Welcome, Maureen! A new contributor

Maureen and family

Maureen from Pipsticks

I’ve mentioned my wonderful (beautiful, smart, funny!) friend, Maureen Vasquez (I call her Mo) several times here before. For one, she is the founder of Pipsticks – a cool monthly sticker subscription service which I love. For two, she lived near me in London and we used to get the kids together for fun craft projects like this one. For three, her London house was SO amazing (see the house tour over on Design Mom) and I featured some photos from her baby’s nursery here, with that pretty rug hanging on the wall. Lastly, she came up with the cool superhero DIY costume we featured in the YouTube video last October. She is one super inspiring woman, a really fun mum (of four young kids!) and an incredibly thoughtful friend. I can’t think of anyone better to become a regular contributor here on this blog!

Once a month she’ll share a fun craft project with us, and knowing her, they’ll be both simple and inspiring ideas (she has a knack for coming up with cool ideas that make you think ‘how have I never thought of that before?!’). I’m so excited to see what she comes up with! Her first post will be up shortly and it’s a good one. Welcome, Mo!

p.s. Mo and her family left London last summer and moved to the charming town of San Louis Obispo, California. They’re trying out the sunny California lifestyle and it sure looks good on them.  Thus, she’ll be known here as ‘Maureen in California’ to avoid confusion with the also fabulous ‘Mo in London’. : )

Thursday Thoughts: Do you share a toothbrush?

Ivy brushing her teeth

Over the past few months of travelling our family has adapted to a pared down lifestyle. Camping, in particular, has encouraged us to take simplifying to a whole new level. A few examples: we often all share the same water glass throughout the day to save washing up, we share baths/showers, we even share towels (keeping two on rotation for all six of us), and we’ll re-wear soiled clothes to avoid the laundry pile from growing too quickly. Not that any of us were overly fussy before this trip started, but we’ve definitely become more relaxed on the road (I actually don’t remember what it’s like to have clothes that smell clean!!).

It’s a good thing I grew up on a farm and don’t mind a bit of grit. We’ve tried to bring our kids up this way too, encouraging them to explore and play and not worry too much about dirt or germs.  But I can’t help thinking about our friends and families who prefer a more ‘hygienic’ lifestyle. What would they think if they saw (or smelled!) us now?!

And now for a confession: we even share a toothbrush! We have one electric toothbrush with us (with one head), which we all share.

I never gave it a second thought until I was tidying up the van earlier this week and it occurred to me that some people would find this to be absolutely disgusting. Michael has a brother who won’t even share toothpaste out of fear that someone else’s toothbrush may have touched the paste. Imagine how cringe-worthy he would find our toothbrush sharing! : )

I guess I’ve always been quite relaxed about this. When I was little, my siblings and I would use my mom’s toothbrush if we went on holidays and forgot to bring our own. In fact, I still use my mom’s toothbrush when I’m visiting her and don’t have mine handy. She’s just my mum, after all. In London the kids had their own toothbrushes (or colour-coded heads for the electric toothbrush), but during our travels it just doesn’t make sense to carry around so many different brushes. And none of us seem bothered to share.

So… where do you stand? Is it disgusting? Absolutely revolting? Or would you (do you?) do the same? Please share!

Courtney x

A fun family word game

words in hat

writing words 2

writing words

choosing words

playing letter game

When we were in Chile in December, we coincidentally (and luckily!) bumped into another travelling family whom I have been following on Instagram for the past year. This family of four (@ouropenroad) have been travelling around South America in their westy van for the past three years (what an adventure!), and happened to be passing through our little surfing village on their way up to Santiago. We spent three wonderful days with Adam, Emily and their two girls – sunny days on the beach followed by dinners back at our little cabin. After dinner one night, they taught us a really fun charades-type of game, which we played until late that night and which has since become a family favourite over the past couple of months.

We played nearly every evening when my sister was with us over Christmas – with daily requests from the kids to play the ‘letter game’, as it’s been coined in our family, and we’ve spent many rainy afternoons inside our camper van playing over the past couple weeks. We’ve played it so many times, that we’ve now covered off every letter in the alphabet, and we’re starting again encouraging the kids to come up with new words.

The game is great fun for adults and reading-age children alike, and it’s educational too – our kids have learned so many new words which have since become regular words in their vocabulary. It’s also great for travel as you don’t need anything but some paper and pens – and a bowl (or a hat!) to hold your words. You also need an even number of people with a minimum of four (breaking off into teams of two).

