Just a small visual diary of what I'm working on and what I see around me these days, to keep track of some very busy weeks! Oh, and I guess the word of the week is swan ;).
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It's probably the corner you've seen most often on this blog, because I've used it for photos of my posters quite often and well, also because I have kind of a soft spot for my vintage school cupboard (aka the little library, or at least the dream of it).
So throughout time this little corner of our living room has already gone through quite a few incarnations...
But as you can imagine an open cupboard like this (that's also home to some toys, children's clothes and books) can quickly turn from the cutest part of the room to the messiest part of the room. And after I wrote this I realized that I indeed really like that you can see that kids live here, but that on the other hand not every corner of our living room should have to be occupied by toys and children's stuff.
So I decided to try and reclaim this one little corner...
Which of course wasn't all that easy: after I'd taken some stuff off the shelves to declutter them a bit, Julie immediately took her chance and thought that the now empty shelf was the perfect place where she could put her dolls to bed... So quickly I had to reclaim my little corner not just from the toys, but from a whole doll's entourage... Now try that if you have a heart! ;)
Of course not all the childish stuff had to go: I happen to be sort of a big child myself, who can really like things that are officially designed for children. So it's a bit of a balancing act not to let the toys take over from the grown-up stuff anyway ;).
They've been some very good days, these last few. Quite busy, but very manageable, which is always a good thing (and not always the case ;)). We seem to be somewhere inbetween summer and fall. I brought home some fall flowers from the market, but when I arrived home it felt like summer again in our garden. So good to soak up these last bits of summer sun!
Often I feel there's so much to do, so much to make and create, so much inspiration to be found. Do you know this feeling of your head exploding, but in a good way? It's definitely much better than to have your head exploding in a bad way, but it's still a lot of explosion. Can't say I don't like it though ;).
Sometimes I get the feeling that the play area of our living room is some sort of living creature, that is slowly but surely taking over the living room. Each morning when we wake up, that nasty animal has occupied some more space, and in fact I'm fairly certain that one day it'll eat us all alive.
Oh, I know I've probably also been one of those people who, in some harsh kind of pre-kids-era, has bravely said things like 'I'm never ever going to live in a kindergarten' or 'Those kids just have to learn to value a grown-up design interior from an early age'. Well, guess what? They don't ;).
Sometimes it really drives me crazy, all those toys and all the playing everywhere. Tidying up the same silly stuff six times a day. At a certain point Helmut and I found ourselves solving those same enormous wooden puzzles every night, not because the girls loved making puzzles so much, but because they just liked to casually turn them upside down once a day. So the puzzles went up to the attic and no one has ever asked for them again ;).
Oh and then of course we still have this...
But truth is that besides the annoyance that those toys and the all-over-play sometimes bring, I actually love this play area a lot. It's so good to see how the girls really have room to play, how they come up with the funniest games, how they interact and connect with each other more and more. I love to see how they really have their own little world here.
And of course I must admit that I'm the main person who keeps adding new things, like the little school table and chairs recently. However I must say I wasn't the one who secretly brought in a whole bucket of acorns and wettish autumn leaves the other day... (I did have to pick them up from all over the room though ;))
I never really missed a garden when we didn't have one, though at the end of our apartment-period I sometimes envisioned how awesome it would be when you'd just have to open your kitchen door to be outside. Now I actually enjoy having a garden even more than I could have imagined. Even though it is just a small garden, there's such a sense of freedom in being able to step outside every once in a while (especially when there's a lot of noise and yelling inside ;)).
Recently we finally hung the vintage camper birdhouse that I bought on etsy a little while ago. Rosa, who has been obsessed with caravans since we slept in one on last year's holiday, just couldn't imagine why the birdhouse was still vacant the next morning: how was it possible that those stupid birds hadn't moved in straight away? Ah well, their loss ;).
Oh A4, I must admit it: my love for your bigger, more impressive brother A3 took over a bit lately... But when I discovered the option to have A4-sized prints printed on the same beautiful heavy recycled paper that my postcards are made of, I didn't hesitate to give it a try. You can find the Bear asleep print here, and the Patches #1 print here.
