Yesterday, I took our 4 children to the beach because it was hot and humid and the beaches in the Netherlands are windy and fresh. I met up with our friend Maud and her two children, and we were lounging and chatting and drinking fresh fruit juices and watching our children play. You get the gist. At some point, when Pim had asked me to play beach ball with him for the gazzilionest time, I finally got my lazy bum up from the deckchair for some tennis with my boy. After 3 minutes I looked around, and I noticed Ava was missing. Gone!
I started to walk around, looking for her. Nothing. I checked the water. Nothing. I went up to the beach club, nothing. And then I started to panic. I started to run around, calling her name. I called the alarm number, I went back to the beach club, where the part time manager was a police agent, and who took my calls from the coast guard (!). He tried to calm me, assuring me that she would be fine, she would get back. But the only thing I could focus on, is on that tiny chance that she wouldn’t be allright! I don’t think I have ever been so afraid in my life. In the meantime, there were loads of people (other mums) helping me search. Maud was running all over the beach and to the streets. But she was gone!
After a few minutes (in which I died a thousand deaths), my hero policeman finally got a call that she was found. Safely, further up on the beach. Quite a very far walk away!
Thankfully, she was safe. Tired, but safe. And I learned a few things, that I wanted to share with you here…
1. Beaches can be busy. In our case it was! Ava lost her way, and couldn’t find our spot again. So she started to walk, looking for us. What I usually do (and stupidly forgot this time), is to look for an anchor point — a certain flag, pole, bright umbrella, any reference that is noticeable enough for a child to find their way back to our spot.
2. Children should always wear a phone number on their arm. My other children were wearing their RingRings, but Ava had taken them off and I hadn’t checked / noticed. Stupid.
3. When children loose their way on the beach, they generally start walking away from the sun and the wind. So best to start looking in that direction. (So true — in our case, this is exactly the direction in which Ava went).
4. There’s an Amber alert app for your phone, in which you can save a current portrait photo of your child and other crucial information for when your child goes missing. I’ve had this app on my phone for a while now, but I never filled out my children’s details until now. Apparently, finding a decent photo of your missing child and recalling crucial information like length and eye colour is super difficult if you’re in a state of total stress and shock. So best to do this now.
Hopefully none of this is ever necessary, but I thought to tell you just in case. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
(Artwork by Andreas Gursky)
Have you ever heard of a knitting loom? Well, I had not, at least until recently, when I had the chance to catch up with Erika from Miko Design. She told me how she discovered knitting again, thanks to these nifty little things.They are sold at HEMA over here in France and in the Netherlands. You can also get them off Amazon.
Since then we have been looming away at our house – it is seriously easy and strangely addictive. Both my girls now have a new pair of leg warmers and we are in the process of making a poncho. Hilariously, we have no idea what size it is going to be, so it might become a present for baby Marlow or fit Coco perfectly, who is now 8.
Have fun, it is a great way to get back into knitting or, in fact, learn how to knit!
P.S. The lovely jumpers the girls are wearing were not knitted on a knitting loom but are from Babaa Knitwear.
This month’s issue of Baby & Me Magazine features the best and most stylish of children’s products in the 2014 Style Awards. They handed out awards to winners based on their criteria of iconic design, good looks and innovation (you can see the winners here).
This month they asked me to round up some of my personal favourite children’s products — the products we have used and loved in our family, ones that I hope to keep forever and pass down to my grandchildren. The products shown above are a few that made the cut. You can find my column in this month’s issue here.
Apart from playing dress-up with my mom’s lipstick when I was little, I have never been a lipstick girl. I tried lip gloss when I was in college, but I could never figure out how to keep my hair from getting stuck in my lips, especially in windy Chicago! (Is there a trick I’m not aware of?) And I’ve always felt that a bold coloured lipstick made my lips look even bigger, making me look a bit clown-like.
