Paul & Paula private

family breakfast

Paul & Paula private is the place where we share a little bit about our international life.

Four kids, many languages, regular moves and travels. A little peak behind the scenes…

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05.06.19

How to add colour to your kitchen in an instant!

beija flor
Hello and happy hump day! Today I will show you how we managed to add some fun, charm, and especially colour into our kitchen.

Some of you spotted our new and very beautiful new mat instantly over on Instagram, especially in my stories. And lots asked where it is from… because… yes… it really changed the whole atmosphere.

You may remember the cute little mat we had in our Malmo apartment and that also added such a lovely accent to the place.

Therefore we worked with Beija Flor again, because they really have the best designs, colours and choice.

Have a look for yourself…

 

beija flor

beija flor

beija flor

The mat I chose is called ‘Electic‘ and the tile design is a combination of far away places, cultures and styles composed together into a vivid celebration of colours and patterns.

I had a very hard time to select a design because there are just so many I like. In the end I went for this colourful one, because I liked the idea of having a big dose of colour in our kitchen. And it is really very lovely, especially when…

 

beija flor

…the sun shines in!

The print is of such good quality and the colours very vibrant. Vinyl mats are super easy to clean and they last for a very long time. This soft flooring version is laying in our kitchen now as well. Because the kids rooms have carpet (the joy of a London home) now. So you see, very versatile and easy.

 

beija flor

All over, the mat really enhances our kitchen and makes me happy every morning when I start making breakfast. Easy, quick and practical!

Beija Flor gifted us the selected mat. All words are my own and I selected the design. All images: Paul & Paula
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17.05.19

My top 5 TV series I binge watched the last weeks!

This Is Us

Since I am always on the lookout for a new great series and love to see what others are watching (and why!) I thought that I may share my recent favourites with you.

Because maybe you are the same. And because I do love to watch a good TV series. More than movies these days and I cannot even imagine how things were before Apple TV.  Can you? With all the commercials and being ‘on time’ on your sofa and all that stuff.

And, it is rather relaxing to end the day with a good show. To make sure we are not getting lost with all the stuff (Netflix produces a new show every hour it seems), twice a week we do a ‘talk talk‘ evening session with my husband. To discuss anything on our minds and things that need to be done.

But anyway, let’s get back to the point. I am writing these shows down in alphabetical order because there is no way I could give them a listing. I love them all… for various reasons as you will see:

(by the way, I wanted to get this article out earlier this week but it took longer than expected, and since it is not so much about kids, I think it fits quite well on a Friday – not a 100% Genuine Friday but it is quite personal actually because most of these series actually touched me very much)

Dead to me

dead-to-me-netflix
This show was only launched at the beginning of this month and I think I finished the first season in 2 days, 3 max! I love dark humor and there is plenty! And these two ladies, Christina Applegate stars with Linda Cardellini, are absolutely fabulous. The general story is: A widow is searching for the hit-and-run driver who mowed down her husband and befriends an eccentric optimist through shared grief. And everything is so real, natural, full of emotions that I can relate to, and touching!
Also the topics! There is a lot in the plot, but they are all very important: dealing with grief, mum guilt, being in your 40s, miscarriages, breast cancer, and friendship.
Be warned, there is a good amount of swearing and I know that this put some people off. But this is not a show for children and, to be very honest, I can kinda relate. Jen (CA) has so much on her plate. Her husband died, she has two teenagers and a business to run. And when listening to heavy metal (love that part, can relate to that too!) and swearing helps to navigate your life a bit better, then that is fine. It is all still very raw and new, it will not last forever! And yes, I would love to have a friendship like Jen and Judy (LC) share, because they both allow each other to feel what they need to feel.
By the way, the two seem to really enjoy each others company in general. Love it:


Image: Netflix

 

