Their first surf lessons in Seignosse, Hossegor. Seb’s first tooth came out. We collected sand, stones and shells, crab claws, frogs, bugs and memories. And water blisters on their fingers from how long they spent in the water. Everyone had gone back to school and the beaches were bare. It was bliss.
So Lola ate a 20 pence coin.
Of all the things I worry about with the kids, swallowing money did not come onto my radar. None of them really put things in their mouth any more. When I saw my 3 year old choking in front of me, in our bedroom, I still did not think… she’s eaten a coin. Until she asked us whilst making the gagging, retching, choking noises of a toddler with a metal object stuck in her throat to ‘get the money out’.
A surreal experience of first aid, throwing her over my knee and hitting on the back between her shoulder blades, which did not empty out what she had in her mouth, a call to 999, a few vomiting episodes, an ambulance ride and an X ray later we knew it was definitely a coin. 56 hours later, we had poked around enough poo to find that magical piece of metal that had been places no human eye would wish. If you have no desire to see what a coin that has travelled through an acid bath of the human digestive tract looks like, then look away about now.
During the whole ‘experience’ I learnt I am not bad in a crisis. Those first aid lessons I had 8 years ago came rushing back. Apart from my initial horror of watching her choking, the only time I felt the gurgle of sickness rise up in my throat was when the paramedic questioned whether it could be a coin shaped battery. These little things containing lithium which fit into clocks, watches, toys, electric scales etc, can burn holes in your oesophagus and corrode your insides. They can be fatal. She reminded me this in the ambulance and I wanted to VOM. I had taken some upstairs to change the batteries from the scales in my bathroom and I couldn’t be absolutely certain she hadn’t found and used these as money until I called home and had him check.
So here’s the thing. You might not think it but kids swallow things ALL THE TIME. When we were in A&E, we were there with another little boy who had swallowed a ball bearing from a game he was playing. My friends little girl swallowed her wedding ring. These things happen. But when you consider where most of us keep batteries, in a drawer in the kitchen? (like me), in devices that can easily be opened by children, it is literally an accident waiting to happen. So think about moving them to somewhere similar to where you keep your medical supplies, high up and out the way of little fingers.
So thank God, fate, the world, karma for good shit happening. All is well in the house of Chalkio and we have 3 healthy kids. Breathe, smile, grin. Now tell me, have you ever swallowed a foreign object you didn’t actually mean to?
21.05.15 ★ Dressing up as a Roman
Dressing up as a Roman Day at school.
I remembered on the Sunday. Toga making time. As luck would have it she wanted to be a rich Roman lady as funnily enough, they get to wear lots of jewellery and make up. They also had enough money to buy fabrics that were dyed and therefore didn’t have to be white. There are a lot of simple instructions on how to make a toga online and a peasant costume can be made with even a simple white T shirt or pillowcase and a piece of string as a belt.
Obviously wanting to be true to the fashion whilst using a little creative licence, I also searched the images of TV series ‘Spartacus’ for the costumes used in the show. This gave me a really good idea of how to put all our pieces together. The hair being braided into two small plaits either side was an effective finishing touch.
Her Rich Lady Roman Costume consisted of:
A cot bed jersey sheet with the fitted elastic cut from the bottom and two sides but kept at the top, wrapped around her and fastened with safety pins.
Green and gold scarf of mine worn as a sarong and crossed/knotted around her neck.
Thin gold belt, gold costume jewellery, all mine.
Plus a special last minute Sunday purchase from TopShop of the gold headpiece.
08.01.15 ★ Lola Wears
07.01.15 ★ Fashion: Lola Wears
I really can’t explain the bond between siblings. I have 3 children. They are all close, individually with each other and as a three. But how have I encouraged this and what do I do to keep it this way?
(P.S. They are 7, 5 & 3…I can’t promise this will work forever but it has done us all pretty well so far 😉
1. Keep them physically close
My youngest two still sleep together, in single beds they want pushed together so it’s like them sharing one bed. I might as well have put them both in a double. I shared with my sister until I was nearly a teen and loving or hating her at times it’s like sharing a dorm or a house at university. You are bound by a shared experience and a physical closeness of being a team, sharing a space. It won’t work for everyone but if your children want to sleep together don’t dismiss it just because you have enough bedrooms for them all.
2. Promote a positive family expectation in discussions and arguments.
I don’t allow my children to talk badly to each other whenever possible. They have to explain themselves to each other and apologise. Properly. Kiss, cuddle, make up, whatever! But it has to be genuine. I tell them that in life your family is always first. That we will all be here for each other no matter what and that means thinking about your brothers and sisters when planning things and playing games too.
