Last month at our ShopUp event, I had the pleasure of meeting fellow London mum, Louise Hannon. We started talking about children and life in London, and she told me her incredible story about her son’s illness, his life-threatening surgeries at Great Ormond Street Hospital and his heart transplant through organ donation. We spoke about organ donation and how important it is to spread the word about it. Did you know that, according to statistics, more than 90% of us would consider donating our organs and yet, here in the UK, only about 30% of us are registered? It all comes down to spreading awareness.
Here in the UK, more than 10,000 people need a transplant and three people die every single day waiting for one. In the US, there are more than 120,000 needing a transplant and 17 people die each day waiting for an organ. Also, one organ donor can save up to eight lives!
I was so moved by Louise’s story, we asked her to share her story with us and she very kindly agreed. Here is her story, a rather brief re-cap of a very tumultuous past 18 months:
On 28th January 2014, my six-year-old son Joe had a life saving heart transplant at Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital. This was due to the amazing generosity of a lady who, through organ donation, chose to save other’s lives in the event of her death.
Up until summer 2013 he had been a non–stop little boy, full of energy, who loved being outdoors, playing football and climbing trees. We had just moved to South Australia when he suddenly became unwell, and Joe received a diagnosis of ‘Dilated Cardiomyopathy’ – serious heart failure that would most likely require transplant in order for him to survive. We were utterly devastated and struggled to deal with the news especially being on the other side of the world away from friends and family. Calling our parents back in the UK to tell them the news was incredibly hard and the first of many difficult phone calls we had to make to them over the following months.
After a month in Adelaide Women’s and Children’s Hospital Joe was repatriated back to London in a medical jet in the hope that he would receive a heart transplant more quickly in the UK. However, Joe’s heart transplant did not come as quickly as we had all hoped and he continued to decline despite the maximum IV drugs he was on. It was frightening to see how quickly his heart was giving up and the effect this had on him as he lost huge amounts of weight and would lie listlessly on the bed unable to really talk to us. We were desperate to get the phone call each day to say a heart was available. We were also aware though that when a heart did come that meant a family somewhere else would be experiencing tragedy and this was such a difficult process to reconcile ourselves with.
We were told his only option now was to undergo open heart surgery for a ‘Berlin heart machine’ to be fitted to keep him alive until transplant. He had a number of serious complications whilst on the machine requiring further surgery including pneumonia and bleeding into his lungs. There was a huge amount of uncertainty as to whether he would pull through and we literally held our breath for weeks willing him to fight and get better. Our four months in intensive care was an awful experience of watching him suffer horribly. I naively hoped that, though unconscious, he wouldn’t suffer pain. I hoped that it was only us suffering as we watched and waited to see if he would recover. The reality was that he was often conscious and very distressed, unable to speak or swallow due to the breathing tube in his throat. We would watch him cry and feel completely helpless. This was the hardest part of the entire ordeal.
His biggest complication arising from the Berlin heart machine was the severe stroke he suffered on Boxing Day, 2013, which is one of the most significant risks associated with the Berlin Heart machine. After the first brain surgery to relieve the bleed in his brain we were told he would not survive and we asked my parents to bring our three year old daughter up to the hospital to say goodbye. They operated for a second time as a last ditch attempt and he miraculously survived, but was left paralysed down his left side. A heart finally became available a month later and Joe had his long awaited transplant. We then began the arduous road to recovery, involving rehab to help him learn to walk again and use his left arm. Joe spent a total of six and a half months in hospital, enduring thirteen operations and a further six weeks in a children’s neurodisability rehab centre.
He is truly a living miracle and we are hugely proud of all that he has battled through at such a young age. We are slowly coming to terms with what has happened to our family in the last eighteen months and the far reaching effect this has had on all our lives. We never thought something like this would happen to us. We had coasted along in life ticking off our plans for career, children, and travelling, believing we were in control of our lives and future. As Christians, this experience has taught us we need to rely on God who is the only one who has ultimate control and it has been a hard test of our faith.
