Moms of Instagram // Madelon

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Thank you so much you guys for all the comments, emails and general enthusiasm about the Mom’s of Instagram Series, I really have been so humbled by how much you all have embraced this series and been exceptionally patient with me during the little “morning sickness” break I was forced to take.  I will be taking a break from the series for a couple of months to revamp the content and search for several more fantastic articles but I plan on re-launching the series again in the summer.

Our last and final interview of the series is Madelon (@madebylon), who lives in Holland with her husband and two children.  Madelon is one of the first people I met on Instagram and then in person a couple of years ago when I traveled to Amsterdam with my two boys.  She’s completely genuine and amazing, my only regret is that we didn’t get to spend more time together.  Here’s what Madelon had to share:

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Tell me a little bit about yourself and your family.

My name is Madelon. I’m 36, married to Bart and have two kids, Sylvester who is four and Reva who is almost 1. 
At this moment I’m a stay at home mom. not that accepted here in the Netherlands. At first I was a bit ashamed to tell someone, always immediately started defending myself. But you know what? I’m so happy. At this time in my life it works. Even more than that. I’m privileged enough that we can get by, I love being able to spend all this time with my kids. Especially with Bart being away a lot for work. Will I always be a stay at home mom? Probably not, it’s more exhausting than all my jobs together at once, but I wouldn’t want it any other way right now!
Next to that, we are starting a new adventure next year. We are moving to LA! Scary! And exciting.
Describe a typical day/routine?
It all changed since Sylvester turned four, because he has school now. He loves it, but we still have to adjust to the strict time frame. So, we get up, get dressed, eat and Bart brings him to school. Me and Reva stay home and we still don’t have a routine. Hopefully she sleeps a bit so I can do some things around the house. We go out and do dome groceries, or drink coffee with someone. I’m not that adventures, so often we stay (close to) home. We pick Sylvester up and than talk and play until Bart gets home. Not that exciting. Weekends we do things as a family. We just love being together! We go to a park, friends, a city, or just stay at home.
Are there any special traditions, celebrations or customs your family partakes in?  
I’m a sucker for traditions. I’m planning to create as much as possible. My kids are still small, but I’m noticing Sylvester is like me. I can get excited about small stuff. We celebrated when he was 1 meter tall. With cake, hats and everything. We celebrated his last day being three (eating ice cream) and he was thrilled. I will keep doing this. They pick out a new Christmas ornament every year. Our tree is hysterical, but every ornament has a story.
I’m planning to have a date night once a year with both of them separately. My mother did this with me and my brother, we had dinner in a restaurant, went to a move or went shopping. I always felt so special!  It’s the little things, that will create big memories!
What would people be most surprised to find out about you?

Before meeting Bart I wasn’t sure if I wanted children. Didn’t really like them. Especially babies!

Favorite pass-time?
Being with people who I love. Have a drink, talk, eat, just be together. Or watch tv. I used to watch a lot of tv before having children. Or read a magazine while taking a bath.
Describe you children’s rooms decorating style? 

I love the simple, clean and bright Scandinavian style. But it’s not my room, so they have a say too. Sylvester has a strong opinion about what it has to be like. But I’m not into a theme room. He is into super hero’s at the moment, so there is one print of Spiderman. That’s all. And everything is on his level, so he can grab his own clothes, books and toys.

What is your favorite room in the house and why?
Our living room, because that is where all the magic happens ;). No, but we spent most of our time there and it’s a lovely space that is connected to our kitchen and garden.
How easy is it to meet other moms in your community?

It’s hard, but since school and staying at home it’s easier. Also, I moved to a little village near Amsterdam and that made it better. People in big cities are always on the go, busy, and keep life more to themselves is my opinion. I’m still a city girl at heart, but living just a little bit outside.

