Infant Self Rescue Swimming

Starting as early as 6 months



Living in Panama comes with living close to water. Pool, ocean, waterfalls etc. So we decided early on that it would be great to introduce our daughter to water asap. We started looking at "swim classes" which were usually directed to getting the baby familiar with water and enjoying some play time. A horrible accident that happened to friends years ago still on our minds we were looking for something more. We wanted to be more at ease when being around the pool with her. We wanted her to gain the confidence when being in the water. We discovered there were actually lessons for babies as young as 6 months to teach them skills to potentially save themselves if they find themselves in the water alone. The program is called ISR - Infant Self Rescue.

For young babies between 6-12 months old they will learn how to roll onto their backs to float, rest and breathe. They learn to maintain this life saving position until help arrives.

When Mila was 9 months old we signed up for it and everything changed. Now, almost 2 years old and after 2 rounds of courses she is so confident and independent in the water, its astonishing. Each lessons is 10 intense minutes long, every day from Monday to Friday for 4-6 weeks. Its a time investment on the parents side too, but more worth than anything. It gives parents the peace of mind and children the confidence and first major accomplishment without the help of mom and dad.

I have to say though, that most babies, including our daughter, do not enjoy the lessons, at least the one for under 1 year olds. But as much they might cry in the water during lessons with the teacher, they usually never cry once when they practice with their parents. So, the lessons for under 1 year olds are straight up self rescue training and you won't use it much when spending time with your child in the pool (emergency only). But the second course is very much different as it gives the child the ability to be independent in the pool, move from A to B and totally doing its own "thing". When those little bodies manage to actually flip back into swimming position coming out of floating position, its so impressive to see and they really understand what they just learned and did.

Kids between the age of 1-6 years will learn the full ISR Self-Rescue® sequence of swimming (see first video at the top) until they need air, rotating onto the back to float, then rolling back over to continue swimming. ISR students are taught to repeat this sequence until they reach the safety of the steps, side of the pool, or the shoreline.

First video below is Mila's "check out" class (hence her wearing cloths to prep for real life situation) when she was 10 months old and the second video is her at 20 months - Sorry both are grainy iPhone videos only. But a special thanks to her amazing, talented, patient and motivating teacher for teaching her this amazing skill which has even further developed.

A different crayon

Not just for art…



Crayons are the go-to tool for children for anything art. It’s the child’s first writing tool and those crayons should be those that encourage kids to use a tripod grip (thumb, first and second fingers) to develop excellent hand writing skills later in life.

Our daughter’s grandma is visiting from the US right now and brought along those super cool stackable crayons. They are so versatile. Sure, foremost they are crayons to paint, draw and color but they are also fun to stack into towers, arrange into patterns, line them up etc. They can be turned into puppets and at the tip they have a little hole so you can even thread them onto twine for a rainbow necklace.

What parents love: They do not break and therefore can NOT become a choke hazard and also it means less pieces to pick up at the end of the day. The crayons are basically hollow cones which makes them not only a great shape for little hands to easy grip, draw and paint, but with the help of the cone shape they spin around in playful circles rather than rolling off the table and are gone forever under sofa and cupboards. Every side of the crayon can be used to draw. Of course: They are non-toxic, odorless, and what I love most colors will not smear (clean hands) and they are washable.

You can get your sculptural crayons at Amazon.



DO GOOD TO YOURSELF (and your baby)

I am really into healthy eating & a healthy balanced lifestyle in general. Part of this is also beauty & skincare products. The skin is our largest organ and a reflection of your overall health. The body absorbs toxins (like the chemicals in your skin care products) that can clog your skin. We all know how this can end up looking… And toxins and chemicals and all those bad boys are the last thing you want on your baby.  For my daughter’s first year of life we barely used any skincare products on her. We used a very mild soap and a diaper rash cream once or twice. There were no rashes to clean up, no dry skin, eczema or other needs.

Anyways, there is a decent selection of organic skincare brands out there and even here in Panama you can find a few. But Zoe Organics (a dear friend introduced me to the brand) takes it a step further. And that’s how they inspired and won me over. Not only are they using the most pure, organic and 100% natural ingredients and materials but each and every product is handcrafted. Now that is a devotion that speaks a different language.

I also like how they picked their brand name, as Zoe means "life," and they made it their mission to celebrate and protect the lives of our children, family, community and planet. 

You can get your “peace of mind” skincare products (for yourself, your baby, your friend, your mom, you name it) right on their website.


Water fun with Oli and Carol



The highlight of our daughter’s bath time is for sure playing with her duckies and getting water, literally, on every possible surface. It always bothered me that although I squirt out the water of any duck and squeeze toy at the end of the bath time, the mold & bacteria eventually build up again and again. Sure, a good boil in hot water kills it all but wouldn’t it be nice to have the fun without that extra step?

