Pim’s bed, and wonderful Jim Flora wallpaper

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Last weekend, my husband and I did something new for both of us: we wallpapered a wall. We learned a lot about measuring, cutting, and patience, and got to deeply respect the skills of professional wallpaperers. But after hard labour I’m proud to present the results: the wall behind Pim’s bed is covered in gorgeous blue wallpaper! Pim picked this design, featuring original drawings by the late Jim Flora, because he loves music and plays the trumpet. So it’s perfect.

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I love the quirkiness and originality of the wallpaper design, and the dark colour makes his bed really stand out. The bed is made of brass and antique, we found it in France last summer, stuck in a corner somewhere at a ‘Vide Grenier’. The plexiglass Star Wars sign was found on the street when we lived in New York 13 years ago, before we were married and had children. We stored it all this time, until we had sons who would appreciate it in their room! I found the bedside table on the streets here in Amsterdam, and it displays all of Pim’s little treasures. (He is such a hoarder!) The house shelves were an investment I made a few years ago for the old room, and we still love them. The badger rug is from Molly & the Wolf.

xxx Esther

Happy Birthday Madame Chapeau by Andrea Beaty & David Roberts

Happy Birthday Madame Chapeau
Madame Chapeau inside
Madame Chapeau inside 2

Beaty & Roberts are a pairing akin to Donaldson & Scheffler – if I see a new book from the duo I buy it without thinking, without reading the sleeve, without anything – it WILL be good.
OK, so unlike the latter pair these guys have only produced 3 books together (so far) but those 3 books are just soooo good – we have written about Iggy Peck Architect before and Rosie Revere Engineer and now I’d like to introduce you to Madame Chapeau … I’m sure you will fall in love with her!
Unlike Iggy & Rosie, Madame Chapeau is not in Lila Greer’s 2nd grade class but rather owns a hat shop in Paris and makes the most beautiful hats for her chichi Parisian clientele. But Madame Chapeau is a lonely lady until on her birthday a thieving crow gives Madame Chapeau the chance to see how many people are eager to be her friend.
The story starts with a pang of sadness for this lady who is quietly unhappy and lonely but how powerful the message is that there is love out there for all if you seize it and a birthday is always a good time to ‘seize’!

Happy Birthday, Madame Chapeau is available from Amazon (US and UK ).

-Mo x

Girls on Tiptoes

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I’ve always been really reluctant to sign my kids up for classes and activities that take place on weekends. I just find the weekends to be such precious family time and I’ve never liked dropping kids off at classes (or even birthday parties for that matter) where it divides the six of us up. We’ve never been a boys-go-to-football/girls-go-shopping kind of family — we all really prefer to spend the two days together.

But this September I finally gave in. Ivy has been asking to take ballet classes for years now, and because the only available beginner ballet classes take place on a Saturday I had to make an exception to our weekend rule. So… Ivy now does ballet on Saturdays and she literally looks forward to it ALL WEEK LONG. Consequently, the ballet obsession has rubbed off on Marlow, and now, at any given point, you can be sure that at least one of my girls is wearing a tutu or ballerina leotard! (To think there was a point in my life where I had two boys and was only surrounded by trains and dinosaurs and building blocks!)

Anyway, with ballerina fever running rampant in our house, we’re really happy to have discovered the range of ballet and gymnastics wear from Girls On Tiptoes. The brand was started by three Polish mothers who have created a range of pretty-yet-playful pieces offering something more modern than the average pale pink leotard. The site, with its dreamy imagery, is mostly in Polish, but the shop is easily navigable, and I have a feeling it’s only the beginning for this great brand. You heard it here first. : )

Courtney xx

Once Upon an Alphabet by Oliver Jeffers

Once upon an Alphabet by Oliver Jeffers
Once upon an Alphabet inside 1
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A – Astronaut, ages, adventure, aliens, although, anything, air, accurate
B – Bernard, Bob, bridge, battling, burning, between, back
C – cup, cupboard, cold, closed, clear, counter, concrete

Leave it up to Oliver Jeffers to take the concept of an alphabet book and raise it. This book of short stories works its way through the alphabet avoiding all the obvious phonetic examples – no apple, ball or cat in this book! Whilst some of the examples may be a little tricky for a first reader (see M for Marvellous, Mattresses, Mountains, Microscope and Molecule) the stories are a great way to introduce children to letters and each story is (in typical Jeffers style) hilarious (I LOLed!!!), surprising and beautifully illustrated.

