Do you remember the personal shopping service, ShortStitch, that we tested for Ava last year? I loved the easy process, the excitement of receiving the box full of gorgeous outfits, and was so happily surprised by the awesome suggestions Darina had put together (some of them I would have never thought of myself — and that was the fun of it!).
Darina also wanted us to try her amazing service for boys, so we agreed she would assemble a box of clothes for Casper. He definitely needs a cool new outfit for spring and summer, some good shoes, and swim shorts! So I filled in a very easy online questionnaire and answered questions about our taste, Casper’s sizes, and which items he would need for the coming season. I always love filling out questionnaires, and this was a fun one. After a day or so Darina gave me a quick ring to go over some specifics, like Casper’s hobbies and interests, what he thinks is cool, clothing wise (like superhero details! and pockets!), and the way our family usually spends the weekends.
The process was so easy and streamlined, and the ShortStich Boy of Yay! arrived on our doorstep two days later, full to the brim with gorgeous pieces of clothing of some brands we love (like 10 IS, Emile et Ida, Bellerose and Zoobug) and with a sweet personal letter accompanying it. It revealed a beautiful coat, a selection of super cool trousers and shorts, some fun shirts, jumpers, and swim trunks. There were also sweet sandals and trainers (with velcro as requested by school!), and some pieces to layer until the weather is warm enough.
The clothes had definitely been chosen with a lot of care, keeping in mind the preferences in style we had indicated and the specific requests we had made about certain items. I also love that Darina really though about what Casper personally liked, too. The clothes were definitely not just selected for the parent, but very much so for the child as well!
Casper and I didn’t have an easy job selecting one new outfit — everything inside the box was very want-able! But in the end we settled for a beautifully designed linen trousers with awesome button details. I love how casually smart it looks on Casper (and he loves how many pockets it has!). We combined it with a sweet t-shirt with a tiny, tasteful print, and a cardigan which he immediately fell in love with and which also looks so super cute on him. It will come in so handy as a layering piece in the next months! Of course we also kept the superhero socks, and the trainers which are so practical, and so cool looking (yet dressy enough for school as well).
The swim trucks with the fish (for pirates, according to Casper!) and the sunglasses were also a huge hit. (He has been wearing them day and night — no joke.) So we decided to keep those as well.
The rest of the clothes we returned to the box — all ready to the picked up by the courier to be returned to ShortStich. The beauty of the ShortStitch service is that you only pay (regular retail prices) for the items you decide to keep! The service and shipping is completely free of charge.
I loved this personal shopping experience with ShortStich very much again, and I have to admit that I am now slightly hooked on it. I love discovering so many cool pieces for my kids this way — it is so fun, and so, so easy!
PS This post is sponsored by ShortStitch, a personal shopping service we have tested and absolutely love, and would definitely recommend! ShortStitch is also a member of our shopping portal.
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A few weeks ago we spent a lovely Sunday morning with the talented photographer Katrina Campbell, who came from London for the day to photograph our family (and to spend some time in our lovely city, of course).
Katrina told me beforehand not to worry too much about a tidy house, perfectly posing children, well, not to worry too much about anything! And I didn’t, and it was just the perfect state-of-mind for a relaxed photoshoot — my kids were running around, playing, and while I was making coffee, getting Casper dressed and chitchatting with Katrina (who really is such a lovely lady!), she was taking snapshots of our children. (I love that photo of Casper on our window sill in his underwear, with his sweet baby belly and his round little knees!)
We also went for a little walk outside, the kids on their bikes and climbing in trees like normal. Katrina just walked along with us, camera in hand, and took the most beautiful photos. I love how natural they are, and how the character of each child is captured. On just two occasions, Katrina asked us to quickly pose as a family, because as she said: every family likes to have a nicely posed family photo every now and then. (So true!)
What I am most impressed about, are the beautiful portraits Katrina made of the children. Again, so natural, so well done. Pim and Sara both told me that these portraits are the most beautiful photos anyone has ever taken of them!
