Heartcatcher DIY

Heartcatcher

As soon as the new year has come and gone, I start to get really excited for Valentine’s Day. It’s funny: I appreciate V-Day much more now that I’m married with four kids than I ever did when it was all about romance. Hot dates and jewelry be damned, I’ll take a good excuse to use hot pink paint and eat conversation hearts with my kids (Nathan, don’t misinterpret: I’ll always love a LITTLE something on the 14th!).

We made these over the weekend, when I needed a craft that I could break up and we could do around meals, nap times, etc. Though the older monkeys are at an age where they can really get into a project, I’m still limited to about 20 minutes at a time before they ask what’s next (and I am the one left immersed and interested with the baby neglected and chewing on a marker at my feet).

heartcatcher

These heartcatchers (I totally just coined that word) make great decorations around the house, over a door knob, or as a little V-Day trinket for teachers and the loves in your life.

heart

MATERIALS:
Watercolor paper
Watercolors + brush
Stapler
Scissors
Glue
Yarn/ String
Beads, feathers (or anything that’s fun to hang)

heartcatcher

heartcatcher

1. Paint! I like water colors for this project, because they dry quickly and you can make lots of fun effects using a limited color palette. Also, it’s hard for kids to mess up watercolors: they always look great. Let the watercolor dry completely (this can be expedited with a hairdryer if you want to speed things up).

2. Cut the paper into 1” strips vertically. Kids can do this too – it’s ok if they’re not perfect.

3.Fold the strips in half, with the painted side in

heartcatcher

4. Make a hanger out of a piece of yarn by tying a knot in the ends of a 5-6” length. Use another length to string beads, feathers, etc. Secure them to the string with a dab of glue. Glue an I love you circle above the decorations.

5. Fold the knot of the hanger into the center of a strip and staple it to secure.

6. Pull the loose ends of the V around to meet at the bottom and match the crease of another paper strip to the bottom where they meet. Staple.

7. Pull the loose ends around again and secure the yarn above the circle where they meet at the bottom. Staple. Trim the yarn and add a dab of glue at the point of the heart over the yarn so it doesn’t come out.

heartcatcher

8. Hang anywhere, or give away to make someone’s heart beat a bit faster.

heartcatcher
We used sea salt to make our watercolors a bit crazier. If you sprinkle it on the color collects around the salt. Let it dry then brush it away for a mottled/ marbled effect. It’s tactile (and super cool according to Ella).

heartcatcher

heartcatcher

heartcatcher
Once her heartcatcher was adorned, she decided to work on a bracelet for herself. So predictable!

heartcatcher DIY

Mo x

Sweet and easy snowmen on our window

Snowmen craftOur children don’t have school on Wednesday afternoons, so I had all four of them at home last week. It was rainy and stormy outside, so we lit a fire and engaged ourselves with a little craft project. While my children were cutting out snowflakes, I took a quick look at Pinterest for inspiration and thought it would be fun to make some fun and friendly snowmen.

snowmen4 snowmen craft project snowmen craft projectFirst the children finger-painted the snowflakes with white gouache on black paper (Casper created a snowstorm!). Then they cut out a circle and a body from simple white paper (I traced the circle for the smaller children). From coloured paper they made a scarf and the orange carrot nose.

snowmen craft project snowmen1It was a quick and easy craft that all my children really enjoyed, independent of their age. They are all so proud of their snowman! We haven’t gotten any snow yet here in Northern Europe (a fact I suppose you can be thankful or sorry for) — but for now at least we have some cute snowmen on display on the window!

xxx Esther

Gingerbread Wonderland by Mima Sinclair

Ginger Bread WonderlandWe’ve had such a cosy winter holiday spending our days with the fire lit, reading books and baking in the kitchen. We’ve made our favourite chocolate brownies, delicious soups and even roasted chestnuts on the fire – delicious! We also made gingerbread (for the first time ever).

Helena was gifted Gingerbread Wonderland for her birthday and we really enjoyed looking through the ideas over the holidays. It wasn’t until we had a few restful days in the New Year that we decided to bake from it and we are addicted! We found the recipes to be quick and easy and there are even variations for dairy and gluten free.

gingerbread creationsIt was really difficult to choose what to make. Every idea is super sweet. Look at these mini houses. Wouldn’t they be perfect on the side of a hot cocoa and I adore the speculaas. I’m going to remember to make these next year for Dutch Sinterklaas.In the end, we decided to make the gingerbread garland but instead of making hearts and gingerbread men, we made stars so it could be used to celebrate New Year.

gingerbread garland on wallIt was so effective – almost too pretty to eat! Helena had a great idea that we could make the heart garland for Valentine’s Day. Who says gingerbread is only for Christmas? I think it’s a great idea…..