Joe takes lots of medicines every day and will do so for the rest of his life. He can now walk short distances and has returned to his old school part time. Day to day life holds lots of challenges for him that can leave him angry and depressed. He is much more volatile as a result of his stroke and tires easily. We also live each day knowing that a heart transplant is a palliative option, not a cure, with the average life expectancy being ten years. As we near the first anniversary of our son’s transplant we think about the woman who donated her heart to him and the family she left behind. To see our son in the garden kicking a football around again or playing with his sister reminds us of the incredible gift she gave us. (Below are some photos of Joe since coming home from the hospital.)
Please consider signing up online for organ donation, for yourself and your children that in the unfortunate event of an untimely death, a second chance at life for others can be brought out of tragedy. Signing up for organ donation costs nothing but could mean everything to another family facing their worst nightmare.
Louise, thank you so much for sharing your story with us, and we wish you all the best with your two beautiful children.
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My baby turned two a couple weeks ago and like a good mother I had organised a photoshoot with Polly Geal from Little Kin Photography for the day of her birthday. Actually, the honest truth is that I booked the photoshoot for November 12th because it was the only empty day in my diary… and coincidentally it turned out to be her birthday. (She’s my fourth child, after all. Tell me I’m not the only parent who forgets these things!)
But what a lucky coincidence! I’m so happy to have these photos of my birthday girl and our happy morning together. There was a notable excitement in the air that morning and Marlow was full of extra cheek and enthusiasm knowing it was her special day. It was really the perfect opportunity to capture her spunky little spirit on camera, and I think Polly did such a wonderful job (I’m so impressed any of these photos are in focus as Marlow did not stop moving the entire morning! A true testament of her photography skills!). Here are some of my favourite photos from the selection she sent over:
I love that Polly captured the excitement in the air but also managed to snap some real everyday moments: Marlow closing the shutters even though we asked her to keep them open (cheeky girl!), me trying unsuccessfully to get Marlow to sit on my lap on my bed, putting Marlow’s tights back on after a trip to the potty, Marlow running around the kitchen refusing to stand still, etc. Ordinary moments on a not-so ordinary day. Just looking at these photos makes me want to smooch her sweet, smooshy face. Like this:
Thank you so much, Polly, for spending Marlow’s birthday morning with us and for capturing these sweet moments. I’m thinking I might organise photo shoots for future birthdays! Clever idea that was. ; )
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I have a love/hate relationship with Instagram. Most of the time I love it and find the community there so wonderful and supportive and inspiring, but you know… there are days… ! : )
One of the biggest reasons why I do love it is how easy it is to make Instagram books over at Blurb. You literally just sign in with your Instagram account and the photos in your feed will be automatically uploaded, making it super easy to pick and choose your photos for your book. Unlike some of the more complex systems where you have to download the book-making software to your computer, these little Instagram photo books can be made in less than five minutes! Nothing intimidating about it.
We have a little collection of Instagram books from the past couple years and I’m currently in the process of creating one from our recent trip to Venice. It’s such a great way of documenting your travels or a special occasion and so fun to look at them and remember those happy family moments. My boys took the books to bed with them the other night and I found them scattered around inside their bed the next morning!
Last month I created a ‘Summer 2014′ photo book and it makes me so happy to look at those sunny summery photos! (Fast-forward to next summer, please!) I’m not sure if it’s a new feature, but I realised when I made this one that you can even add extra pages, so this book is a bit thicker than our others, and definitely one of our favourites.
Blurb doesn’t just do Instagram books — they offer all sorts of wonderful book-making tools and different types of photo book options. You can even create your own magazine. How cool is that?! And I love their suggestion of making baby photo books and adding captions and comments to create a special book all about your baby. The possibilities are endless!
p.s. This post was sponsored by Blurb, a company I’ve used and trusted for a long time, and a new member of our shopping portal.
