Tag Archives: traditions

Impressions from November & December : a personal project

I’m sharing some of our Christmas traditions for this round of Impressions. We blend traditions from the UK (where i’m from), Germany (where my husband is from), and The Netherlands (because our children are growing up here).

Here’s a glimpse of our December moments..

[1] Decorating the Christmas Tree
We bought our Christmas Tree the weekend before Pakjesavond and the girls helped to decorate. Lea (wearing her Pieten hat) was placing all the decorations in clusters and Rebekka (wearing reindeer antlers) was immediately re-distributing them to better places! So funny to watch!

[2] Pakjesavond, 5 December
The festive season starts with the arrival of Sinterklaas (St Nicholas) mid-November. In the weeks leading up to Pakjesavond (presents’ evening), the girls were drawing pictures for Sinterklaas and leaving them in their shoes by the fireplace with a carrot for his horse. Then they’d sing ‘Sinterklaas kapoentje’ up the chimney (a song asking for ‘schoencadeautjes’ – a small surprise to be left in their shoes). Some nights, we could even hear Rebekka singing it when she was in bed! Occasionally, they’d find a little surprise waiting for them in the morning.

When Pakjesavond finally came around, they were very excited! We were all together in the living room when the doorbell rang. We opened the door to find a sack of presents waiting outside; a special delivery from Sinterklaas and his Pieten! The girls were so excited and shouted into the street: “Dank je wel!” (thank you). The sack was then rushed into the living room to squeals of “Presents!” from Lea! :-)

[3] Our Artist at work
Amongst the Sinterklaas gifts was a set of make your own baubles, so naturally Rebekka got to work straight away!

[4] Christmas Eve
After it’s introduction last year, we decorated a gingerbread house again on Christmas Eve. It followed the familiar pattern of stick one sweet, eat a handful!! Those blue M&Ms are a big tell tale sign.. not mentioning any names.. *cough*.. Lea..! ;-)

[5] Weihnachten (Christmas Eve)
After dinner on Christmas Eve, we celebrate Weihnachten and open presents that were sent from our German relatives. The excitement really begins and the girls can’t wait for the morning which will bring more presents from Father Christmas!

[6] Christmas Morning
The girls both got new scooters for Christmas – we’d tried to hide them in amongst the other presents, but oh no.. somehow they knew.. and those were the ones they both opened first!! :-)

[7] Racing around the Christmas Tree!
The energy of these two (and especially the littlest!) There’s no keeping them still when there are presents to open! :-) :-) 

I also want to make a note here that after bedtime, little miss Lea was much too excited about all the new presents to go to sleep! She was constantly out of bed and making her way downstairs to play. Eventually we gave up taking her back to bed and let her stay up. We couldn’t help but smile as she pranced around the living room with a hula hoop, singing! Don’t know where she got the energy from!! She eventually snuggled into me on the sofa and when it was time for us all to go to bed, she swung her arm as she said “Let’s go!” – so cute!!

[8] The Family-Carstens Christmas Selfie
The last few years we’ve been taking a family selfie on Christmas Day. Rebekka was missing her top two front teeth this Christmas – you can just about see the gap! One big tooth is quickly making it’s way down at the moment and the next one can’t be far off! She’s waiting for a new tooth to come through at the bottom too.

Hope your Christmas was a merry one. Wishing you and your families all the best for 2018!

Impressions‘ is a creative project by an eclectic group of female photographers from around the globe. We aim to share the inspiration behind what we do through our bi-monthly posts.

Every other month, we will be sharing 8 images that tell the story of what inspired us in the previous weeks: our families, nature, weather, or maybe even work itself! We are free to explore the meaning of ‘impressions’, and it is likely to change month to month.

Say hello in the comments below and then hop on over to see what Kim Rogers of Brink Street Photography in Denver Colorado is sharing this month :-) I hope you enjoy all our posts!

With love,
~ Natalie

Posted in Personal Also tagged , , , , , , , |

Impressions from November & December : a personal project

We’ve had more than our fair share of winter illnesses zap our energy over the past couple of months, so I haven’t been out and about with my camera as much as I would have liked. 2017 is looking bright though and i’m so excited for all the babies – family, friends and clients! It’s going to be a special year!

Here’s a glimpse into our November and December:


[1] My sleeping beauty

November was a really rough month for Lea. A viral chest infection caused an overreaction of her immune system which meant she was wheezing and not getting enough oxygen. A visit to our huisarts (doctor) was immediately followed by a stay at the children’s hospital where she was hooked up to oxygen and nebulised regularly. We went home a few days later when her oxygen levels where back up and had stabilised. Still not fully recovered and seemingly getting worse, we went back to the huisarts and she was then prescribed antibiotics for pneumonia :-(

On the day I took this photo, we set off for a walk along the beach and she fell asleep only minutes after we had gone outside. Unexpectedly, she slept for 3 hours in the pram while I walked, followed by another 2.5 hours when we got home. Sleep, fresh sea air, and new antibiotics seemed to be exactly what she needed and she was soon starting to feel better. So grateful!


[2] A visit to England, ‘just the girls, no boys!’

This was a holiday that almost didn’t happen and it was certainly an adventure we are not going to forget!

I had originally booked our trip to coincide with hubby’s travel plans for work. Lea was only just out of hospital though so I postponed our trip by two weeks. Our new travel dates neared and Lea was still ill. We went back to the huisarts and I held out hope that she’d be fine and didn’t postpone the dates a second time. It was only on the day we were due to leave that we decided to go!

