Bloom & Wild, flowers through the letterbox!

Bloom & Wild1

My husband has given me flowers on the fourth of each month since our first kiss on 4th Feb, 2002. (So sweet, right?!) Over thirteen years of flowers later, I still find myself charmed when I receive them. Their fragile nature, and purely aesthetic function make flowers such a special, and luxurious gift.

Given my expert flower receiver status, I was intrigued to hear about a new flower delivery service that is changing the way we send and receive flowers. Bloom & Wild packages their flowers in a box that is just the right size to fit through your mail slot! Genius! I was lucky enough to be the recipient of one of their boxes of flowers, and I was truly impressed. The packaging was simple and beautiful, and the flowers were perfect. I was particularly impressed that they stayed fresh and perky for well over a week!

When my lovely friend Sarah (of the super cool shop, Archie’s Boutique) recently celebrated her birthday, I thought it would be fun to send her some pretty flowers for the occasion. She wasn’t home when they arrived, but when she returned, she found that they had been posted through her door! She was sweet enough to send me some pictures to share with you:

Bloom & Wild 3

Bloom & Wild 4

Bloom & Wild 5

We are thrilled that Bloom & Wild has agreed to sponsor our London ShopUp this December 10th and 11th! Not only will some of their beautiful flowers decorate the event, but they will also be holding a flower arranging workshop on the evening of the 11th.

Bethie xx

PS Bloom & Wild is now kindly giving our readers £10 off their first order — just use code BABYBLOOM10 on check-out (or pass on to your partner)!

Our stay in LA, with Kid & Coe

Venice home rental on Kid & Coe
Venice home
Venice home slide

walking in venice

Venice home toys

Venice Beach boogie boarding

We recently spent a sunny week in Los Angeles to mark the start of our year-long adventure. We had moved from LA to London twelve years ago, so it was nice to go back and spend some time exploring the city again, to spend time with friends and family and to get a feel for what it’s like to live there as a family.

After speaking with friends who live in LA, we decided to stay in the family-friendly neighbourhood of Venice beach, which was definitely the right decision. The neighbourhood has changed so much in the past 12 years, with so many great new restaurants and shops, but it still has a very artsy, laid-back bohemian vibe which we loved. It was great to be able to walk to shops and cafes, but more than anything it was so nice to be so close to the beach. My kids fell in love with boogie boarding and are now hoping to learn how to surf!

We rented the Superba Avenue Residence through Kid & Coe and it was the perfect place to stay. It’s such a cosy family home, filled with colourful knick-knacks and loads of fun toys and books in every corner. The kids loved the outside playroom with rope swings hanging from the rafters and spent so much time playing in the gated gardens surrounding the house. They even had a slide on the front porch! The kids never wanted to leave the house!


Superba Avenue Kid & Coe

Kid & Coe

What is so nice about renting a home through Kid & Coe is that you can feel at home straight away and your children have all the comforts (toys, highchairs, beds, step stools) to feel settled immediately. I also love getting a glimpse of what it’s really like to live in the city you’re visiting, like stepping into another family’s shoes for a bit. After spending a week in Venice beach, I’m now dreaming of moving our family to LA!

It was also lovely to meet with the owner of the home, Marisa, who is a talented photographer. She offered to take some photos of our family to mark the start of our adventure and I quickly jumped at the opportunity. I am so happy with the photos she took and I’ll share some with you soon.

Courtney x

Kid & Coe offered us a press discount in return for coverage of our stay. Kid & Coe is a company I have used before and is a concept I really love. All views expressed are my own, and I’m happy to be able to support this growing company. 

Tuesday Tips: removing stubborn stains


We’ve had a few emails come in lately requesting a Tips post on how to get rid of stains, and while none of us consider ourselves to be stain removal experts, we thought it would be a fun post to encourage readers to share their tips and tricks (so please do share!).

