By Melissa Norris
Some people are amazingly talented and creative. And most people cannot resist getting gifts for new babies. It is just too much fun to make or buy something special for the little cuties.
My husband and I just had our first child this summer, and as known fishing and hunting enthusiasts, our friends and family could not resist buying or making some of the cutest items we’ve seen for our little future fisher/hunter girl.
The very first gift we received for Maizie came from longtime family friend Sue Watson, who is a master crochet-artist. She handmade a matching sweater, pants and hat in camouflage! And to further impress she painted a remarkable Hunt Alaska logo on fabric that she attached to the hat, plus she painted a moose character on the pocket of the button-up sweater. The whole getup is absolutely adorable and totally Alaskan. Sue is exceptionally creative.
Another memorable gift came from my friend Thale Steenhoven, who lives part-time in Valdez. I fish with Thale during the Valdez Women’s Derby. She is one talented woman who loves to fish. Among her many crafts are quilting and she made an underwater sockeye salmon scene bib for Maizie using her quilting talents. It is unbelievable and so creative.
Our friend Anita Greve has known my husband for over 25 years. She came to meet baby Maizie and brought a gorgeous moose quilt that she bought from a local quilt-maker. It is so Alaskan and will make a centerpiece to Maizie’s room once she grows up and inevitably tells me, “Mommy, I want a pink room.”
All of these handcrafted gifts are phenomenal representation of the talents of people we are surrounded by, but perhaps you are not artistic or you simply don’t have the time to put into gifts like these. There are still some remarkably cute, Alaska-themed items you could purchase to make the birth of a loved one’s child memorable.
One of my favorite items for Alaska babies and toddlers is one I wanted to go out and buy for my daughter myself. I have been a fan of the Oomingmak business for years, the group of Native Alaskans that handcraft beautiful, warm, wearable items out of qiviut, musk ox fur. Talking with them I learned that they made hats for infants and toddlers. And because the fur stretches out with wear, your child will get a couple years’ worth of wear out of it. It is an heirloom-quality product that is so unique to Alaska. Check out www.qiviut.com.
Tuff Kids Outdoors has several items that are quintessentially Alaskan for babies and kids, products that are truly useful as well. They provide the waders we love to put on our offspring and offer functional items like the camo bunting owner Becky Schwanke sent for our little girl. You can order their products from www.tuffkidsoutdoors.com.
Perhaps you also might want to buy a pair of Baby Bogs, or an infant coat by The North Face or Patagonia. These are high-quality brands we have been testing for years that have the youngest outdoor enthusiasts in mind.
There are all kinds of cute items out there, such as the “I like Big Bucks and I cannot Lie” onesie my good friend Katie brought to Maizie’s baby shower. Or the moose toy she found at a local toy shop, or the pink camo blanket Uncle Marcus brought over on a recent visit. Whatever your preference, there are dozens of really special choices and ideas for gifts available to you for your amazing Alaska baby.
Melissa Norris is publisher of Fish Alaska and Hunt Alaska magazines.