Dynasty

dynasty fashion outfits
This is the total opposite of Dead to me. And the only reason I actually watch and love it. This soap opera reboot based on the 80’s series is all about glitz, wealth, the corrupt world, and backroom deals. The storyline is totally over the top B U T the main character, Fallon Carrington, is sassy, outspoken, obnoxious and sports the sharpest eyeliner in history. Together with the best outfits! There you go, for me, it is all about the costumes, the styling, the fashion! It is just so good! Once a week I have my Dynasty moment and then I am glued to the TV waiting for a new outfit to pop up. And since the show is recorded at the moment, all the pieces are from current collections! And to top it all, you will see lots of Gucci, Louboutin, Prada, and co. But there is also space for some smaller brands and new designers. That is why each outfit is so interesting. And, yes another ‘and’, the men. They do dress the men in the coolest outfits too. Jeff Colby actually has such a bad a** wardrobe! To sum up: Bold, structured, feminine with a twist, modern, cheeky and always just so on point! Love it! You should try it too if you love fashion…
Also, you absolutely have to follow Meredith Markworth-Pollack on Instagram, the stylist of the show. A genius!

 

Killing Eve

Another show with two ladies as the main characters. And this one is just never dull, always well observed, made with great attention to detail, and most importantly so much fun.
Eve is a bored MI5 security officer whose desk job does not fulfill her fantasies of being a spy. Meanwhile, Villanelle is a fearsome assassin clinging to the luxuries her violent job affords her.
When Eve is tasked with tracking down Villanelle before she can strike again, the two women are thrown into a cat-and-mouse game that turns the traditional spy-thriller on its head. I love some good crime (also in terms of books) but this is another level. Sophisticated and fantastic acting! Season 2 aired in the US and I am impatiently waiting to get access here in the UK.

 

Patrick Melrose

patrick-melrose
This one is intense! And Benedict Cumberbatch is the show. To be honest, I am not sure I would have adored it as much if somebody else would have played that role. He is just such a great actor. The show is based on semi-autobiographical novels about Britain’s upper class by Edward St Aubyn. And about a man from a very privileged yet traumatic childhood in the 1980s. Patrick’s father was abusive, and Patrick’s mother put up with his behavior. He went into addiction and severe substance abuse in New York. The 1st episode is a very accurate description of what it means to be an addict. But the story quietens down and deepens after that, so please do not give up after that start.
The biggest message is that even so, you have given up substances/ drugs, your past will not automatically disappear too. So touching to see Patrick self-sabotaging and still believing that he is not a good person. His mum is played by Jennifer Jason-Leigh who is also extraordinary. Definitely a show that lingers in your memory long after.
Image: Sky Atlantic

This is Us

Another one with deeply affecting emotional messages! About the lives and families of two parents, and their three children, in several different time frames.
And a whole lot of important topics as well: Mental health, loss, homosexuality, premature babies, adoption, addiction, and finding your path in life.
This family is surely not perfect and this is what makes it perfect after all. For me! It is so simple and yet so complicated, heartbreaking, sweet and also brutal.
They start to make you adore Jack, the father. The one that is perfect, loved and does everything and cheers everyone up. But episode after episode (especially in the last season)we see more about their lives, what they dealt with and slowly realise that it was actually Rebecca, the mum, who kept everything and everyone together. And it reminds us, that what you see (or want to see) is not always the reality. And that there is more to a story.
It is deep and especially the grieving part feels very close to me. Because losing a very close family member is not something that you eventually “get over”. But instead, that loss becomes an integrated part of your life going forward. And in ‘This is Us’ we can see how every character in this series is dealing with it in very different ways. I think we often believe that grief is temporary, and only allow expressions of it in that first few months or maybe a year. And yet there will always be moments of wishing that loved one was still around. To me, that show was/ is really some form of grief counseling.

What are you top TV series to binge watch? Have you seen one from my list? I would love to know…

Top Image: NBC / This is Us
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10.05.19

Genuine Friday: Daily family life and struggles with 4 children

Daily family life and struggles with 4 children

Hi there! And welcome to another reality glimpse of our family life. I am happy to see that you guys like to read these and relate.

And I think that is actually the main message here: You are not alone and we are all doing the best we can!