With everything packed, the car full, goodbyes said to Papa and everyone with their seatbelts on and ready to go, I went to turn the key in the ignition. Nothing. I couldn’t believe it! All psyched up to travel solo with the girls, packed and ready to drive to the overnight ferry and we weren’t going anywhere. I tried again. Still nothing.

We called ANWB (roadside assistance) to help. There wasn’t a lot of time till check-in for the ferry closed so I called ahead to give them a headsup that we had car trouble. I was so sad to think we wouldn’t make it.

Thankfully ANWB arrived pretty quickly. Our car battery was broken and wouldn’t take any charge. Luckily they had a new one and ten minutes later it was fitted and we were on our way. We made it to the ferry in time by the skin of our teeth! Yay! So happy! And the girls were SO excited!

We were quite a sight making our way from the car to our cabin. Rebekka was proudly helping with the suitcase (which was pretty big since it included the mattress for our travelcot). And I was fully laden up babywearing Lea as well as carrying the travelcot and a big bag of food and other essentials!

The girls were really excited and after bouncing off the walls in our cabin we went to find ‘our stairwell’ where we take a photo on every crossing :-)

The morning brought more excitement as the girls watched from the window while the ferry docked. We were staying with my brother’s family for the first time and couldn’t wait to get there! :-) Two and a half hours on the road and we finally arrived!

Starting with a wonderful cuppa tea and bacon butties, we packed a lot into just a couple of days: a family dinner where all the girl-cousins got to play together, the chippy tea I’d been craving for over a year (battered fish, chips and mushy peas!), visits to Grandma and Grandad’s house and a visit to see Great-Grandma too, a special visit to the church, and supermarket shopping at an Asda superstore to stock up on our favourite UK goodies. You can follow our adventures over on my Instagram account.

Leaving was hard, especially for Rebekka and Eva who play like sisters and best friends. It was a really quick visit home but it was wonderfully perfect (and completely exhausting too, but I was expecting that!) I’ve already been trying to plan in a return visit, but it’s a tough one trying to navigate Dutch and British school holidays as well as life on-call. I’m looking forward to our next travel adventure though!


[3] Forever 40
In the end, the timing of our trip couldn’t have been more perfect. It meant that I was in the UK on what would have been my Mum’s 60th birthday. She has been gone from our lives for almost 20 years, I can barely wrap my head around that. It seems so long and so short all at the same time. Rebekka started singing Happy Birthday and I couldn’t hold back the tears, it was so special. I miss her every day and wish she were here to see her grandchildren grow up. The girls have never met their Oma and Opa too. And they have great-grandparents that we all miss as well. We try to keep their memories alive through photos and stories. 


[4] A real tree for Christmas!
We celebrated pakjesavond a few days early because of our trip and when we got back Sinterklaas had returned to Spain, so it was time to unpack the Christmas decorations and choose our Christmas tree. We all set off to the garden centre which was crazy busy! Rebekka proudly chose our tree, saying it was ‘mooi’ (beautiful) and then Papa took it home (we can’t fit the four of us in the car with a tree as well!). Whilst the girls and I waited for him to return, we walked though the garden centre’s Christmas displays, picking out a few extra decorations. 


[5] Christmas Eve
Friends of ours gave us a tip that Ikea was selling flat-packed gingerbread houses so guess where I bought our house? ;-) I assembled it with a little help on Christmas Eve and the girls loved decorating it. It went a bit like this: stick one sweet, eat two, stick one, eat four..! lol I think this will be a lovely Christmas tradition for us :-)


[6] Weihnachten (Christmas Eve)
Traditionally in Germany, presents are opened on Christmas Eve so the girls got to open presents from their German relatives in the evening. They went to sleep very excited and Rebekka couldn’t wait for Father Christmas to come in the night and leave even more presents under the tree!


[7] Christmas Morning
The girls slept in late and Lea had slept through the night (extremely rare!) so we had a lovely relaxed morning! As is traditional on my side of the family, we opened presents while still in our pyjamas! Rebekka sat in one spot carefully opening all her presents, meanwhile Lea was a bit of a tornado, running here and there with a present to unwrap. Taking photos of her was quite the challenge! ;-) All the joy and excitement of children at Christmas is so wonderful!!


[8] Creative inspiration
Midway through opening her presents, Rebekka had clearly found a favourite – a small heart shaped notebook and set of coloured gel pens. The rest of the unwrapping was on hold while she drew her first picture. She’s our little artist and I love that she paused for a little creativity.


[a bonus photo!] Reading Christmas stories
I’m rarely in photos, so i’m including this one as a bonus :) An interesting fact for you: ‘raket’ (rocket) ice lollies first made an appearance when I was pregnant with Rebekka, I craved them something crazy! Till this day, we have barely gone a moment without them in the freezer and they are big favourites with the girls. Yes, even on Christmas Day in the midst of winter! You can imagine that it didn’t take long for Lea to learn to say “ice lolly, peeease”. The cutest!

Impressions‘ is a creative project by an eclectic group of female photographers from around the globe. We aim to share the inspiration behind what we do through our bi-monthly posts.

Every other month, we will be sharing 8 images that tell the story of what inspired us in the previous weeks: our families, nature, weather, or maybe even work itself! We are free to explore the meaning of ‘impressions’, and it is likely to change month to month.

Say hello in the comments below and then hop on over to see what Leslie Huckey Sarten of Leslie Meadow Photography in stunning Alsaka is sharing this month :-) Then continue clicking through the circle till you make it back here – I hope you enjoy all our posts!

With love,
~ Natalie

Posted in Personal Also tagged , , , , , , , |