Once Upon an Alphabet is available from Amazon (US and UK ).

-Mo  x

Everyday is a party! Gorgeous leather crowns from hubble + duke.

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My kids had a little party on our bed this weekend (like most weekends), and they were being so cute, wearing their leather crowns from Hubble + Duke, that I just had to take a few photos. And then, I even got them to sit still just long enough for a portrait! Yay!

Hubble + Duke crowns

Hubble + Duke is an Australian company run by three creative mums, offering some gorgeous goodies like soft mocassins, sweet rompers, adorable bloomers, and beautiful handmade apron dresses. And then, of course, there are the before mentioned crowns, which are so beautifully made and so comfortably soft. To be worn for dress up, birthdays, or just any day, because everyday is a party, isn’t it?

xxx Esther

Little Auggie pajamas

Little Auggie robot pajamas
Girls in Auggie robot pajamas

I have always loved the baby and children’s bedding at Little Auggie. The prints are so sweet, the colours so fresh, and I love the way they mix and match patterns and textiles to create the most gorgeously styled little beds.

Little Auggie have recently launched a line of children’s sleepwear to compliment their bedding collection, and I love that they didn’t just stick with the blue robot print for boys, but created a pink version for girls too. Because who says robots are a boys’ thing anyway?

Courtney x

p.s. Wooden robot ‘cubebot’ toy is from e-Side.

Pretty stamps from PSikhouvanjou

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As a child I always loved stamps, but I remember them as something that belonged to teachers, not really to children. These days, I’m free to play around with stamps as much as I want to and I’m loving it. My inner child released!

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These pretty stamps are from PSikhouvanjou, and designed by talented designers Ingela P Arrhenius and Andrea Maasen. They’re darling to use to create gift wrap, cards, tags, or just about anything that requires a special detail.

xxx Esther

Organ donation and one mum’s incredible story

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.

Louise and kids

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.

photo of Joe after his stroke

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.

joe in hospital

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.) 

Louise and family

joe

louise with kids

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.

To read more about organ donation and to sign up in the UK, click here. To sign up for organ donation in the US, you can click here. For international registry, click here.

Louise, thank you so much for sharing your story with us, and we wish you all the best with your two beautiful children.

Gorgeous tutus from Tutu du Monde

Tutu du Monde tutus
Let’s talk about tutus, shall we? Santa Claus brought new tutus for the girls this year and now it’s an all-consuming topic in our house these days. Marlow nearly had a meltdown a few days ago when I explained that she could not wear her sparkly new tutu out into the muddy garden! She has hardly taken it off since Christmas.

We’ve written about Tutu du Monde before (here), but I just thought it was worth mentioning the amazing quality as well as their beauty. I did a little clear-out/organisation of their dress-up trunk after Christmas and realised that so many of the other dress-up dresses or tutus are torn or broken, but not the ones from Tutu du Monde — they’re all still in pristine condition, despite being worn and played with for years and years. (Marlow still wears Ivy’s first tutu from 4 years ago!) The tutus from Tutu du Monde might look gorgeously delicate and detailed, but they are as sturdy and hard-wearing as they are pretty.

Below are a couple photos of Ivy on Christmas day. The sweet girl — all she wanted for Christmas was a pair of tap shoes so you can imagine her delight when Santa gave her a ‘tap dancing tutu’ as well. The sweetest!

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ivy wearing tutu

Courtney x

Charming Korean clothes & accessories from Greenberry Kids

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I probably don’t have to write very much about Greenberry Kids. I’ll let the gorgeous products in the photos above do the talking! Aren’t you in love with everything in this shop? The raccoon knee socks, the mustard yellow jumper, the baggy cotton trousers… I mean, everything (including the price tag)!

Greenberry Kids is a London-based and family-run web boutique sourcing the most charming and unique brands from Korea. I bought the raccoon knee socks for the girls for Christmas and they’ve proven to be the biggest hit!

Their winter sale is now on, and I’m already excited to see what they’ll have in store for spring. Oh spring… sigh.