But, Katrina’s service doesn’t stop by taking beautiful photos. She will also select some of her favourite shots, and can have those printed on beautiful, matte photo paper. If you’re in England, she can even have them framed for you! (In my case, she sent just the prints and all I had to do is take them to the framer.) What a super fantastic service for a busy parent! I never find the time to select, print and frame photos — how nice that someone does this for you, so it actually gets done for a change, and beautifully so!
I can highly recommend Katrina Campbell‘s service to you — she really captures families the way they are, with her documentary-style photography. Plus — she also puts the icing on the cake by selecting, printing and framing those family favourites! If you’re in London this week, you can meet Katrina at the ShopUp where she is one of the sponsors, and she can tell you all about the (fabulous) way she works.
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To give, but mostly to receive a gift that was chosen with care, with love, with attention to detail, with just that extra something, is so, so special. A gift that has meaning, a purpose, that is (and becomes) an experience and a memory — those kind of gifts are the best ones. But which busy parent has the time to such organise such a very special gift?
Enter The London Gifting Studio. Busy mama-of-two Annie started a service that aims to create perfect presents, consisting of beautiful products carefully assembled in a luxurious gift box. A service that is convenient, quick and easy to use for the giver, but never evidently so for the receiver. The products, which Annie sources from local companies (mostly cool East London ones), are always made by hand by talented artists, designers and makers — very often so on their kitchen table. Materials are mostly organic or recycled, but always sourced with integrity.
There are boxes for cooks, for bathers, for writers, for coffee lovers — boxes that encourage to create, to relax, to experience. The wooden boxes, which are so pretty by themselves, are wrapped beautifully in seasonal wrapping paper, ribbons and a flower posy, and personalised with a handwritten note.
Annie sent our family a Box for a Cosy Christmas, and we’re so impressed with what is inside — such pretty products, all collected with the aim to provide us with everything we need to get in the holiday spirit. A sweet Christmas tale to read, a handwoven woollen blanket to snuggle under. Hot chocolate with marshmallows. A hand poured soy wax candle. A bar of chocolate, spiced with clove, nutmeg and black pepper. And (so special) a gorgeous rag doll angel for the top of our tree, made from recycled materials — something to keep forever.
Receiving a giftbox from The London Gifting Studio means receiving a gift that was chosen with care, with love, with attention to detail, with just that extra something — a gift that becomes an experience and a memory. I will certainly be using Annie’s beautiful service myself in the near future (in fact, I just ordered some for dear friends)!
PS The London Gifting Studio is one of the main sponsor of our London ShopUp event next week. Come and meet Annie personally there, and discover her beautiful gift boxes!
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It’s becoming a little ritual, my yearly trip to Maud Fontein‘s studio with my four children. It’s always a bit chaotic, because it needs to be done quickly, in between school pick-up and tennis training. Maud is great at making the kids feel at ease though and always captures them looking so cute, making use of clever little tricks and parental involvement like sitting on the whoopy cushion or throwing confetti in the air.
This year’s theme with the black background and the confetti is so fun — it brings so much movement to the photos and makes for such a sweet series, with such honest, spontaneous faces.
Maud will be at the ShopUp this year again, like the previous three years, so if you’re in London here’s your chance to have cute portraits of your children taken. (Or maybe you already have started a series last year?) She will be set up the full two days, so do bring your sweeties along when you come to our event! (If you would like to reserve a specific time, it’s best to drop Maud an email beforehand.
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As often as we can, my husband and I sneak away to a local restaurant to catch up over drinks before enjoying a quiet, child-free dinner. We are both so busy during the week, that we have to make our date nights a priority or they simply won’t happen! Focusing on each other (instead of the kids) allows us to reconnect and really listen to each other in a way that is difficult to do with all the distractions of day-to-day life.