So when my friend Joanna from A Cup of Jo asked me to test out some lipsticks for a beauty tutorial on her blog, I laughed her off and told her I don’t look good in lipstick. But she persuaded me to try, and I must say I was pleasantly surprised when I tested them out. There is something about lipstick that makes you feel flirty and fun and can make you look instantly more put-together, even with messy hair and sleepy eyes. : )
The lipstick feature is up on A Cup of Jo. We tested out three different orangey colours. Which one is your favourite? Do you have others to recommend? (I still haven’t bought a lipstick yet so any suggestions you have are welcomed!)
p.s. How pretty is this dress by Ace & Jig?! The dress definitely steals the show.
I’ve posted a few photos over the years of my boys asleep in their bed, and usually when I do it raises some interesting comments and questions about my boys sharing a bed. Do they really share a bed? Have they always? How did you get them to sleep in the same bed? Do they wake each other up in the night? Do I recommend it?
It’s something I’ve been thinking about lately because Marlow is now starting to ask to sleep with Ivy, and while I don’t want to risk messing up her good sleep habits, I’m thinking I might get rid of Marlow’s cot and let her join Ivy in her bed.
I love that my boys share a bed. Perhaps it would be the same if they each had their own bed within the same room, but those two boys are so close and I really think it has a lot to do with the bond that is created by sharing a bed. I think there’s something magical about bedtime, a time when they know they have to be quiet and play peacefully, no tattle-telling or fighting over toys. Whatever quarrels they have during the day are completely tossed aside at bedtime. It’s like there’s a mutual understanding between them that at bedtime they join the same team: boys versus their parents. I’ve always put them to bed around 7:00 for this reason. I know it’s early, but I figure they’ll end up talking or playing quietly together anyway, so why not make the most of it?! We often find them asleep, lying side by side under the same book. Or sometimes we find a whole heap of little toys under their covers, evidence of some cheeky playtime before they fell asleep.
We didn’t make the decision to put the boys in one bed; they decided all on their own. When Quin, the younger one, was 6 months old we moved him into the room with his older brother. By the time he was 18 months old, we gave him a matching toddler bed like his brother’s. We joked they had beds like Ernie and Bert from ‘Sesame Street’!
But… Quin never slept in his own bed. We would tuck each of them into their own beds, but every night we would come upstairs to find them in the same bed together. Like this…
or like this…
Every single night!!
So when it came time to move into our new house, I gave the boys a choice: they could each have their own beds, or they could have one big bed to share. And of course it was an obvious decision.
The boys sleep so well together. No complaints about bed hogging or snoring. It’s like they just figure out their little place in bed and know how to sleep together (Quin always likes the flatter pillows and Easton always sleeps on the left side of the bed. They’re like a couple of old men with their little quirky ways!) I’m sure at some point they will decide it’s no longer ‘cool’ to share a bed, but for now we are happy with this sweet bed sharing arrangement. Here are some other benefits worth noting:
- It makes traveling easier because they always sleep together and can comfort each other in new places. (We have never heard either of them say they were scared.)
- We’ve never had a problem with scary dreams or other sleep issues. They must feel comfort knowing they have each other so near.
- Easton often reads books to Quin. It used to be simple picture books, but now Easton reads his chapter books to Quin and I can only imagine it is beneficial for both of them to be reading together like this.
- When guests come to stay, we can use the boys’ bedroom as a guest bedroom because the bed is big enough for adults.
- One big bed takes up less space than two single beds, so for space-saving reasons, it’s worked out nicely in their little bedroom.
We will definitely let the girls sleep together as well, and I really hope they’ll sleep as well together as the boys do, and hopefully it will strengthen their relationship even more. (They already have bedtime conversations from their separate beds, but I can’t wait until they’re snuggled into the same bed, reading the same books, and sneaking in a few minutes of extra play.)
So tell me, do your children share a bed? Would you consider it?
When we moved to Amsterdam 6 years ago, we thought we would leave after a few years, so we never ended up buying a place for ourselves. We found a nice little house for rent, in a nice little neighbourhood, with a nice little backyard which is connected to other nice little backyards by way of a romantic alleyway. So our children have direct and save access to heaps of nice little neighbouring kids! We fell in love with the house and the neighbourhood, but sadly our landlord told us a year ago that he wanted his house back. (We were also outgrowing the space since we had two more children after moving in here!) So we were preparing to move again and leave our beloved house and neighbourhood, until… our sweet 94-year-old neighbour told us she wanted to sell us her house!