What I’ve learned is that it’s really important to treat the stain (even small ones) before you attempt to wash it in the machine, and that the sooner you treat it, the better luck you’ll have at removing the stain. Here are some other tips that quickly come to mind:

  • Soak stains as soon as you can.
  • Dish soap works well on grease stains like butter or oil, and then it’s best to wash with the warmest water that’s safe for the fabric after you’ve let the soap soak into the clothes.
  • Ice cold water is best on blood stains (and again, try to soak as quickly as possible).
  • If stains don’t come out in the wash, don’t put clothes in the dryer (that will set the stain and it will never come out after that). I usually hang-dry clothes that were stained, just to be sure the stain is out completely when dry.
  • Hanging washed clothes to dry in direct sunlight helps to naturally bleach stains (especially fruit and berry stains).
  • Lemon juice, baking soda and vinegar are natural stain removal agents that have been used for years and years.
  • According to my mum, white wine is great at removing red wine stains (who knew?!).
  • When Easton was a baby we spent a week in Paris with my family. My mom and I went to the supermarket to ask for a small container of laundry soap to hand wash some clothes and the lady handed us a bar of basic Marseilles soap and told us to wet the clothes and scrub with the bar of soap. I was skeptical, but I tried it out and it worked SO WELL. It’s a perfect laundry soap to travel with because it’s not a liquid, and it really works! (Esther and Emilie both keep a bar of Marseilles soap in their laundry rooms for this reason.)
  • For sticky stuff like chewing gum or silly putty, you can stick the clothes directly into the freezer and then pull the sticky stuff off the clothes once it’s frozen.
  • For very stubborn stains you can, of course, use a chemical stain remover like Vanish or Oxi Clean (though we usually try to avoid these harsh cleaners because they’re not good for the environment or your clothes).

I think that’s it, but again I’m really excited to see what other tips you all have up your sleeves, so please share!


p.s. Photo above is of the sink in the laundry room of my old house. Oh how I miss that laundry room! : )

Our next ShopUp event: London this December!

The ShopUp at Chelsea Town Hall
ShopUp cookies copy

The ShopUp copy

ShopUp Preview_014

Following on from the excitement of our recent ShopUp event in NYC, we are thrilled to announce our next event which will take place in London on December 10th and 11th, just in time for Christmas and holiday shopping!

We’ve already lined up an awesome selection of shops (start your Christmas lists!), as well as food and fun activities (including Santa!). It’s going to be so good.

Mark your diaries now: December 10/11 at the Chelsea Town Hall. More info here.


Shortstitch, a personal shopping service

Shortstitch -- personal shopping service

Personal shopping — it sounds expensive and luxurious, doesn’t it? It makes me think of those slightly hidden areas on the top floors of high-end department stores. Luxurious… and definitely mysterious.

But fact is: parents are busy. Very busy. Although we love (virtual) shopping and browsing, we don’t always find the time to scout the high streets (or the internet) for the best buys and coolest finds… even though new outfits for the children are desperately needed. Wouldn’t it be ever so handy to have someone (with great taste, obviously!) doing most of the work for you? Who would suggest a few outfits for your child, narrowing down the endless amount of items available to some great quality pieces that you can actually see and feel, and even try on? With no strings attached? Enter Shortstitch — a personal shopping service for busy parents.

Shortstitch personal shopping service

Shortstitch recently asked me to test their service, and I was intrigued by the concept and impressed by their cool, clean and professional looking website. So yes, sure! (Please!) Since Shortstitch focus their service on children aged 4 to 10 year, we decided to ‘pretend’ shop for Ava, who is 5 years old, and is developing quite a fun personal style.

After answering some inquiries on the website sign-in, I received a prompt email with a request to put a time in the agenda for a style consultation over the telephone. I was asked a range of specific questions about Ava — are there any particular items she is in need of this season? Does she practise any sports? Are there other occasions she needs clothes for? We also discussed sizing, colours and general style preferences. The consultation took around 10 minutes, and was quite fun (don’t all mothers love talking about their children?).

