Birthday Season & Tijl is 1!

Posted by Lotte on Friday, June 10, 2011. Filed under: ,
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It's June! And around here that means not only nice weather and a general feeling of joy that summer has started, it's also the start of birthday season. Now I don't know what it is about September, but people sure seem to enjoy making babies in that month! ;)

We kicked off the June birthdays fest with my brother-in-law Marvin, who turned 31 on June 2nd. Sadly we couldn't make it to his little party because my baby overslept that afternoon (I know, when does that ever happen?!). And then there was the BIG party we'd I'd been planning since April: our little baby boy Tijl turned one on June 5th. All these thoughts flooding my mind that morning: I can't believe my failed attempt at a VBAC was already a year ago! It feels like him being a newborn lasted for all of one week. Was I really that big right before giving birth? Was I really that big after giving birth?! Happily these thoughts faded to the background as people started coming in to celebrate and our little one year old so enjoyed all the attention. Here are some pics of that fun day:

I made a birthday photo garland with pics from each month of his first year.
Big guy for a one year old, huh? Oh wait, that's big brother Abe trying on Tijl's party hat!
I Everybody loved these! So much fun to look at and they were delicious, too!  The idea is from Stacey at Elle Belle Creative
Here's what was left of those lovely cupcakes after Tijl dug into them! He devoured that thing in five minutes by the way!
I thought this looked so cheerful! I sprinkled photofetti on the table for additional festivity 
Here's a closer look at the photofetti. Loved it. 
And here's the birthday boy showing off his moves and his favorite present. 
Coincidentally, he took his very first step (minus help from walker, that is!) on his birthday, surrounded by family. I thought that was the coolest. Only sad part is nobody had a camera on hand to capture the moment... Oh well, I'm sure there'll be plenty of opportunities to capture first (well, second) steps on camera and film in the weeks to come.

Moving right along to June 9th (yep that was yesterday), which is my and my dad's birthday (true story!). I am now officially 31, and that means I'll have to post my list of things to accomplish in my thirties pretty soon. Since yesterday was a weekday, we didn't celebrate much yet (aside from breakfast in bed, a gift from my boys, and going for ice cream after dinner...wait that sounds like a celebration doesn't it?), so hubby is taking me out tonight. Think dinner, drinks and a hotel. Whoop whoop! (do people still say that or is the fact that I just said it testimony to me getting being old??)
And on Sunday the festivities continue with a backyard gathering at my dad's house. After all, it was his birthday, too!

The 29th is my mother-in-law's birthday, and then we have one spill-over in early July, when our little man Abe turns four! We suck at planning because his due date was June 24th but the little party pooper stayed put till July 8th. I'm thinking he didn't want to share a birth date :)

And that's all the birthday goodness for a while for us. November is another crazy birthday month, but luckily that's still a couple months away. So for now here's a big Happy Birthday to all you June-ers (not really a word, I know..)!!!

Alone time

Posted by Lotte on Tuesday, May 24, 2011. Filed under:
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This weekend, I enjoyed a rare luxury: I was home alone. And by alone I mean really ALONE. My husband took our two kids on a yearly father-son weekend along with ten other dads and their kids. I love that they do this. It really benefits everyone: the fathers get to enjoy a weekend with their kids without us moms commenting on how we'd like to see certain things done (guilty as charged...), the kids get a fun-filled weekend with lots of friends to play with. The dads choose a different location for the weekend each year, but it's always a big country estate with lots of space for running around and a trampoline and such.

Here's dad with the little ones back in October

And for the moms...well, it's almost like a retreat at home haha. Seriously though, I had been thinking and planning on what to do with so much me-time all at once for weeks. Of course I had crammed my weekend so full that I didn't get around to doing everything (hey, what else is new?), but here's the rundown of my blissful weekend.
On Saturday, I called a shopping day. How awesome to spend the entire morning and afternoon in downtown Amsterdam without a single worry about grocery shopping, cooking etc. I shopped for a wedding that we'll be attending next Saturday, and got myself some new make up as well. At seven I met up with my (single and free-as-a-bird) friend for an excellent dinner followed by a movie and some drinks in a bar. The next morning I slept in till noon! I'll admit I felt a little like a teenager then, but hey, enjoy it while you can. Sunday afternoon was spent working on some of my projects I'd like to have finished in the coming weeks. And then my wonderful husband and kids returned home, exhausted but having had a great time together. And I had missed them :)
And now the week has begun again and everything is back to normal, with the small (but oh so important) exception that my battery is fully (re)charged. Thank you dads!