Gingerbread Wonderland is available from Amazon (US) and Amazon (UK).

Vanessa x

Sarah Glover and The Paper Creative

Sarah Glover notecardsSarah Glover of The Paper Creative is one seriously talented lady. Not only does she illustrate beautiful children’s books, she writes them, self publishes them and has even launched her own line of greeting cards and prints! Her designs are fun, bold and well, contagiously creative.

ABC of a CATOne of my favourite books of Sarah’s is The ABC of a C-A-T. A picture book totally dedicated to the life and times of cats incorporated into an alphabet book. So unique! I love the watercoloured illustrations and the fun phrases like ‘M is for meow’ and ‘P is for purr’. Florence loves reading along with me. It’s such fun making up the actions too!

L is for Lion

M is for MeiowAnother great book of Sarah’s is Grandad’s Tea. It’s a fun-loving story of a little girl’s time in her grandfather’s garden. It’s all about the make believe and together with Grandad Bert they have such a silly time!

Grandad's TeaSarah’s other work includes these super cute prints detailing the words of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star. I think it would make a gorgeous new baby gift. And I love her Winter Warmers print. It’s perfect for this time of year. Check out all of her prints and other delights on her etsy shop here.

Enjoy,

Vanessa x

Last-Minute Holiday DIY: Christmas Tree Ornament

Christmas Tree Ornament

December hasn’t been on my side too much this year. I came down with a really bad cold and my immune system has crashed completely. But I’m finally feeling better after a few long weeks and even though Christmas is behind us already (can you believe it?!) we just started with our December crafts. Holidays have only started and I wanted to squeeze in one last fun DIY before the new year. It’s such a darling one and done in a few minutes. I hope you like it.

1

Things you need:
Green fleece
Red fleece/felt
Small wooden beads
Nylon thread
Thick needle

First take the green fleece and cut a few (about 5-8) round pieces each different size. Now cut a star out of red fleece (I used the Magic Pen to draw one on first).

2

Tie a knot around one bead and leave a little thread, don’t cut it.

3

4

Thread a few more beads (about 5-7) on the top of the first bead and tuck in the excess thread. This is the trunk of the tree.

5

Now make a hole in the middle of each round green piece using a thick needle. Sometimes you need to do this step two or three times.

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Pass the thread through the hole and add one bead on the top.

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Repeat this step until you come to the last round piece.

9

Make two holes through the star and pass the thread through both of the holes.

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Voila! Now you only need to make a loop at the end, cut away the excess but leave a tiny bit of it and burn the end so it doesn’t untie.

That is it. So simple and so cute, aren’t they?

Ps. Wouldn’t they look great as a part of present decoration?

I wish you all amazing holidays and the most magical New Year!

-Polona

To read more from Polona, go to her cute blog Baby Jungle!

Bringing Autumn into the home

Autumn in ScotlandHaving lived overseas in places where the sun shines warmly every day (sigh) and there are only two seasons to live in, there were times when I really missed seeing the four seasons. Here in Scotland the seasonal changes seem so beautifully apparent. Perhaps it’s because the countryside is so breathtakingly stunning here or maybe it’s because we’re living closer to nature. We certainly enjoy the slower pace of life where we can watch the leaves change colour, where the light is golden and the air is crisp.

We’re loving autumn and I’ve noticed that the girls have really embraced the season here so I wanted to share with you some of the ways we’ve brought autumn into our home through the books we read, the food we bake and the crafts we’ve made from some of our forest foraging collections.

Nature's DayI discovered the book Nature’s Day at The ShopUp last year and was thrilled to see a book which captures the magic of the seasons so well. The intricate bright sketchings by Danielle Kroll and the gentle writing by Kay Maguire encourages children of all ages to enjoy nature everywhere. We’ve been enjoying cosy days reading this book together pointing to the mushrooms in the book which we spotted on our walks.