I once wrote here about how the artificial, overly styled images of perfect homes in magazines or on blogs can sometimes make you start considering your imperfect daily home as some kind of anomaly. I loved seeing how Anke and Kim styled the pictures during this photo shoot (which they of course did) without overdoing it and without losing the spirit of the house that we actually live in. In fact I think the nicest photos turned out to be the ones where Julie grabbed the grapes that were part of the styling of a picture and started eating them...
If you're curious you can find some more pictures of the shoot here.
Just a few pictures of our plate wall, that sometimes seems a bit like one of those puzzles where you can't just change one thing, but always have to change everything because each small change shakes the balance of the whole system. Today is the first day of school in our area again, which also shakes a balance, our life's balance. Not even in a big way: none of our girls is going to school yet, the only one leaving for school today was Helmut, to start teaching again. Which of course marks the end of our summer holiday, something that leaves me feeling sort of sad. Kind of funny actually, because in a way the difference between 'normal life' and holiday has never been smaller than in these last few years.
As far as I can remember, I've always dreaded going back to normal life after the holidays. As a kid I hated going back to school again, after the freedom I experienced during the holiday. I'm sure there were also reasons to be happy to be back in school, but in general the feeling of having to return to 'the system' with its ongoing rules and routines predominated.
I'm still not very good with routines and involuntary structures, and sometimes I wonder what it'll be like when Rosa starts in school in December. I'm sure the daily school structure will change our life's slightly chaotic balance, but mainly I hope that Rosa's going to enjoy being part of the school system more than I used to do. We've chosen the Waldorf school that's only one block away from our home for her, that seems so cozy and enjoyable that even I would want to go there every day ;). I really do hope that Rosa will feel the same way.
Meanwhile I keep rearranging: I bought the pink House of Rym plate in Antwerp last month, and when I finally had everything back in position, I bought a few more that are currently waiting for their spot. Ah well, I'm sure we'll soon all find our balance again!
A few weeks ago we finally moved Julie's little blue cot into Rosa's room, and now they actually share a room for the very first time (they did have a 'shared room' in our previous apartment, but they never really slept there together). To say it has proven a success so far would be a bit premature: in fact these last few weeks have been a mix of a few very good nights and a lot of terrible ones. However the terrible part didn't necessarily have that much to do with the girls sharing a room: most of the time they each had their own many seperate reasons for waking up and leaving us totally sleep-deprived (and eventually the one would also wake the other up of course, so we had quite a few nights with the two of them keeping each other awake). They do love sharing a room by the way, so the aspect of the two of them enjoying each other's company and developing their own little routines is really sweet to witness.
The room the girls share isn't a very big one, but the funny thing is that now that Julie and her bed have moved in, it seems easier to organize the space in a more efficient and playful way, without the feeling of losing that much room. A little while ago I found some vintage nursery school tables with matching chairs, and I put one of the tables in the girls' room. Now they have a little reading/drawing nook, which hardly occupies more space than the previous arrangement with only the vintage bench and doll bed.
A little while ago I stumbled upon a pinterest link that led to a post on a website about the previous shared nursery that we created in our old home. It was funny to look at those old pictures (of a planned shared nursery that never ended up being shared), but even more funny & interesting was reading the comments on the particular blog post.
When you put things on the internet you inevitably open yourself up to the possibility of getting comments and criticism, which can be positive but of course also pretty negative. In general I think the mama/craft/design blog community is rather friendly: we usually don't say it in one's 'face' when we think one's home, products, pictures or creations are a total disaster, or when their writing style is annoying us terribly. However this type of courtesy is often less visible when your pictures start travelling all over the net and end up on websites such as Apartment therapy, that ask for people's opinion on interior decoration issues. Then all of a sudden you can start reading some more honest views ;). Like this comment, about these pictures of our previous nursery:
"No. I like creative spaces. This is to much junk for a glorified walk in closet, that's pretty much what this room is, WIC. I have seen better put together rooms in a small space, this is horrid."