Here’s how to play:  (more…)

My favourite sunsreen — Aesop’s Protective Body Lotion SPF50

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I have applied sunscreen every day for the past five months. It’s become a normal part of my morning routine: brush teeth, wash face, apply sunscreen. The sun is so harsh here in New Zealand that sunscreen is necessary even on cloudy days! I picked up this Aesop protective body lotion last summer before leaving London and it’s one of my favourite beauty discoveries. I love the smell of it and love that it’s lightweight, non-greasy and easy to apply. Even my husband has started using my pump, preferring it to anything else we have. I’m going to need to pick up a new bottle when we’re in Australia next month — where Aesop was created!

Courtney x

Thursday thoughts: are some kids naturally more naughty than others?

cheeky marlow

My sister recently just spent a couple weeks with us here in New Zealand and toward the end of her stay, she looked at me and asked ‘do you think Marlow is more naughty because she was born that way, or do you think it’s because she’s the youngest and she’s been allowed to be?’. It’s an interesting question and one which I couldn’t actually answer.

I’ve always thought Marlow was just born with extra cheek and a bit of a naughty streak. Not really naughty in a bad way, but more of a cleverness and curiosity that can sometimes lead to trouble. She seems to have more of this curiosity than the other children have ever had. After all, none of the other kids ever had a problem with drawing on walls, climbing onto kitchen counters, cutting their own hair, escaping from her car seat in the car, etc. In fact, when Marlow cut the entire left side of her hair off last year and came walking into the room as if nothing had happened, all three of the other kids were so upset, they were crying hysterically. They couldn’t believe she would go that far.

So, while I’ve always felt like this is just the way Marlow is, my sister raised a good point. Could it also be that we’ve fostered this personality? Being the youngest of four children, she naturally has different parents than our eldest children had at her age. We are more distracted with the other kids so there are more opportunities to sneak under the radar and to get into trouble without us catching her. Maybe we’ve also become a bit relaxed with our discipline over the years and are more forgiving of her behavior. Another element I’ve noticed is that even when I do discipline her, she often turns to her older siblings for love and support, and mama becomes the ‘bad guy’ (receiving disappointing looks from all the children). I mentioned she is clever – she knows exactly how to play the ‘baby of the family’ card. : )

Could it then be a youngest child thing? Perhaps it is in our family, but I know it’s not the case in others. I’ve had many conversations with friends who tell me their ‘naughty’ child is their middle child, or even their eldest. So the birth order argument doesn’t always hold true. (On a side note – I find the study of birth order and children’s personalities SO fascinating! I even took a class on it in college. ) Maybe it goes back to my initial thought that some children are just born with a bit of extra cheek…

I would love to hear your thoughts. It’s an interesting nature versus nurture debate. Do you happen to have one child more mischievous than the others? If so, which number child is he or she?

The photo above was taken this summer by Sara Welch who happened to capture my children’s personalities perfectly. 

Our secret to road trip survival: David Walliams’ audio books!

car journeys
David Walliams audio books

We’ve been doing A LOT of driving over the past five months, something that might seem seriously unappealing to most parents, especially with a carload of restless children, but which we’ve found to be quite fun and exciting. The secret lies in David Walliams and his hilarious audio books. The kids actually look forward to long car drives, and Michael and I find it really relaxing to hop in the car, explore new territory, have a car full of quiet children (!!) and be entertained along the way.

David Walliams narrates all his books himself, using hilarious accents and comedic delivery. The stories, while often funny and sometimes even outrageous, are also endearing and warm. The children’s favourites so far have been Awful Auntie, Billionaire Boy, and Gangster Granny, but it was difficult for them to choose favourites as they have loved them all. Walliams has just come out with his newest book, Grandpa’s Great Escape, and we’re all looking forward to our next road trip to hear it.

We use the Audible app on our phone to download the audio books and it’s been super handy. We alternate David Walliams’ books with more serious stories, just so the kids don’t come to think that all books are hilarious and whacky. (Some of the more serious books we’ve heard this year have been ‘The Secret Garden’, ‘The Call of the Wild’, ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ and the stories in the C.S. Lewis ‘Chronicles of Narnia’ series.

Courtney x

Mark your calendars – the ShopUp is coming to Los Angeles!!

