This is how a word nerd and a map nerd decorate their kid’s nursery

24 May

When you give your baby a name like Lars, you hope that he’ll have the gumption to pull it off later in life. Dave and I joke that hopefully he’ll just grow up to be a linebacker and no one will give him any trouble with it.

But the reality is, Lars’s destiny is to be a nerd. He is, after all, the child of a writer/editor obsessed with puns, grammar, and typography, and of an urban designer whose idea of fun is analyzing street patterns or comparing blocks of desert cities. We also share a fond appreciation for all things Scandinavian, a part of our heritage.

Fortunately, we have accepted and embraced our nerdiness and fully plan to nurture it in our little guy. In that spirit, we designed a few festive pieces for his nursery:

Baby’s family birth map

Baby's family birth map - spifftacular.wordpress.comDave mapped where his and my ancestors were born all the way to ten generations back. Purple represents my ancestors (obviously), and orange represents Dave’s. The size of the dot correlates to how many ancestors were born there. Opacity represents how long ago they lived there (meaning the darker dots are more recent). Locations listed in the key are simply numbered left to right.

Lars birth mapHe used FamilySearch to do the research, then used Google Earth to map it and Illustrator and InDesign to design the final graphic. Of course, shortly after he had already dedicated painstaking hours of perusing family trees, he discovered a nifty tool called Rootsmapper that does the mapping work for you. Oh well. Read more about the map on Dave’s urban design blog. You can also check out this post to see some other neat graphics he made about where his ancestors lived and died (we opted not to feature this in the nursery, because birth seemed a more fitting theme than death).

Name punctuation style guide

Baby name punctuation guide - spifftacular.wordpress.comAs a writer and editor, I am naturally a stickler about punctuation. One of my biggest pet peeves is the incorrect punctuation of possessives. Since we gave our kid a name that ends with s, I knew he would face a lifetime of punctuation trickery: Where to put the apostrophe? And should there be an extra s? I was so concerned about this I almost decided against the name even though I love it so much.

I know I can’t prevent his future classmates and colleagues from writing such horrors as Lar’s, but I at least wanted to give him a good foundation. So I compiled excerpts from the sections on possessives from the top style manuals–The Chicago Manual of Style, The Associated Press Stylebook, and Strunk and White’s Elements of Style–into a handy mini (dare I say baby-sized?) style guide. Of the three, two recommend apostrophe + s for singular possessives, and one recommends just an apostrophe. (My personal preference is the former, but I don’t mind the latter.)

To make it even more personal, I also included a few lines about the origin and meaning of the name Lars.

Baby name punctuation guide - spifftacular.wordpress.comI used Futura because it seemed like a fittingly Scandinavian typeface (which until recently was the go-to typeface for IKEA), plus Century Schoolbook because it reminded me of the old copy of Strunk & White I got from my dad; I also used it on the Swedish ABCs project below.

Swedish ABCs

SwedishABCs -

Back when baby was still the size of a blueberry in my belly, I stumbled upon this neat collection of illustrations from a vintage children’s book with an animal for each letter of the Swedish alphabet (except W, inexplicably). The images were a little crooked, so I straightened them out in Photoshop. Then I printed them on cardstock and cut them out. I put some command hooks on the wall, strung some cream-colored ribbon, and used some metal clips from IKEA to fasten the cards.

SwedishABCsCrib - spifftacular.wordpress.comYou Are My Sunshine & It’s A Small World

You Are My Sunshine -

OK, I can’t take credit for these but I’m including them anyway because they’re in the nursery and I love them.

The “You Are My Sunshine” canvas painting is made by my super-crafty mom. “You Are My Sunshine” was a favorite lullaby of my family growing up, and I love that it’s a tradition in my own little family now.

NurseryArt -

Also, a few years ago, long before Lars came along, Dave and I were at Disneyland with my family and found an awesome print inspired by It’s A Small World. I’ve always liked the ride and its aesthetic, and we both thought the print would be right at home in the nursery.

Lars is destined to become a nerd. A glorious, glorious nerd. And I hope his room will help remind him of that.


2 Responses to “This is how a word nerd and a map nerd decorate their kid’s nursery”

  1. Karen H. May 24, 2014 at 6:56 am #

    From the moment I heard his name I wanted to put “Professor” in front of it. As in: Professor Lars Arthur Munson was a nerd from babyhood.

    Dave’s creation of the Remember Where You Came From infographic is awesome. And much more meaningful because he built it from hand, so to speak.

    Your style manual and other decorations are spot on. Lars is a fortunate person.

  2. Van Woerkom, Heidi June 2, 2014 at 7:11 pm #

    Yes, he most definitely will be a nerd, but not too nerdy. ☺ Please NEVER introduce him to plastic pen protectors for his shirt pockets. Just sayin’. Fun post and I don’t think I saw the Small World print. Very fitting!
    Love, Aunt Heidi

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