Nature's Day falling leaves

One Sunday we made a special cake and chose autumn fruits and edible flowers to decorate it. The smell of pumkpin, cinnamon and cloves drifted through the house and it was super delicious. The recipe was adapted from Amy-Beth Ellice’s spiced pumpkin bundt cake found here.

Autumn prettiness 1I love foraging with the girls and although it’s on a very simple level we manage to gather some pretty collections. One of my favourite books is The Wreath Recipe and it was there I found the inspiration to make a sweet woodland garland with the girls. It was so super simple to make; just with a needle and some thin twine we threaded through leaves, mushrooms and moss and hung it in our living room using washi tape. It was so effective and has lasted a while. With the rest of our findings I made a small bouqet for the fireplace.

Autumn in my flour potWith these small and quick crafts we brought autumn into our home and continue to enjoy those cosy slower days.

Vanessa xx

DIY: Weaving Loom Made from a Shoe Box!

Cardboard Weaving Loom

I wanted to get Tila a weaving kit for a while now but anytime I asked her she never seemed too interested. And then a Sunday came when she wanted to do nothing else but weave! And this is how this idea to make a loom from a shoe box lighted up in my head! I love when that happens. Sometimes (many times) I wish I could have a few weeks just to myself so I could do nothing else but craft – I have so many projects written down in one of my notebooks already that could easily make a crafting book or two. The only problem is time – it’s simply not cooperating with me.

Anyhow, back to the weaving loom DIY. These are the things you need:

  • shoe box (I used a small one from some old (baby) Talan’s shoes)
  • a piece of strong cardboard to make a needle
  • scissors
  • crafting knife
  • thin twine
  • and some wool to weave

Cardboard Weaving Loom

First you need to decide how wide you wish your final product to be and then mark that width on both edges of the box. In between those spaces mark an even number of the lines for the notches about 1 cm apart (or even more for younger kids) and about 1 cm deep (down the box).

Cut on those marks with crafting knife and remember to stop at the 1cm mark!

Now take the twine, tie a knot and thread it in the first lower left notch and carry the thread up to the upper left notch and thread though. Bring the twine back down and thread it through the second left notch and Continue this all the way across the loom and finish with a knot.

Cardboard Weaving Loom

Done with the loom! Now for the needle I simply drew one on a small piece of cardboard (about 5 cm long), cut it out , reinforced with a washi tape at the top and made a little hole to thread the wool through. But you should do a much longer and wider needle for kids under 5 (I recommend about 10 cm long and 2 cm wide) or use a popsicle stick and make a hole through with a thin nail.

Cardboard Weaving Loom

Now the fun part: cut about 1.5 m long piece of wool (or less for smaller kids), thread it through the needle and go: under the first string, over the second, under the third and so on. And remember to leave a little tail at the beginning and the end!
Now take another piece of wool and repeat the previous steps. Don’t go all the way up, leave a few centimetres so you can tie the twig together later.

Cardboard Weaving Loom

Cardboard Weaving Loom

At the end I just tied the loose ends (tails) into knots (although I think the more “professional approach would be weaving them through the back of the weaving a few times and trim the excess) and you can see what kind of knot I made for the first and the last one.

Cardboard Weaving Loom

If you wish to embellish the weaving with a fringe cut pieces of wool as long as you wish and tie them around the bottom loops – see the photo above!

Cardboard Weaving Loom

Now cut the upper threads (leave the bottom ones!) and tie warp threads two by two together. Take the bottom ones out of the notches – don’t cut those!

We also attached the weaving to a twig (another nice way to finally use a few we have lying around the house). In order to do that you need to cut a piece of twine (about a 50 cm long) and string it through the needle. Starting on one end, loop the needle through the top of the weaving and around the twig, wrapping the twig all the way until the end. Tie knots on both ends and cut the tails.

Cardboard Weaving Loom

Finally to make a hanger for the twig, simply cut a piece of twine about 40 cm long (or as long as you wish), tie ends together and fold it over both sides of the twig.

Tip: to prevent the box from sliding around the table, tape a few pieces of double-sided tape on the bottom of the box and paste it in place!

-Polona

To read more from Polona, go to her cute blog Baby Jungle!

Babyccino mama reads

The-Elegance-of-the-Hedgehog

I have to admit since having children my reading habit has really slowed down. I’m either too busy packing up the lunches for the next day, or as soon as my head hits the pillow I’m asleep! However, now that they are getting a bit older and my nights are less broken (Helena still needs very little sleep) I love sitting down with a good book and drinking cups of tea.