3. Enjoy playing and holidaying together
We love to take them on holiday. Luckily we can afford to do this every year and for us its a priority. I’d say most of our favourite memories and experiences come from a trip somewhere and one that we have taken together. Neither of my parents are alive but i have a special bond with my sister even though we don’t see each other often, because we shared a childhood of memories together that no one else has shared with us….and yes we definitely hated each other a lot at points too! I recently met someone with a large family of brothers and sisters, all now with their own families. She said they were all still really close. I asked how and she told me that every Summer her parents rent a house for 6 weeks and invite everyone to stay. They all manage to cross over staying there for at least a few days and that special time is what keeps the families connected and still making memories even though they are all grown up.
4. Visual encouragement
I’m a visual person. Everything I see matters and it also influences me on a daily basis. I think my children may learn in this way too. If Lola doesn’t want to go swimming, if i show her a video from my phone of her swimming unaided and show her what she is capable of its like she suddenly remembers and is a lot less resistant about going. It’s the same with the way they act towards each other. If I take photos of them having fun together or even of places or things that we have done together it triggers a memory of positivity towards each other. Keeping or showing them photos or videos of them together often brings out a sentimental part where they want to create how good they felt and this has an immediate effect on how they interact with each other.
5. Don’t expect too much
I like my children to have a caring responsibility for each other. If they fall over, help them up, check they are Ok etc. but not many children want to be 2nd parents to their siblings. They are siblings and friends and over and above looking after each others well being I would not expect them to ‘babysit’ each other. This generally leads to resentment and feelings of dissatisfaction about their role in the family.
6. Finally spend time on each child individually
This is easier said than done but there should always be times every so often where each child can feel special without his siblings being there. One on one time with your children is the fastest way to boost feelings of happiness and make each member of the family seem important, even if this is done inside the home whilst the others are occupied. I try and spend an extra 10 minutes at night sitting talking and reading with all my children and I love buying experiences for their birthdays as opposed to things so that they get a memory which lasts, sometimes together and sometimes just for them.
25.09.14 ★ Shop: Bicester for Kids
Most of you in the UK have heard of Bicester Shopping Village which as they describe it, is ‘a chic shopping outlet’. It’s a designer haven of delightful shops all at discount prices near Oxford. During the Summer I went to check out what they had on offer specifically for the kids.
My favourite store was their centrally placed pop up shop area which is changed seasonally. Over the Summer it was home to the beautiful and eclectic ‘I love gorgeous‘ which made it their own with a huge selection of pieces from ditsy prints to sequin party dresses, all colour organised in rails. A true visual treat and even included their own small garden for children and events at the back.
I love gorgeous, started in 2006 by two mums and has gone from strength to strength ever since. The concept of the store at Bicester was a perfect environment to provide inspiration to other mothers looking to dress their girls in whimsical partywear and everyday funky yet feminine pieces at a reduced price to that in the stores and online. The pop up shop therefore giving people the chance to try the brand before making additional purchases when they are hooked!
The Bonpoint store was another favourite space crammed full of heart achingly divine French fashion for the little ones. From embroidered cherry logo pins to linen and cotton mix blouses perfectly chic, displayed on your very own Delphine or Pierre.
Stella McCartney‘s main store offered a beautifully curated collection of on trend designs for the smaller clientèle, including the popular cowboy boot and tiger print knitted rompers.
The village offers a wide selection of brands including Dior, Dolce and Gabbana and Gucci as well as more high street names you may be more familiar with, such as Clarks and Cath Kidston, where you can pick up the latest nappy bag or lunch box in that perfect retro print.
Hackett and Ralph Lauren also offering smaller sized pieces of their classic mens key looks. The Ralph Lauren kids shop being one of the largest and busiest stores I viewed, but with a lot of choice and a wide range of price points.
It is never as fun to shop with the kids as it is without but there are facilities in place for the children, with good toilets and various eating spots including plenty of high chairs and playgrounds for when they really have had enough!
To get the most out of a trip here, I would definitely recommend the ‘Hands Free Shopping’ service which for a small fee, lets you make the most of browsing and purchasing without the need to carry everything you purchase around with you. This is especially helpful if you do have children with you as you can keep your hands free for making sure they don’t make a quick escape!
The village overall is perfectly laid out and just the right size to fully appreciate it in a whole day of shopping. Once parked, (valet parking is optional) everything is within a 5-10 minute stroll through the part cobbled and decorated centre. It is clean, well staffed and really quite pretty. I adored the very British red telephone boxes scattered about and feel they make a special effort to keep the grounds of the village attractive with flowers and being partly covered, it is still a great place to be hopping between the shops when the weather is not so great.