What surprised you most about motherhood?
Oh boy. It’s so much better and at the same time so much harder than I thought. While being pregnant the first time I was afraid I wasn’t motherly enough, that my instincts wouldn’t tell me what to do. Thankfully I was wrong. Being a mother is everything. Everything you do, every decision you make is as a mother. That is beautiful and terrifying. I’m a loner, good at doing things by myself and that is not possible anymore (they are still so young). There are moments I find that difficult. But I love them and what they made me. More confident, more relaxed, less soul searching. So, I miss the spontaneity in life, but I love the craziness and fun they add. And I can’t wait to see what they will be like when they are older. 

What’s your philosophy on “eating your vegetables”?

Sylvester is a very picky eater. So we make him try everything on his plate (not much) and let him finish one piece of vegetables. They always say don’t make it into a battle, but I do. Every single night. Luckily he loves fruit, so sometimes he can skip vegetables and eat some fruit as dessert.

If you could travel anywhere in the world where would you go and who would you bring along? 

We are at our best being together. And we love to explore! So us four, going all over the world. We went to Copenhagen in November (traveling with kids is great! Different, slower, but great. Don’t wait until they are older. Just do it!) and I guess we will be exploring the US the coming years. Can’t wait to show them San Francisco and New York!!

What role does Instagram play in your life? 

A big role. At first it was a place where I could post my photos (I always made too many). But when I was pregnant with Reva it became so much more. It’s a place I get inspired, where I found some real life friends and real virtual friends. It’s a sub world, but heart warming, kind, encouraging and real. 

What have you found most surprising about Instagram? 

Instagram makes the world so tiny. I’m ‘meeting’ people all over the world who I get to know, laugh with, cry with, love. This community is so big hearted. People helping each other, take the time to answer your questions, give you that little push in the right direction, just ‘be there and feel for and with you. It makes me happy. There are still so many good people around. And I love meeting people! You were my first (and I was so nervous!! Haha, I came a long way since then). Because you see photos, have small conversations you have a feeling you know each other. It makes it so much easier. I truly made some new friends, even though I’m not that good at it.

And it sounds stupid, but it makes my move to the other side of the world a little easier. I just bring all my friends with me!
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Thank you so much Madelon for sharing your family with us, I can’t wait to see what the LA adventures bring along with them!  You can follow Madelon on her Instagram account or her blog.

The Perfect Sunnies for Kids: Babiators

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Is it just me who thinks Johannes suddenly looks super grown up?  I don’t think its just the hair cut, or the outfit.  I think its just him, he’s growing up before my eyes and much faster than I’m quite prepared for.  We finally got spring-like weather after a ridiculously long winter, so we made sure to spend as much time as possible outdoors, brunching downtown, gardening, scooting, bbq’ing of course.  Johannes is in a major sunglasses phase, which is no surprise since Michael and I are both big sunnies fans.  My biggest concern with kid sunglasses is how safe they are for their little eyes.  I don’t mind letting Johannes wear sunglasses, I mean I think they’re super cute, but I do want them to be safe and protective in addition to cute.

Enter Babiators!  I’m sure you’ve heard of these awesome (and cute) sunglasses for kids, but if you haven’t then you definitely should.  Babiators are, just as their name suggests, aviators for kids and babies, only they’re safe and durable  They are so durable that they are guaranteed against breakage, so they’re perfect for Johannes who now is obsessed with wearing them everywhere (even for brunch indoors…like Kanye).  Babiators also sport 100% UVA and UVB protection lenses, so I don’t have to worry about Johannes damaging his eyes when we’re out on the lake-front or in the sun.  The kids/babies Babiators line comes in both polarized and original lenses so you can pick which style you’d like best.  Definitely check them out, if you haven’t already done so, because the sun is here to stay!  And you can follow Babiators on Facebook and Instagram for Giveways and lifestyle ideas.

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Muck Boots Winner!

The winner of the Breezy Ballet Cool giveaway is “@klbirrenkott”. Didn’t win? Don’t worry, The Original Muck Boot Company is giving you the chance to win one of 5 pairs of Breezy Ballet Cool flats here: https://a.pgtb.me/WjDL6S. Just go vote for your favorite style to win!