Check out the (bath) toys by Oli and Carol. They are fun and happy rubber toys in original designs in bright monochrome colors. Since they do not have a hole (but still float), they stay mold free! Made of 100% natural rubber from Hevea Malaysian trees and hand painted with food grade dyes and therefore they are non-toxic. It is completely safe for your baby to chew on them (they are also free of any yucky stuff such as PVC, BPA & Phthalate). They are even biodegradable.

They have mini duckies, XL duckies (great also as a decoration object for grown ups) and spotted duckies. But they do not only have duckies, their collection ranges from fruits ( a great teething toy), other animals, geometric figures, origami boats, beetle cars, balls and more.  

Fun to know: Behind this cool new brand are 2 young sisters from Barcelona who started the business together. Designed in Barcelona. Made in Morocco.

Contact Oli and Carol directly for store info.



Felt balls everywhere



This rug has been on my “wish list” for a while now – Its from the lovely Danish design brand HAY and is made of 100% pure wool. So, each single ball is felted by hand and then strung on a cord, sewn into a circular rug. The rug even has a fun name “Pinocchio” – it’s named after a Danish brand of liquorice, which combines a colorful sugary glaze with a salty liquorice interior.

Anyways, the rugs are all created in local workshops using traditional crafts methods and thus help provide jobs in low-income areas of India and Nepal. So not just the colors of the rug make you smile….

Good to know: Pinocchio comes in four different colors (here shown is the multi colored one) and four different sizes (Diameter ranges between 90 and 300 cm) – so plenty of choices to find the one matching your room style the best.

You can shop Pinocchio directly with HAY (worldwide shipping).


Quality toys for quality play



The Holztiger brand, another wonderful example of German craftsmanship and passion for sustainable and eco-friendly manufacturing (in the past we also wrote about the eco-fashion label Macarons), creates large wood figures, which are great to grip for children's hands. They are individually handcrafted out of solid maple wood with softly round edges. All figures are painted by hand using nontoxic, water based paints and they are sealed with a nontoxic water lacquer to protect the toys from perspiration and saliva.

You can find all types of trees, animals from far away, animals which live on farms & safaris or under water to kings & castles and even an Noah’s Ark. Create fantasy worlds - over the years - complete with people, animals, trees and plants. Holztiger so far offers the following worlds: Wilderness Adventure, On The Farm,  Woods & Meadows, Water World, Age of the Dinosaurs, Proud Indians,  Fairy Tale World,  Heroic Knights and the Magic of Christmas. Its one of those items you will collect over the years and then be able to hand down to generations.

Usually the Holztiger's animals are reduced to their basic shapes to stimulate and encourage the children’s imagination through playing and learning. You will notice all their animals have friendly faces, which also does a great deal to accommodate the children's play instinct. Most figures are about 2.5 cm (1” inch) thick with a smooth feel to them, they are sturdy and perfect for every day play time. It’s a classic kids toy in Germany.

Recommended for kiddos ages 3+

In the USA you can find Holztiger @ Normaln&Jules, Amazon or FineWoodenToys.


Friendly faces from Donna Wilson



Donna Wilson, known for her quirky and colorful knitted lambswool creations, which can be a bit odd but charming at the same time (see below) now hand-paints wooden dolls as well. She is the winner of the "Designer of the Year" award at Elle Decoration's British Design Awards.

Inspired by her trips to Scandinavia and Japan, her wooden dolls (made of European oak) come with personality. Each hand-painted doll has its own name and embodies a certain person Donna has met and known in her life. They have friendly and curious faces and come in all different shapes and size. Their height varies between 22 - 29cm. Meet the entire family over at her website

Donna’s products sell in more than 25 countries by now but she is still determine to keep her production locally, in the UK, to support local craftsmanship. That should be supported!

Visit her store – they ship worldwide.


Geometric aesthetics

designed and handmade in Melbourne, Australia



I discovered the “forever balloons” by MADE BY MOSEY and fell in love. Instantly. With those you can have a super pretty party decoration up all year, without getting tired of it. Then I went to her website and found those amazingly pretty feathers which you can buy on their own or already put together as a garland.


The owner, Madeleine Sargent, creates definitely bold, colorful pieces perfect for a child’s room but can also appeal to grown ups. She created a series of fun & colorful fruit-inspired cushions, which are based on original patchwork designs, and then digitally printed on 100% white linen. The filling is an eco-based stuffing made of recycled PET bottles. And the best part is the cushions are all double-sided, i.e the print is the same on both sides.

Everything is handmade, so no two pieces are identical, and each is uniquely special. Don’t miss her arrow plushs – They are ready to take flight but do absolutely no damage!

You can visit the MADE BY MOSEY online store (ships worldwide) or visit any Australian stockists listed here

PS: Madeleine also produces custom pieces upon request for local and international customers and stores. Everything is designed and handmade in Melbourne, Australia.