Travel Gadget

Posted by Lotte on Thursday, May 19, 2011. Filed under:
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It's the beginning of summer (well almost) and my mind wanders to travels near and far. In reality, we haven't made any travel plans yet; thinking of a spur of the moment getaway later this summer. I'm hoping we'll do a city trip, if for no other reason than having an excuse to buy one of these:

image from
I found them a few weeks ago when browsing around one of my favorite Amsterdam stores. They are crumpled city maps from, and they are meant to be crumpled up and thrown into your bag without the hassle of folding and re-folding. Isn't that awesome? They are available for such cool places as Sydney, Tokyo, London, New york and Amsterdam. Also they are super durable, lightweight and 100% water proof!
This is definitely on my wish list, because I'm famously terrible at re-folding paper maps... I just wish they made road maps of these as well. Would you like one of these or do you prefer the classic paper kind?

Wordless Wednesday

Posted by Lotte on Wednesday, May 18, 2011. Filed under:
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Wanderings of the mind

Change Ahead

Posted by Lotte on Monday, May 16, 2011. Filed under:
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Doesn't it seem that when you've just kinda settled in a certain way that change is bound to be right around the corner? Sometimes it's lurking, waiting to surprise you, other times it's change you've been expecting. Well, we are gearing up for some changes (of the expected type) around here in the coming months. Obviously our world was rocked by the arrival of our second little baby boy last June, and now that we're preparing to celebrate his first birthday, we've settled back into a nice rhythm. The change we are expecting now, is our older son Abe starting pre-school in September. Can I just say here that I am utterly amazed at how fast one grows from nursing baby to ready-for-pre-school. Really knocks-my-socks-off amazed.

Abe will turn four in July, thereby ending his days in daycare. Feels like yesterday when I first dropped him off there and left all teary-eyed; in reality, though, that was three-and-a-half years ago... I'm so curious to know how he'll do in pre-school. Will he be overwhelmed by going there every day instead of his two-day-a-week daycare? Will he like all the other kids? And his teachers? I'm also curious to know how his new schedule will affect our family rhythm. Daycare is super flexible compared to pre-school here when it comes to drop-off and pick-up times.
I will embrace the change (even though sometimes I wish I could stop time) because it it exciting, and it means we are moving forward and my little baby big boy Abe is growing. So bring it on change, we are ready for you!

Fabulous Friday Find

Posted by Lotte on Saturday, May 14, 2011. Filed under: , ,
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We’ve got more cuteness today! This is the first time I’ve seen this brand - bobochoses- from design studio Otto&Olaf in Barcelona, Spain, and they had me at hello. Look at these fun summer items.

 in love with those socks!

They make a collection for kids ranging from 3 months old to 12 years. To top it off, they made a beautifully illustrated book, 'Bonjour Camille,' which looks like this:

All images from 
I like the way these people think! Gorgeousness all around :)
Have a great weekend!

ps. The title of this post is a little off (it's Saturday now) because this post should have been up yesterday (when Blogger was down). Sorry!

Gray Label

Posted by Lotte on Thursday, May 12, 2011. Filed under: ,
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I just found this Amsterdam based label and I'm in love with their clothes and motto: "Organic apparel for the little minimalist." Too cute! Here's a couple items from their collection that I'm coveting.

Photos from Gray Label
That pink dress alone makes me want to have a daughter :) But seriously I love how simple and clean these clothes look. What do you think? Would you buy this for your kiddos?

Dirt and such

Posted by Lotte on Tuesday, May 10, 2011. Filed under: ,
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My big guy (who had a "no pictures!" kind of day here) is a clean boy. Always has been. When he turned one, I remember being continually amazed at how all the other babies and toddlers looked so messy. Cute, but messy: snotty noses, morsels of food on their faces and in their little necks. And it wasn't like my baby was inside all day or just sat still; he loved (still does) playing outside. He just doesn't get very dirty doing so.
Baby no.1:"the norm" in cleanliness...
How he manages I don't know, but here I was thinking that's "the norm." Ha! I was in for a surprise...