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Bits + Pieces According to my iPhone

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Eeeee! What at exciting week. Yesterday we had our anatomy scan and found out we are having another little boy! He’s amazing and healthy and has ten fingers and ten toes. I can’t ask for anything better. Neither Michael nor I have siblings of the same gender so we are entering unchartered waters and we couldn’t be more excited for it. Johannes is pretty excited too. He pushed us to clean out the office of all our extra furniture and office books, and helped his dad set up the baby crib. My doctor also gave me the thumbs up to start running again and I managed to squeeze out two jogs which felt so good. It’s been a fantastic week, and really I have nothing at all to complain about. If only every week was this good!

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Moms of Instagram // Bridget Hunt

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After taking some time off of blogging and by default my weekly Moms of Instagram feature, I’m finally excited to start up this series again.  It is one of my favorites and a great way introduce you to some really great moms, new blogs, inspiring stories and so on.

Today’s feature mom is Bridget.  You may already know her blog, Tales of Me and the Husband, and if you don’t then I think you should.  I first came across Bridget and her story on Instagram and instantly fell in love with how genuine and kind she seems.  Here is what Bridget had to share.

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Tell me a little bit about yourself and your family.

We’re a mixed bag, this family of mine.  I married my husband seven years ago, after he’d lost his wife to cancer a few years earlier.  He had four children–aged three to thirteen at the time.  It was crazy, great, and incredibly hard–often at the same time!  We added Parker to the family two years ago!

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Describe a typical day/routine?

The big kids are off to school by about 7:30 and Parker is usually up by about then!  We do breakfast, run errands, have a playdate, sometimes head into Boston, or sometimes stay in our pajamas until noon… three… five?  Read books, do laundry, play trains!  Pretty uneventful but sort of perfect too?  I love spending my days with him.  We’ve got a good thing going.  And then, family’s home!  Dinner!  Bed.  

Are there any special traditions, celebrations or customs your family partakes in?

We go to our favorite bagel place in early December, get breakfast, and go to a nearby tree farm to cut down our tree.  Then we spend the rest of the day decorating with Christmas music blaring through the house (Josh Groban’s is one of my favorites!) and perhaps a cheers over some Martinelli’s cider once all is good and done!  It’s a good day. 

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What would people be most surprised to find out about you?

Gosh.  I’m not sure.  I love to travel but I also find myself really content being a homebody.  What else?  I sort of have control issues.  And, I strive to live pretty healthy but also have a major taste for junk food.  

Favorite pass-time?

I should say something like, “reading books!  exercising!” but what I’m really thinking is, “watching a movie!”  I don’t watch many movies these days and I LOVE when I get a chance to.

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Describe you children’s rooms decorating style?

I can’t say I have one specific style — in fact, I think I have multiple personality disorder when it comes to decorating.  I see styles  going EVERY WHICH WAY and think, “yes!  That!”  So on and so forth.  I definitely decorate piecemeal, which makes me very impatient and frustrated but I think I end up saving money this way instead of filling the space with things that aren’t quite right.  And while we’re on the topic, I love your home, Ana! 

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What is your favorite room in the house and why?

Ooh.  Probably our computer room.  It’s just really cozy.  A thick rug, dark brown walls, book shelves… though the floor is often covered with Parker’s toys.  We often crowd in there and lay all over the floor and such!

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How easy or difficult is it to meet other moms in your community?

Gosh, this is hard for me to answer.  I don’t live far from where I went to college, so a lot of my college friends are around and also having babies.  I can’t say I’ve made many friends that I don’t already have some connection with (i.e. college). It’s always been a little bit interesting for me because, like at a back to school night, I’m by far the youngest there since I have older stepchildren.  With that said, they’ve always been nice and not asked if I were my kid’s older sister!

What surprised you most about motherhood?

How much I would love it.  Not that I thought I’d hate it.  But I really, really love it.

What’s your philosophy on “eating your vegetables”?