Courtney x

Draw a map of your city

Quin drawing map of London
Quin drawing
map of london
In the days leading up to Christmas when the kids were home from school and looking for activities to keep them entertained, I suggested they draw a map of London with all their favourite things to do and see in their city. We had an extra piece of poster paper lying around and I suggested they draw the map and paint the details. I gave them some rough guidance about the layout of London and where some of the important monuments are, but for the most part, they really took the lead to draw their city all on their own. They looked at some maps of London and some guide books, but again they did most of it all on their own and a lot of it from memory. I was so impressed with their drawings of the buildings and love the way their map of London turned out. I also loved seeing what they included on their map — Big Ben and the London Eye, of course, but they also included Ruby Violet ice cream parlour, Thanh Binh (our favourite Vietnamese restaurant), Hampstead Heath, their dad’s office, Maltby Street Market, our favourite pizza restaurant, and of course Emirates Stadium, home of their favourite football team.

Easton drawing map of London

It took the kids a good couple hours to finish their map and they stayed really engaged with this activity throughout the whole process. They also learned a bit about their city — we talked about distance and direction and the layout of London, and they now have a better idea of where everything is in relation to our house.

Plus, I love their map so much I’m planning on getting it framed to hang in our entrance way. Such a sweet visual representation of the way they view London.

Courtney x

 

Last-Minute Christmas DIY: Hand Print Santa Ornaments

Santa Ornametns

A couple of years ago my sister-in-law and I decided to start a tradition of no gift buying for us adults for Christmas. Or at least no big ones. It can be something tiny like our favorite chocolate or tea or something of that sort or we can make them ourselves. So this year I decided to do just that. I made these cute Santa Ornaments from salt-dough hand prints of my kids for the whole family. They didn’t cost much (nothing even since I had everything at home already) but they are worth more than money could ever buy. It won’t really be a surprise for them since they will probably see them here already but I know they will be super happy to get them.

I love this craft for several reasons: it’s super fun to make, kids are involved, they make a perfect keepsake for the family, they look absolutely cute and as I said – the things you need to make them don’t cost much. Unfortunately this time I can’t say it’s a super quick diy but it’s the perfect holiday craft and fun for the whole family. I think I’ll make them every year just to track the growth of my two Santas! ;)

So, to make these Santa hand-print Ornaments you need:

Santa Ornaments

Santa OrnamentsFor the dough (to make the prints) for about 3 kid-size prints

1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
1/2 cup water

1. Preheat the oven to 120 °C and line baking tray with baking paper
2. Mix flour and salt in the bowl then gradually add water, stirring until combined
3. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface, roll out until about 7mm thick and transfer to baking tray
4. Press your kiddo’s hands onto the dough and cut them out leaving about 2mm edge. You can make ornaments with the left-over dough, just use some nice cookie cutters
5. Use a knitting needle or a chop stick to make a hole at the top of the palm, about 1 cm from the top edge. This will be used to string the twine through
6. Bake for at least 3 hours, turning them once after 2 hours. You can easily leave them in longer or even over night!

Santa OrnamentsNow, for the fun part you need:

White, Red, Black and Skin Tone Acrylic Paint
Acrylic Gloss Varnish (optional)
Twine

Santa Ornaments
Santa Ornametns

Santa Ornaments First paint the entire print white twice, waiting about an hour between coats
2. After the second one dries completely sketch the outline of the hat, the pom-pom and the face with a pencil
3. Draw a face (without the eyes, nose and mustache) and a hat (without the dots) using two coats again. But always remember to wait for about an hour in between! You probably have some red paint left so use that for the nose.
4. Now draw the fur on Santa’s hat and lastly the rest of the face (eyes and mustache) and the tiny dots on the hat. Leave to dry.
5. You can stop here and string the twine through the hole or you can seal the ornaments with two or more coats of Gloss Varnish, which will make the ornaments last for ages! Plus they look so much nicer with some extra gloss on them ;)

-Polona

To read more from Polona, go to her cute blog Baby Jungle!

l’Asticot waterproof coats

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I’ve been looking for a winter coat for Pim, and it’s not the easiest job. Plenty of cool choices around, sure… but I do have a little list of requirements.

Children here in the Netherlands are often exposed to rain — not only because of our wet climate, but also because (despite that wet climate) the Dutch like to cycle a lot. So when I’m looking for winter coats, I look for waterproof coats. Other characteristics I look for in the winter coats for my kids are: a simple silhouette, a neutral colour (so it can be passed down to siblings), warmth (obviously, but without being overly thick or puffy so it doesn’t restrict children in their movements), natural materials, and practicality. Also, the coat needs to be strong and durable (I bought a new winter coat for Pim last year and it’s full of holes already!), and, well, it has to have a certain ‘cool’ to it — of course!