She bought the house when it was being built in 1953, and had lived there ever since. First with her family, then alone after her three children left the house and her husband passed away. Until, at the end of last year, she lost her eyesight, broke her hip, and had to move to an elderly home. She loved her house, and wanted another family to love it as much as she did. And this is why she decided to sell it to us. So sweet!
We’ve been renovating the house for a few months now, and hope to move in later this summer. It’s such a big job and so exciting — it’s the first house we have ever owned! We’ve been designing, selecting materials, fittings, tiles… and of course I’ve been secretly looking around for some new ‘details’ as well. ; )
Home and Kids is one of our shop members and I particularly like their style. I found the black metal wire lamp in the photo above in their shop, and am so in love with it! I can’t wait to see it in our new house, but for now it looks perfect on that vintage side table next to our couch. I also am eying this mirror for our toilet, these wire trays and baskets for my new office (!!), and this Paris pillow for the couch.
There is also a wonderful children’s decor and gift selection, where you can’t go wrong with finding presents, toys, or other desirable little things like these cool Amy & Ivor mocassins that have Casper’s name on them.
In fact, I’m going to place a little order immediately, as sale is now on!
(Oh, in case you are interested — here are a few photos of our house renovation…)
Kid & Coe is a holiday rental site specifically for families. It was launched last Autumn and it’s been great watching their site and inventory of properties grow. They offer family-friendly destinations all over the world — from beach houses in Brazil to city apartments in New York, or stylish flats in London to countryside retreats in Tuscany. Most of the properties are personally owned by families, so they often come equipped with children’s toys, children’s beds, highchairs and other items to make your stay more comfortable and enjoyable.
With summer holidays so near, I thought it would be a great idea to ask the team at Kid & Coe to round up five of their favourite European destinations for summer. Here are their picks and a brief description of each place:
1. The Vejer Residence, Spain
This whitewashed hippy-deluxe residence with plunge pool is in one of Andalucia’s lesser visited characterful white towns, Vejer de la Frontera, near Cadiz, and sleeps up to 6 adults and 1 child in 4 bedrooms. It’s full of rustic, romantic character, from the cobbled stone floors to the studded front door.
From £122 per night.
2. The Gumpendorfer Residence, Vienna
A city in summer? Well, if you like art, culture and even beaches along the Danube, Vienna is a great choice. There’s even a floating boat with a pool in it nearby if you need to cool off. We love this central apartment which sleeps up to 2 adults and 2 children and is well equipped for small children.
From €90 per night.
3. The Heerlijkheid Van Marrem Residence, Belgium
Don’t let anyone tell you that Belgium’s boring. This stunning and unique renovated carriage shed has been lovingly turned into rustic chic lodgings sleeping up to 23, and is perfect for a deluxe family celebration. Play in the flower-filled fields or day trip to Antwerp, Ghent, Bruges and Brussels. It’s ideal for a break with friends, too.
From €675 per night.
4. The Karl Kunger Residence, Berlin
Another great city and another great city pad: this loft apartment set in a former factory building sleeps up to 4 adults and 1 child and combines a sleek, modern interior with serious comfort. It’s close to a large park for sunny picnics, 10 minutes by S-Bahn from the city centre and near to the famous Badeschiff for yoga and days spent playing in the water.
Price on application.
5. The Agrari Residence, Greece
This stunning family villa with a pool, sleeping up to 14, is set on a hillside in the quiet south of Mykonos overlooking the Aegean Sea and Agrari beach. It’s a heavenly retreat for a family or two, with a main villa plus three separate guest studios. Grab some friends, pack the suncream and bring the kids!
Price on application.
Don’t they all look amazing? I’ll be spending the summer with family in the US, but I’m definitely taking note of these destinations for school holidays in the Autumn. I’m thinking the Heerlijkheid Van Marrem residence in Belgium would be so fun to book for a holiday with friends! Esther, Emilie are you in?!
