younger ones are napping, we might listen to one that only the two older boys would want to hear. For airplane rides we use tablets, it’s the only time we allow handheld screens for our children, so it’s a real treat. They play with them so rarely that we don’t even need to download a new game to interest them, but sometimes we might. We also bring pads of paper and colored pencils for drawing or writing and usually some smaller books that fit into backpacks like board books or Dr. Seuss. We will also bring schoolwork for the boys, so if they do start to get angsty we can just point them in the direction of their phonics book πŸ˜‰
{Q} What are your children’s favorite toys that you carry? And what can people find at Linden Bee?
{A} Delphine, age 5, loves the Maileg and Hazel Village the most and she’s quite certain that she should own one of each one we carry in the store. Ha.

Jude, age, 7, loves the Grapat loose parts and Nims people, as well as Candylab and Hazel Village.

Liam, age 9, Candylab Toys and Way-to-Play roads, though he also says he loves Maileg Mice and I just love that at almost 10 he is still playing with little creatures. I’ll miss that so much when these years are over.

Other brands we carry at Linden Bee are Father’s Factory, Little Miss Workbench, Aleta kids, Areaware, Myers Natural Toy Studio, Baby Baazaar, Raduga Grez, Hazel Village, Gluckskafer, Grapat, Way to Play, Moon Picnic, and Polka Dot Club.

{Q}  Your toys foster creativity and learning – why is this important to you?
{A} I love open-ended toys because it allows the child to create the whole dialogue of their story. They learn so much by piecing together their own play scenarios. The years of play are certainly shorter than any other chunk of years in our lives, so toys that help enable that creativity and help them learn themselves, not just learn new abilities, are so valuable and really should be emphasized more.
To bring a little of LindenBee’s whimsy into your own home, visit Linden Bee and their Instagram