Shortstitch personal shopping service

Within 2 days I got a notification that my ‘box of YAY!’ was on the way. And how fun it was to receive a big package on my doorstep shortly after!

Inside, there was a gorgeous selection of clothes, shoes and accessories, all put together with the utmost care in separate packages and carefully wrapped in tissue paper. There was an accompanying personal letter, written full of enthusiasm and confidence, explaining the selections and suggesting combinations that could work for an array of occasions: ‘The navy skirt with the brick polo neck and brown boots will be a great everyday staple for school.’ ‘The leggings are quite versatile too. She will look super stylish arriving at swim class in those.’

Shortstitch personal shopping service

Shortstitch personal shopping service

Shortstitch personal shopping service

There were jackets to choose from, a pair of gorgeous shoes and sturdy boots, adorable tights and socks, hair accessories, and then, of course, a selection of clothes for different occasions. All of exquisite quality, all beautiful, fun and unique, and quite daring — as daring as one could get away with within the ‘style boundaries’ I had set (timeless pieces, muted colours, tasteful patterns, no logos, etc.). I would say, definitely more adventurous than I would have selected myself — which makes it actually really special!

Shortstitch personal shopping service

Shortstitch, personal shopping serviceOK, it’s clear that I was impressed with Shortstitch so far, but, most importantly — Ava absolutely loved what Shortstitch had picked for her as well.

Shortstitch personal shopping service Shortstitch personal shopping service Shortstitch personal shopping service

The luxury of getting to see and feel the garments, trying them on, and returning them to the Shortstitch box if it’s a ‘no keep’ is truly great. Unwanted items can be returned to the box which will be collected by a courier by appointment and free of charge. (However, I can already tell you that it will be quite difficult to return anything in the box!).

Now… of course one wonders, what does this fabulous service cost? Well: nothing! Nothing extra, that is —  you only pay (recommended retail prices) for the items you want to keep. The styling service, the delivery and collection are all on Shortstitch. Nothing mysterious about it. How cool is that?

xxx Esther

This post is sponsored by Shortstitch, a personal shopping service I tested and loved.

The ShopUp NYC: a re-cap in photos!






We’ve just received so many great photos from Nicki Sebastian of our NY ShopUp. We thought we would let the photos speak for themselves and paint the picture of those two fun-filled days. So here’s a re-cap in (loads of) photos. It’s so fun to look through these and be reminded of what a great event it was! (An enormous thank you to our wonderful event manager, Miraya Berke of Pop Productions who did an amazing job.) Here are the photos:  (more…)

ShopUp NYC Day One!
















We had SO much fun at the ShopUp today, and we’re still buzzing from the excitement of having so many people turn out! What a busy, bustling day!!! We met so many wonderful families, watched so many happy kids, ate good food, listened to fun music, and most importantly were SO impressed with all our wonderful shops and all their gorgeous products. We couldn’t have asked for a better day! We wanted to share a selection of photos from our talented photographer, Nicki Sebastian, because we thought these great shots give a perfect re-cap of the day.

A big thank you to all of you who came today, and we hope to see many more of you tomorrow (Monday) from 10am to 5pm for more fun.

See you there!


The ShopUp NYC this coming Sunday and Monday!!

ShopUp NY

501 union

501 union venue

It’s hard to believe it’s finally here!! We’re all headed to NYC this weekend for our long-awaited NY ShopUp! We are so excited to spend a weekend together and to meet and mingle with many of you on Sunday and Monday. We wanted to share a rough schedule of events and activities, so you can make sure to stop by at the best times to suit you and your family.