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Here are my four babies photographed by Maud Fontein for this year’s Happy Holidays shoot. They’ve grown a bit since last year, haven’t they? I’m always impressed by how Maud can take such sweet photos of all my kids — she is so wonderful, makes children so quickly at ease. My kids actually look forward to going over to Maud’s — they know they’ll be in for a laugh (which does have to do with the fact that Maud lets me sit on a whoopee cushion!).
Maud also (very quickly!) took some portraits of the kids individually. So sweet. I love how their personalities show so well, Sara already getting so big…
Maud will be joining us this year again for the ShopUp, and she’s already taking bookings for her happy holidays shoots. I love this year’s theme! So if you’re in London on December 3rd or 4th, you can have your babies photographed this way as well. : )
Also — Maud will again be bringing these great Christmas Cards Toolkits (designed by Vivian from de Liefdesfabriek) to London. Filled with 20 cards, black envelopes, masking tape, stickers and a white pen — everything you need to turn your photos into a beautiful holiday card. As you can see, I already started mine!
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Founded by Zoie Kingsbery Coe a few years ago, Kid&Coe is a booking service that lets families rent out their house when they are away, so that other families can have the convenience of traveling to interesting places while staying in a local family home. Instead of going though the trouble of booking an expensive hotel room, or (if you have several children) facing the difficulty of finding hotel rooms with connecting doors, Kid&Coe offers you the opportunity to stay in a family house with children’s beds, toys, books, a kitchen filled with everything a family needs, highchairs, washing machines, etc. It’s SO much more fun to stay in a family house than in an impersonal hotel room, and it is SO much more practical as well!
We’ve written about Kid&Coe before here at Babyccino Kids, but I wanted to tell you how great it is to list your house there too. Our previous home was listed on the Kid&Coe website, and last May we had an inquiry from a family from Singapore who came to visit Amsterdam and was interested in renting our house during the spring break. We decided to rent out our house and make a little trip to Germany for those days, to visit our friends from Macarons and some other cool destinations along the way. It was a really great trip and we discovered so many wonderful places. And… the best thing — the money we made from renting out our house paid for our little holiday! When we came back, it was so nice to find a sweet letter from the family who stayed in our house, telling us how much they had enjoyed our house and how their little girl had loved playing with Ava’s toys.
Listing your property on the Kid&Coe website is super easy to do. The application process is straight forward, and the Kid&Coe team is so great to work with. They write great things about your house, and make sure the photos look fantastic.
Because we just moved house our current place is not listed on the website, but this is the flat we always visit in Antwerp when we go there for a very important work weekend ; ). I really recommend listing your house with Kid&Coe — it’s so easy to do, and so worth it!
PS The first five people to list their property on the Kid&Coe website though Babyccino Kids will get FREE professional photography!!
PPS We’re excited for Kid&Coe to be the main sponsor of our ShopUp event in London this December — we look forward to seeing you there and if you have any questions about listing your property on the Kid&Coe website, their team will be happy to answer any questions you might have.
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Artist Jennifer Vallez from Sophie & Lili recently sent over these sweet watercolour portraits of my little family, and I love them so much. I love that she captured my children’s personalities so well, and all of it based on a couple Instagram photos I have recently posted. My kids are especially fond of them — Ivy has already asked to frame them and put them up in her room. So sweet.
Sophie & Lili offer a custom watercolour portrait service so if you would like her to paint your family, she’s your girl. I just love that she managed to capture my family at this special time when all my babies are still babies. What a wonderful keepsake!
p.s. Photos above are taken from the Sophie & Lili Instagram feed.