ShopUp Los Angeles

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Lombardi House

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We couldn’t be more excited about this announcement. After successful events in both London and NYC, we’re thrilled to bring the ShopUp to Los Angeles! The event will take place this spring on April 10th and 11th in Hollywood. We’ve secured the prettiest, most perfect venue, Lombardi House (see photos above!), we’re working with our wonderful event manager, Miraya Berke from Pop Productions, and we’ve already lined up a wonderful selection of shops so far! It’s going to be so, so good. Babyccino is going to Hollywood (we’ve always wanted to say that! haha)!

So far we’ve lined up gorgeous brands like Mabo Kids (adorable clothing!), LuluLuvs (handmade accessories!), Pipsticks (stickers galore!), Natti Natti (beautiful bedding), Papergirl (illustrated clothing & decor) Starling (beautiful, intricate jewellery) and cool LA-based clothing brand, Frankie & Ava. We’ll also have the brilliant Brimful shop as well as Toronto-based boutique Mini Mioche — and Little Lu, with the cutest organic hair accessories. We still have room for more of our wonderful shops, so please get in touch if you would like to join us.

We’re also looking for press partners, collaborations and sponsors at this stage, so please reach out if you’re interested in working together. We’ve got lots of great ideas up our sleeves.

Mark your diaries for Los Angeles. We can’t wait to see you there!

Courtney x

Banner image at the top was created by the lovely Alex Labriola from Al Stampa. Thank you, Alex! 

Casa Zinc at i-escape

casa zinc reception room

I’m so behind on posting about our travels (I’m blaming slow wifi — it’s been the one major headache of our travels!).  I have so much I want to share with you from the past couple months, starting with Casa Zinc, a wonderful little boutique hotel in Uruguay that we loved so, so much.

We discovered Casa Zinc on the i-escape site last spring when we were doing research on where to stay in South America. While we knew we would mostly be renting homes, not hotels, there was something about Casa Zinc that really appealed to us, and we figured it would be nice to stay in a hotel for our first few days in Uruguay to get acquainted with the area. We’re so glad we did! Staying in Casa Zinc and becoming friends with the super charming owner, Aaron Hojman, paved the way for a memorable month in Uruguay. It was thanks to Aaron that we received many great recommendations, met so many interesting people, made wonderful friends, and had some of our favourite experiences in South America.

But let me tell you more about this special place…

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casa zinc school room

Aaron, an antique collector and design guru, built this hotel just seven years ago (only seven!) using vintage and reclaimed materials. Everything from the floorboards to the bathroom taps! The result is a cosy, charming hotel that looks and feels like it’s been there forever. (Even the giant olive tree in the courtyard was trucked in on a lorry to feature prominently in that pretty space.)

We stayed in two connecting rooms, a standard room for Michael and me (and Marlow), and the ‘back to school’ room with three single beds for the other kids. It was perfect. The kids loved the big chalkboard and maps on the walls in their room.

Casa Zinc dining room
Casa Zinc courtyard
Casa Zinc bocce ball

After a delicious breakfast in the dining room each morning, we did homeschooling in the charming courtyard for a few hours before hitting the beach. In the evenings, we would return to the hotel to play bocce ball (often with Aaron’s son Milos) before going out for dinner in one of the local restaurants. We loved the relaxed atmosphere and the cosy interiors. It truly made us feel right at home and welcomed in beautiful Uruguay.

Uruguay is such a gem of a country, like a hidden secret sandwiched in between its much bigger neighbours, Brazil and Argentina, which often receive more hype. It’s safe, it’s beautiful, the people are extremely warm and friendly, and there are so many charming beach towns along the coast, all within easy driving distance. We loved it so much and definitely recommend visiting if you get the chance. You can read more about Casa Zinc and view availability on the i-escape site.

Courtney x

Moulin Roty rag doll

Marlow opening presents

Marlow and doll

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My sister flew to New Zealand to meet us for Christmas, arriving late on Christmas eve after the kids had already gone to bed.  The children woke extra early on Christmas morning because of the excitement of seeing her and were even more excited to see that she had brought them each a small present. Lucky kiddos.

Meaghan gave Marlow this soft rag doll from Moulin Roty, and it’s so, so cute. I love the pairing of the pretty fabrics of the dress and the bloomers, and the little knitted bonnet is so sweet. I also love that it’s cosy to sleep with and squishes up into a suitcase or backpack – perfect for travel.

I know the gift-giving season is over, but this is a good one to bookmark for upcoming birthdays or other occasions. There’s a similar version of the doll at Cottage Toys as well, equally cute. And a boy doll as well!

Courtney x

December giveaways!