One topic that comes up every so often is the daily life. The normal things, the boring stuff, and the struggles. Especially when there are more children than adults. Since my usual reply to the question: “How do you do it all?” is: “I just do!” I had to write down a few points and things over a short period. Like gathering our daily stuff in bullet points to get this article together. Because I do not have every day planned out to the last detail and since we are parenting for nearly 12 years now, our routines are so implemented that I do not notice them so much or strongly anymore.
I hope you know what I mean!?

Therefore, I want to start with this:
Multitasking
Making dinner and helping with homework while searching for a missing you and listening to my tween upstairs looking for her favourite earrings. This may make me seem like the ideal multitasking supermum! Like I am competently handling my life. But I can tell you, this is not how I feel. I really feel pulled in all directions, with a spinning head and especially may loose my patience when all four of them talk (to me) at the same time.

By the way, the children are 3 1/2, 6 1/2, 9 and my eldest will turn 12 this June.

Or how about sleep! Yes, they all sleep through the night B U T if they could they would all still sleep in our bed. This may have something to do with the rare alone time I think. (thoughts?) Bedtime stories usually happen in our (big) bed and then we have at least one person in there. Often two. And a sad face telling you that they also want to be in there and the mum telling you, again, that there is not enough space. Especially on weekends there is always a discussion about the bed situation.

And this: Because nothing is ever fair. And me going bananas when I have to hear for the zillion time that ‘It is not fair!’. Ahhh… the constant competition, checking on siblings and who does what. Of course we always try to give the same to everyone, but it is not seen this way through their eyes. And is it the general reply to anything they are not happy with. And it drives me crazy!

Oh and next to ‘not fair’, there is always an argument over something silly. Who got the biggest slice of pizza, who gets the shower first, or who gets the biggest apple.

And the moment you are an awesome parent for one kid means you are failing another one. Example: One child needs a big hug or my full attention to listen to something that has happened. So I do it. And I am the best mum to that child but also the worst to the other ones who think I am rejecting them.

Even when you win, you lose.

Party invitations or playdates. Except for my eldest (by now) everyone always wants to come along. I don’t know if they just inherited my curiosity but it can be awkward to pop up with a row of kids when actually only one of them was invited. Not to mention the extra time it takes to get there and to answer another million questions to where we are going, why and what and all the names.

Also, my 6 year old never got over the fact that she is not the baby in the family. She was meant to be and life decided differently. And to be honest, it is something I am often out of ideas on how to make this fact easier for her. (anyone?) It is not affecting our daily life and she is not bringing it up all the time. But it is there and every here and there she might say how she would like to be the baby in the family or why everyone is always saying that Josephine is so cute. Because that is something people do when they see a small child or baby but obviously that answer is not good enough for her.

To end with: There is no such thing as peace and quiet!

(except when finally everyone is in bed and sleeping, it may happen that I stay up longer than I should… just because I want to enjoy the peace a little longer!)

And yes, in the end it is all worth it. Like I said before in my big family life article – the hustle and bustle can be exhausting but I also love it!

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12.04.19

Genuine Friday: Your partnership after having kids

partnership after kids

Today is the 2nd round for Genuine Friday (the last week really just flew by) and I have another topic that comes up very regularly: Your partnership after having kids.

Between your job and being a mum, you are a woman too. And most likely a partner. So how do we keep our relationship alive? Interesting, romantic and fresh? I agree the crazy part is over. You decided to have kids and moved on to the next stage. The very serious stage. The one that changes you, your life and your future.

I know my husband (and even so I always call him my husband we are not even married. But after four kids together it does not sound right to call him a boyfriend either) for 20 years now. (we just had our anniversary this March) That is a very long time – I agree.

We know each other like nobody else. We share everything and yet we need to pay attention to not loose ourselves in our daily, busy, lives. It is easy. Getting up. Preparing the kids, breakfast, yourself. Out the door. Work. Collecting kids. Catching up about school, homework, friends, events. Making food. Eat, wash, bed. Done. Sounds familiar?

