5 WAYS TO HELP DURING A TRAGIC TIME

It is with so much sadness, that I share what’s happened in my personal life over the past week. My brother-in-law had a sudden heart attack and died, leaving behind my sister (& best friend) and her three kids, aged 9, 14 and 17. This is them last summer.

My sister’s family

I have never written a post like this before, but through the process of loss, there have been a few things that have come up that I thought might be helpful to share.

  1. Take SO many photos (& videos):

    My sister is a photographer and if there is anything she feels grateful for right now, it is for the hundreds of photos she has of her husband and her family. Her kids have photos to tell stories about, pour over in their darkest hours and memories to hold forever. She has had family photoshoots taken by professional photographers and these sessions are valued beyond belief. Videos capture voice and personality in an even greater way. So, get our your cameras and snap away making sure you and your partner are in the shots too.

  2. Stay organized:

    Having important documents labelled and organized helps those around you at all times of life, even when you are no longer here. When systems are clear and in place, it makes the inevitable process of form completion and documentation so much easier throughout the most challenging times. Digital organization is just as important as paper-based.

  3. Food is a fabulous love language:

    Within hours of the tragic news, close friends dropped off a block freezer and started filling it with food. Hot meals, freezer meals, general groceries and fresh food platters started to arrive. In that moment, I realized, food is the most logical (and such an appreciated!) way to show love. It is so helpful. If you have a friend or family member going through a heartbreaking time, dropping off a meal that can be enjoyed now or used later is such a great way to give.

  4. Play:

    While each child copes differently and processes at different times, play is a beautiful way to connect. With younger kids, reach out and set up play dates. With older ones, invite them for a movie date. Any distraction that can allow a break for the mind is a welcome way to show kids that you care and a great way for them to connect with their friends.

  5. Think longer term:

    While the initial outpouring of love is amazing, I can’t help but think of ways that will be helpful longer term. Set a reminder once a month over the next 24 months to drop off a meal or have a grocery gift card or gift certificate to a local restaurant mailed to the family every 3 or 6 months.

Most importantly of all, just be. Be you - the sibling, parent, child, or friend you are. Your friendship is what is most valuable of all.

In search of ways to help, I’ve set up a GoFundMe page for my sister and her family. Thank you to those who have already reached out. Your kindness and generosity is so very much appreciated.

A LITTLE TRADITION: LUNCH BOX NOTES FOR KIDS

We made it to Friday!! I know that our kids breathe a little happier knowing a couple of days at home are ahead too. I file this one under efficient Mama because it covers off two things at once: being organized and feeling connected! As a child, I loved receiving notes from my own Mom and now I’m carrying on the tradition in our home by popping a little hand written note into our kids’ lunchbox most Fridays in hopes of starting the weekend off on the right note (see what I did there?!).

lunch box note ideas for kids

It really doesn’t take long and it definitely doesn’t have to be complicated; even a simple ‘I love you!’ goes a long way to letting the kids know that we are thinking about them when we’re not physically there.

overall.jpg
lunch box note

As with anything, what gets planned for gets done and this is no different. Schedule it in your calendar, set a reminder in your phone, write yourself a prompt on the fridge…whatever it takes, I encourage you to pick a date and try it out!

thank you note to kids

I’d love to hear if you do. Did your kids like it? Were they surprised?

SHOP THE POST…

OUR FAMILY FRIENDLY LIVING ROOM

They say that home is where your heart is and I believe this is completely true. For me, that means comfort, playfulness, support, love and moments of happiness when you need them most. Home is mainly the people you love, but creating a house that aligns with these feelings and qualities is something I have always loved doing. Last week, I shared Xavier’s big boy room and today, I’m so excited to share a glimpse into our family friendly living room!

Vancouver Interior Designer and Blogger Melissa Barling jumping on couch in living room
A family friendly living room design with round coffee table by Winter Daisy Interiors

This is a space that gets used by everyone. Forts are built, games are played and at the end of the day it’s a quick and easy room to clean up and look presentable.

The sectional is perfect for family movie nights and pillow fights too. It took a few years before we decided to buy a coffee table again and when we did, we chose a round one so that there weren’t any sharp corners for the kids (or us!) to run into.