We hope you’ve all had a wonderful, restful holiday week. We’ve been enjoying some treasured time with our families this week, and some rare (and much needed) time off our computers. We hope you have too! Before it’s too late, we quickly wanted to remind you about the giveaways for December. Santa may have come and gone, but these lovely prizes make perfect presents any time.

Storytime mag

Storytime is a wonderful magazine for kids with fabulous stories, gorgeous illustrations, puzzles and games. (Oh, and their subscriptions make a great last-minute present idea too!) They’ve put together a bumper festive pack of story goodies worth over £100 to give away to one lucky winner!

Lexypexy

LexyPexy is giving away £50 vouchers for their site to two lucky winners! Take your pick from their stylish, fun, eco-friendly, USA-made teethers and toys.

Bryony and co

Bryony and Co. is giving away a complete outfit to one very lucky winner! You can win a full-skirted Martha red check dress, a classic navy lurex cardigan and a red check hair bow! How perfect for the season!

Sapling

Sapling make luxuriously soft organic cotton babywear featuring exclusive designs. They’re making one mama or papa very happy with £100 worth of store credit this month!

You can see all the prizes here and entering is super easy. Good luck!

Llamas!

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My friend Lisa just sent me a link to Larry the Llama at Land of Nod with a note telling me it reminded her of the fluffy llamas we recently saw in Santa Cruz, Chile. Yes!! It’s so true! How cute is Larry?! The perfect little ride-on toy/decór object! It makes me wish I had children’s bedrooms to decorate right now.

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Speaking of llamas, there is also this cute wooden llama rattle from Brimful shop…

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This organic cotton shirt with llama print from Waddler

Waddler llama blouse

…and this buttoned vest from HBB Industria Argentina!

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Thank you, Lisa, for inspiring a bit of late-night random web searching for llamas! : ) (And woohoo for finally having wifi again after three weeks without it!) Happy almost Christmas everyone.

Courtney xx

Alfajores!

alfajores with lime

It’s difficult to think of a time when we didn’t know what an ‘alfajor’ was… but the truth is that we’ve only just discovered these delicious treats since arriving to Uruguay 6 weeks ago. They are now our most favourite cookies ever! Alfajores are a very common Latin American cookie, most common in Argentina and Uruguay (with Argentina being the biggest consumer according to Wikipedia).

When we were in Uruguay last month, we were lucky to have our Argentinian friend (and lover and baker of alfajores), Delfina from Fanny & Alexander, show us how to make them. We spent a wonderful afternoon making two different types of alfajores. By the end of the cooking session, the kids had managed to mix up the two different doughs and the result was a marbled alfajore, our very own Adamo version. : )

The kids had so much fun making them that they declared it the ‘best day ever’. If you know her, you’ll know that Delfina has this affect on children.

Delfina has very kindly shared her recipes – both for the cream-coloured ‘Alfajores de Maicena’ with grated lime as well as the chocolate alfajores in chocolate coating. Both are delicious!!

Below are the recipes…
dipping alfajores into coconut

squeezing dulce de leche on alfajores

Marlow making alfajores

Alfajores de Maicena / Cornstarch Alfajores sprinkled with lime zest
-70 grams of butter
-1 cup sugar
-3 egg yolks
-1 lemon (zest)
-1 cup of cornstarch
-1 cup wheat flour
-10 grams of baking powder (roughly 2 teaspoons)
-250 grams of Dulce de Leche
-25 grams of shredded coconut
-1 lime (or above lemon) grated for zest on top

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour the tray.
Using an electric mixer beat the butter and the sugar until it is light and fluffy. Add the 3 yolks, and the lemon zest of half a lemon. In a separate bowl whisk together flour, baking powder and the cornstarch.
Add dry elements in the first bowl (with the sugar and the yolks) and combine ingredients using your hands until becomes a dough.
On a floured surface, roll dough to 0.5 cm thick. Cut into small circles, keeping in mind they are going to be the final size of the alfajor. Bake them for a few minutes (5-10) until cooked. Spread dulce de leche on cooked dough and create a sandwich.
Finally, rotate the edges of the alfajor in shredded coconut.
Ass a garnish you night want to add lemon or lime zest on the top of the alfajor, the zest also serves to offset the sweetness of the dulce de leche.
Tip: if the dough is too dry add more egg yolk not water, the water makes the alfajores harder.
The alfajores always taste better a few days old rather than fresh.