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I’m not very organised when it comes to using my digital photos — I just take a photo, post it to Instagram, and then it disappears in a virtual cloud somewhere. Actually, it wasn’t very different back when I took analog photos — instead of a virtual cloud, photos would disappear in a dusty box, waiting to be organised and glued into albums…
Friends of my parents, whose house I visited often when I was little, used to frame a selection of their photos in big collages once every year. They would choose photos of birthdays, vacations, and life in general, photos of their family, mixed with dear friends. They cut out parts of photos, circles, triangles — whatever worked — and glued them without any order or organisation. But the collages looked so cool and I loved looking at them (and finding myself in the sea of faces)!
I recently commissioned Natalie from The Little Square Gallery to print a selection of my Instagram photos. To create a moment in time, six months of snapshots, as a visual reminder of the things that happened and made us happy. The frame arrived a little while ago, and it is sitting on our new landing waiting for it’s final spot. And we love it! I see it many times a day, and am reminded of those sweet moments. The children love looking at it as well. Casper is especially intrigued — every day he studies the photos and calls out all of the names of his siblings… sweet boy!
Working with Natalie was such a pleasure. She helped me pick the best photos, worked on them to make them perfect in colour, balancing light and contrast, and created a truly wonderful collage, framed beautifully in a solid wood frame. The photos are giclée printed on thick, cotton-rag fine art paper, creating a really cool floating effect that sets this collage apart! I will definitely work with Natalie again, creating more of these compilations — because I definitely like these moments in time much better in a frame, than in a virtual cloud!
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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?!
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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.
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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.
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I was invited to try out the new Birdie London pop-up photo booth at Liberty last weekend, so the girls and I went over to check it out. We spent an hour in a pretty little private room in Liberty, playing dress up while they snapped some photos. It was such a fun time, and even Ivy (who hates having her photo taken) enjoyed it! I just got the photos back, and I LOVE them! I hope you don’t mind me sharing some with you? My favourite is the one where Marlow is crying! Such a perfect, imperfect photo! : )
Birdie London will be running pop-up photo booths in Liberty throughout the year, so it’s definitely worth checking their site and signing up for news on future dates. They offer one-hour photo sessions for £300, and then after the session they email you all the photos (for free) and you get to keep them, print them and use the files as you wish.
I’m definitely going to print some of these photos and hang them up in our house. And I’m already looking forward to the next session so I can get some photos with all my children!
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Last week I took my four kids over to Maud Fontein to get them photographed at her newest creative idea, the Happy Holidays Shoot. With just a sledge and a black and white background (Elizabeth Dunker‘s wonderful Spruce wallpaper for Photowall!), she created a wonderfully festive and modern setting for her shoot. And she managed to take a few really cute photos of my troops in no longer than ten minutes time! (Chapeau!)
I also picked up a box of the gorgeous cards that Vivian Dony from Donydesign designed in cooperation with Maud Fontein to house the photos of the Happy Holidays Shoot. Each box contains 20 very pretty cards, black envelopes and matching envelope seal stickers, cool masking tape and a white pen. Everything to make it super easy to create our own, personalised holiday cards with the contents of the box and the prints from Maud’s shoot. And I’m super pleased with the results! The cards look so cool and crafty and original.
If you’re coming to our ShopUp event in London this Sunday or Monday (we hope so!), do bring your kids! Maud will be there with her Happy Holidays setup, and Vivian will be selling the cool boxed card sets as well. The perfect opportunity to get cute family photos, and everything you need to make these cool holiday cards!! (And in case you’re not interested in specific holiday photos, Maud will also bring a more generic background, like the one you can see here.) It will be such fun!
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Remember last week when I told you about our little family photo session in the park with Vanessa Berberian? And how I was so worried she wouldn’t get any cute photos because my children wouldn’t cooperate/sit still/smile/behave… etc. Well, she just sent over the photos and I’m so so impressed with her! She managed to do it! And she also snuck in some really cute candid photos when we weren’t paying attention. My heart literally bursts when I see the photos of Marlow giving me kisses! Oh, I could just eat her up. I’m so happy to have this sweet phase of hers captured. And I love the photos of my husband with the children. And… she even managed to get a photo of all six of us looking at the camera, all mostly smiling! Miracle I’m telling you.