Hatch is one of my favourite maternity fashion brands — I love the way they design clothes that are wonderfully flattering and comfortable to wear during pregnancy, but also very much so beyond. I’m still wearing the pieces I bought when I was pregnant with Casper, and in fact, I just placed another little order from the Hatch Plage summer collection. (No, I’m not pregnant, nor planning to be!)
Hatch just came out with a new product called ‘layers‘, consisting of a basic black legging, a white tank and a long sleeved shirt. Designed to fit over your growing belly and made from the softest knit, it provides the perfect basic wardrobe foundation. Just throw over a trendy tunic, stylish dress or cool kaftan and you’re all set, in all comfort. It’s the perfect piece to invest in when you’re pregnant – I’m pretty sure you will wear it every day, even after your pregnancy.
Also — this Denim Legging looks perfect to me. This is the piece I’ve been (unsuccessfully) looking for throughout my pregnancies… so I’m glad to see Hatch decided to add it to their collection. So cool, pregnant or not!
What an unexpected and crazy ride this past week has been. I just wanted to thank everyone who has taken the time to leave comments both here and on my Instagram account. I have been overwhelmed by all the support but also by all the thoughtful and intelligent criticism. I wanted to let you know that your comments have really made me evaluate my own actions and beliefs, and I am thankful for a platform where we can discuss and debate parenting issues like this.
There has been a lot of media coverage highlighting both sides of this story, and while I think there are some important issues to be raised, I have also felt pretty exposed and vulnerable. A lot of stories have been very sensationalised, many of them have had incorrect facts, but this story from The Southland Times in New Zealand seemed to raise some interesting points (it is also one of the only papers I submitted quotes to). There is also a column in The Telegraph which, although mostly critical of my decisions, also highlights some interesting points, and for many reasons I enjoyed reading this editorial too.
Thank you again for all of your comments.
I’m finding it really difficult to write this post and I think it’s because I have so many emotions swirling around in my head. But before the weekend starts, I wanted to share what’s happened and also wanted to thank you all for your encouraging comments. More than anything it is this overwhelming outpouring of support that has made me so emotional.
Yesterday evening my Instagram account was disabled due to ‘violating the community guidelines‘. After a bit of research I discovered that if you receive too many reports of ‘inappropriate’ images, it sends a red flag to the Instagram team and their automated service will disable your account entirely, without warning and without notice. Last week I received five different emails from Instagram to notify me of these reports and to tell me they had removed images from my feed. They don’t tell you which images they’re referring to, and even though I looked back through all my old photos, I was never able to decipher which photos were removed. I figured it must be incorrect — I have never violated any of the rules! Earlier this week I received another couple emails from Instagram to tell me they had removed more images. And yet, still I could not find any missing images. Again, I thought it must have been an error.
On Wednesday evening I posted the above photo of Marlow in her yellow rainboots and her ‘big girl undies’. I wrote about how, despite me trying to delay it, she had decided to be potty trained, and how she had kept her undies dry all day. I thought it was such a sweet photo of my baby girl and her gorgeous, round belly (and outie belly button). And I love that her pride is so evident in the photo – such a sweet and innocent shot of a successful day of potty-training. On Thursday morning the photo was gone from my feed and a another Instagram email was in my inbox. At least this time I knew which photo they had removed.
I went back to re-read the guidelines; I read the entire page twice and was positive that I had not violated any rules. Unless a baby’s belly is considered ‘nudity’…but surely it isn’t! She is a BABY! It is no different than a photo of a baby wearing a nappy, or a little boy in swim trunks, and to entertain the idea that it is even remotely inappropriate is a disgusting thing in itself. Again, I was sure there was a mistake, so I reposted the photo. And by yesterday evening my account was disabled.
I never, ever, ever would have thought that posting this photo of Marlow would lead to this. Instagram has deleted four years of my family photos and memories: all the photos of our travels, my children’s birthdays, all my notes and comments about my children’s traits and milestones, all the comments from friends and family, the messages I received when Marlow was born, the hashtags I created to help organise my photos, and all the direct messages I shared and received from my siblings and family members whom I rarely see. All of it gone. I am sick just thinking about it.