As much as I love asking other parent’s what they are reading with their children I equally love to know what they are reading themselves. So……. we’ve started a hashtag on IG called #babyccinomamareads where we’d love you to share what you are reading now.

I’m just about to start The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery. It has mixed reviews but I trust the friend who recommended it to me and I can’t wait to delve deeper into it! I’ll let you know what I think.

In the meantime, please share with us your current reads.

Vanessa xx

 

New video: What is in our Carry-on Bags

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Last month, when we all got together in New York for the ShopUp event, we filmed a little YouTube video. We all turned up from long-haul flights and were talking about what we like to take with us into the cabin to be as cozy as can be in a little seat for seven hours. We thought it would be fun to share all of our little tips with you!

Now the results are not very fancy, but we did have a lot of fun filming it. A big shout out goes to our friend Belinda who graciously gave up her Saturday night to wrangle and film 3 very giggly and jet-lagged girls!

Here are a couple of links to some of our favourite items: The leather tote, the lip balm, the hand wash, the little leather pouch, the eye mask and neck pillow. Both Esther and I were reading the A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler, which we both loved and it was the perfect read on a trans Atlantic flight.

You can join us on YouTube here.

Emilie

DIY: Road Desk Decal

Road Desk Sticker DIY

I always thought that boys love cars because the society thinks that boys should play with cars and girls can play with dolls… and so the parents buy them cars and then they play with them (I’m simplifying but you understand what I’m trying to say here, right?). But I changed my opinion and here’a why: when Talan got big enough to play with toys he just used Tila’s old ones and then one day he noticed a tractor driving on the street right under our house and his reaction was over the top — he started to scream, point, jump and everything else you could imagine one does out of excitement. Even today tractors are his number one love (I think he might love them even more than me :) and he recognizes their sound even before anyone else can hear them (not exaggerating) but he likes other vehicles like cars (especially policemen), vans (ambulances make the best sound), trucks and of course diggers (those are his number 2. love!) too.

Road Desk Sticker DIY

Anyhow, I might have slipped off the main topic a tiny bit but now you know exactly how I got an idea to make him a road decal for his little desk. It was much easier to make than I thought so I think I might make one for the floor in kids room as well, but a bigger one.

Road Desk Sticker DIY

I used a Blackboard Wall Sticker from Casa Pura over Amazon (there are many less expensive ones too, but this one has great reviews) and I cut out a piece at the exact length and width of the desk surface.

Road Desk Sticker DIY

I turned it over and on the back side I drew an oval street that runs as close to the edges as possible. Then I also drew one right at the middle and made round curves.

First I cut out the oval shape and then in the middle of the part that I wanted to cut out I stabbed a hole with the tip of the scissors and cut along the line. Do that part really slowly so you don’t tear the sticker or even go over the lines.

Road Desk Sticker DIY

Now when you think you’re done with the trickiest part, you realize you have to paste the decal in place. I measured and marked the middle of the sticker and the desk first in order to line them together. That is the easiest way to make sure the sticker gets placed in the center.

Road Desk Sticker DIY

Road Desk Sticker DIY

Now peel back just a little bit of the backing paper and make sure those two middle lines you marked meet and press down at the edge to hold it in place. You don’t need to worry too much as this sticker can be easily reattached (I tried! A few times). Now peel the backing bit by bit and in order to avoid the air bubbles rub in place using something like a ruler or a credit card and a firm pressure and work your way along the sticker.

Road Desk Sticker DIY

Road Desk Sticker DIY

At the end I used a blackboard marker to draw the center lines but you can simply use chalk. Needless to say, Talan loves it! Bruuum!

To read more from Polona, go to her cute blog Baby Jungle!

The beautiful creations of Masami Akatsuka of Cocon

cocon placematsMasami Akatsuka is a Japanese mama living in the south of France, and creator of the most delightful objects. Her artful collection, called Cocon, is entirely handmade by Masami herself, and the way she uses colour, material and detail is absolutely wonderful. There’s just so much character in all of her makings!

cocon placemats cocon placemats

I’m a serious fan of Masami’s work. We have a few of her products at home, like the placemats in these photos, and I love seeing them around me. They make everyday rituals just that extra bit delightful!

cocon bird mustard

This little bird on our sideboard is another silent reminder of Masami’s amazing craftsmanship. It’s so perfectly pretty (and sturdy and stable) and has so much expression in its little face — like a tiny piece of art.