My favourite dates involve a leisurely stroll to dinner at a local restaurant. We hold hands and flirt and it feels like we’re dating again! Every now and then we mix things up by going to a film or an event, but the goal is to focus on each other, so we try to keep it simple.
Given that our families live nearly five thousand miles from London, it isn’t always easy for us to find someone to watch the kids. In fact, we struggled for years to find babysitters who could accommodate our frequent date nights: local sitters were often unavailable, and trading babysitting with friends was too time consuming. Needless to say, I was thrilled when a friend recommended a babysitting website that solved my childcare woes. The site is childcare.co.uk.
You can use Childcare on your computer or via an app on your phone (I prefer the app). Families create a profile for potential sitters to browse, and sitters create profiles for families to browse. You can then easily message each other within the app to ask questions and set up interviews. We have used a variety of sitters through Childcare, and are beyond relieved to finally have a network of babysitters to call on. You can also use the service to find a nanny, childminder, au pair, tutor, or even a private midwife!
We managed to squeeze in date nights the last two weekends and we ended up doing the same thing both times (drinks and dinner at our favourite local spot). I would love to hear your favourite date night outings so I can mix things up for this weekend!
Childcare is a great service that I have tried, tested and love; we are happy to have Childcare on board as sponsors of our London ShopUp this December 10 and 11!
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As I mentioned in an earlier post, we spent a week in LA back in September and stayed in the beautiful home owned by Peter James and Marisa Vitale. Marisa is a talented family photographer and offered to snap some photos of our family while we were in town. I jumped at the chance to get a rare photo of all six of us and to document the start of our family’s adventure, all of us so full of excitement… and admittedly a few jitters. We met Marisa at Temescal Gateway Park fresh from an afternoon at the beach (notice Ivy’s hair is still wet!), and went for a short walk under the big oak trees while she snapped photos. I’m so happy to have these photos and thought I would share some favourites here with you. My kids, especially the boys, are getting so big. It’s funny how sometimes you don’t notice until you see it in photos.
Also, a few of you have asked for LA tips so I thought I would share some of the things we did while we were in LA (mostly Venice beach). We spent a lot of time with Michael’s family in Pasadena so we didn’t have as much time to explore the city as tourists, and we were also on a budget so we didn’t eat out as often as we wanted to. : ) But in any case, here are the highlights:
- Temescal Gateway Park (where photos above were taken): A pretty park with lots of paths to explore. Just off Sunset Blvd.
- The beach! We spent a lot of time at nearby Venice Beach because it was within walking distance of our house. We also went to the beach near Temescal Canyon and Sunset Blvd which was less crowded.
- Boogie Boarding: you can rent boards from the beach-front vendors on the boardwalk. My kids loved this!
- Venice boardwalk: we spent an afternoon watching the skateboarders and street dancers. It was quite a scene with all the music and people!
- We also walked down Abbott Kinney Blvd just to check out how much it’s changed since we last lived in LA. We have a policy of not taking our children into shops if we can avoid it, so we didn’t go into any of the shops, but it was fun to see so many great new shops there. (Burro looked really cute from the outside, and there’s even now an Aesop on Abbott Kinney!) Speaking of shopping, I kept hoping to have the opportunity to sneak into General Store for a little peak around but I never made it in. It looks SO cute (and oh my goodness, the website! dangerous!!).
- We didn’t make it here, but Marisa suggested we check out Tonga Park in Santa Monica with cool native plants, water features, benches, etc. There’s also the nearby Santa Monica solar-panelled LED ferris wheel within walking distance.
- While I was in LA for the ShopUp, Michael took the kids to the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles (which they loved) and the Arboretum (which, despite the heat, they found very interesting to see all the different plants and trees).
- Superba Food & Bread: This is located (dangerously) around the corner from the house we rented. Great for picking up bread and croissants (and coffee) in the morning, but they also have a wonderful menu for lunch and dinner.
