Home & Kids (and a house renovation!)

Home_and_kids_lampWhen 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…)

(more…)

Five great European holiday destinations from Kid & Coe

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:

 

the vejer

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.

gumpendorfer

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.

heerlijkheid van marrem residence

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.

Karl Kunger residence

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.

the agrari2

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?!

xx Courtney

Hatch — layers and jeans

Hatch_layers

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.

Hatch_jeggingAlso — 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!

xxx Esther

 

Thanks for your comments

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.

Courtney x

Sadness and outrage and gratitude all in one

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.

courtneyadamo_Instagram feed_screenshot

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.

CourtneyAdamo_Instagram photo

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.

xx Courtney

 

Emily Ulmer photography

four kids in tree_small

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…

Easton and Quin_small
mama and marlow2_small

mama and marlow_small

marlow_small

Ivy and Marlow_small

three kiddos_small

marlow in tree_small

easton in tree_small

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.

x Courtney

Jim Flora wonderful wallpaper

Jim Flora wallpaper On_The_Sea_web Jim Flora wallpaper manhattan_charcoal_web

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.

Jim Flora wallpaper space

Rhapsody_Night_web

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!

xxx Esther

 

Armadillo & Co handmade rugs

Armadillo & Co Pinwheel rugs

Daisy-Multi-Bedroom

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?

Armadillo & Co rug in girls bedroom

rug in ivy's room

Armadillo & Co is an Australian-based company, but you can now find a selection of the children’s rugs from Nubie here in the UK, including the Daisy Weave rug in the girls’ bedroom.

x Courtney

Ace & Jig children’s line

ivy wearing ace&jig

mama daughter ace&jig

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.

Ace & Jig is now available from Abacus Kids in the UK, or from Darling Clementine in the US. And you can find the women’s collection here.

x Courtney

Custom stamps from Sycamore Street Press

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!

x Courtney

Our favourite travel games in Baby&Me Magazine

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.

x Courtney

Upside down plants!

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?

xxx Esther

Beautifully designed Little Quote Jars, by Make History!

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!)

xxx Esther

PS I loved reading Joanna‘s post of the sweet things her son Toby says. Toby is the exact same age as Ava!

Dear Mom, Dear Dad — sweet activity books

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!

xxx Esther

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 speaking at Blogtacular!

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 ChoNatalie 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!)

xx Courtney

Just say No?



In a recent parent-teacher meeting at my girls’ school, the teachers brought up some interesting points. They were not worried about the lack of support coming from parents, but interestingly were more concerned that, in the last few years, it appears parents want to be friends with their children rather than an authority figure. In short: parents just want to be liked by their children! While it makes sense to want your child to like you, the teachers were noticing that discipline was becoming less important to parents than being the child’s buddy. One example they gave was a parent dropping her child off inappropriately dressed for the weather. When the teacher mentioned this to the parent, the answer was: “But she really didn’t want to wear a coat, so….”. Another example was a kid throwing sand into another kid’s face. When the teacher mentioned this to the parent, the comment was: “But he really likes to throw sand”.

Courtney and I were talking about this a few days ago and we starting wondering: are parents of our generation getting a bit too soft on our children and is it getting harder and harder for us to use the dreaded word “no”? If so, what is the affect this is having on our children and the way they interact with others and respond to their teachers?

This is just a personal observation, but I am interested to hear if you have experienced this too, especially in other countries? I am not feeling in any way nostalgic towards the good old days when discipline was enforced with a ruler and a dunce cap, but I do believe there is a happy medium, where children don’t consider parents their equal but know which line not to cross.

- Emilie
PS Above are a couple of very old photos of Violette’s reaction when I once told her “No”. She did not take it too well!

Darling, luxurious blankets from Sture & Folke


Karin Stenmarck is a Swedish designer living in Switzerland, who makes her collection of Sture & Folke blankets entirely by hand, using only the most high quality materials like Liberty fabrics, cotton velvet and natural linen. Her blankets are really beautiful; they are the kind of baby product that you just love to keep around in your house — baby, or not! The toddler comforter has a wonderful, generous size (I use it as a lap blanket myself all the time), and the different little ribbons on the front are not only stylish decoration, they are also great for babies who love to play with them.

xxx Esther

My Favourite Things at Baby&Me Magazine

We’re really excited to announce a new partnership with Baby&Me magazine which has us contributing a little column in their magazine each month and rounding up a selection of cute products to fit our topic. Baby&Me is a super stylish, monthly glossy which keeps London parents updated on all the latest news, fashion, design and other interesting lifestyle topics. We are thrilled to be contributing each month and thought it would be fun to share our selection here with you as well.

In this month’s issue I wrote about getting out in our garden with the kids, sowing vegetable seeds and enjoying the onset of spring. I also rounded up some cute fruit & veg products I’m loving right now. Here they are:

You can read the digital version of this month’s issue here. You can also download the Baby&Me app from iTunes here. And lastly, you can now buy the magazine at newsagents around town.

I’m already excited for next month’s contribution! Stay tuned…

x Courtney

Hucklebones and the Secret Garden




Photographer and stylist, Emma Donnelly, sent over some photos from her recent photoshoot with Hucklebones and I think they perfectly capture how pretty the spring has been here in England with all the beautiful cherry blossoms, budding tulips and little girls in pretty dresses and bare legs!! Such gorgeous photos!

Of course you can’t go wrong when photographing Hucklebones clothing. It is just such a beautiful, timeless brand. And goodness, how cute is that little chambray romper?! There is something about Hucklebones that reminds me of springtime (and especially Easter!), and I think these photos capture both so perfectly.

x Courtney

When your babies grow up…

You know that feeling you get when you look over at your daughter and she suddenly looks bigger? Like she must have grown a couple inches over night? Well that happened this weekend. I swear she went from squishy little toddler to tall young lady in the matter of seconds. My heart!!!

I have felt this way with the boys as well, but it seems especially quick with Ivy. Maybe it’s because she IS actually growing quickly — she’s one of the tallest in her class despite being one of the youngest, she was the first in her class to lose a tooth, and because she has older brothers she’s always playing with the big kids. (Such a contrast to me as a young girl — I was the oldest child in my family so I was incredibly naive and was always a late bloomer both emotionally and physically.) Ivy will turn five next month and those five years have sped by. I can’t believe it!

Is it just me, or does time seem to move more quickly with each passing year?!  Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just slow it down a notch?

xx Courtney

p.s. Ivy’s pretty dress is from Marmalade & Mash (currently offering 15% off), and the Saltwater Sandals are from EenyMeeny. x

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