My dad and his girlfriend sent me a few photos of the tulip fields surrounding their house. I thought they were so beautiful, I just had to share them with you. I remember playing as a child in these tulip fields, and riding my bicycle up and down the paths. These photos make me miss home! Anyway, hope you enjoy. Have a lovely weekend!

xo Courtney

p.s. Photos taken by Susie Jungemann.

Melbourne’s top 10 in Caos Magazine!

Recently, wonderful Spanish magazine Caos asked Babyccino if we could compile a list of the 10 top things to do when visiting the city of Melbourne. We were very excited to oblige! Here is the list written up which was of course then translated into Spanish (and which, most will agree, makes everything sound just so much more wonderful). (more…)

Vegemite — a great Aussie icon

Ah, Vegemite. Without doubt it is Australia’s favorite sandwich spread. But while it is loved by the locals, it is generally repulsed by our visitors.Visually, I will concede, it is a little unappetizing (hmm…black sticky tar?). And chances are, unless you grew up on it or follow the guidelines below (without digressing I should add) you will probably never acquire the taste for it. For first timers the taste of Vegemite is very unexpected, surprisingly sharp and in order to avoid gagging which so many of the uninitiated do on their first bite, you need to apply the Vegemite sparingly with liberal amounts of butter. But, rich in Vitamin B Aussie kids are brought up on the salty-tasting spread from babyhood (hooray for toasty Vegemite soldiers dipped into soft-boiled eggs!) and it is a school lunch box staple. I personally know many Aussies who won’t travel without a small jar or easy-squeeze tube of Vegemite for fear that they will not find it and then shock horror, what on earth would they have on their toast in the morning? (more…)


Little Babaji

The Elephant Parade

I happened to be in the heart of London, on Oxford Street, the other day when I came across some wonderful painted elephants at Selfridges.  As I continued my stroll through town I saw more and more … on Bond Street, in Green Park — what were they all about?

London has become home to The Elephant Parade. During May and June, 250 colourfully painted elephants will be dotted around the capital to shine a spotlight on the plight of the endangered Asian elephant.  The campaign is from the charity Elephant Family, whose aim is to try and protect the elephant’s habitat which is increasingly threatened by human expansion.

The elephants here in the capital have each been painted by an artist or celebrity and together they make up London’s largest outdoor art event on record (with an estimated 25 million people viewing them over the next weeks).  (more…)


Shirin Kids

Sugar Coated Almonds

There is a very old tradition here in France to offer sugar-coated almonds — known as dragées — when a child is born. They are actually traditionally given out at baptism, but as there are not that many baptisms around anymore, I think it is a great tradition to carry on to celebrate the arrival of a new little person.

When I was born dragées only existed in pink and blue and white. My mother searched the whole of France for some green ones (she had a very May 68  approach to colour type casting of genders, which did not mix very well with something so traditional as dragéés). The tradition goes back as far as the 12th century when an apocathery figured out that almonds lasted longer if sealed in a coat of sugar. Almonds were reputed to combat sterility — hence the tradition of offering them to celebrate a baby. (more…)


Hello Kitty Hospital
Bonnie Baby blanket

Re-live the 17th century in Rembrandt’s House

Rembrandthuis - atelierLast weekend we did something unexpectedly fabulous: we took the children to Rembrandt’s House. Rembrandt, as you might know, was a very famous Dutch painter who lived from 1607 till 1669. From 1625 onwards he lived in Amsterdam. For a big part of his live he was very rich, already well known in his time, and he lived in a beautiful house that is amazingly well conserved and restored and can be visited today.
I didn’t really know what to expect with two little children, but they were SO impressed. Our daughter (4 yrs) listened to her own audio tour, aimed especially at kids, and I can say that at the end of our visit she could give me specific information that I didn’t pick up myself.

If you’re in Amsterdam and want to combine some culture with history and a fun family activity, the Rembrandthuis comes recommended. There’s no restaurant, but walking down to the Staalstraat takes less than 5 minutes and you’ll find Pucinni, with great coffee, good sandwiches and amazing cakes.  In the same street you’ll find cute kids gift shop Beestenwinkel, my favourite grown-up gift shop Klevering (that happens to stock some really lovely kids items as well), and a bit up the road there’s Droog Design, a showcase of the famous Dutch design group.

xxx Esther


The Very Hungry Caterpillar 40th Anniversary
New Editions

Top things to do in Melbourne (part 1)

headerWith a steady stream of visiting friends over the Christmas holidays, and many with young children, we have been busy! Whilst we treated them to the hedonistic pleasures of the Aussie beach culture, we also spent a great deal of time indoors appreciating the ‘higher arts’. This can be tricky with young kids in tow, especially those who are jet-lagged and tantrum prone, but Melbourne has some fabulous museums and galleries, several of which are especially wonderful for children.  Here are my top 3.