- Whole Foods Market on Lincoln Blvd: We did most of our grocery shopping here. Just behind the store is Ozone park with two different playgrounds (for big and little kids) on opposite sides.
- Groundworks Coffee on Rose Ave: Great spot for coffee in a charming little spot.
- Cafe Gratitude: Unfortunately we never made it to this restaurant but I had so many friends tell me to eat here. It’s a well-known restaurant amongst those seeking organic, vegan and locally-sourced foods. Looks so good!
- We got a babysitter one evening and met Michael’s family downtown LA to celebrate his sister’s birthday at The Factory Kitchen for delicious Italian food.
That’s all I can remember, but please feel free to add more tips in the comments below. I’m sure families travelling to LA would appreciate all the recommendations!
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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:
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.
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)!
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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!
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.
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.
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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 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?).
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.’
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!
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?
This post is sponsored by Shortstitch, a personal shopping service I tested and loved.
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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).
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.
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… ! : )
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I’m sure every family is the same, but we love a bit of a swing in ours. Very often, after breakfast or dinner, we turn up the volume and dance in our living room. It’s crazy! We all join in, and it’s just so much fun. And very often, we end up with a big fat group hug in the end.
Also, sometimes when I’ve had a busy and difficult day, and I feel stressed and tired and my patience is low, it helps to get up and move, to be crazy, and sing along. Music surely is medication for the soul.
It has recently become much easier for our children to initiate their own dancing because the awesome Aether Cone entered our house. The Aether Cone is not only a striking music player (in fact the most beautiful looking one I’ve ever seen), it’s also incredibly easy to understand and to work. Not only easy for me (too many buttons and screens put me off completely), but really handy for the kids as well! The only thing they need to do, is press the center button and ask out loud for any artist, song, or radio. Within seconds, the Cone will be playing their choice and our family will be in full swing!
And last weekend, my dad was here, and he just had the best of times with the Cone as well. He kept thinking of song and artists from his childhood (the early sixties), and voila — the Cone followed his commands without fail. Just to indicate how simple and fun it is to work with!
I’ve also understood that the more we use the Cone, the better it will get at playing the songs we love. I’m currently writing this with some lovely random background music in the background — I just took the Cone into my office (it’s portable with an 8-hour rechargeable battery). On the associated app on my phone I read that right now I’m listening to Isobel Campbell, a Scottish singer-songwriter. Nice suggestion, I must say!
PS This post is sponsored by Aether, a company we respect for making beautifully crafted products that use powerful technology and simple, natural controls to make everyday moments nicer.
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The concept is simple: once a year, a photo can be placed in the harmonica-style notebook, and a little story can be written on the page behind, highlighting key events that took place that specific year. There’s space for 18 photos, and to see all of the portraits after each other will give such a sweet overview of the growth and development of the child.
For Casper’s once-a-year book I got the special edition Once A Year Book which comes in a gorgeous wooden box and has beautiful letter-pressed covers featuring an owl or (in our case) a fox. I have Once A Year Books for all of my kids, and I think that once they’re 18 they will make such an amazing overview of their childhood! (They make very special newborn gifts too, especially this special edition with the wooden box and matching letter-pressed gift tag!)
PS Laikonik kindly offers our readers a 10% discount– just enter code “LAIKONIKBABYCCINOLOVE” at checkout!
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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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Happy New Year everyone! Here’s to a splendid, happy and healthy 2015 for all of you! Only a few more days of vacation for us, and then, on Monday, the children will be back in school and we will be back behind our computers — and behind tons of laundry to catch up with, fridges to clean and fill, birthdays to prepare, dentist appointments to make, etc. etc. This year though, we’re going to be so organised, because together with the talented Sara Betz from Litte Cube, we designed a super cute weekly planner which will help you to organise everything! We’re so excited by this, and we can’t wait to start using it on Monday.
You can just download the PDF here, and print to use. Happy New Year!
xxx the Babyccino Kids team
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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!