Enter baby number two. From the very beginning he made clear that I had been sorely mistaken when it came to "the norm." This little man likes to get dirrrty.

Baby no.2: setting me straight
Really regardless of what he's doing. We can go through three or four changes of clothes, easy. Which, by the way, I stopped doing pretty quickly because I like my life outside of the laundry room. Now that spring is in full swing our little baby likes to crawl outside in the yard, which is lovely of course. We have a little lawn there that's perfect for him to play on...except he prefers the borders. Not sure my borders prefer him. On this day, though, I let him go at it. He totally loved it.

He ate all kinds of dirt, played with my (non-poisenous) plants, and just made a big old mess. Of course this required both a bath and a change of clothes, but that's alright. We had a fun morning.

Are you particular about your little kids' appearances, snotty noses, dirty hands, frumpled clothes? I'm learning to be more relaxed in that department, courtesy of baby no. 2!

My twenties

Posted by Lotte on Friday, May 6, 2011. Filed under:
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Last June I celebrated my thirtieth birthday. Well, I didn't actually celebrate because I had just returned home from hospital after giving birth to my son four days prior, but it was my thirtieth birthday all the same. And in a about a month from now, I'll turn thirty-one. For some reason I feel like that is when my thirties really begin. And I'm excited about it I don't mind really, I just feel slightly unprepared. So, I'm going to do two things to increase my preparedness, 1. take a look back at my twenties (for closure, if you will), and 2. make a list of thirty things I want to accomplish in my thirties. I'm about halfway done with that list, but let's start with the twenties, shall we?

Here's what I did in my twenties (in semi-random order):
- moved away from home
- took a three week Route 66 road trip
- had an awesome time at college
- learned to cook
- met my future husband

- spent a semester at UNC Chapel Hill
- traveled to Australia

- lost both my grandmothers
- moved to Amsterdam

- bought our first house
- got married

- learned to like coffee
- discovered blogging
- had a baby

- lost a baby mid-pregnancy
- had another baby four days before the big 30

And there are many, many more events both big and small that defined this decade in my life. And it was a really good decade if I do say so myself!
Compared to the me at twenty, the me at thirty is not only older and a little heavier (drat!), but also more grounded, self-assured, a little wiser, more realistic, patient, and more empathetic. Glad to know I learned a thing or two there! I'm curious to know how I'll look back at myself at thirty as I turn forty in about ten years. Oh, and more on the "thirty in my thirties"-list soon!

Design Mom in Amsterdam

Posted by Lotte on Wednesday, May 4, 2011. Filed under: ,
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On Monday I had the pleasure of meeting up with Gabrielle from Design Mom and her wonderful family in Amsterdam. They were on a spring break trip (they uprooted their family of eight and swapped Colorado, USA for Normandy, France for a year; how great is that?!) and I had offered to show them around town for the afternoon. We met outside the Van Gogh museum (six young kids and a trip to an art museum, I know what you’re thinking, but they make it work and man, those kids are a happy, well-behaved bunch!) and walked over to the Vondelpark for some strolling, playing, lounging, and lunching.

After showing them some Dutch stores (Hema!, Sissy Boy Homeland!) and a cupcake bakery for a taste from home, we parted ways. Our encounter left me eager to expand my family (patience my dear, patience!) and inspired to try some city tripping with my own little brood. My only regret? Forgetting to bring my camera!

note: photo courtesy of 

One year old in a flash...and memories

Posted by Lotte Filed under: , , ,
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This week has been filled with emotions from both ends of the spectrum for me.
Today marks the second anniversary of the birth and death of our second son, our little boy Ben, who was born when I was 23 weeks pregnant. In the weeks leading up to today I felt a little anxious about this day because I never know how I'll feel. But then today arrived and really it hasn't been bad at all. Aside from feeling incredibly sad for having lost him, on this day I mostly feel blessed for having had him in our lives for 23 whole weeks and in our hearts forever after. Our family is also so sweet and never forget to call us or send a post card, which we appreciate immensely.