Vanessa is a super experienced photographer who has worked in all areas of photography, from environmental portraiture to travel and food. She is now focusing her work on intimate documentary portraiture and family photography in and around the London area. (You can read more about her here.) If you’re also looking for family portraits or photos of your children, I highly recommend getting in touch with her. Her website is also super easy to use — she will upload your photos onto a gallery on her site and you’ll be able to download them easily onto your computer to use and to print. So handy!
Thank you Vanessa for taking these sweet photos!
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The ShopUp is now less than 3 weeks away and we’re in the final countdown. Esther came to London last week and we spent two days ironing out all the details and making final preparations. We spent nearly an entire day at the venue going over all the logistics and getting super excited as we planned everything out. It’s really going to be a great event — we can’t wait to fill that space with all of our amazing shops, and of course all of our wonderful visitors!!
The tote bags have also arrived! What do you think? Aren’t they cool? We’ll be handing one out for every visitor who attends the event. So come and get yours on December 1st and 2nd!
p.s. We ordered the totes from BIDBI and they have been really great to work with, and we’re really pleased with the final result. BIDBI offers eco-friendly, fairly traded cotton and canvas bags. We got the Deluxe Canvas Bags and they’re nice and thick with long straps, and they’re spacious enough to fill with lots of great gifts and goodies. (We can’t wait to fill our own totes!)
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Whoop whoop!! We’re SO excited about all of these fabulous shops and brands that are joining us at the ShopUp! (For those of you who missed the announcement — we’re organising our first ever live shopping event in London at the beginning of December!) In addition to the great shopping, we’ll have superb entertainment to keep the little ones busy… mini family photo-shoots… little bits to eat and drink… and there’s a raffle with a fantastic prize! It will be a such a fun day out, and such a perfectly easy way to buy sweet presents for all of the little lovelies in your life!
We can’t wait to go shopping at the ShopUp ourselves!! So… mark your diaries, tell your friends, invite your family, and we look forward to seeing you all there!!
xxx Courtney and Esther
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I am really, super excited about the recent launch of Kid & Coe, a vacation rental website featuring stylish family homes all over the world. Imagine travelling to New York, Paris, San Francisco, Copenhagen… Mexico even (!) and being able to stay in a family home, complete with child-sized beds, toys for your kids, a proper kitchen to cook meals, and other family-friendly features to really make you feel at home wherever you go.
Each Kid & Coe listing offers a great description of the property as well as a ‘good to know’ section of family-friendly considerations (closest parks, baby proof safety measures, dishwasher and washing machines, etc.). You can also read a description of the neighbourhood and surrounding area, and of course view loads of great photos of each property (truthfully, it’s like viewing the pages of Elle Decor – some of these homes are so beautiful and inspiring – it’s worth travelling just for the chance to stay in them!).
Not only is it a great place to find stylish family rentals, but you can also list your home with Kid & Coe if you’re interested in renting it out while you’re away. Registering your home is really easy, and the team at Kid & Coe is extremely helpful. It’s easy to enter the dates you’ll be away and manage your property listing and information. I know because I recently signed us up our home and it was really a piece of cake. I’m excited to see the process of booking and renting out our home… and I’m even more excited to stay in some of the other amazing homes around the world. I definitely have the travel bug just looking at this site!
p.s. Here’s the link for the beautiful London-based home featured in these photos. (Don’t you just want to move straight in?!!)
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We are really, really excited to announce some BIG news: we are organising our first ever LIVE shopping event!! The ShopUp will be held in London this coming December and will bring together a selection of the finest shops and brands all under one roof! We’re thrilled to offer the chance to shop the good ‘old-fashioned’ way — to see and feel the products in person and fill up your shopping bag with wonderful gifts and goodies!