alfajor dough

dipping alfajores into chocolate

Alfajores de Chocolate
-1 cup of cornstarch
-1/2 cup wheat flour
-70 grams of butter
-3 Egg yolk
-1 cup sugar
-½ cup cocoa powder
-250 grams of Dulce de Leche
-25 grams of dried coconut
-10 grams of baking powder (roughly 2 teaspoons)
-1 orange zest
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour the tray.
Using an electric mixer beat the butter and the sugar until it is light and fluffy. Add the 3 yolks, and the orange zest of half a lemon. In a separate bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, cocoa powder and the cornstarch.
Add dry elements in the first bowl (with the sugar and the yolks) and combine ingredients using your hands until becomes a dough. On a floured surface, roll dough to 0.5 cm thick. Cut into small circles, keeping in mind they are going to be the final size of the alfajor. Bake them for a few minutes until cooked. Spread dulce de leche on cooked dough and create a sandwich. Finally, dip into chocolate sauce:

Chocolate coating
-1 bar of Chocolate
-25 gr of butter

Melt chocolate in a bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Add butter mixed until combined.
When the chocolate is liquid set aside and quickly soak the alfajor entirely. To settle place the chocolate soaked alfajor on a cooling rack. And enjoy! Alfajores are rare in that they only get better (softer!) the older they are, so they’re best to eat 2-3 days after making…. if they last that long! ; )

Olivier Baby and Kids, at the ShopUp this week!

Olivier Baby cashmere romper

cashmere pom-pom hats

cashmere bonnets

Olivier Baby and Kids is one of my favourite places to find cosy cashmere products for the kids. Last winter Marlow lived in her little bonnet and all the kids had one of their snoods, each a different colour to keep things easy when bundling up before leaving the house. This year they’ve added hand-knitted pom-pom hats (with ties!) to their collection and they’re so great! I love all the colour combinations.

In addition to cashmere, they also have pretty Liberty-print blouses and shirts. How cute are the floral blouses layered under the cashmere rompers (pictured above)?! So, so sweet!

Look out for Olivier Baby & Kids who are joining us at this year’s ShopUp event, taking place this week (Thursday and Friday) in London at the Chelsea Town Hall.

MamaOwl — a one-stop shop for merino wool and beautiful knitwear

MamaOwl knitwear

It seems like so many of our blog posts in the past few weeks have been focused on cosy knitwear!! Tis the season, I guess… and it’s a beautiful one! In addition to a roaring fire and lots of hot chocolate, beautiful, thick, cosy knitwear is one of my favourite things about the winter season. (Seeing these photos makes me miss it. Never thought I would say that!!!)

MamaOwl is the perfect one-stop shop for gorgeous knits and merino wool pieces from a selection of our favourite knitwear brands. They stock everything from chunky jumpers to hats, scarves and mittens. And slippers! And coats! And all-in-one suits for babies! And even merino wool long underwear.

MamaOwl will be back again at this year’s ShopUp event next week on the 10th and 11th. The perfect opportunity to stock up on everything you’ll need to keep your little ones warm and toasty this season.

Courtney x

Family-friendly hotels at i-escape: exclusive discounts on offer!

Bartholomeus Klip

Le Jardin des Douars (2)

lloyd hotel

Le Jardin des Douars

Aleenta Phuket

Unguja Lodge

The Rosevine

The team at i-escape recently reached out to share an exciting promotion they’re running on a selection of their favourite family-friendly properties in their Kids Collection. They’ve teamed up with Family Traveller magazine to offer exclusive discounts on 36 of their properties, including stylish apartments, boutique B&Bs, family-oriented safari lodges and far-flung beach retreats. We are thrilled to share with you!

We always love browsing the selection of holiday destinations on the i-escape site — it’s like looking through a stylish travel magazine to find inspiration for a future holiday — and of course it’s even better when discounts are involved! : )

What I love about i-escape is that they personally visit each of their hotels and offer descriptions in refreshingly honest detail – with lots of photos and personal tips about which rooms to book, how to get there, and lots of information on which age ranges suit each property, etc. You know exactly what to expect from each of their hotels.

The discounts are valid as long as you book by the 31st of December, and you can view the full list of properties and discounts here. Happy browsing!

xx

This post was sponsored by i-escape, a company we have personally used for many years and one which we are so happy to support here. 