In addition to an amazing selection of the very best shops all setting up booth in the prettiest Brooklyn venue (see photos above), we’ve also organised some delicious food trucks and super fun activities for the little ones. Here’s what’s in store:

  • Kitchensurfing will be there with cooking demos and samples for the kids on Sunday at 1 pm & 3 pm and Monday at 11 am.
  • We’ll have an activity centre set up by UrbanSitter so you can drop off your children for crafts, face painting and stories while you browse the shops!
  • Lucie Hélène will be there offering magical, glittery face paintings and games!
  • We’ll have live music on Sunday at 2pm from the very talented John-Michael Parker of Great Caesar.
  • We have arranged for the tastiest food trucks to pull up and park inside (yes, inside! so cool!): Sigmund’s PretzelsDriftaway Coffee, Blue Marble Ice Cream (Sunday only), Neapolitan Express Pizza and La Newyorkina popsicles (Monday only). Come hungry!
  • We’ll have fun temporary tattoos from Tattly in the activity center
  • Children’s photography by Rebecca Zeller is available over the two days (no need to make an appointment, though if you want to you can reach out to her here).
  • We’ve lined up an amazing raffle in support of mothers2mothers charity who will be at the event with more info about their great cause and the prize you can win when you buy a raffle ticket. (If you’re unable to attend the event, you can still buy a raffle ticket here for your chance to win!)
  • We’ll have free samples of tasty (and healthy!) children’s snacks from Bitsy’s Brainfood
  • We’ll be selling a limited number of ShopUp totes for $5. First come, first served. So hurry, hurry!

Please note: you don’t even have to worry about parking!  Lyft is offering a discount code for new users: All you have to do is download the app, request a ride, and a driver will come pick you up in minutes. Use code SHOPUP for $20 off!

It’s really shaping up to be SUCH a fun day out, and we look forward to seeing you there!!

Esther, Emilie & Courtney xx

p.s. A big thank you to our event manager Miraya Berke from Pop Productions for all her hard work over the past few months, and also to all our sponsors, including:

Tuesday Tips: The 3-minute morning music routine


No matter how early we get up, school mornings always seem to end up rushed for us. They start out relaxed and slow (there’s no other way for me!), but as the clock ticks forward, the stress levels increase drastically. At the end, there’s always that moment where everybody is running around like a headless chicken. I’m brushing and braiding hair at the last minute, while quickly spot-cleaning the faces I see in front of me. The kids are running up and down the stairs looking for their gym clothes, or are frantically trying to tie their shoelaces (that is, if they are even able to find a matching pair of shoes in the shoe basket). I get annoyed, voices are raised, the chaos is complete.

Until… a (clearly very clever!) friend of mine gave me the golden tip yesterday. She told me about their brilliant system: at 8AM their Sonos music system automatically starts playing a song. When that happens, all family members know it’s drill time: they have exactly 3 minutes (or however long the song lasts) to make sure they are ready in the hallway, coats on, shoes on, school and gym bags ready, etc. How clever (and fun!) is that? I can just imagine their family, dancing and singing and happily getting ready in the morning, laughing while making sure to be ready before the song ends!

My friend also told me, that all family members get to choose their favourite song one day of the week. Apparently it is possible to program specific music at specific times in the Sonos system, so for instance on Monday at 8AM dad’s song of choice sounds through the house, on Tuesday it’s the daughter’s favourite song, etc. So fun!

I thought this is such a clever idea! Tonight at dinnertime I’m going to ask my kids to each choose a song — let’s see if this is the magic solution for a smooth morning routine! (At least it will be fun to try!)

xxx Esther

PS As always, I’m happy to hear any tips or tricks that might help making our mornings more relaxed!

PPS Before you think otherwise — this photo was taken on a weekend morning. A totally different vibe altogether!

What’s your child’s sleeping routine like?


I was recently chatting to a girlfriend about our children’s sleeping routines, and I though it was interesting to hear how different they are. You see, my children have never had mid-day naps, but have always taken morning naps instead.

I think this originated from when I was a new mum, and Sara had just been born. Totally unexperienced and needing a guideline to follow, I briefly practised Gina Ford ‘s schedule. It didn’t take long (her book with super strict schedules made me a completely stressed out mum) but the accidental result was that Sara ended up having a longer morning nap instead of the more general mid-day nap.