The ShopUp will take place on Sunday the 1st and Monday the 2nd of December, just in time for the holidays! The event will be held at the Cecil Sharp House in the trendy, family-friendly neighbourhood of Primrose Hill (a very short walk from the park, the London Zoo and the buzzing high street) — the perfect setting for a fun, family day out! We are especially excited about the wonderful shops we’ve lined up so far! (You can see a list of the participating shops here.) We just can’t wait to go shopping ourselves!
We will also be offering a whole host of fun activities for children, and there is also a charming café located downstairs with a selection of hot drinks, snacks and nibbles. Shops will be offering discounts, prizes will be available to win, and canvas tote bags will be handed out to all visitors. So come shopping with us — we can’t wait to see you there!
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Sending birth announcements is a wonderful tradition. Here in the Netherlands, one of the first things we do after a baby is born is to let the printer know what the name, weight and time of birth of the baby is so that the birth announcement can be printed and sent out as soon as possible. I love receiving them from my friends and family!
Aren’t these custom designed birth announcements by ColorQuarry just gorgeous? Amanda McCorkle started designing them from scratch for clients around the time her little girl Ada was born in 2010. I think they are so, so lovely — there is so much detail and originality in each and every one of them.
Amanda designs beautiful wedding announcements too. Do take a look at her Etsy shop!
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We’ve teamed up with the fabulous travel site i-escape which offers a well curated selection of stylish travel destinations along with an easy-to-use booking service. They’ve kindly agreed to scour their collection of chic family friendly hotels, villas & apartments to narrow down 10 of their favourite stylish seaside escapes. Perfect for summer holiday planning! Both Esther and I have previously booked holidays with i-escape and they were some of our favourite family vacations, so we are especially excited to discover their suggestions. Take a look at these ten great seaside escapes all hand-picked from their dedicated Kids Collection:
1.) Almyra, Paphos, Cyprus
Stressed-out parents can fully recharge their batteries on the beach, by the pool or in the spa, safe in the knowledge that the little ones are having the time of their life! This unpretentious design hotel’s superb kids’ club caters for all ages up to 17, with activities ranging from t-shirt painting, treasure hunts and tennis lessons, to banana-boating excursions and snorkelling for teens. Added to that, the staff are super-friendly and the sun shines here over 300 days a year!
2.) Fiskardo Cottages, Kefalonia, Greece
Set in a gloriously peaceful location, within walking distance of 2 unspoilt beaches, these charming whitewashed cottages (sleeping 2-6) are the perfect rural retreat and great for older kids. Head for the hills and hike through dramatic scenery, sail, snorkel, scuba dive or just play in the shared pool. The slick modern kitchens mean self-catering is a pleasure or you can walk to the nearby village tavernas for delicious local dishes and fresh seafood.
3.) The Rosevine, Cornwall, UK
This chic apartment-hotel has a wonderfully casual vibe making it a haven for families. Designed with kids in mind, they have heaps of baby paraphernalia to borrow (less to pack!) and kids will be kept well-entertained by a toy-laden playroom, indoor pool and playground in the garden. The restaurant has a kids’ menu, and at night its candlelit – pack your baby monitor and ‘dine out’. But the best bit? It’s a just a short stroll from wide, sandy Porthcurnick beach and the hotel has buckets, spades and fishing nets to borrow for rock-pooling.
4.) Txai, Bahia, Brazil
Rustic simplicity meets style and luxury at this eco-friendly estate on Bahia’s undeveloped Cacoa Coast. With an emphasis on nature, tranquility and beauty, make the most of vast unspoilt white-sand beaches and hill-top Shamash spa, take surfing lessons or go horse riding or hiking along one of the stunning trails. There are plenty of grassy areas for children to play on and our reviewer found it near-impossible to extract his young daughter from the fab kids’ pool.