What we do? We are lucky. I am working from home and that means I am very flexible. And Eric manages to work one day a week from home as well. (or at least that is the plan and often it works out)

On that day we go out for lunch. Always. Only very special circumstances will make us change this ritual.

Other couples try to manage diners without kids, we do a nice lunch every week. When it is the school holidays and we cannot go, especially if it is more than once or twice, we really miss it.

And the days we are not both working from home we call each other at least once a day. Just to say hi and a little chat. Usually nothing fancy but definitely a ritual.

Is it something you could implement as well? If you both have office jobs – could you meet for lunch in the middle?

What else do we do? Once the kids (all of them) are in bed we will have a tea on the sofa. Every evening. And talk a little. And we enjoy the silence. I literally sit on the sofa every evening and appreciate the moment when they are all in bed. It feels so good, haha.

But not so long ago I added something else to our evenings. Twice a week – Monday and Thursday for us – we have a Talk Talk evening. No Netflix, but talking. You may say now, well… if you need to talk, you talk. Why having special days for that. True, these are not the only days we are actually talking to each other (no worries) but the days we actually discuss more heavy topics. And I felt it would be good to fix time for that. Because in that way we both know that we cannot plan to work that evening.

Like I said, we just started this recently but it is good. And, good old German list loving woman I am, actually make little lists of things I have in my mind and do not want to forget. Examples: Holiday planning 2019, childcare, home security, work schedules for the next 14 days (also to find lunch date days) and so on…

We hug. A lot. And whenever we need a hug we hug. Physical touching is important to both of us. Therefore we ask each other regularly how we feel. And if we cope or we feel like we are running a marathon that we can’t win. Because once somebody feels worn out it is too late. We try to be on top of it as good as we can and check in with each other. If necessary we make a plan on how to shift workloads to give a little more space to the person in need.

And yes, there are periods when things are a bit shaky. Re-connecting is not always easy but possible. And you can do it. And when you think about it – those crazy years with newborns, two year old’s testing you and kids approaching the tween years – they make you strong and a really good couple. There is so much JOY in parenthood.

And never forget: You are not alone. No couple is perfect. Do not ever think they are. Do not judge by perfect Instagram images. They all have ups and downs. This is life and normal. (which also means: do not compare!)

And one more tip from me – let it go. Sometimes all I can do is laugh (because the other option would be crying). And then I might throw a piece of cucumber at my husband and everyone has to laugh too. Or we decide to put the music on and dance after diner. It helps. It really does.

Go to playgrounds together. Just tell the kids that playground means PLAY if necessary and have your moment to talk to each other. We do this too.

Find your ways to be a couple and not just parents. See what fits for you, your life and surroundings. But do it!

 

Image: Thomas Leuthard
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05.04.19

Genuine Friday: Raising a big family

Raising a big family

After Interior Tuesday I am introducing a new column: Genuine Friday!

Back when I decided to give the interiors a permanent spot it was mainly to push myself to show more of it than I used to. Because I love a good peek into a home and I know you do too. And it was one of the best decisions ever because these articles are very popular.

Another topic that I take very seriously but never enough time for is private stuff. When blogging was not as big it actually used to be a space where people shared their personal things (very much like Instagram when it started out). And I think that it is still important to share your voice and opinion. These articles usually take a lot of time to write, mostly because I need to find a good moment and start to get going. (but once that is done I am rolling… haha)
And I know that every time I ask what you would like to read more about, the answer is: About your family, your life and so on.
So you are pretty clear that you want these articles.

So, voila: Genuine Friday it is.
Starting today. And then we will see. Hopefully, I will have something for you for every Friday hereafter, except for the odd Friday List that I just love to do once a month…

Because now I have a spot for it.

Today’s topic is: Raising a big family. Because it is something I am asked about all the time. The reaction when people ask me how many children I have. Or when we are all running to catch the bus and you can see people counting in their head.