I liked the practicality of the morning nap — while my baby was sleeping, I could shower, get dressed, do laundry and some cleaning, and then by the time she woke up we would be ready for lunch and to go out of the house. (When she was little she would have a second brief nap around 4PM, but she would be happy to have this nap in her pram or pushchair, so it wouldn’t restrict me from going out of the house.) When Pim was born not so long after, I naturally followed the same schedule, which worked great for him too. And I have been doing the same with my other children as well — they all have had longer morning naps instead of the midday nap!


Casper still sleeps in the mornings. We usually put him to bed somewhere between 9 and 10, and he usually sleeps for an hour to an hour and a half. At the end of the day, around 7:30, 8PM, he’s ready to go to bed again —  we usually put him to bed before his bigger siblings, allowing us some quiet reading time with the older children (who are supposed to be in bed around 8:30, but if I’m honest, it’s often later, especially now that it’s summer and warm and light till late!).


I thought it was interesting to bring up this subject, as I know that most people let their child sleep after lunch. I guess you just tweak your schedule to what works best for your family! I would love to know, what kind of sleeping schedule do (or did) you follow with your children? Are you very strict with your routines, or more flexible?

xxx Esther

Tuesday Tips: Meal planning

meal planning Bethie

Esther and I were talking the other day about dinnertime and how neither of us are very good at planning the week’s meals out in advance. Esther has always impressed me with her spur-of-the-moment, find-something-in-the-cupboards type of cooking, which she’s very good at doing. I thankfully have a husband who is good at that, which means that as a result I’ve become a bit lazy about planning and shopping for meals in advance. The problem in our house is that we end up returning to the same trusty meals we’ve made over and over again and we rarely try new recipes or get very creative in the kitchen. It can be so easy to get stuck in a cooking rut, and I’m definitely guilty of it.

Esther has already shared a Tuesday Tips post about encouraging kids to eat healthily and how important it is to introduce new foods so children grow to be adventurous eaters, so we thought it might be good to share some tips for how to cook adventurously and how to plan ahead so you avoid the cooking rut.

We decided to ask our ShopUp event manager, Bethie, to share some tips. Bethie is one of the most organised meal planners and mama cooks we know, and I’m excited to share her tips with you:

Bethie in the Kitchen

charlotte in kitchen

I try to make meal planning as easy as possible. For me, this means using my smart phone to help me plan and organise. There are three apps I use to help me prepare our nightly meals: Pinterest, iPhone “notes” and my grocery app. I use Pinterest to inspire me to try new recipes (though flipping through favourite cookbooks also works!), my iPhone “notes” to make a list of dinners for the week (with links to online recipes), and my grocery app to make sure I have all the groceries I need for the week in advance (I prefer using my local green grocer for fresh produce).

When I browse Pinterest during the week I keep an eye out for easy, weeknight meals. Pictures can be deceiving, so I always read the recipe to make sure there isn’t anything too involved. If I find something that looks yummy, relatively healthy, and easy to make (or easy to adapt), I’ll pin it to my weeknight dinner board. Then, once I try and like a recipe, I pin it to my “Recipes I Love” board so I can find it again easily! I also follow some fun and inspirational Instagram accounts such as @smittenkitchen, @sproutedkitchen, @hostthetoast, and @biddiekitchen (a new favourite!). These also serve as great inspiration to help me add new recipes into the mix.

Once a week, usually on Saturday, my daughter (Charlotte) and I sit down to meal plan together. We start by looking at the calendar. What does our week look like? Are there any nights where we won’t be in for dinner? Will we have guests? Any nights where we need a really quick meal? From there I go to my “notes” app where I have an ongoing list of our weeknight meals. (I started this a few years ago and now have a big list to browse if I’m stuck for ideas!) Depending on what our week looks like, I choose a few meals to cook from scratch and a few quick meals. Charlotte likes to help me choose meals which is helpful to make her feel a part of the process. She is less likely to complain at mealtimes this way! I try to choose things she can help with, and any given week could look like this:

Monday: sweet potato and kale quinoa fritters
Tuesday: pre-made falafel with hummus, spinach and pita
Wednesday: one pot salmon pasta
Thursday: lentil soup (we like to add spinach to this so it is a one-pot meal)
Friday: homemade pizzas (we purchase the dough)

Tuesday’s pre-made falafel and Friday’s pizza are the quick meals for the week. They can be prepped and cooked in under 30 minutes. The other three meals are also prepped in under 20 minutes or so, but take additional time to cook.