The most infuriating thing is that there seems to be no recourse for the unilateral decisions Instagram makes to delete accounts. There is no contact information, no email or phone number. It seems that an automated system has deleted my account, and I can’t get a single human being to review the case. If anyone has any ties to Instagram or knows anyone who can help, I would be hugely grateful if you could get in touch or leave a comment below.
In the meantime, I wanted to say just how much all of your support has meant to me. I have broken down in tears several times today, and not because of my deleted photos but because I have been so surprised by the outpour of support, the kind comments, the Instagram posts and re-posts, the emails I’ve received, and all the help I’ve been offered. More than anything this whole ordeal has confirmed for me how wonderful the IG community can be, and it has made it even more difficult to have been kicked out of it.
Hope you all have a wonderful weekend.
Our friend and talented photographer, Emily Ulmer, is in town from Los Angeles and came over on Sunday for a little visit and impromptu photoshoot. We walked over to the park and she snapped some photos of my crazy brood running wild and climbing trees. I never would have thoughts she would have gotten good photos of them — Marlow had just woken from a much-too-short nap and was cranky and tired, and the others would not sit still for a single second.
But…. she got some really cute ones!! I think it’s a testament to her photo-taking skills that she managed to get these shots, and I thought I would share some of my favourites with you…
Aren’t they fun?! I love that she managed to get a photo of all of my kids up in a tree!
Emily will be spending the summer in Europe, mostly in London and Paris (but happy to travel for jobs!). If you’re interested in booking her for your own family photoshoot, please email her to make an appointment. I think she takes such beautiful, natural photos.
Jim Flora (1914-1998) was a mid-century artist known for his album covers and some fabulous children’s books (The Day the Cow Sneezed, for example), and his illustrations are truly wonderful. Recently, a series of wallpaper was brought out in cooperation with Flora’s estate, all using the original art and illustrations from his archival music images, paintings and abstract designs.
I just love these wallpapers! Jim Flora’s illustrations may date from around 70 years ago, but all of these wallpapers feel so incredibly fresh and modern… Also, they are sweet and playful, but wouldn’t be misplaced in rooms for bigger children (adults even). I’m contemplating getting the instruments wallpaper above for Pim’s room. I’m sure he would love that!
Our friend, Jodie Fried, who longtime readers might remember from the Angawandi Charity Project or even before that, from the Bholu brand of quirky soft toys, is a woman of many talents (and apparently many successful business ideas!). She recently started a new company called Armadillo & Co which offers a stylish selection of handmade, natural rugs. She works with traditional artisans in India who specialise in varying weaving techniques, and they only use natural fibres like wool, jute, cotton and hemp. Being a mother, she not only offers a gorgeous selection of rugs for your home, but also a lovely and vibrant children’s collection as well.
She very kindly sent me one of her rugs for the girls’ bedroom so that we could see and feel the quality of the rugs, and it is the perfect addition to their bedroom. The colours are perfect in there (see photos of their room below)! Don’t you think it looks like it should be paired with the print on the fireplace mantel, the print on the left?
I discovered the Ace & Jig women’s line about two years ago, and it has since become my favourite brand. I especially love their easy-to-wear dresses — I layer them over and under other pieces depending on the weather, and they’re as comfortable as they are effortlessly pretty. Aren’t the fabrics so beautiful? I love every piece in the collection!
So I’m sure it comes as no surprise that I adore their children’s collection as well. I recently got Ivy her first Ace & Jig dress and when I showed it to her she immediately recognised it as being ‘like mama’s dresses!’. So sweet. We snapped some photos on our recent holiday in Positano last week and I couldn’t help but share.
I recently ordered some custom return address stamps from Sycamore Street Press and I am in love — both with the stamps and with the fact that I no longer have to write out my address! (How did I not do this sooner? What a time saver!) I just got around to (finally) sending thank you notes from my birthday, and I felt so special stamping the back of every envelope with my own personal address stamp.