The gallery wall is a random selection of both frames and art. Most are paintings that either I or the kids have done and there are also random materials from past travels. I always thought it would be a temporary display, but reality is that art doesn’t get changed in our house too often so it’s been up there for years!

Mom and minis cuddling in living room

While we don’t have fresh blooms on the table all the time, it sure is lovely when we do!

hydrangeas in vase on coffee table
A soft and neutral living room in the home of Vancouver Interior Designer Melissa Barling of Winter Daisy Interiors

SHOP THE POST:

MAMA & ME OUTDOOR SUMMER PHOTOSHOOT

Melissa Barling and her three kids

After seven years abroad, my sister is home! This is cause for celebration on SOOO many levels (hello real life visits and wine chats on the couch!), and I am very very lucky to have her back here to beautifully photograph my growing family! She mainly photographs newborns over at Amanda Haddow Photography in Victoria but on this occasion she agreed that I needed some mama and babe shots, so we headed to the park with the kids, took a picnic and the kids ran around, picked flowers, made daisy chains and played. 

Melissa kissing Xavier's tummy
Melissa holding Noelle
Melissa with kids
Kaia holding flowers

It is unbelievable how few photos moms take WITH their children and our family is really just the same. I would love to change this but since I am typically the one behind the lens, it may take some time to get used to being in the frame with the kiddies. I had the cutest shirt picked out for Xavier but he absolutely refused to wear it (or any shirt for that matter!) so we just went with it and thankfully that bare belly turned out to be the most adorable thing. Capturing his personality at this stage is really so much more important anyway, right?! Although we rarely get a 'perfect' picture, I look back at all of our photos together with so much love. Seeing how little the kids look in past photos is the best incentive to get out there and take more!

Melissa and Xavier
Melissa kissing Noelle

Just look at my gorgeous little ones! Nothing makes me happier than seeing their beautiful faces and delicious giggles captured to keep for years to come. 

bouquet of small white flowers
Kaia picking flowers
Family photo outdoors

We haven't been particularly great at taking photos all together (even these ones are missing my number one sidekick, my husband) but I have taken lots and lots of the kids over the years and have learned a few tips along the way. Here are my top tips for getting the best success when shooting with kids.

top tips for taking photos with kids
hand on xavier's head
daisy chain headband
Melissa

At the end of the day, it's the unexpected moments of pure joy or love or surprise that shine. Or in this case, pure goofiness. The outtakes are always so funny. C'est la vie when you have a three year old along for the ride!

family photo out-take

All photos taken by my uber-talented sister Amanda (thank you! thank you! thank you!) from Amanda Haddow Photography. Visit her in Victoria for newborn photography or to book a mama and me session of your own!

Kaia's dress: Zara kids
Noelle's dress: vintage fabric, made by Nana
My dress: Lucky Brand
Blanket: Amazing find from Salvation Army
Basket: Majorel Design
Girls' shoes: Saltwater Sandals
Hat: Hat Attack, similar

XAVIER'S 2ND BIRTHDAY PARTY

A couple of weeks ago, we celebrated Xavier's 2nd birthday at home with food, friends and fun decorations. Xavier is in LOVE with animals so we decided on a forest animal theme with the little Holztiger wooden animals from his room as well as felt animal masks for the kids.

xavier-turns-2
two-xavier-birthday

Xavier looking so sweet waiting for his friends...

forest-friends-sign
animal-masks
felt-fox
drinks
flower-wall

This flower wall was so simple…my amazing husband did a great job randomly putting the flowers up with washi tape.

party-table
cake
party table
cupcakes
getting-treats
playing

If you are in Vancouver, Butter Baked Goods makes the most delicious cake. It has become our go-to bakery for birthday cakes because the flavour never disappoints. If you aren't nearby, they share all of their amazing recipes in the cookbook, Butter.

cake

It was a such a fun morning of friends, play and yummy treats celebrating our favourite little guy, Xavier. Happy Birthday sweet boy!

Photos and Styling by WINTER DAISY
Location | Vancouver, Canada
Cake |  Butter Baked Goods - Coconut Cake
Macarons | Thomas Haas
Cupcakes | DIY
Cake Number Sparkler | Tops Malibu 
Felt Masks | DIY
Giant Balloons | Bargain Balloons