On a side note, we aren’t vegetarians, but we eat primarily vegetarian meals during the week. Vegetarian meals often cost less and take less time to cook which is helpful. I also like that my kids can help with the meal prep more with vegetarian meals (mashing potatoes, adding ingredients, stirring, etc.) where I would worry about helping as much when raw meat is involved.

Once I have a plan for the week, I order everything from my grocery app to arrive Sunday evening. (We don’t have a car, so ordering online is much easier for us!) This way I have no excuses when dinnertime rolls around. We also receive a weekly seasonal box of veggies from Abel & Cole, and this inspires me to try to plan meals around what foods are in season (and be more creative with foods I might not buy otherwise).

There you have it! This is what works for me and my family, but I would love to hear what works for you! Please share your favourite weeknight meals or meal planning tips below or share them on Instagram with the hashtag #babyccinomeals.

(All photos above are from Bethie’s Instagram feed. Thank you, Bethie, for sharing with us!) 

Exciting raffle prize (in support of mothers2mothers)

ShopUp raffle 5
Passported raffle Prize for the ShopUP
Passported St. Lucia prize for the ShopUp

St. Lucia hotel prize

Our NY ShopUp event is now less than three weeks away and we couldn’t be more excited! All the planning and organising is now well under way, and we’ve been excitedly spending the last few days booking tickets and planning our own journeys to NYC. How fun it will be to finally be there after all the months of planning!

We are thrilled to announce that we have teamed up with the wonderful new family travel site, Passported, to host a raffle prize in support of our charity partner, mothers2mothers. Passported has teamed up with Capella Hotels to donate a family trip to St. Lucia’s luxury Capella Marigot Bay hotel (pictured above). The prize includes a 3-night stay in a Capella Suite (with space for two adults and two children), daily breakfast, one dinner, one rainforest ranger experience and complimentary airport transfers. It is such an amazing prize!

We’ll be selling raffle tickets during the ShopUp in NYC, but we wanted to open it up to all of our readers so that people can enter the raffle from anywhere, even if you’re an ocean away. So… you can now donate $5 to mothers2mothers now to be entered into the raffle. Click here to donate and enter to win.

Thank you, Passported and Capella, for the generous prize. And we look forward to seeing many of you at the ShopUp in just a few week’s time!

Courtney x

Welcome sweet baby Orla!


Our lovely team member Helen gave birth to a beautiful baby daughter yesterday, named Orla Rae. Isn’t she just perfect? We’re so proud and happy! Enjoy these precious moments with your new baby and your family sweet Helen!

xxx Esther

See you next week!

kids on bainbridge island

Emilie and vivi copy

Esther's house in France

We’ve decided to take a little blogging break this week to enjoy some time away from our computers. We are each in our favourite summer spots enjoying slow, lazy days with our families, and we hope you won’t mind if we push the pause button this week and resume as normal next week? In the meantime, here are some of our favourite blog posts from the past year in case you missed them:

See you next week!

Courtney, Esther and Emilie xx

P.S. Photos above are from our Instagram feeds (Courtney, Emilie & Esther) where you can follow along this week if you miss us. ; )

Dinner – Ready and Served

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Last week we were on holiday in France with Esther and her family. It was such fun seeing the children interact, getting to know each other again and to see how they have all changed in what feels like a blink of an eye (it is also so nice to hang out with a great friend and have time to talk about anything and everything for hours ;)).