The other thing that’s been on my mind lately is the impending birthday of this little fellow:

We’ll be celebrating his first birthday a month from now, and I can hardly believe it. Obviously I know time flies with young kids, but it quite literally feels like I had him only yesterday (well, maybe last week). Is it always like this when it’s not your first child? It’s a little scary to me and I’ve been having visions of them flying off to college tomorrow (well, maybe next week). And that’s when I happened upon a blog post from Ellebellecreative who threw her second daughter a birthday bash with the befitting theme “One Year Old in a Flash.” 

photo courtesy of Ellebellecreative
Doesn't that look super fun? The entire birthday centered on photographs and memories and it has me totally inspired. Think time capsule, photofetti, and lots of pictures of this little big man’s first year:

Love him!
So, two birthdays on my mind this week, one happy, but with a little melancholy thrown in, and the other a mixture of sadness and gratefulness. In the end, though, both are about love. 

Easter 2011

Posted by Lotte on Tuesday, May 3, 2011. Filed under: ,
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Okay, so I'm a bit late on this, but here's what our Easter looked like this year. We died eggs (the day before): 
Who left my camera in manual mode?? I took at least 10 shots before I found out...
That's more like it
I suspect I might have been more into this than Abe and his little friend were. They didn't like the waiting part much (I just kept gawking at those colors!), but that's a three-year old for ya.

On actual Easter Sunday, we hosted a simple brunch for our friends and their daughters. I always like having them over because they balance out our all-boy family nicely. 

I did some baking that morning. This is super easy to make!
After brunch, there was a full-on Easter egg hunt in our little backyard. It was actually the first time that Abe participated in an egg hunt, but both he and his friend had an awesome time and were proud to show off the results.

After finding all the eggs we hid for them (I counted...) they started painting them. As usual, our little girl guest had a little more patience for this than my rambunctious boy did. 

Abe was pretty content letting me do most of his painting for him.
So this egg hunting business is sure to become a new family tradition for us! I can't wait till next year when little Tijl is able to participate (poor baby slept through the entire thing!) as well. What are your family Easter traditions?

Family BBQ

Posted by Lotte on Wednesday, April 13, 2011. Filed under: , ,
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I'm so happy that spring has arrived. Everything just looks better with a little sunshine on it. Granted, it also makes me want to clean house like crazy, but mostly I just enjoy the sunny warmth on my skin and watching the kids happily play outside.

This weekend the weather was especially lovely, which prompted my dad to organize an impromptu family barbecue in his back yard. Everyone was there and we had the best time. We even managed to squeeze in a (long overdue) family photo:

I can't wait to see what our family photo will look like five years from now. My sister is expecting her first baby, but maybe there will be more additions? I love big families.

This weekend also featured a pretty big milestone for our oldest son Abe. He rode a bike without training wheels and nailed it right off the bat! I always thought this would take forever to learn, but really he just got on Saturday, and after two laps of dad running along with him he was able to do it all by himself: starting, riding, and slowing down and stopping. I'm so proud! He's three months shy of turning four and has been riding his running bike since he was two, which helped him develop his balance enormously. He never owned a bike with training wheels so I can't proclaim that "the training wheels are off," but they are :)

Birth Story: Tijl

Posted by Lotte on Wednesday, April 6, 2011. Filed under: ,
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So this should tell you a little something about how it ended up. Again. Unfortunately. Here's the part that came before:
My first labor ended with an unplanned c-section, and although at the time I was relieved that it was over, I was bummed beyond belief that I didn't deliver my baby naturally and felt like a big loser. This is supposed to be the thing every woman in the history of the world can do. Well, not me, and it took me months to get over the disappointment and feeling that my body had failed me. Now, three and half years later, I still think it would have been a great experience but know that in the business of being a mom, it really doesn't matter how they came into this world, for that is just the beginning.
Almost two years after my c-section, I gave birth naturally to a premature baby at 23 weeks. Though the circumstances were heartbreaking, the birth itself greatly empowered me. So when, a year later, I was due to give birth again, we decided I'd try a VBAC (vaginal birth after c-section). The doctors were on board with it and gave me a little over 60% chance of success. Sounded good to me!
A week after my due date I looked like this:

We decided I should be induced. So on June 5th, 2010, we headed to the hospital, feeling prepared and ready for things to come. After I was hooked up to all the machinery it appeared that my body really wasn't ready to give birth because I was not dilated at all and nothing happened for hours on end. Finally, I started having regular contractions. Still hours later I was 2cm dilated and they were ready to break my water in hopes of increasing the strength of my contractions. This is where things got hectic.
When my water broke, the doctor and nurse standing at my bed required a change of clothes, that's how much water came out, all at once (I guess you could tell from the size of my belly, there was a lot of water). Immediately my contractions became more intense, which was thrilling, but I was also ready for an epidural. Minutes after, the nurse checked my progress, but instead of mentioning the number of centimeters, she looked worried and said she would get the doctor in. The doctor checked my progress as well, and said that although I had gone from 2 to 4 cm in a mere ten minutes, the umbilical cord had dropped down in front of our baby's head (from the force of the water) and we needed to have a c-section, right now, because every contraction was preventing the blood flow to our baby. I was rushed to the O.R. and thankful I could stay awake for the procedure. Fifteen minutes later, our baby Tijl was born, a big, healthy boy who came out screaming (the loveliest sound to me).

Abe meeting his little brother
So, no VBAC for me, and this time I had to make peace with the fact that I wouldn't get another shot at it. Since this was my second c-section, I have now become a planned c-section mother. And it's fine. I've come to realize that what's important is that they are here with us, not how they got here. And although I will probably always have a little envy in my heart for every girlfriend and sister who delivers her baby naturally, I'm okay with it. And next time I go in to deliver a baby, I will have my hair and nails done, and get a facial the day before. And come out shining. How's that?

Amazing Video

Posted by Lotte Filed under:
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I just watched the most amazing pregnancy and birth video and just have to share! So endearing and so well done, without being sappy at all. Really. Go watch it. You'll love it.

The Doing

Posted by Lotte on Monday, March 21, 2011. Filed under:
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Our lives are hectic. It's a constant flow of coming and going, bringing and picking up, and then making sure dinner's done at six and everyone's bathed and ready for bed by 7.30pm. Sometimes this goes rather effortlessly, and sometimes (most of the time, actually), it requires effort, concentration, and patience.
Another day done, another day gone. Looking back at the pictures, I wish then I hadn't been so concerned with getting everything done right, or in time, but instead enjoyed the moment and been a little more relaxed. Good enough will do, it doesn't need to be perfect. I think Anna Quindlen articulated these feelings beautifully in her article "On Being a Mom," and this sentence stands out to me (though the whole thing is pretty darn good and worthy of reading!):

"I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less"

Gorgeous, right? I'm going to convert this sentence to present time and then hang it somewhere on a wall in our house as a daily reminder. Do you have any favorite motherhood quotes?

Calendar Love

Posted by Lotte on Thursday, March 17, 2011. Filed under: ,
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I know I'm a bit late on this, but I'm still looking for a year calendar. I know, we're three months into 2011 already and honestly, I thought I'd skip this year, calendar wise, but I can't do it. I miss having one around just about every day. The last couple of years we made photo calendars in iPhoto, and though they are lovely, I wanted a change this year. Hence, the delay. Because whatever it is has to top all those lovely family pics we've gotten used to looking at.
Here's two ideas I really love. The first is from Gabrielle a.k.a. Design Mom, who managed to find time to DIY a lovely pastel colored monthly calendar. Here's what that looks like (photo courtesy of Design Mom):

I absolutely adore this, and Gabrielle assures us it's really easy to make. You have to make it for twelve months, though (well nine in my case), and I'm not sure I'm up for it just now. The second calendar that caught my eye is actually a wall sticker from the people over at Ferm Living. This would look really awesome over our dinner table:

The squares are actually chalkboard stickers, so this one is reusable month after month (year after year?). Apparently I'm into squares this year, but otherwise the soft pastel colors of the watercolor calendar and the bold black of the wallsticker calendar are pretty far removed from each other. What do you think? Do you have any favorite calendars?

Bear With Me

Posted by Lotte on Friday, March 11, 2011. Filed under:
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Hi there. I apologize for the mess. Here, on my blog. I've been switching templates (or attempting to, anyway) this past week, and finding out how to as I go. I'm not so tech-savvy after all. In the process, I lost all of my widgets and fonts. Sigh. I'll get it fixed. In the meantime, bear with me please, and here's one last pic of winter (as far as I'm concerned), 'cause this girl is ready for spring!
Have a good weekend!

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