1. Melbourne Museum –  This fabulous museum, located on the northern border of the Carlton Gardens behind the Royal Exhibition Building, is futuristic and interactive and connects architecture and nature – in the middle of the museum, you can walk through a forest! The Children’s Gallery is designed for children 3 to 8 but I would think it would delight even the younger toddler. The children’s exhibition, entitled 1,2,3 Grow, explores the many ways things, including humans, grow. Activities, children’s art, stories, an indoor sandpit with fossils beneath the sand which children are encouraged to discover, a kids puppet theatre and an outside play/picnic area including games such as skittles for the whole family, are just some of the attractions. It doesn’t matter how often we visit (we try to put our membership to good use after all) my children are always stimulated and engaged. Young children particularly love the insect section and the Forest gallery. Click here for more details. (more…)


Little Packrats

Do as the Dutch do, bike on a bakfiets


Thanks to its flat (meaning not hilly) landscape, the Netherlands is the perfect place for getting around on bike.  It’s also quite safe: bike lanes are virtually everywhere, and drivers are so used to the many bikes around that they take them in careful consideration.  So the ‘fiets’ is the preferred means of transportation for most, if not all Dutchmen. We cycle to work, we cycle to school, we cycle to the shops and we also grab the bike if we go out at night (this will also conveniently save us the money for a parking ticket or a taxi).
Kids?  No problem. We just take them in front with us when they are little, in a special seat hanging from the steer. When they grow bigger, they get a seat on the back of the bike, if necessary combined with the pre-mentioned seat on the front for a little sibling.
If you have three or more children though, it’s probably time to get a bakfiets.  A bakfiets is kind of a cross between a bike and a beach wagon, and you can conveniently fit in as many as 4 children (although I’ve seen people squeeze in even more!).  If you’ve ever been in Amsterdam, chances are high that you’ve noticed them around. (more…)


Easy decorating idea
A birth announcement design challenge

This is Australia…

xmas13It is the 17th book in the ‘This is…’ series and Sasek is visiting down under! This is Australia is a wonderful book to add to the classic travel series, first published in the  ’70s, which Courtney posted about here!

In line with the later books in the series, the colours are slightly vintage and the images are retro and whimsical. And Sasek’s mode of travel to the land down under? Not in chains like the first British colonists, but on a Qantas big bird!! (which incidentally, ‘flies very well’, unlike the Australian penguin and emu!) I absolutely love these books — they introduce children to the people, customs and places of interest in cities around the world, captivating young readers with gorgeous illustrations and a witty narrative. I also think it’s fascinating to see each city from a 1960’s perspective. And…needless to say, in my family we just love the Aussie edition!

Available for worldwide delivery at Amazon.

ps. Courtney, this is the perfect souvenir for your children and will remind them for years to come of their great Aussie adventure!!

- Sara


Nuxe Facial Oil
Le Big

La Cantine

3338fc6I was on the phone to Courtney the other day and she was talking about getting packed lunches ready for her sons to take to school. I almost fell off my chair!
Here in France (or at least at my kids’ state-run schools) there is no way a sandwich is ever going to be introduced onto the school premises.
It seems like one of the main responsibilities that the French State has taken upon itself is to educate its masses into making every little French inhabitant a culinary expert.
My little girl has been going to the local maternelle since she was 3 years old. At lunch time she, and another 150 kids roughly her size, get taken to the cantine. They all sit down around the table and get served a 3/4 course meal. They start with a starter (salad, soup or similar), continue with a main course, then get a piece of cheese and finish off with a dessert. The weekly menu is hung outside the school for the whole neighourhood to see. And if I don’t have time to check it outside the school I can read about it on my town hall’s website! (more…)


Make-ahead mashed potatoes

My Neighour Totoro

200px-My_Neighbor_Totoro_-_Tonari_no_Totoro_(Movie_Poster)I think that film addiction must be genetic — my kids love movies as much as I do. We have started a tradition of Friday Family Film Night – to celebrate the end of the week – complete with popcorn and a glass of juice.