For one night on our trip the kids were responsible for dinner, from deciding on the menu, to buying the groceries to cooking the whole meal. Apparently this was the best activity ever — there were secret meetings in which they decided what to make, shopping lists had to be put together and recipes had to be followed.


And it all went off without a hitch! All kids still have all their 10 digits, nobody burnt themselves and we ended up with a genuinely good meal and some very proud children. Kids feel responsible, parents get time off to sip a glass of wine while watching the sun set — everyone is a winner.


PS Apologies for the bad quality photos, we were just quickly snapping on our phones.

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.

Tuesday Tips: breathe first!

breathe first tuesday tips

I’m not sure if I can state this generally, but I have the gut feeling I can speak for all mothers here: mamas, we do not take enough time for ourselves. (Speaking for myself, I definitely don’t.)

Isn’t it so easy for us mothers to forget about ourselves, to always put our children and family before ourselves? Aren’t we reprogrammed, the moment we give birth, to dedicate every second of the rest of our lives to the wellbeing of our babies?

It’s of course a very logical natural phenomenon, and it all perfectly makes sense out of an evolutionary point of view: we’re just another mammal mother fighting for the survival of our offspring.

However, never taking time for ourselves doesn’t, in the end, make us a better mum. It makes us stressed, unhappy, and tired. We need time to unwind, to feel good about ourselves, to be happy and loving and patient.

I recently thought about the safety procedures in an airplane. I always specifically notice (probably because it is so counter-intuitive) the phrase ‘please put on your own oxygen mask before helping your child’. I would always think of my babies first! But it makes sense, doesn’t it — we need to be able to breathe first, before we can help our children to breathe. It’s so perfectly simple: we need to look after ourselves in order to be able to look after our children. We need to breathe first. We need to clear out our busy minds. Because there’s no way we can look after them well if we don’t look after ourselves!

xxx Esther

PS dresses from Smokks

Doodle Nest art books — the perfect way to preserve your children’s art

Doodle Nest book
Doodle nest art book
Doodle Nest Easton's art

As part of the process of packing up our house I’ve come across all of the children’s art from the past ten years. I don’t save everything they make, but I do like to keep our favourite pieces, and of course I always keep the sweet love notes and cards. As a result, we have several big plastic Ikea boxes in our basement holding stacks and stacks of the children’s art.

But for what? Sometimes I wonder what the point is when they’re just down in the basement in a plastic box, hidden away for who knows how many years. We used to hang our favourite pieces in a gallery art wall in the hallway of our last house, but we took them all down when we moved and those too went into a storage. I needed to do something to preserve and display our favourite pieces, and that’s when I discovered Doodle Nest and their wonderful service.

Doodle Nest takes you children’s art and creates bespoke art books, collages, and gift cards for you to keep and treasure forever. All you have to do is gather up your favourite art and send it over to the team at Doodle Nest, and they do all the work to create your book (see photos below of all the art I sent over! I love getting this behind-the-scenes glimpse of founders, Andrea and Constanza, as they sort through it all).

The behind the scenes at Doodle Nest
Doodle Nest behind the scenes

Doodle nest art book eastons art

Andrea and Constanza thought it would be fun to divide the book into chapters for each child, so they created a little profile page for each child with a photo and a self portrait. It is such a great way to view all the artwork on an individual basis, and I also love that they put the child’s age at the bottom of each piece, so that the kids know how old they were when they made each piece.

Doodle Nest book Quin's art

Doodle Nest marlow's art

Doodle Nest book Ivy's art

It really is such a beautiful book, and I’m so happy to have it.

Now… to find a special place to store it while we’re away for the next year… ! : )

Courtney x

Tuesday tips: Surviving long car journeys with children

Tuesday Tips car journeys with kidsOK, the title of this Tuesday Tips might be slightly exaggerated, but really — I’m not the biggest fan of long car journeys. And especially not with children! I feel like a snack service, entertainment centre and traffic control centre all in one, and that for a very. long. time.