Yep, that is us. It is merry, sometimes crazy, never really quiet and always busy. But we knew that and there is one thing I can tell you: As much as my head is spinning sometimes, I love the life and chaos we have and could not imagine it any different.

Raising a big family

We are a family of six (in case you are new here) and the children are 3, 6, 9 and nearly 12 at the moment. We never specifically set out to be raising a large family, and neither of us grew up in one.

People always ask how I do it. The truth is most of the time, I just do. There is no manual and there is no one rule to stick to. (which is the exact reason why I do not run a mum blog – every family, every child, every mum is different) My level of patience definitely grew with the kids and I am quite cool with many things, but we also have ‘army-like’ situations when necessary. Things just have to flow sometimes.

So yeah… there is no cheat sheet glued on my kitchen cabinet and trust me, some days, I also wonder what am I actually doing. Because – truth bomb – I am not perfect. Look at these last weeks/ months, for example, there were definitely days where I could not hold it together anymore. Shouting, very short attention span, snapping and unable to listen to at least one demand carefully. I am not proud of it, but I did the best I could and some days saw the short end of it. (and we all do the best we can, I know that and you know it too!)

Therefore, at some point, it all comes crashing down in one giant mess. You can organise, prepare or juggle the heck out of things, sometimes reality just hits you extra hard. Not you particularly, but with a big family, the chances are high. Especially during a high season like Christmas. The concert here, breakfast there, dentist appointment, lost library book, best friend’s birthday, gift shopping and the list goes on…
Now you need to pick up that giant mess and start juggling again.

Let me give you some tips (even so really do not like the term tips) ideas or experiences or learning curves that I can share after nearly 12 years of motherhood and 3 1/2 of them as a mum of four:

Organisation is key

Luckily I am a very organised person and I cannot deal with a messy house. I will mark parties, school events, clubs, appointments and everything else in my and our family agenda the moment I know about them. Work stuff I try to coordinate as early as possible as well. The earlier I know about things, the better. This also helps to plan busy days effectively.

We also organise a lot of things the night before school days. Clothing (now uniforms) is picked out, backpacks are put together by the kids, the lunchbox for the little one is in the fridge and when I try to fall asleep I am planning my own outfit in my head. If you can avoid a crazy morning madness, you want to do that!

Everyone needs to help

It is impossible that one person is responsible for the laundry, cleanliness and general household of six people. Logic math! We do not have a chore chart (we had attempted but they all failed) but everyone needs to pitch in around the house. And trust me, it is not always voluntary. My kids are no perfect kids who love to tidy, clear the table and empty bins. And they rarely offer help too. But, yes but, when asked… they do! (just make sure that did not disappear stealthily)

And trust me, if they ask for TV time I always have something in mind that needs attention before the TV can be switched on. Tidying the playroom for example or emptying the dishwasher.

Menu planning and weekly grocery shopping

I do not remember when exactly we started with meal plans and weekly shopping but I think it was when Antoine joined us and was still really small. So let’s say around 8 years ago. And it was such a game changer and time saver. First of all – no need to think about 5 pm: ‘What should I do for diner?’ and once, hopefully, figured out, check what you have in the fridge and what you need. By now I cannot even remember how we did it before.

Anyway, once a week we take two pieces of paper and start planning. Everyone can add one diner. And since we are six that makes for the week (Josephine usually gets told a few options and she chooses because coming up with an idea is a little too much for her age) because one day we always have a leftover day. (I am actually planning to write something about that too) Leftover day is usually the day before we get our groceries delivered so we eat up anything that is left. I think it is super practical and helps not to throw away food.

And yes, groceries are ordered online. We do not have a car and it is so convenient. And during our meal planning, on the 2nd piece of paper we also write down everything we need for the food we want to cook. Planning meals ahead of time allow for fewer trips to the grocery store and we have ours delivered once a week. (I remember doing weekly groceries at the supermarket when we had a car and people looking at me with my big trolley full to the brim, they probably thought I had to feed a football team!)

