My name is Marie, I am originally from France/ Switzerland and I grew up in a tiny tiny village in the French country side. I am a fashion and jewelry designer, stylist, aspiring photograph and a food lover. I also love traveling and I have lived in very different places in the past 10 years. I am currently based in Singapore. I run an Etsy shop called EtincelleStudio and I blog over at Etincelle Creative Studio almost daily...I have also recently started planning and styling children's birthday parties, and I enjoy it a lot!
What kind of house do you live in - are you and the kids happy here or is there anything you find lacking, or would like to change?
We are currently living in a 3-bedroom apartment with no balcony, and to be honest we find it a bit hard some days. A house with a garden would be ideal, especially with two active young children (5 and 2 years old in February)!
What do you like best about living there?
Singapore is extremely convenient when you have young children as it’s a very green city with big parks, the sea, excellent food and lots of friendly people. It's a cosmopolitan hub where things are happening!
Do you like to spend time decorating your home and your children’s rooms?
I love spending time decorating my home, especially the kids’ rooms. I feel the need to move furniture around every 2-3 months, and I display different toys so they can re-discover older toys and start playing with them again. My daughter loves it when I surprise her with a “new” room when she comes back from school!
Do you keep your children’s play areas separate, or do you believe they should have a space in every part of the house?
I believe they should have space to play in (nearly) every part of the house and therefore keep toys in different places (except for the kitchen and our own bedroom). Beautifully crafted wooden toys are part of the decoration of our home!
Where do you look for interior inspiration, favorite magazines, websites, or blogs?
Like everyone else these days, I browse the web a lot. I have a Pinterest account that helps me tremendously to source for inspiration in all domains (interior deco, party styling ideas, DIY projects, baking etc…) and I follow a handful of resourceful blogs where I can keep updated. Twitter has been great so far as well.
I am buying as many magazines as I used to…the ones I like (Vogue living AUS, Living ETC UK, Elle deco and Vogue France… etc…) are extremely expensive here.
If you are living in a foreign country, how do you feel about it? How do you meet new people, and make new friends? What is it that you miss most about 'home'?
I love living in foreign countries! There is something special about being abroad; maybe the challenge to adapt to a new culture, language, food or tradition of course. I like to say “it’s exotic”. For example my husband would love to live in France, but it’s not ”exotic” for me…it’s just home.
How have your children adapted to the language, food, and cultural differences?
My children were born in Asia (Thailand and Singapore), so they have no problem ;-). I wonder how they will adapt to my culture if we ever go back to France or Switzerland….
What is your idea of a perfect day with your children?
A perfect day with my kids is when there is lots of laughter, hugs and kisses. No winging or constant crying/ tantrums please, I am allergic! If we spend most of the day outside, at the beach or park, I love it. Not an easy task here as mid-day gets real hot, but time to time we make it happen.
What is a normal day like with your children?
My daughter is going to school every morning from 9am to 12pm, so I usually lock myself in my “office” and get as much work done as possible. I am lucky to have a caregiver for my son, and they are usually bringing Chloé to school. At 12pm I will get out to pick her up (with my son), then we have lunch together. I get back to my desk at 1:30pm after putting him to sleep and while my girl plays in her room (unless she has a play date outside). If I have a lot of work, I will stay in until their dinner time. Otherwise we usually have something planned after 3:30pm: we go to the park or to the pool, we have a play date out or go eat an ice-cream at our favorite outlet in Holland Village.
What do you do on the weekends?
Weekends are always different, but my husband and I make a point to spend a lot of time together. Sunday is no computer/ gadget day and we don’t turn them on until the kids are in bed (although we have our Iphones… is it cheating?). If weather permits, my husband will bring my son for a bike ride, and I will give a French tuition to my daughter in a café. She loves this special time with Mama! Other times we watch their dad play basketball, or just go to the pool after an afternoon nap.
What kind of DIY projects do you like to do with your children?
Lately I have been very busy and haven’t done much crafts with them. One afternoon recently we went to a small park nearby, and I brought finger paint, a roll of paper, scissors and tape. I then instructed them to pick up little branches, leaves and to use them to paint on the paper (which I had simply put on the ground). Of course they were allowed to use their fingers as well. The aim of this project was not to create something nice, but to experience painting with different tools.
What do you do with all the projects your children make at home or in school?
First I select the drawing/ paintings that I will keep. Then I check that the date &name have been written on each of them, and if I know the meaning of the drawing, I will add a little note to explain its meaning.
Then I create a file that I store. Other drawings will be framed, or I stick them on the walls with masking tape. The rest can be transformed in cards and sent to family, or used to scrapbooks albums offered regularly to Grand-Ma and Great-Grand-Ma….
How do you celebrate birthday's and other special days in your house?
We don’t celebrate our own birthdays (other than a cake with candles) but now I like to throw a nice party for my kids who were both born in February. We invite all their friends and their parents and I make sure that the decoration is special, the food great and everyone is having lots of fun. I like to make them feel special on their birthdays.
Do your children have friends over often? If yes, what activities do they do together?
My daughter is asking a lot either to go her friends’ house or to have her friends over after school. I usually arrange the play date with the mum and pick up the girlfriend & my daughter at school. They play in her room (dress up, Barbie and who knows what else…) then eventually we will go out to the playground or the pool. My son is usually tagging along.
What are your all time favorite books for children?
The ones my parent's were reading to me when I was a little girl: Cendrillon (Cinderella), La poule rousse, les Trois Petits Cochons (three little pigs), Boucles d’Or (Goldilocks) etc… and all the Roald Dahl of course! I was reading non-stop when I was young, and I would love my kids to read as many books too.
Where do you buy your books? Bookstores? Online?
I must buy more books! I ask my mum to buy the French “classics” and to send them to the kids. Oh joy! They love it. I prefer to buy from bookstores as I pay particular attention to the illustration and like to check out the story (and picture how I will read the story to the kids).
Do your children read books online? Do they go to the library?
I don’t allow them to read books online. I actually restrict interaction with gadgets (iPad, iPhone or computers) as much as I can. There will be times when I won’t be able to do it, I want them to get the habit of reading “real” books, it’s important.
What are some nice activities you can do with children in your area, and what would you recommend for people visiting?
There are plenty of nice activities to do with kids in Singapore: the zoo is amazing, and so is the bird park. We love to take a stroll at the Botanic Gardens and have a picnic (or a pizza), or take a bike ride on East Coast Park. Go to Sentosa island for an afternoon at the beach and play in the sand (but don’t swim please). There is a fun water themed park in Pasir Ris and many indoor playgrounds (some free, some not). Well, there is plenty to do in Singapore!
What movies do your children like to watch? Is there one from your childhood you would love to show them?
Cinderella is played very often at home, and I love watching bits of it with my daughter. It’s the only Disney film without scary witches, a terrible beast or monsters. I simply LOVE it. My hubby introduced us to The Sound of Music (which my daughter loves) and we both like Charlie and The Chocolate Factory (the oldest and newest films alike).
Are you a ‘cook’ or ‘food lover’ or both?
We are food lovers and cooks. My husband is passionate by cooking, he has started making his own sausages! He mostly cooks on the weekend, and I do some of the cooking during the week. We like good hearty food, and you can eat anything from French, to Italian, Filipino, Thai, Indo, Indian…cuisines at our home.
Do you cook together with your children?
We try to encourage them to cook/ bake: pizza, cookies, and cakes. My son seems to be particularly interested in cooking, he always wants to watch and touch the tools; he likes to serve each of us our portion of rice at lunch too!
What a lovely Mom Story, thank you Marie for sharing it with us!
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