Soon we’ll have another lengthy car journey ahead of us — we’ll be driving to the Loire Valley in France for a fun week of camping with Emilie and her girls, and afterwards we’ll continue our trip to the Cantal as usual. So not a bad time to pen down some tips to make long car journeys with children as pleasurable as possible! (And of course, I’m hoping for your added tips and tricks to make our journey easier…) Here goes!

  • With smaller children, it’s a good idea to plan (part of) your journey during their nap time.
  • Bring baby wipes for sticky hands and faces etc (preferably non-scented ones if you’re sensitive to smells with regards to car sickness)
  • Bring some plastic bags for trash.
  • Bring plenty of water in refillable bottles. I like to give each of my kids their own bottle.
  • Bring enough snacks (nuts, easy-to-eat fruits like grapes, and a few little sandwiches).
  • Bring audio books on Ipods with headphones. My kids are happily entertained for hours with these. You can also think about making a playlist for the whole family to enjoy — we love sing-alongs to kill the time in our car!
  • Bring (chapter) books for who reads, but only if they don’t get car sick (my kids are ok to read on straight highways)
  • Bring notebooks with pens, or a travel journal to work in on the road. These  are great too.
  • Bring neck pillows and thin sheets — great to use as blankets or as a sun shade.
  • For the last few hours, you can maybe play a fun film on an Ipad or car video set (with headphones).
  • For my own entertainment during the hours I’m not driving myself, I like to bring some crochet or knitting.

That’s it!! Wish me luck for in a few weeks… ; ) And as always, all tips and tricks are very, very welcome!

xxx Esther

Some news to share

Adamo family 2

For the past few months, despite lots of big changes and careful planning, I’ve kept uncharacteristically quiet about some things. When we sold our house back in February, I managed to skirt all the why and where questions, and to be honest, it’s been a bit of an uncomfortable secret to keep (it turns out I’m not very good at keeping my own secrets. haha!). But… I knew that we first had to tell some important people (family, jobs, schools, etc.) and get everything lined up first before I could spill the beans.

And now finally, I get to share!

Michael and I have decided to make a really big dream a reality. We’ve decided to push pause on our busy lives here in London and take a year out to spend time with our children. We’ve managed to sell our house and lots of our belongings, we’ve dropped lots of stuff at charity shops and have pawned off our beloved house plants and treasures to friends. We’ll be storing some of the remaining stuff in a storage unit, and in two weeks we’ll be heading off on a big adventure around the world.

We’ll be spending the summer with friends and family in the US, and then come September we’ll head down to South America to explore countries like Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Peru. Our journey will then take us to Australia, New Zealand and a couple countries in Asia before returning to explore more of Europe next summer. A family trip around the world: a dream I’ve had since I was a young child.

We look forward to immersing ourselves in the culture and language of each place we visit. We hope to experience how the locals live, what they eat, how they cook it, how they work, how they learn, how they play, and how they love as families. I want to discover and teach our children the history, theology, and geography of each place, but more than that, I want to discover a deeper part of myself and gain an understanding of the values that matter most to us. For as much as we want to experience the amazing things this world has to offer, we are more interested in slowing down our days, enjoying time as a family, being more present, listening, really listening, to each other, and emerging with a happiness and fulfillment that will hopefully influence the rest of our lives. Because life is so short, and our kids grow up too quickly. Because Easton is ten years old, and it won’t be long before he won’t be excited about an adventure like this. Because now is the time.

I’ve written about our upcoming trip and the reasons behind our decision in a piece for The Telegraph which has gone online today and which will come out in the Telegraph’s weekend supplement this Saturday (my first ever published piece in a national newspaper! eeek!). Please pop over and have a read, or pick up the paper this weekend.

Thank you for all of your support (and patience) with me.

Courtney x

p.s. I will, of course, still be blogging here over the coming year.

The photo above was taken by Andrew Crowley for The Telegraph. You can see more of his photos in the article here

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