By Gabrielle. Adorable family shots by Adam Graham.
Have you ever heard the saying “Love doesn’t have any borders?” It’s a common thought in Germany, brought to us by Petra, a Munich native who fell in love with a Canadian, and eventually decided to move from a city of almost two million people to a small town called Yarmouth in Southwestern Nova Scotia where the highways end. Literally.
She’s also the beaming owner of 123 Lausbua, a kids’ clothing company whose wares are mostly designed by Lili. I should mention that Lili is almost six and, as it happens, very good at her job. (And as long as we’re learning a spot of German today, lausbua means rascal!)
There’s more to this story, including a lot of happy corners and a lake for a front yard. You’re going to enjoy this one, I just know it. Welcome, Petra!
If you would have asked me 20 years ago where I would see myself living in the future, my answer sure wouldn’t have been Nova Scotia! Coming from a small town in Southern Germany, I didn’t even know where Canada’s third smallest province is. Traveling has always been a passion of mine but I had never made it this far East in Canada. Plus, I love the sunshine and my dreams always included living in the South. Now I’ve been living here for almost ten years and I love it. We might not have sunshine every day, but we have the beaches which were also a big part of my dreams!
We are a family of four. There’s Jamie, my husband, who is a software developer by trade and the handiest man — besides my grandfather — I have ever known. He can build or do anything. He’s also my best friend and the person I love to spend my time with.
Then there’s Lili, our almost six year old daughter, whose personality is, as I’m told, a lot like mine as a kid. She loves an audience, and she would be involved in every sport or social event if possible. She’s definitely our daredevil. She is strong and very strong-willed. She’s also a wonderful big sister, always taking her little brother by the hand, showing him the world and letting him be part of her imaginative play.
Luis, or Lulu as he calls himself, is our baby. He just turned three. He always tries to make the people around him laugh. If others are happy, he’s happy. He’s also a very sensitive soul and a lot more careful than his sister. He’s generous, cuddly and a perfectionist. So am I.
l’m Petra. When we moved to Canada, I went back to university and switched careers — from a PR manager to an elementary teacher. My days as an educator are never the same, which I love, and working with ‘my other kids’ is very rewarding. My job also lets me show what I am best at: being creative and organized.
Jamie, who is Canadian, and I met while he was traveling in Europe. After spending a year as an au pair in the United States while my parents feared I’d meet someone from so far away, I happened to run into him at a friend’s house in our town. It was love at first sight. To me, it’s still incredible how we made our relationship work with such a distance between us. “Love doesn’t know any borders” is a German saying, and this was very true for us. We traveled back and forth during our university years but also spent six months in Australia before settling in Munich, Germany. After five years there, Jamie longed not only to be near the water again but also for the vastness and spaciousness that his home, Nova Scotia, has to offer.
This move was huge. From Munich, where almost two million people live, to a small town called Yarmouth in Southwestern Nova Scotia, where the highways end. Literally. I’m glad I’ve visited there before. Visiting, however, is very different than living somewhere permanently. There are still days, lots of them actually, where I miss home — my family, my closest friends, my culture, and my food!
When moving here, I had one condition that needed to be fulfilled: I wanted to live right by the ocean. I always associate the ocean with vacation. As kids, my parents took us to the Mediterranean in Italy, Spain, and Croatia, as a teenager I traveled through Scandinavia, England, Greece — all countries on the water. I knew that if I was moving to a province almost completely surrounded by the ocean, that’s where I wanted to live.
Jamie, being a local, knew better. He convinced me that it is much more versatile to live on a lake. It took me a while to admit, but he is right. The ocean here is not like the ocean I experienced growing up. The Atlantic is cold and so is the wind off of the water. A lakefront home it was, and I never had any regrets!
I was still in Germany when Jamie sent me pictures of what became our home, the place we would eventually raise our kids. It was a basic cottage, and very small. But, it was right on the water and a minute’s drive from town. Wow! We would never have been able to afford anything like this in Munich, where an apartment would have cost more than our little house on the lake did.
When I finally saw the house in person, there really wasn’t much to think about. After a short drive to the lighthouse, we made an offer and the house was ours the same day. We renovated to make the place livable for just the two of us. We had 572 square feet with an amazing view which belonged to us. It also included a home office for Jamie which he accessed by a ladder. He wasn’t able to stand up in it!
We had big plans, though. A few years later the extensive renovations started which included adding a downstairs (the existing house was lifted and moved just slightly to the left) and a second story to one part of the building. We added 1100 square feet of living space over time. It’s not huge but is very comfortable. Lots of floor-to-ceiling windows facing the lake make it appear very spacious and add a sense of living outside all year long.
Our home is not the traditional Nova Scotian home you might find; the European influence I grew up with and influences from our travels are definitely visible throughout our house. Both my husband and I like contemporary furniture and art, very minimalistic and clean.