5.) Azur, near Antalya, Turkey
If you’re after beachside bliss on a budget, Azur Hotel’s simple wooden cabins are the ones for you. Despite having no formal crèche, it’s a great place for kids with safe lawned gardens and hidden hammocks, a child-friendly pool, lovely staff who know each child by name and boat and jeep trips for adventurous day trips. Nearby Cirali beach, one of Europe’s loveliest, has wonderfully clear blue waters for swimming and snorkelling.
6.) Hell Bay, Bryher, Isles of Scilly, UK
Set on Bryher – the smallest inhabited island of Scilly and many people’s favourite – this 25-room hotel allows you to stay in style and comfort and its restaurant is billed as the best on these isles. Owned by Tresco’s Dorrien-Smith family you can expect solid and dependable service and rooms with a distinct New England style. Couples will revel in being somewhere so unique, so far out. But it also has special appeal for families thanks to sandy beaches, a heated pool, games room and local farm chickens which little ones can feed.
7.) Jashita, near Tulum, Mexico
Laid-back beach sophistication and a dreamy Zen style are the order of the day at Jashita. Uniquely secluded, it’s the only hotel on this pristine beach with shallow aquamarine waters that’s sheltered by its own coral reef. Families will love Villa Jasmine, a beach house for 10 that offers independence and the opportunity to self-cater, along with the use of the hotel’s facilities and restaurant. Kids will love the beach and boat trips and there are adventure parks nearby.
8.) Onar, Andros, Greece
Walking through the river from this collection of simple stone cottages (sleeping 2-7) to the beach is the sort of thing fantastic family memories are made of. The atmosphere here is secluded but the communal meals and effervescent host ensure that you’ll never feel lonely. Kids will love the natural swimming pool nearby and the small playground, while sun, sea, delicious fresh food and stylishly simple décor will reinvigorate even the most jaded workaholics.
9.) Esplendido, Puerto Soller, Mallorca
One of our most popular hotels for families in Spain, there will be lots of new friends for your kids to play with at this hip hotel in picturesque Puerto Soller. Occupying the top position in the middle of the bay, the proximity of the beach is a godsend with energetic youngsters, and means you can hear the waves lapping below from the sea view terraces. And don’t underestimate the excitement provided by the many ice-cream shops and the tram to Soller!
10.) Marari Villas, Kerala, India
Within a whisper of the sea on a white-sand beach, these boutique villas (sleeping 2-6) are great for families as they combine the privacy of a villa with room service and a private chef. Each villa offers a secluded haven (your own living space, your own garden, some with a pool) with all the luxuries of a larger resort, but they are closer to nature, more intimate and better value. There’s plenty of kit for kids (toys, books, inflatable toys, cricket kits) and babies (pushchair, backpack, car seat, sunshades), so you can pack light(er!).
We have teamed up with i-escape and Sunuva to give-away a whopping £500 summer prize! The prize includes a £200 gift certificate to use towards a stay at one of i-escapes family escapes as well as a £300 gift voucher at Sunuva to stock up on adorable and UV-protective beachwear! Click here to enter to win!
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My friend Lindsey from the London-based Urban Mums blog had the ingenious idea of creating a business to help families get settled when moving to London. I can’t tell you how many emails I’ve received from other mums who are planning a move to London. These mums have so many questions (as I’m sure I would if I were moving our family to a new city!). Questions about neighbourhoods, schools, renting a home/flat, finding childcare, learning about healthcare, shopping, dining, etc. I have always answered those questions as best as I can… but I’m not an expert. And here is where Lindsey comes in handy.
She has created Urban Living, a relocation service to help ex-pats navigate life in London. Whether you’re visiting London to explore the idea of moving here, or whether you’ve moved here and would love a local’s tips and expertise, she has created tailored services for individual needs. Plus, she is such a sweet, hip, energetic woman (and mama to three!), that even I am thinking about booking her services just to get to the spend the day with her. : )
If you, or anyone you know, are moving or have recently moved to London, definitely get in touch with Lindsey!