Tuesday Tips: 5 things we’ve learned about parenting

Esther and family

Esther and I have both recently been asked to share five things we’ve learned about parenting over on the Wear&Where site. What a great series! I read Esther’s answers from last week and thought her tips were so good that we should share them here as well. Spoken like the super experienced mama of four that she is:

  • Take care of yourself and your relationship: Becoming parents is a big change and a big challenge. It’s easy for us, mothers, to focus entirely on our family and to forget to take good care of ourselves as well. But our own wellbeing is just as important as that of our children and partner! A mother that feels good about herself is a happier mama and a sexier partner.
  • A change of scene can mean a change of spirits. When things are not going very smoothly, consider a change of scene. It can be as simple as putting everybody’s wellies on and splash puddles in the park for half an hour. Dinner can wait.
  • Step back and reflect. In the bigger scheme of things, hugely important parenting decisions like ‘which organic nappy brand is the absolute best for my baby’ are maybe not as important as they appear to us, over-worrying and over-achieving parents. Sometimes it’s good to take a step back, and reflect.
  • Take things with a grain of salt. No-one is perfect. Don’t be fooled by what you see, or what you think you should be!
  • You don’t have to do it all! Kids generally love doing what you’re doing, so if you do something you love, your kids will love doing that with you. (For example, spending hours on the playground is not my biggest hobby, but I love cooking and crafting, and my kids love to cook and craft with me. It’s a way to spend time together we all enjoy.)

 

And I thought I would share my answers as well:

  • Everyone does it a little bit differently, and that’s okay. One of my closest friends, also a mother of four, just sleep-trained her 6-week-old baby to sleep through the night. My first instinct was to judge her as one of those crazy, straight-laced mothers with a tight schedule, but then I reminded myself that it works for her and that her children are all happy and healthy. My babies all slept in our bed and nursed on demand for the first six months of their lives, and I’m sure she would think I’m a crazy, hippie mother with no routine! What works for one family might not work for the other, and that’s okay.
  • Take the parenting books with a grain of salt. There is so much advice and so many books targeted at new mothers, and it can all seem overwhelming and confusing. I think we often forget to listen to our gut and trust that we can make the right decisions for our family. Sometimes the best thing I can do is to slow down, tune in and listen, really listen to my children to truly understand their needs.
  • Kids don’t have to be bathed every day – they’ll survive without being squeaky clean! I’ve become way more relaxed about baths over the years, and I’ve realised that my kids are just as healthy and happy as before, even if they’re only bathed twice a week.
  • Despite coming from the same mould and being raised the same way, each of my children is unique and individual. I’m constantly surprised by how different my children are from one another and even how different they can be from me. They are little individuals with their own ways of doing things, and I really find it fascinating to observe this nature versus nurture phenomenon and encourage them to be their own individual selves (no comparisons).
  • It’s addictive! I love having babies; I loved being pregnant (apart from the first few months), I even loved giving birth, and I especially loved those first few months of sleepy newborn magic. I’ve now gotten to a point where our baby is two and we are pretty sure we won’t have any more babies, and yet I still don’t want to close that baby chapter. I guess I always assumed it would be an easy decision to reach, that I would just feel finished. I had no idea it would be so difficult!

Now it’s your turn! Please share what you’ve learned about parenting. We would love to hear.

Courtney xx

Image of Esther and her family is by Katrina Campbell

Babaà jumpers keeping us cosy in Uruguay

Quin and Ivy

quin and ivy in Jose Ignacio

Fanny & Alexander video camera

Quin in Babaa jumper in Jose Ignacio

After spending the month of October in warm, tropical Brazil (where I questioned having sacrificed space in our suitcases to pack thick, wooly jumpers), we travelled south to spend the month of November in Uruguay where the weather is much cooler and we are so thankful we made room for those jumpers! It’s late spring here — the weather is still unreliable and if you’re not in the direct sunshine it can be quite chilly. Jumpers in constant use.

Because I knew we’d be in mostly warm places this year, I packed just one jumper for each of the kids (plus a hoodie for the boys and a cardigan for the girls).  Of course I packed jumpers from Babaà — they’re my absolute favourite! And not just my favourite, but really the children’s favourites as well. We particularly love the softer wool blend jumpers made with wool, alpaca and extra fine merino. They are super soft, chunky and just perfect. Not to mention, so well made that they last for year and years and years…! (Quin had a dark grey jumper which he wore nearly every single day for two years!! They joked at school that he and that jumper were inseparable. He finally outgrew it, and this blue one was the replacement.)

This year, Babaà came out with a wool dress for girls, made with the same cosy alpaca wool blend. I got them for my girls and they’ve worn them loads already (we just put them on over their summery dresses when they get chilly in the evenings! sometimes even over their bathing suit when they’re cold from a swim!).