Cocon is a very inspirational collection — I’m nowhere near as artistic as Masami, but I did put my sewing machine on the table this afternoon. A quilt is in the making! : )

xxx Esther

In my hand luggage

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

I have been on the road so often lately that my suitcase is just sitting open on the floor and gets emptied and refilled again on a regular basis. I also never have the patience for waiting for suitcases at airports, so I have been honing my talents of traveling not only with a capsule wardrobe but also with a little transparent bag instead of a sponge bag.

I thought it could be fun to share with you my little “capsule” transparent bag, so here is a list of some of my favourite things I always travel with:

  • Uriage facial wipes because they are the best: efficient, great for sensitive skin and one wipe is enough to get your face squeaky clean.
  • I actually am now French enough that I feel like I am missing something if I leave the house without perfume. Esther gave me this perfume stick recently and I am addicted, it is teeny and is not classified as a fluid and it also smells heavenly.
  • Klorane Dry Shampoo: This stuff is genius, especially if you have to get up early, jump on plane and then  go straight to a meeting.
  • I actually often do not take a foundation when I travel but only a tinted moisturizer. This Caudalie one is great, as it makes my skin look fresh and natural and also moisturises very well which basically makes it a two-in-one.
  • This Burt’s Bees lip balm is actually not available in France so I scoop it up every time I am in the UK or the US. I get very dry lips when I travel, so I love the fact that it moisturises and also adds a little colour to my lips.
  • I always have an eye mask with me as I like to sleep in the dark and I never know where I might pitch up for the night. Especially in Northern European countries in the summer I hate getting woken up when the sun is rising! This eye mask from Muji is super soft and machine washable.

Do let me know if you have any tips, I would love to hear!

– Emilie

Let it go!

Upside Down

Last Saturday the girls and I went to a music festival; we listened to music, danced and had a generally great time. But we got home very late and the girls were tired, so after putting them to bed I decided to test something: the next day I was going to let it go! (Like in the freaking Disney song). I decided I was just going to let the girls chill out and allow them to dictate the rhythm of the day, and not take control! So I let them get up when they wanted, play as long as they wanted and move at their own pace throughout the day. And you know what? We had a fabulous day, but my gosh, it was hard!!!

Why? Because in my head I had activities planned: people to see, places to discover, things to do — things I personally thought are important and fun to do.  But obviously those decisions were taken without my daughters’ consent, and they weren’t a priority for them. We had planned to go to the swimming pool… and we got there 3 hours later than I had hoped because the Lego mini people were apparently having a music festival! I think part of the reason why it was so hard is because I project what I think is going to be fun on my kids, who, I sometimes forget, are now individuals with their own tastes and preferences.

But, I must say, we had a lovely day without any arguing or conflict.  The girls came to me when they were ready, they were happy to go out and ready to face the world, and for once I was not pleading and coercing everyone out of the door. Meanwhile, I tidied my desk and did things around the house that I usually don’t have the time to do. A win/win for everyone!

So I am going to make a conscious effort when I can (and when it is possible) to let go and let my little people be, even if we are not on holiday and even if I have in my mind projected many fun things that we could do.

Do you find it hard to let go and just let them be too?

– Emilie

P.S. Photo taking by the lovely Emily Ulmer a wee while ago.

The Furoshiki, a Japanese wrapping cloth

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Have you heard of furoshikis? They are square fabric cloths used in Japan to wrap everything from lunch, presents, picnics, pillows, groceries, you name it! Made from gorgeous printed cotton fabric, furoshikis are as beautiful as everything coming from Japan.

Bottle_Wrap
furoshikis japanese wrapping clothBesides the primary use of a wrap, furoshikis are also great to be used as scarfs, napkins, picnic blankets, table cloths… The biggest size can even be used as a beach bag and once on the beach, it doubles as a perfect beach sheet. The uses really are endless!

Furoshiki japanese wrap cloth
You can find a lovely range of gorgeous furoshikis in different sizes at Musubi London, and here you can learn about the different wrapping techniques. (Don’t you love the wine wrap? What an awesome present to bring to a dinner party!)

xxx Esther

Some photos of the three of us :)

Babyccino Kids girls
Babyccino girls

So last week Emilie and Courtney came to Amsterdam for a super quick visit. The reason (besides the fact that we love to hang out together for as much and as often as possible), is that we thought it might be a fun idea to try to make some little videos. So we talked, we cooked, we laughed and danced on over 5 hours of video. (And hopefully a few minutes of that is worth sharing with you, so stay tuned!)