The chickpea (aka garbanzo)


Easiest homemade snack ever



If you would ask me about favorite foods, chickpeas are not one of them which come to my mind first. I like them. But that’s it. But roasted chickpeas like the recipe below? That’s a whole other story.

Literally I have to quadruple my batch and even that doesn’t last through the middle of the week. Its my daughter’s and husband’s favorite snack - by far. And it’s healthy, and it’s quick, and it’s so good. Take it to work/ school, top your salad, have an afternoon break, or a quick protein intake. Those little guys are a nutrient dense food and not only high in protein, but also in dietary fiber and minerals (like iron).

Tamari Roasted Chickpeas
10 oz (284g) cooked chickpeas (try to pick the organic ones, in a can or PBA-free bag. I love Jyoti Organics Garbanzo Beans)
2-3 tablespoons Tamari (wheat-free soy sauce)
2-3 tablespoons lemon juice
Rosemary is optional (our daughter likes it too, but some kids might prefer the non-herb version)

Preheat oven to 400 Fahrenheit (200 Celsius). Lay out parchment paper on an oven tray. Mix all ingredients in a big bowl and spread the chickpeas on to oven tray. Roast for about 15 min, stir a bit so the other side of the chickpeas can get a bit browned and crispy too. Bake for another 10 min. The liquid should have thickened and reduced, sticking to the beans. That’s it!

What’s your go-to-snack?

Baby Bites Sleeping Bags

Originality to an everyday product



Although we are almost out of the “sleeping bag age” and with an average night temperature of above 20 Celsius we – unfortunately – do not have the need for “Baby Bites” sleeping bags. But gosh, they are just too adorable not to share with you.

Baby Bites (from Spain) makes 2 types of sleeping bags: One for newborns in the shape of a star fish (comes in 3 colors). And for older babies the shark shape ones. They are so cozy looking and the color options are endless. Each of their sleeping bags are packed with so many little details and even the inside fabric varies from model to model.

But the shark’s purpose is not only to be a sleeping bag alone. It has endless usages such as a winter warmer to put inside the stroller to stay warm, a play mat for the bigger kids, a rug to take a little nap on, or clip to some a cloth hanger and use it to collect laundry….

All their products are hand made, with 100% cotton & local collaborations and lots of care.

Add some originality to your life! Visit their online shop, they ship worldwide!

Xavier Deneux – Master of graphic simplicity

Design taken to a next level



Our daughter is not even 2 years old but we still have “read” many books which are out there (German & English book market). There are lots of pretty children’s books out there. But when I discovered the books by Xavier Deneux, and with it a new world of design for children’s books, I was hooked!

His minimalistic designs and bold visual style make his books tasteful, clean and still very fun and colorful for kids. On top his books (from the line called ThouchThinkLearn) appeal to the sense of touch of little ones as he has a 3-dimensional raised image on one page and a cut out shape on the other page. So not only are the opposing pages connected thematically through meaning, color and or shape, but also literally connected as one page has a raised image, and the other one a cut out one and they fit perfectly together when the pages shut.

Let me give you an example (and see photo) - A moon rising into the night, while simultaneously a sun sets deep into the mirroring page. Or a raised picture of an elephant fits perfectly into a cut-out of a cloud, cleverly illustrating the concept of heavy versus light. So far his book on colors is still the most requested one by my daughter.

Love crisps designs, too? You can find this French illustrator’s books in your local bookstore or on Amazon.

PS: In his series of TouchThinkLearn he published 4 books: COLORS, OPOSSITES, NUMBERS and SHAPES.


Handmade from vintage by refugee women



My dear friend Molly, who is behind the fabulous & colorful Instagram account @berryandthefox, introduced me to the products and creations from GAIA. Basically they transform vintage, sustainable & repurposed textiles into home & personal accessories and lately also into adorable baby products. All made by resettled refugee women in Dallas, Texas. Their mission is to empower marginalized women through employment, encouragement, and dedication for a long-term success in their own local communities.

Recently they launched a baby collection with bibs + booties + banners + diaper pouches. Most of the products (like bibs and booties) are reversible, so one side has a stain? No worries - just flip it over for a fresh new look. Their perfectly imperfect items bring color in your life but also do they represent hope and a future for women who are fighting for a better life.


Paula Minnis is the founder of GAIA and while she was volunteering at the IRC (International Rescue Committee) she met Catherin, a Burmese refugee and mother of two. Paula combined her love of textiles with Catherin's artistry and GAIA was born in December 2009. It has since grown to employ seven additional refugee women living in Dallas – some Burmese, some Iraqi, come Congolese, but all beautiful women with a new life and a new opportunity to grow.

Look good. Do good. Visit their online shop here. Make sure to check out their collections for women too – Don’t miss their zipper pouches!

PS: I love how they chose their brand name GAIA – The word "GAIA" means "Goddess of the Earth" from the Greek mythology, so it is their way to honor all women, from the ones who craft GAIA products to those who purchase or receive them. Lovely, or?