Babaà will have a stand (for the third year in a row) at our ShopUp event in London in a couple weeks. It’s the perfect opportunity to see and feel her collection in person.

Courtney xx

p.s. In the photos above, the kids were playing with their wooden cameras from Fanny & Alexander, a gift from the designer, Delfina, who is also staying in Uruguay this month (just down the street!).  Both Marta (from Babaà) and Delfina are two women who I deeply admire, both professionally and personally, and I am so happy I was able to feature them both together like this. x

Win a Set of Iconic Petit Bateau Outfits!

PetitBateau3

PetitBateau2

I have always loved seeing my kids absorbed in an intricate game of their own making. There is something so special and touching about the imaginary worlds that children are able to create in their own heads, and encouraging creativity and imagination is one of the best ways to nurture our children.  (I recently watched my two boys pretending to be dinosaurs in the front yard, so absorbed in their role play they didn’t even notice me nearby. Long may this imaginative play last between those two!!)

One of our favourite brands Petit Bateau are celebrating the wonder of children’s imaginations and inventive natures in a beautiful new film, The Mini Factory which you can watch here.

Machine-bobines

The film is a colourful, nostalgic journey of childhood creativity. The kids and I watched this on repeat several times and giggled along with the joyful robotics and t-shirts doing the hula (and the rubber gloves for the cow’s udder! brilliant!).

The film features a secret factory and a young factory controller (Max) who stretches and splatters, tugs and tests clothes to their limits while his little sister Louise and dog Scratch stand guard outside.

Cheval-Bascule-600

PetitBateau1

Clothes take on a life of their own, trousers dance to the beat of remote-controlled cars and a steam engine pours chocolate over a conveyer belt packed with undergarments. It is a joyful, whimsical salute to Petit Bateau’s own factory in Troyes, France, where each item they create is the fruit of a lasting commitment to fantasy and quality.

Enfant-porte-chien-OK-600

But what happens next? Petit Bateau would love you to come up with your very own version to end the story. If you can help write the next chapter to the film, you could win a set of iconic Petit Bateau outfits, including their trusty mariniere and weatherproof raincoats!

Here at Babyccino, we have donned our thinking caps and imagined our own ending to Max, Louise and Scratch’s adventures: in our heads, we see Max, Louise and Scratch returning to the factory for a second time, constructing their own tent out of striped sweaters, cotton t-shirts and sturdy nightwear. Once constructed and tested to its fullest in the factory, the three intrepid inventors set out for a night beneath the stars!

Indulge your creativity over on Petit Bateau’s Instagram by entering here. The contest ends on Monday the 30th of November 2015 and entries must be no longer than five sentences.

Good luck everyone!

xx

The post has been sponsored by Petit Bateau, a brand we have loved for as long as we can remember. We were thrilled to be asked to help promote this beautiful new film. 

Journalling

boys journals

 

Kids journaling

We gave the kids journals for their birthdays last spring in anticipation of our big journey ahead. I had hoped they would write in them regularly (daily even!) to document the things they see and do each day. The kids were enthusiastic about the idea and they excitedly packed them into their backpacks at the start of our trip.

But… when the time came to write their first journal entry, all three kids stared up at us with a blank stare, followed by questions and complaints: what should I write? I don’t know what to write about!  How much do I have to write?

We suggested they write about their day and all the things they saw and learned. And yet, they still sat there looking down at a blank sheet of paper. We soon realised that perhaps it would be easier for them if we asked a few specific questions for them to answer, and this method has worked really well over the past couple months. We start each day with the date, place and weather. We then ask 3 to 4 specific questions (tailored for each child).

Easton's journal 2

Quin's journal

Ivy's journal

Ivy journal entry1

Here’s a list of some of the questions we generally ask:

  • What did you do yesterday?
  • What new words did you learn?
  • What new foods did you try?
  • What was the most interesting thing you saw?
  • What was the most fun?
  • What was the highlight of your day?
  • How did it make you feel?

We then ask them to draw something they saw, ate or did. I’m loving their drawings just as much as what they choose to write – it’s such a fun visual way to capture a memory. It is already so much fun to look back at all their journal entries from the past couple months and I’m so excited for all the pages yet to be filled! It’s going to be such a special thing for them to keep and look back on for the rest of their lives.

Courtney xx

p.s. I picked up the boys’ journals (featured in the first photo) from Elias & Grace in London — they’re from a brand called Roger la Borde.