Now the challenge is finding movies that a 2-year-old and a 30-something-year-old will both enjoy. The greatest success we have had was the Japanese Kids Animated Classic My Neighbour Totoro, a lovely story of two sisters who move to an old country house with their dad while their mum is in hospital. In the countryside the girls encounter friendly spirits, namely the Totoros, the Keeper of the Forests. ‘My Neighbour Totoro’ was directed by Hayao Miyazaki and won him international acclaim all over the world.

The animation and designs are stunning and the Totoro character is just enchanting. I could definitely watch this movie again and again. And if I can, you can bet that my kids can too! They are addicted!

I would love to hear if you have any other suggestions for great family movies. Happy Friday!

- Emilie


Fungo Matto
Elias and Grace
Sons & Daughters
Lilli Bulle

Eating out in France

cafe-lindustrieMichela and I are often asked about family-friendly restaurants in our respective cities. Try as we might, we are hard pressed to come up with good suggestions. There is a huge North/South divide in Europe regarding the obvious signs of child friendliness in restaurants.

In Northern Europe you will more often than not be offered a highchair when you enter a restaurant with your kids. Often you find changing tables in the bathrooms and kids menus, and many places even have special toys they bring out. In Southern Europe it is rare to find this kind of service, BUT this does not mean that children are not welcome. In fact, they are almost always welcome, but are expected to fit around the adults. (more…)


Graboski the mole
Innocent drinks

Cinema Festival

film.jpgSometimes I get fed up of living in the centre of a big city.

The traffic, the pollution the lack of green space, and space in general seems so much more oppressing in the summer time. But then I get reminded of the big advantages of city life: the huge range of cultural events right at my fingertips. From the 2nd to the 14th of July the Paris Film Festival is on and part of the festival is a great children’s program.

This year the focus is on my favourite pet subject, animation. Lots of things are on offer: workshops, lectures and, of course film screenings. The first public screening in France of the new Pixar 3D extravaganza “Up” is on offer, as are modern day classics like Wallace and Gromit and Disney’s 1963 “The  Swords in the Stone”. The films are for kids aged 3 and up, and there are so many choices that it should satisfy all tastes. You can check out the program here.

I guess city life is not so bad after all….

- Emilie


Agence Ludique
Kinesis Pilates Studio

Madonna and the Malawi orphans

madonna.jpgThere has been so much in the newspapers lately about Madonna adopting from Malawi. I am not an expert in adoption and cannot claim to understand the complexities both legally and ethically of adopting from another country and culture.  But I do wonder whether it’s okay to take a child away from the culture it is deeply rooted in and whisk them away to a completely different environment. I honestly don’t know.

Maybe naively I have always considered adoption as a very viable option if I had not been able to have my own children. I do think that I could love a child as my own irrelevant of whether it is genetically related to me and my husband or not. There seem to be so many children in the world without a family who need a home and a loving environment.

But, in the case of Madonna, is this a mother honestly trying to give a little girl a home and love and support, or is she a celebrity used to getting whatever she wants and not thinking of the impact her decisions have on the life of this little girl?

Would love to hear what you guys think…

- Emilie


Wooden walker

The threat on National Security by my Toddler

I have come to the point that I cannot wait for a computer chip to be inserted into the brain of my children and we can get rid of passports and the like.

This is not because I particularly like the idea of Big Brother watching them all the time — I am a big defender of personal freedom…. but I just cannot deal with having to spend another minute in a government office sorting out passports and social security or anything else, especially with an overheated, overtired toddler squirming in my arms.

The regulations for passports in France have gotten to the point of an absurd comedy. The entire team in my local passport office spent a whole half an hour debating if they could accept the photo of my daughter as she had her mouth slightly open. She got off on the technicality that you could not see her teeth, because, in fact, she does not have any teeth! They then spent another half an hour trying to override the automated computer system what was rejecting the darn photo as my toddler had a shadow under her chin. The fact that she has no neck, being a toddler, means there is always going to be a shadow… but this exception had not been programmed into the computer. (more…)


The career dilemma
This is for you

My little French girl

My 13-month-old is making me into one very proud Mommy, as she is starting to say her first few words!  She has ‘Mama’ and ‘Papa’ down, she is good at saying ‘yep’ and thankfully not so good at saying ‘no’ (though she does shake her head very vehemently to get her point across). But she has utterly proved her French-ness by deciding that her fourth word would be: Oh La La!