Casper has already been wearing the above l’Asticot waterproof winter coat for a few weeks, and I really love it. It meets the above characteristics easily: it’s made of 100% organic materials, it’s warm (lined with organic polar fleece, and with a longer back, warm cuffs and high collar and hood), it’s not puffy, it’s machine washable, it’s durable, and it’s cool, with the contrasting stitching and lining. So… I actually just ordered Pim the exact same coat!

Now, I’m not saying it can now start raining (or snowing) here in Amsterdam, but if it does, the boys are ready for it!

xxx Esther

Merino wool basics from Smalls

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smalls long underwear
I was just thinking the other day how nice it would be to find thin, stretchy merino wool tanks for the kids to wear under their clothing as an extra layer of warmth on these cold winter days… and literally the next day I discovered the range from Smalls. It could not be better timing.

Smalls is a new British company started by two kiwi mums now living in the UK. They’ve created a range of the softest, non-itchy New Zealand merino wool base layers perfect for this time of year. Their merino shirts and tanks are thin and naturally stretchy, easy to layer under other clothes for extra warmth. Equally, they’re stylish enough to wear on their own — the colours are all so nice.  And as if that’s not enough, Smalls supermerino is machine washable, naturally breathable, flame retardant, anti-allergy and itchy label free!

The range is designed for kids aged 2-12 years old. I’m thinking of getting one for each of my kids!

Courtney x

Wool and the Gang, cool knitting kits

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I’ve been feeling so much like knitting lately, so the Wool and the Gang kit I ordered came right in time! I’m going to be knitting the Mini Tartan Hula Hoop for Sara, and if I hurry a little I might just be able to finish it before Christmas.

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Do you know Wool and the Gang? It’s a super hip company, providing über cool knitting kits with everything one might need for one project — wool, needles, the pattern, and very easy-to-follow instructions. (If you love the Wool and the Gang designs but are not so into knitting, you can also purchase a ready-made piece, knit with love by one of the ‘Gangstas’, a global-wide team of knitters.)

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I love their branding, the quality of their materials, and their belief in handmade and sustainable fashion. Knitting their projects is so fun!

In spring, I made the Sailor Jumper (modeled by Pim below, after a rough and dirty game of football!) and I love how easy it was to knit that jumper and how nice it turned out when it was finished.

pim_WATGThe Wool and the Gang knitting kits make really great presents too — everything comes wrapped in a cool paper bag, and anyone who has an interest in knitting (even if they’ve never knit before!) I’m sure would love to receive a kit like this.

xxx Esther

Our favourite Christmas books

We keep our Christmas books tucked away on the bookshelf behind our sofa all year long until the start of December when we dust them off and stack them up on our coffee table. I think the fact that they’re hidden away for 11 months of the year makes it that much more special when we finally bring them back out at Christmas time. The kids pounce on them like they’re a long-lost treasure, each one finding their favourite book in the stack.

Don’t you just love this time of year with all the traditions — the favourite books and Christmas songs, the family recipes passed down from generations, the special ornaments carefully unwrapped and hung on the tree, everything drumming up feelings of nostalgia and anticipation and… magic!

I asked each of the kids to choose their favourite Christmas books, and apart from a small argument between Easton and Quin over a shared favourite, they each happily narrowed it down to one. I quickly snapped some photos on my phone, and here they are:

Dear Santa
Marlow loves the Dear Santa book with its lift-the-flap features.

Ivy's favourite christmas book
Ivy chose Olivia Helps with Christmas , which has been her favourite for the past couple years. We always laugh because Olivia tries to help, but isn’t very helpful. Classic Olivia!

quin's favourite christmas book

Quin chose The Night Before Christmas because I think he’s on a mission to memorise the whole story before Christmas! (I normally don’t read this one to them until Christmas eve, but we’ve broken the rules this year for Quin.)

Easton's favourite christmas book

Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree is the book the boys argued over because it’s really both of their favourite, but Easton won in the end and got to take a photo with the book. : ) This really is such a cute rhyming book and a very sweet story too.