I also love their custom monogram stamps which can be used for all sorts of things — you can stamp it onto any blank notecard, inside a book cover, or onto a gift tag, etc. I’m leaving my new stamps out on my desk and can’t wait to put them to use!
This month’s issue of Baby&Me Magazine is all about travel, which of course is a topic that excites us all! You’ll find a selection of family-friendly holiday destinations to kick-start your summer holiday planning, plus stylish travel essentials, holiday packing ideas and a fashionable photoshoot in sunny Palm Springs!
In this month’s issue we’ve rounded up five of our favourite travel games that are both easy to pack and guaranteed to entertain. Click over to the Baby&Me website to see our picks, or you can read the full digital version here.
Plants in your interior must be back in fashion! I see them everywhere (we’ve been pinning plants on our Pinterest board too if you’re interested). I’m really enjoying the greens that I’ve been collecting in our home — it just makes things look so nice and ‘fresh’.
One of the new additions I got for our house recently is this fun upside down ‘Skyplanter‘ from Boskke. I love the concept behind it, and it is so amazing to witness that plants really like to grow this way! You can see a list of plants that especially love to live in the Boskke planter here. Amazing, don’t you think?
Ava will be four in less than two weeks! I can’t believe my baby girl is getting so big so fast… She went through a huge growth spurt the last half year, both physically and intellectually, and she’s rapidly developing into a little school girl. Sweet!
I love having conversations with her. She’s talking so maturely at times, but at the same time keeps making adorable grammatical mistakes, or is combining two words into one (my favourite Ava word at the moment is ‘clapplause’ — which she requests every night after she’s finished her plate).
Make History!, the company we know from the gorgeous Time Capsules, has recently come up with another beautifully designed product, the Little Quote Jar. A simple glass jar with an oversized cork top, with enough space to hold the (included) notebooks and pencil, and a slot in the top to ‘post’ your quote. I’m loving it! It permanently lives on our table, in close reach to us all, so we can immediately write down all the funny things we say. (And it looks beautiful!)
Dear Mom and Dear Dad are two adorable arts & craft workbooks for children that encourage them to think carefully about their mom or their dad… and answer a bunch of funny, sweet and delightfully clever questions. Kids can choose, draw or write the correct answer to queries like ‘what is your mum amazingly good at?’ (in my case the answer was: cooking, baking cakes, playing on my iPhone, drawing and sewing), ‘what does she say when she is angry?’ (‘do I have to do everything myself?!?’), ‘what does dad do when he’s at work’ (read messages / glue stuff / play games / fire people / work on the computer / etc).
Your child will create an honest and adorable mirror that will make you chuckle, feel loved, and — thankfully — feel like a very stereotype parent at times as well!
These books make wonderful gifts to both children as their parents. Sara has been working on her ‘Dear Mom’ book, and I love the results: how touching is this portrait she drew of me? (She sees me SO much more beautiful than I really am!!)
Dear Mom and Dear Dad have recently been brought out in English, but the original books are in Dutch and available through SNOR publishers. There’s a German version in store as well! And age-wise… I think these books are best for 6-plus. Unless your child can read and write before that, of course!
PS It’s Mother’s Day this Sunday (best to gently remind your family ASAP if you haven’t done so already!), and Father’s Day is coming up as well. (Hint!)
I’m sure, by now, you’ve heard of Blogtacular — the super cool blogging conference taking place in London next weekend?! With talented and inspiring speakers like Joy Cho, Natalie Lue and many others, it’s shaping up to be a really informative, inspiring and FUN event. I’m really looking forward to it!
I am also thrilled to announce that I will be speaking alongside other successful bloggers (Joy Cho, Allison Sadler and Annabelle Beeforth), discussing the ins and outs of the blogging business. I am beyond excited to meet these women, and feel so honoured to share a panel with them! We’re speaking on the Saturday at 1:30 (you can see the full Blogtacular schedule here) and would love for you to come!
Tickets for the conference are still available if you haven’t signed up yet. The event takes place next Friday and Saturday the 9th and 10th at the Royal Institution of Great Britain. I would love to see you there! (Let me know in the comments below if you’re coming so we can try to meet up!)