Since we don’t manage to get together as often as we would like, we asked the talented Christina Schumacher to come by and take some shots of the three of us as well. I’m so happy with these photos of us — I feel it’s so rare to be together, and when we are, it’s not often someone remembers to take photos. So thanks, Christina!!

Babyccino-group-10-2
babyccino kids girls

It was a busy, busy day, but so, so fun (like always with these crazy girls).

xxx Esther

DIY: Printed Cardboard Box

Printed Cardboard Box DIY

I had a few items like socks, a hat, sunscreen, a lost toy, a diaper, probably also the pacifier etc. stacked in an ugly cardboard box in Talan’s part of the entrance way. I couldn’t look at it anymore but I also didn’t get a chance to find and buy a decent wooden box so I decided to make the best of it and painted and printed the existing one. I thought it couldn’t hurt and in the worst case I’d be finally pushed to buy one. But to my luck (and even more to my husband’s luck) it turned out kind of great. So naturally I thought I’d share this project with you 😉

Printed Cardboard Box DIY

If you haven’t guessed it already it’s super simple! You’ll only need:
-A cardboard box (the thicker the cardboard the better)
-Acrylic Paint (at least two colors)
-Sealant or Varnish
-A stamp or simple stickers (like triangles, dots or something these Tad Lapin Cats from Molly Meg)

Printed Cardboard Box DIY

First paint the inside of the box at least twice and wait between coats to dry completely. Then do the same with the outside of the box. I used two different colors – the grey one for the inside and the white one on the outside part of the box.

Printed Cardboard Box DIY

After the outside it completely dry (wait at least two hours) stamp the surface (I used a rubber stamp I did after this stamp DIY from Esther – Tila drew the image but you can also use potato or a pencil rubber or even stickers!). After you’re done with this step wait again for the prints to dry completely and apply two coats of sealant or varnish. I also used sealant on the inner side so the box will (hopefully) last longer.

So easy, isn’t it?

-Polona

To read more from Polona, go to her cute blog Baby Jungle!

Dr Hauschka Sage and Mint Deodorant

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For years I have been testing organic, non-toxic deodorants as I, like a lot of you, have been reading about how bad normal deodorants are for us. The problem is: I have never found one that actually works! And I do like smelling good, so that was a bit too much of a stumbling block for me. I have been testing and trying but ultimately have always returned to my unhealthy but very effective commercial deodorants.

But yesterday Esther, who was in Paris this weekend, and I might have found the solution: Dr Hauschka’s Sage Mint Deodorant. You have to understand that we are having a massive heatwave here in Paris, with temperatures going up to 41 degrees and no air conditioning, so it was the perfect time to put a deodorant to the test. And it worked! I am happy to report back that not only do we not smell, we even totally forgot that we were not wearing super strengh deodorant. So a bit thumbs up to Dr Hauschka for finally coming up with a natural deodorant that actually works!

– Emilie

Tuesday tips — bike safety

bikes

We live in bike country here in the Netherlands — because it’s so incredibly flat (we have virtually no mountains whatsoever!) a bike is just the ideal method of transportation. Traffic layout has been optimised for bikes, there are dedicated bike lanes everywhere and we even have special bike-lane traffic lights. With biking in mind, I thought it would be a good idea to write a little post about bike safety… Here goes!

Tips for taking your children on your own bike:

  • Young children can be taken on your bike but have to sit in a proper bike seat. From when the baby is about 12 months old (or when the neck and the back of the baby are strong enough), you can take your baby on the bike with you, on a special seat hanging from the steer. When your child outgrows this seat (around 2 years old), you can transfer him to a special bike seat on the back of your bike. The seat on the back is more comfortable to cycle with and more comfortable for the child as well (wind, rain, sun, etc) — so as soon as you can, transferring your child to the back is a good idea. Ask you local bike store for a recommended bike seat that meets safety standards.
  • Make sure your bike is safe, strong, and stable. Make sure that the seat is low enough so you can touch the ground with both feet when standing still.
  • I personally like to have a special double leg bike stand under my bike so when I lift children onto my bike, the bike won’t fall over.
  • Spike guards are mandatory when you child has outgrown the special seat on the back of your bike. It’s ok to take your child on the back of your bike when she has outgrown the toddler bike seat (around the age of 5), but do make sure that the spikes of your rear wheel are covered with plastic guards so the foot of your child can not get caught in the spikes. These kind of guards are not expensive and can be easily attached, so if you don’t have them — get them! (Both my son, Pim, and Emilie’s daughter Vivi have broken their legs because their feet got caught in the spikes, so we speak from experience here!!) Foldable foot rests that attach to the frame are needed too.
  • Helmets should be worn. Even though here in the Netherlands it seems that nobody wears a helmet, I try to make a point of encouraging my children to wear one whenever they ride their own bike. Make sure the helmet fits well, and meets safety standards.
  • A little side note — even though some of my friends are comfortable doing it, I would personally recommend against taking a little baby on your bike. Not even (or especially not!) in a baby-carrier. I think a baby, until their back and neck is strong enough, shouldn’t be taken on a bike altogether.

Sara on her bike

And of course, our children love to ride their own bikes when they’re ready for it. Here are some tips:

  • Make sure you have the right size bike for your child. Your child should be able to touch the ground with both feet when standing still. A bike that is too big is not safe.
  • I prefer bikes with coaster breaks instead of hand breaks (or both).
  • A bike should always have proper lights front and back, and reflectors on the wheels, so the bike is well visible. (Here in Amsterdam, the police often checks cyclists and we do get fined if our lights don’t work properly!)
  • Again, your children should wear proper helmets that fit well and meet safety standards.
  • Practise with your children. Experience is key — children need to learn about road rules, different traffic situations and how to handle different situations. The more experienced they are, the more safe they will be.

On a side note — after trying with Sara to teach her to cycle with side wheels, with Pim we learned that it’s better not to bother with these. It’s best to immediately work on balance and control over the bike (yes! running next to them!). If you can, a peddle-less balance bike like a like-a-bike is a great introduction to cycling — the child will learn balancing perfectly and the transition to a proper bike will be a piece of cake.

Hope these tips will come in handy — as always, please share your tips and tricks if you have any!

xxx Esther

Some photos and an interview with Little Years blog

LY19

A few weeks ago the lovely French/German photographer Christina Schumacher came over to our house to take some informal photos for an interview with the beautiful German blog Little Years, and I really love the way she captured our family. I thought it would be fun to share some photos here (well, more than some — it was too hard to choose!) but you’d better head over to the Little Years blog to read the interview here. It is the kind of interview that makes you step back and look at your life as an outsider, and then step back in and realise how lucky and entirely happy you are, with everything in your life — the joy, the sadness, the little things. Life is a journey, and a beautiful one.

xxx Esther

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DIY: Hairclips

Hairclips

Esther and her lovely Hair Style posts inspired me for this craft. Apparently someone’s eating Tila’s hair clips at our home because a week doesn’t go by that we don’t lose at least (!) one. Usually even more. So instead of buying them again I decided to make a few instead. And they turned out great! Like always I tried to find the simplest way and these are literally done in minutes – the thing that takes the longest is actually the drying of the glue.

Hairclips

So, the things you need are:

Some fabric leftovers
Scissors
Glue
Glitter and furry pom poms (optional)
Hair Clips (I got mine from Ebay)

Hairclips

Draw a shape (a star, a heart, a cloud etc.) on the back side of fabric and cut it out.

Hairclips

If you want to make it glittery, first cover the front side with glue and sprinkle generously. Let it dry for about an hour or so and shake off the excess. You’ll do yourself a big favor if you do this outside or you’ll have glitter everywhere like I do!

Hairclips

The bow is also really easy to do. First cut two strips about 6 and 4 centimetres long and one 1.5 cm wide and the other one half thinner. It’s even better if you have ribbons because they won’t fray on edges in time. Now glue both ends of the thicker strip together like on the second photo above. Fold in half and wrap the thinner strip around (begin and finish at the part where the thicker strip is glued together), glue in place and strip away the excess.

Hairclips

Done!

Hairclips

I also did one with pompoms where you only need to glue the three together but there are endless possibilities. Now all there’s left to do is glue the little embellishments on hair clips. So easy.

-Polona

To read more from Polona, go to her cute blog Baby Jungle!

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