Some other favourites in our family are:

1. Christmas in Exeter Street , about a house that gets filled to the brim with visitors on Christmas eve. There are so many people in the house – even a baby sleeping in the kitchen sink!
2. The Polar Express , a classic!
3. The Twelve Days of Christmas , a beautifully illustrated book based on the song — we can’t help but sing when reading!
4. My Wonderful Christmas Tree , another beautifully illustrated counting book.
5. Christmas in Noisy Village , an Astrid Lindgren book that perfectly captures all the sweet activities leading up to Christmas. The illustrations are so good!
6. The Christmas Wish , a new-to-us book this season which the kids really love (especially Ivy), featuring photographs of a little girl on a snowy adventure to find Santa.
7. The Snowman , which isn’t technically a Christmas book, but still captures the magic of this time of year.

Please share your favourites below!

Courtney x

My thoughts on TV and other electronics

Kids building towers

kids drawing in front of fire

I’ve had lots of questions recently about my parenting ideas, especially when it comes to electronics, so I thought I’d answer the most common questions in one post. I want to emphasise that this is what works in our family and for our children. I know it won’t work for every family… and it may not work forever for us. As our children grow, so will our parenting style. Below are some answers, and as always I welcome your thoughts and comments.

1.) Do your kids ever watch TV?

Almost never, except for the World Cup and the Olympics. But let me explain a bit… Both my husband and I grew up in big families and in homes without cable TV. Growing up, my family had a really old television that on good days, broadcast three channels. As a young child, I watched the occasional Sesame Street show, and sometimes, if the antenna had blown in the right direction, we could watch cartoons on Saturday morning with clear reception. Watching TV was not something we did as a family. Instead, we played a lot outside (I grew up on a farm), and we played a lot with each other (a benefit of having loads of siblings). Apart from the odd conversation where I couldn’t contribute my views on Doogie Howser or the Wonder Years, I don’t think I missed anything. I am really thankful for a childhood filled with imagination and adventure and I hope to create the same sort of upbringing for my own kids.

We don’t have some absolute no-television-whatsoever rule. We have a TV. We just aren’t really interested in TV. And we keep it in a cupboard—out of sight, out of mind. I also encourage my kids to play and find creative ways to entertain themselves without a screen. There was a short period when we allowed the boys to watch Scoobie Doo on Saturday mornings. After a few months I started noticing that, instead of crawling into our bed and enjoying a slow-paced morning, they would wake up and run straight downstairs to sit in front of the television. They stopped helping to make pancakes, couldn’t be bothered to set the table, and were cranky at breakfast time. It was then I decided that I prefer Saturday mornings without Scoobie! It really only took a couple weeks to break their interest and they went back to helping with the pancakes.

We DO let the kids watch the occasional movie, usually an old Disney classic (Robin Hood, The Rescuers, Peter Pan!) or one of the pretty films by Hayao Miyazaki, etc. In my dreams we would live in Australia or somewhere sunny and my kids would play outside and would never sit in front of a screen. But… a good family film on a cold, dark winter’s day is a nice treat every once in a while. Now that my kids are on school holidays I’m looking forward to the next rainy day so we can all sit down and watch ‘The Sound of Music’. My favourite!

2.) How do you keep your kids from the commercialisation of Disney? Do they ever ask you to buy them t-shirts with Disney princesses or super heroes on them?

I think I’m lucky with this one in that my kids never ask me for Disney t-shirts or Disney toys. Living in Europe I think we have less exposure to these things (and they don’t see them on TV). We also try to keep our kids out of shops. Most of our groceries are bought online, clothing is bought when the kids aren’t around and we avoid malls at all cost (which is easier to do when you live in a big city).

Even if they were to ask, I’d be unlikely to buy these things (mean mama, I know). Perhaps they don’t ask because they know they won’t get, but I like to think they are generally not interested. Here again, our policy is not absolute. I once bought Ivy some Hello Kitty underpants and this year I bought some miniature ‘Frozen’ figurines for the Advent Calendar. But… I rarely buy the kids anything pink or plastic, branded or battery operated, and I hate the idea of kids being sold to everywhere they look or feeling like they must have the latest branded toy.

It’s not always easy (given my business), but we try not to make a big deal about ‘new’ things—especially clothes or toys. We hardly ever give them a new toy unless it’s a special occasion, like a birthday or Christmas, and even then we only give them a few things, placing emphasis on quality over quantity.