Being part of the membership program of your preferred supermarket is a good idea. Since a big family needs lots of groceries you will easily earn lots of points that you can use for something useful. Every little thing helps! Really!

All together, it is budget friendly, a time saver and also a much better idea than running through the supermarket with kids in tow.

Self-care

Never neglect yourself. Any time alone is your best reward. I am working from home and I know this is a luxury situation which allows me to get alone time here and there. (I do not mean working alone behind my desk) Sometimes I work like crazy for a few days and evenings so that I can meet up with a friend for lunch on a Friday and maybe do some window shopping afterward and before the kids need to be picked up. It is totally worth it!

Storage Solutions

I love a clutter-free environment and the idea that less is more really is true. And instant of trying to fight back the clutter, we try to not get the stuff into the house in the first place. And storage space is always on top of the list when looking for a place to live. With four kids and the passing down clothing model, I need somewhere to store all this. As well as space for shoes, winter jackets and, school uniforms. Bed linen, towels, and books. Well, you know. Stuff! So your home basically needs to have clever storage solutions in all possible corners. My home does because I cannot afford to live in a mansion. Ha.

Set ground rules

And stick to them. You probably have the basics down anyway. Stuff like: no food outside the kitchen, no jumping on the sofa or we only talk when the other person finished. We have those too and I know that sticking to them the more kids you have is your calling.

Let’s say Antoine sneaks out an apple and is eating whilst building some Lego. You can bet that his sisters will turn up in the kitchen by…1…2…3 to take ‘their’ apple. It is the law. Things like this never go unnoticed. So instead of one child or two jumping on that sofa or spilling water in your bed. That would make 4 and me going ‘cuckoo banana’ as Josephine calls it. It cannot happen! Stick to your rules. What I love most about those situations is, if I spot the girls coming to get an apple and out of the kitchen and call them out on it. Do you know what their reason is? You know right?! Because I allowed Antoine to have his apple at the desk. Ha…. (another one)

One by one time

That is a very tricky one, especially because I struggle with this a lot. How to find quality time with each child individually? Weekends are often more busy than other days of the week. Not long ago Romy had a parent/teacher meeting at her school and we managed to schedule it in for the morning. And I had it on my agenda and made sure that I had everything done for that in advance (go back to self-care to see how). So after the meeting, we had lunch together and went to a few shops Romy wanted to check out and so on. It was lovely.

The others are demanding ‘mummy time’ too and I then usually discuss options with the hubby. I often take one to do something I have on my list anyway and we add a little stop at the cafe or whatever they would like to do. And very often their wishes are very simple. Last time, Leonor asked me to spend time with her and all she wanted was getting a smoothie and going to the playground. (where the rest of the family joined us later)

I admit that my strength is not the holy evening ritual and story time and all. I can do it (of course) but there were times where I was reading the same book for many nights in a row and I truly thought I will go crazy. That task often falls into Eric’s hands and he really likes it.

However, Antoine asks sometimes to sit with him a little bit before he goes to sleep. In his room, just the two of us. He even gives up a bit if his precious evening time (the one before bedtime) for this. And then he says: ‘Can we sit and just talk a little?’ So cute. And in case you wonder, yes… I often feel guilty about this topic. Not being able to spend more time individually.

Get Help

Get a cleaner, a nanny, a babysitter… whatever you need, what you can afford.

Be cool

When you have a big family, the children have to learn to be independent. Because it is physically impossible to be everywhere. I need to prioritise often (even so I am good at planning) and decide where it is most important for me to be, at work and at home. For that day or moment. Otherwise, I am all over the place but with no value and no real attention. And it is ok to say no and to be cool with it. It is how it is and I am the one who decides and who knows what is more important. It is not a competition.

And I truly believe that when we openly discuss these things with our children they will understand. They may not be happy with everything but if you explain and have good arguments and maybe something that involves them coming up, they do understand.

PS: Why Genuine? Because I want this to be a frank and direct conversation. Normal, without a pink filter and honest. That is why!
All images: Paul & Paula
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