Thinking about it, she is being very clever. With just this one word she can express a plethora of emotions. You see, Oh La La in France is a state of mind and it means so much. In little Violette’s case she uses it when she drops something or is not happy with something, she uses it when she is surprised, or when she is given something she likes. It is always linked to a bit of a resignated head shake or alternatively with throwing her hands up in the air — theatrical gestures she must observe a thousand times a day.

Let me give you a few examples for Oh La La. A person accidentally steps on your foot: Oh La La. A person is wearing a weird hat: Oh La La. A person has jumped the queue and gone in front of you? Oh La La. It can also be used in a complimentary way: some dude likes a girl’s cleavage? Oh La La La La! (more…)


A very special zoo
Lego Primo

Quentin Blake

quentin1.jpg Quentin Blake must be one of the world’s most famous children’s book illustrators. The books he illustrated for Roald Dahl are now classics.

I recently wrote a post about his book “Mrs Armitage and the big wave” which my daughter loves, and whilst researching it, stumbled over his official website. It turns out to be one of the most inspirational websites I have come across in a long time. It is a great gateway into the world of illustration.
We are all used to looking at illustrations every day, all the time, especially when reading children books. It is so easy to forget all the work and thought that is needed to illustrate words well. Quentin Blake describes in detail what goes into creating an illustration and how his ideas come together. It makes me want to become an illustrator (unfortunately my 3-year-old already draws better than me). (more…)


Good enough to eat
Non-spill, for real!

Eastern Market

Eastern MarketThe Eastern Market, in DC’s Southeast quadrant, has always been one of my favorite weekend stops, long before I lived in the neighborhood.  The market itself is DC’s oldest food market, dating to 1873, housed in an old brick hall. (The hall suffered from a big fire a few years back, and the market is in a temporary shelter across the street, with the old/refurbished shelter set to re-open soon.)  Just like a European market, you can come here to visit your neighborhood butcher, the florist, the cheese monger, the produce man, etc.  People from all over the city also flock to Market Lunch, for greasy spoon southern-influenced breakfast and lunch.  The bluebucks (blueberry buckwheat pancakes) are to die for!  But be sure to get there early, as the lines can be lengthy…. Have Dad stand in line while you take the kids to explore all the other merchants nearby in the hall.  After lunch?  Take a stroll through the flea market next door (Saturday and Sunday only) to check out furniture and other treasures, and walk the whole block of 7th street — tents are set up all along the street with vendors and artisans selling jewelry, paintings, and all sorts of cool things.  And be sure to look for the cafe with the bubble-blowing machine outside — that in itself inspires my 4-year-old to walk the 5 blocks to the market!



Le Train Fantome

A flower to celebrate spring

lily.jpgToday is the first of May! All over the world people celebrate Labour Day and here in France it is a bank holiday accompanied by demonstrations by all the labour unions.  But in typical French fashion, politics are mixed with romantic gestures…

It is customary here to give ladies a small bouquet of Lily of the Valley (known over here as le muguet) on the first of May. It dates back to the court of Charles de IX who decided to present every lady at his court with a bouquet of Lily of the Valley to celebrate the end of winter. The tradition stuck and, being a republic now, the custom is not reserved to the fine ladies of the court but to the fine French ladies everywhere! It is so lovely to walk around Paris on the first of May and see Lily of the Valley being sold on every street corner. You suddenly realise that spring is here and summer is just around the corner….

- Emilie


Du Pareil Au Même
Not a Saab or a Volvo…

Happy Queensday!

queensdayHolland will be dressed in orange today!  Because of the origins of our queen (she’s from the House of Orange), our national colour is orange.  Not the deep terra cotta kind of orange, but just plain, nice and bright orange!  And once a year, in honour of the queen, we celebrate Queensday.  We take the day off, dress in the appropriate color (ALL of us!), and hit the streets to find treasures at the many flee-markets on the streets. Amsterdam’s biggest park, the Vondelpark, is dedicated to kids today.
Even Dutchmen abroad will wear something orange today, so see if you can spot them on the streets!

Happy Queensday!

xxx Esther


Affirmative action for young men
Queen’s Day
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