Ah well, of course it's never a wonderful thing when your nursery is being called horrid and 'too much junk for a glorified walk in closet'. But on the other hand it makes sense: we all have different tastes and I can perfectly well imagine that what I like may be awful in someone else's view.
But it's getting better... The next person commenting on the blog post, a certain MummyKitM, leaves no less than three comments after another.
"Those cribs actually look illegal. How far apart are the "bars"?? They look as if a baby could easily slide through and hang. And I really detest seeing pillows in a crib. The shelves are hard to get to, as are some of the clothes. What is with that chair? There's no space for it in 3 of the pictures, and yet, magically, it appears in the fourth? It looks truly uncomfortable, also. That is so insanely staged. I'm sorry, but this whole room is a "fail"."
Then the second:
"And I only just noticed: the beds *AGAINST* a heater?? With *NO* cover *OR* space?!?!?!? W.T.H?!?!?!"
"I see that this is in the Netherlands, so I don't know their laws for cribs, but I see even more things in this room that, as a parent, raise alarm bells. Buttons? On a baby sleeper?"
The funny thing is that when pictures of our nursery appear on international (mainly American) websites, these 'OMG-so-dangerous' comments always start pouring down. It's interesting that on the one hand I often get nice emails from American readers who ask me where they can find such a nice vintage crib, while on the other hand there are always people who seem to think that here in Europe we are deliberately trying to harm our kids or something.
This online-safety-worrying is a fascinating thing: there seems to be a whole crowd of concerned moms online who are constantly checking every possible nursery picture for any kind of safety hazards. I've seen it so many times (and not only regarding my own pictures!), and if you ask me, it's a bit crazy. Don't get me wrong: like all moms (even Dutch or European ones, which may come as a surprise to some commenters ;)) I'm very much concerned for my kids' health. Also I definitely wouldn't want to ridiculize people's actual concerns for things such as SIDS, which is an awful thing. But this whole obsession with seeing enormous hazards in every possible thing? It seems quite stressful and unnecessary to me. If you want to hear my opinion, these are my two cents.
First of all about these vintage beds: I know so many people with cribs like these (and in fact whole generations grew up in them, because they're 1950s beds), and really, I've never ever witnessed anything that comes even the remotest bit close to babies getting their heads stuck between the bars of the bed. In fact I don't think it can happen (but maybe my kids just have giant heads!). Never say never, but personally I think the safety of your children has much more to do with being attentive and present as a parent than with all those laws, rules and precautions that people come up with in order to avoid any possible danger. I've always had my kids very close to me (like in a crib next to my bed for about the first year or so, or napping in a wrap during the day, or in a crib in the room next to mine) and I always check up on them when I hear them cry.
Personally I think common sense, attentiveness, intuition and staying close are key words when it comes to the safety of your baby and toddler. Of course it's wise to take some precautions, but in the end it's not laws or precautions or all kinds of ingenious technological tools that have to take care of your kid and it's safety, but you yourself.
To be honest I often think that as a mother I should be a little more nonchalant: compared to other moms I often consider myself as a bit too controlling, staying too close sometimes and not allowing my kids enough room to take risks, make their own mistakes and sometimes get hurt. But of course that kind of thing isn't really visible on a picture with some decorative pillows in a crib ;).
I never quite understood this whole honeycomb/pompom thing: nice for parties, but all the time, in your home? (says someone who puts buntings everywhere ;)) But during a bike ride in the city I saw a vase with a bunch of bamboo sticks with colorful honeycombs in the window of a house, and I immediately fell for it. At a certain point Rosa asked me why we kept riding back and forth through that same street over and over again... Well, because of those sticks with the colorful honeycombs of course!
I think these will be a perfect replacement for my slightly our of control fresh flower addiction (not to mention the constant work it brings to make sure that there are fresh flowers all the time instead of neglected sad-looking ones ;)). Though I can imagine that these are just way too attractive for tiny curious hands... Let's see if they'll survive their first night with the girls!
My name is Nina, I'm a ceramics and paperwares designer and mom of Rosa and Julie. This blog is about making, living, liking, loving and so much more!
Want to get in touch? You can always send me an email through firstname.lastname@example.org.