For a full list of stores available here go on to the Bicester Village website to view the map and brands available.
02.09.14 ★ Abercrombie Kids launches in the UK
So they took their time but finally the giant of teen Cool, (you know the store that is so dark it feels like a swanky bar and has staff that are basically models) and somewhat controversial, Abercrombie & Fitch, has launched their first UK Flagship store in Saville Row, London.
With a range of trend driven looks from ‘boho pretty’ to ‘girly grunge’ and classic Abercrombie & fitch styles for boys in smaller sizes they are sure to attract some new smaller customers.
Situated in the beautiful historic No.3 Saville Row, across the street from the Abercrombie & Fitch flagship store, it showcases three levels of clothing and accessories for boys and girls, in addition to iconic memorabilia that pays homage to Apple Records and The Beatles after the Beatles performed their last concert there in 1969.
02.08.14 ★ Lola’s first ponytail
Sometimes the smallest things seem unimportant but actually it’s often these little moments that we remember over the big picture. I’m trying to work on being mindful in the moment and finding the easiest way to remember special little moments is to record them, instagram them, write them in the notes section on my phone.
This week we are on holiday and one of my favourite little moments of this week will definitely be Lola’s first ponytail. She has never before kept anything much in her hair but in the heat of the day, she came to me and asked with her pigeon speech,
I think I love her little ponytail very much.
Sometimes you can tell, sometimes you just can’t. I’ve often heard that little boys don’t care what they wear as long as they are not dressing themselves. I’m sure that’s true for some of you and was certainly the case for my husband and his 3 brothers. It was all about the lazy option and how fast they could get outside to jump out of a tree or cover themselves in mud.
Seb however is definitely more choosy when it comes to outfits. He knows what’s comfy and he knows what you wear to a party. I have never sanctioned the use of general characters on T Shirts outside of pyjama wear but generally the odd vintage style Spiderman black Tee has passed through the net mainly because it’s cool and you have to give a bit, somewhere. Football tops are kept to a bare minimum and sometimes he just asks to be dressed to match his dad. Cute. I doubt that one will last much longer! He has learned his pickiness however not from his dad but his big sister.
Kitty from the age of 2 had definite ideas about what she did and did not want to wear. After dismissing about 90% of her wardrobe I decided that the only way to come out on top was as she grew out of her clothes, I would only replace them with things that could be universally worn with almost everything else and that everything I bought I loved. This then bred a wardrobe of grey, black, white and navy and denim with some colour highlights and print dresses. It was revolutionary.
From then she has developed her own style and consistently continues to make me smile with her choices. I’ve had to let go a little but its like our styles have merged and she has compromised too. She knows her colours and what works well and she loves to be a little different, to make up trends. Check out her double sock combo up top. #yousawitherefirst.
And hey, without even knowing it was Coachella season she finds this flower band from nowhere and decides it time to rock that vibe for a bit.
I think if you are concerned about how they look you have to get ahead of the game. Start early. They can be picky very young!
My top tips for a style harmony with your kids
1. Eliminate bad choices
Ok, so Aunty Pam bought you that Skylander T-shirt in flourescent green. Yep, quickly make it a PJ top not a T-shirt. That way you will not have to endure him wearing it day in, day out…in the day at least! Either that or charity shop bad buys before they even realise they are gone. Yes some clothes do get lost in the wash you know…ahem.
2. Buy good basics
Don’t scrimp on badly made cheap basics. I love H & M and Gap for highstreet great basic styles which wash well. Stick to some neutral colours like black, grey, navy white and nudes for chic basics and add in some colours they suit which compliment such as pinks, purples and greens or red. Kids need some colour.
3. Denim is your friend
Don’t just think jeans, but jackets, waistcoats and shorts can be super chic in denim and its hard wearing and easier to keep clean than most other fabrics. When you do buy jeans make sure you get a good cut. Skinny and straight fitting styles are more fashionable right now.
4. No more shoes from hell!
Tell the assistant after being measured not to bring any shoes out that light up/have diamonds/flowers/sparkles or free make up kits/whatever you don’t like! And guide their available options before they are even aware the full range of what’s available.
5. Let them live a little
I’m all about standing your ground when it comes to clothes but the go naked or wear what i want line cannot work every time. Look out for items you know they’ll love without being too tacky and give them a treat. Some batman T shirts can be cool. Have a little fun. Some fashions are never meant to last that long and the chances are they’ll grow out of it before you get a chance to despise it.
So do your kids dress themselves? And have you ever ‘accidentally lost’ something you didn’t like? Do you tell family and friends not to buy clothes or do they already know better?
I’d love to know!