My kids are young and so I’ve been able to influence their wants for now. I know that may change someday and so will my strategies, but I hope the values will stick with them.

3.)Do you let your kids play electronics? Do you bend the rules for educational games on the iPad?

Not really. We believe electronics are addictive. No matter if it’s a Nintendo game or an educational one on an iPad, once picked up they are hard to put down. And you rarely walk away from a long session on a device feeling wonderful—mostly the opposite. I notice this firsthand — I have to give myself breaks from my iPhone and remind myself to be more present. Like other addictive things in our lives, limiting our children’s exposure to electronics just makes sense to us.

We also believe they get only one childhood and the rest of their lives to be tethered to a device if they choose. Their education, their careers and their social lives may demand it some day, but for now we would love for them to find joy in the ‘real’ world. And most importantly — play together! Every once in a while, they will ask to play a game on the iPad or watch a movie because they are bored. When I tell them to go play, they might moan for five minutes, but then ten minutes later I’ll find them building towers or playing games together. If we gave our kids an iPad every time they told us they were bored, there would be far less imaginative play in this house!

As above, we know this all will change someday. Already Easton has math homework on the computer three times a week and I’ve noticed how it has changed the play in our house on those afternoons. As our kids grow our parenting style will grow with them, but we will always maintain our focus on family, friends, nature and activities.

4.) Do your kids fight? Do they moan? Do they throw fits? Do they nag, make messes, and sometimes torment each other?

Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes, and Yes. Do I feel compelled to reach for my camera in these moments? No. Does anyone? My photos are about celebrating the joys of bringing up kids — the simple and the beautiful things in life. I would never pretend parenting isn’t hard work. It is. It is the most difficult and the most important work in our lives. I choose to focus on the positive side of family life and I hope it comes across as honest and loving (and hopefully inspiring too).

Courtney xx

p.s. I’ve written before about electronics here, a post which stirred up quite a healthy debate!

Stay warm with cosy knitwear from Miou

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Brrr… It’s so cold all of a sudden! No snow yet here in London, but we’re waking up to a frosty lawn every morning and I’m sending the kids off to school layered in knits!

How gorgeous is the knitwear from Miou? The colours are so rich and the baby alpaca wool soooo soft! I got this coat for Marlow which she wore as an outer layer during the Autumn and is now wearing under her jacket as an extra layer of warmth. It’s so perfect. Plus, how adorable are the hats? My favourite is this one with not one, but two pompoms!

And oh my goodness, that little snuggly baby suit!! Scrumptious.

Courtney x

Soor Ploom, a beautiful brand for girls

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Last month, the talented photographer, Sarah Winborn, came all the way from Berlin for a little photoshoot at our house.  She took photos of our home and family for an interview I did with the Little Years blog. You can read the interview here — I answered questions about work and family, including my least favourite bits about motherhood… and also my favourite thing too! Of all the interviews I’ve done, I think this one offers a really honest reflection of my thoughts on parenting. Also, that top photo Sarah took of Marlow — it melts my heart.

In these photos the girls are wearing outfits from Soor Ploom and I wanted to include a mention of this brand because it’s one of my very favourites. That suspender skirt Ivy is wearing might be my absolute favourite thing she’s ever worn. I LOVE it (and so does she!). You can find Soor Ploom at these stockists.

Courtney x

Cosy house suits for my boys from Shampoodle

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It’s getting so chilly here in Amsterdam… It’s been warmer than usual for this time of year, but this weekend it was definitely time to get all of the woollens out of the storage boxes. Our house has big steel windows — very cool (but also very literally so)!

Speaking of staying warm… I recently ordered our boys each a Shampoodle ‘Home’ suit — a sweater and pants made of warm, organic knit cotton to keep them cosy and warm in the winter months. And they’ve been living in them! I have a lot of trouble convincing them to take them off for a wash. (My husband wondered if I could order him such a suit as well. A lot of the Shampoodle styles come in adult sizes, but sadly not these Home suits… I would have, otherwise!)

Shampoodle is a socially aware Swedish brand known for their comfortable clothes which are equally perfect for boys or girls, young and old. The clothes are are designed for an urban life style and are perfect for playing, inside or out.

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And of course… I couldn’t resist ordering this adorable teal coloured friendly Ghost romper for Casper — that was a given, right?? ; )

xxx Esther

 

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