A few days in Rio de Janeiro

grafitti in rio

chilli peppers at market

escadaria selaron

Feria

corcovado train

cristo redentor statue

fruit stand

ipanema beach

Ipanema Penthouse

Ipanema penthouse2

Last spring when we sat down to plan our year of travel we decided to favour small towns over cities and to spend about three weeks in each destination. We thought this would keep the pace a bit slower and allow us to really get to know each place beyond the usual touristy way. One thing we couldn’t manage to avoid, however, was flying into cities or brief stays in between available flights. So when the option came up to stay in Rio for a few days before flying down to Uruguay, we took it, and we’re so happy we did.

Rio is one of the most stunning cities I’ve ever seen. Verdant green mountains jut out of tropical blue seas in every direction and skyscrapers meet lush rain forests beyond them. Rio may have its share of big city problems, but beauty is not one of them. I’m so glad the kids got to experience it too, especially after seeing shots of Rio during last year’s World Cup, and also knowing it will be the host city for next summer’s Olympic games.

We stayed three days and managed to squeeze in many highlights. Here is a recap from our time with the Cariocas.

TO STAY:

  • We were invited by i-escape to test out their Ipanema Penthouse and report back on the property as well as kid-friendly things to do in the area — a task I was excited to accept. The apartment was really spacious, in a nice building and in a perfect location, just blocks from the beach and metro. I would not, however, recommend it for families with young children. The roof terrace has some worrisome hazards and the décor is more adult than family. If you are traveling with kids there are many other Rio properties on the i-escape site and I always appreciate their stylish selection and honest assessments of their properties.

TO DO:

  • Take the Corcovado Train up to see the famous Cristo Redentor statue. You can see the statue from all sorts of different angles around the city (we first spotted it from the airplane and you should have seen how excited the kids were!), but to see it up close is really breathtaking. And the train ride up through lush tropical trees is fun for the kids too.
  • We signed up for a walking food tour with Eat Rio, and it was the highlight of our visit. We spent the day walking around Rio’s centre, trying new foods and juices (Suco de Cupuaçú!), perusing the food markets and dropping into some its most traditional restaurants. We ate crazy fruits we’ve never heard of before (one took a hammer to open), we ate a traditional Amazonian soup called Tacacá, and finished off with a big meal of ‘Carne seca com abobora e feijão de corda’. We can’t recommend this enough for food lovers.
  • We took a taxi over to the Lapa neighbourhood to start our food tour, and the Escadaria Selarón was one of the first sites we visited on the tour. We loved hearing the story of the Chilean artist, Jorge Selarón, and how he covered the 250 stairs in colourful tiles collected from more than 60 countries. It was such a site to see!
  • We also loved seeing all the street art and graffiti in the Lapa neighbourhood. It was nice to have our food tour guide food explain the background on some of the graffiti artists and their work.
  • On Sundays, there is an amazing ‘Feira Hippie‘ (or hippie market) just one block from the apartment. There were so many great stalls and handmade products. (We bought lots of bracelets for the kids and for their friends back in London.)
  • The beach! We never had a perfectly sunny day, but we still made sure to experience the famous Rio beaches with all the action and bikini-clad Brazilians (the kids still talk about the shots of the crowded beaches they saw during the World Cup last year and it was fun to experience it in person).

TO EAT:

  • Juice bars! There are many different juice bars scattered around the city offering delicious juices from a choice of tropical fruits (many fruits we had never even heard of before). Did you know you can drink cacao juice? It’s made from the white pulp surrounding the individual cocoa beans inside the cacao pod. So cool!
  • We ate breakfast at Cafeína, a charming cafe with delicious breakfast treats and coffee.
  • On our second day we ate breakfast at Terzetto Café, which was just one block from our apartment and served good food with lots of Brazilian specialities.
  • We ate feijoada on Sunday at Bar do Beto, which was super family-friendly. We aren’t feijoada experts, but we thought the food was good and the staff was super nice.
  • Our kids were tired in the evenings after exploring the city, so one night we ordered sushi to be delivered to our apartment. Locals had recommended the iFood app for food delivery, and it worked perfectly! Sushi is very popular in Brazil, due to the large Japanese Brazilian population (we were told that Brazil has the largest Japanese population outside of Japan!).

 

Because of rainy weather, we didn’t get to do everything we had hoped to do, but it was still a jam-packed few days. Please feel free to leave additional tips and recommendations in the comments section below. It’s always helpful for people who are looking for inspiration for future travels. Thank you!
Courtney xx

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