There are days where we don’t get any!  BUT, I will say, my saving grace for a sometimes fickle toddler is a morning smoothie of banana pureed with spinach.  He LOVES it and then I feel like I can put my feet up and not force the issue the rest of the day!  With that said, my kids are all great eaters–William and Lindsey LOVE my brussels sprouts (I am heavy on the butter and salt!) and they also ask for seconds of salad!  So, I’m pretty lucky in that respect.

If you could travel anywhere in the world where would you go and who would you bring along?

Right now, I’d have to say Greece and I’d bring my husband for sure.  I’d also really love to go to Argentina.  I’d pack a bikini, a dress, some flip flops, and not much else. 

What role does Instagram play in your life?

I love checking in with people throughout the day, feeling like even if it was a day we stayed home and did nothing, I still had a little bit of community with other adults!  Blogging has helped in that respect too.  Motherhood can sometimes be very isolating–particularly when they’re really young.  I remember being so grateful for the “conversations” I could have, even if I didn’t actually see anyone that day.  I will say, though, sometimes I need to just click out of it because I can play the comparisons game and end up feeling like my ________(fill in the blank) isn’t good enough.  I suppose blogs can do that too.  I mostly keep a handle on this though.

What have you found most surprising about Instagram?

How it’s legitimately becoming a marketing tool for a lot of business owners.  I mean, Susan from Freshly Picked is a good example of this.  She uses Instagram to grow her moccasin business and does so really well.

I’ll leave you with my favorite quote:  “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”  The best and so true.

Thank you for having me Ana!
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I can’t help but feel pretty similarly to Bridget regarding Instagram, comparisons and unplugging.  After unwillingly unplugging while trying to get through my first trimester morning sickness, it was actually really interesting to come back to it all, and somehow some of the little things that used to sometimes make me feel inferior, now seem to bother me much less.  I guess after months long of unplugging I’m much less invested in it than I used to be….but I regress.
Thank you so so much Bridget for being a part of this series, and for being so incredibly patient with me to post this, several months late.  Sometimes I wish I could gather up all the amazing mom’s I’ve met online and get y’all in the same city for a get together.  You can read Bridget’s blog here, or check out her instagram feed.

5 Essentials for Spring

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Aritzia denim vest, Stila eye shadow palette, JCrew seersucker hat, Muck Boot Company gardening boots, Indigo flower pillow

This week we finally broke that zero degree mark and all our back yard snow is finally melting so I feel like spring really is going to come this year!  I did have my doubts after all the snow, but it looks like its here and that means gardening, breezy jackets and sunshine.  Being pregnant my spring must haves this year are a little bit different.  I’m focusing on cute accessories, hats, denim pieces, flower decorations, radiant makeup and gardening goodies.

The sweet folks at the Muck Boot Company sent me a couple of samples of their new Breezy Spring line to try out around the yard, and they came at the perfect time.  As the snow is melting fast our front and back yard is covered in mud, dead leaves and garbage from an almost 4 month long winter, ughhh.  Sunday ended up being garden cleanup day so it was the perfect time to try out my new Breezy Mid boots, I was fresh home from yoga so I didn’t have time to change (or put socks on), but to my surprise the boots were both comfortable and warm to wear.  There are no seams on the inside of the boot, which is lined with neoprene, so there was no chafing or rubbing.  And once it got a little hotter in the afternoon I threw on the Breezy Ballet Cool flat instead.

The Muck Boot Company is running a promotion that starts today, April 7 until April 9.  If you comment on one of my Instagram photos featuring either the ballet flat or the mid boot, you can win a pair for yourself!  Its pretty simple to enter, but if you miss it or don’t get selected don’t worry they’re also running a giveaway on the Muck Boots Facebook page April 9-11 where they will be giving away 5 pairs from the Breezy line.

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This post was sponsored by the Muck Boot Company.  Thank you so much to all the readers for reading and supporting our sponsors.  And also thank you so so much Muck Boot Company for the super awesome gardening shoes!  They will be put to good use as gardening season is just beginning.