Despite being so little, our kids have seen quite a bit of the world already. They have no choice as we take them to Europe every year. It is very important to me that they know where I come from, that they feel at home there and know the culture as much as the language. They are both growing up bilingual. When we are in Canada, we call it our secret language which makes it super exciting for them. As comfortable as our kids are traveling, home to them is here and they get excited when we turn onto our dirt road and they see their lake.
People often comment on our property and how it is not very kid-friendly. Fortunately, we were able to teach our kids both love and respect for the water. It certainly helped to have them enrolled in the local swim program since they were a few months old. We also have rules instilled in them when it comes to the water. They both know, for example, not to go in without an adult nearby. We have had a very hot summer and I think it’s just amazing when their first question in the morning is, “Can I go for a swim?” and I can happily say, “Of course you can!” Any time.
During the summer months, we take advantage of the water daily. Fishing, boating, tubing, kayaking, and swimming. Lili’s newest passion is wake-boarding. She’s getting so good at it! We also use the lake in the winter. How many people can say they have their private skating rink in front of their house?
That’s when Luis, our little hockey lover, is in heaven. A bonfire right by the shore keeps us warm on cooler summer nights as well as on cold winter days. There is definitely plenty of the stereotypical Canadian lifestyle happening in and around our European looking house!
To Jamie’s dismay, a few months ago I started invading his office with my newest adventure. I created a small kids clothing line, called 123 Lausbua. I’m in love with modern and simple clothing for kids and have been looking for birthday shirts for a long time. I had no luck and decided to make them myself, with Lili as the designer. All the writing on our shirts is done by her!
She and Luis also model for me. They have discovered that they can make money by charging 25 cents for a photo with a huge smile! The name suits us; Lausbua is German and means rascal. Besides number shirts, we have added other designs. Every one of them has a connection to our children. It makes my day seeing all these kids in our label.
I hope Lili will always remember how much fun it was but also how much dedication it took to put this small business together. I also hope that she learned how much I value her opinion and listen to her thoughts — no matter her age.
We are living a happy life here in Yarmouth. Even though sometimes I just long for a few hours to sit in a cafe and people-watch, or to grab some ethnic food, I know that living here allows our kids to have opportunities that we wouldn’t be able to offer them in other places. However, by exposing them to different people and countries, different food and customs, I hope they will grow up continuing to explore while having our Nova Scotian home as a base. I hope they will remember the fun we have around the water and traveling the world together.
I wish someone would have told me that saying good-bye never gets easier. Every time I leave Europe to come to my new heimat, it gets more difficult. I’m always torn between staying there and coming back here. In my heart I know though that I belong wherever we are happy as a family. For now it’s here, but sometime it might be there — or somewhere in the South!
Thank you, Petra! I could look out your windows all day, no matter the season, but the view inside is awfully breathtaking, too. Thanks for sending scenes from the winter, too! You’re a gem for sharing it all with us today.
I wonder how many of you have made a home far, far from your home? Far away from your language and customs and, in a way, your people. How are you doing with the adjustment? What helps? What doesn’t remotely help? And how do you carry it all — the language, customs, and as many people as you can — with you? I love your stories.
P.S. – Are you living with your own kids in a unique way? Are you interested in sharing your home and experiences with us? Let me know! We love to be inspired! And it’s a lot of fun…I promise! Take a peek at all the homes in my Living With Kids series here.
27 thoughts on “Living With Kids: Petra Eyre”
I often think about how it’s difficult for us being 3000 miles across the country form our family, but then I’m reminded that at least we’re in the same country still. I can’t imagine having to find the balance between live in Canada and Europe. Their home is beautiful though, and I bet that helps ease the burden some.
Paige, thank you for your sweet comment. I bet it’s not easy being on the other side of the country! Thanks to FaceTime and Skype my kids “see” their grandparents almost daily.
Oh oh oh!! I’m all excited to comment because, Petra, my story is yours, inverted! I am the Canadian, from the south shore of beautiful Nova Scotia- Lunenburg County, I recognized Peggy’s Cove right away! And my husband in German, from Bonn, and we are coming up on two years of living here In Germany with our 3 year old son and 7 week old daughter – again, your family, switched, but same age gap! I love Bonn, there is so much I love about living here – all the bicycles, the close proximity to everywhere, the greater empahisis on life balance and leisure, the affordability of raising a family (the day care is wonderful and so affordable!!!) the coffee and cake, the breakfasts, affordable wonderful CHEESE… I could go on. But, oh I miss my blue province! This summer I had a baby, so we didn’t make it home and it broke my heart. I can relate perfectly to the torn feeling – when I go home it is the same. Such a beautiful life I had growing up! I miss the easy friendliness, the quiet, the beaches…! It’s always hard to leave but I do love our life here too.
I’m from Liverpool – just down the coast a bit. My mom is a Lunenburg native. So fun to see another Nova Scotia family highlighted. I live in the US South. I miss the coast but it is so nice to be warm…..
We are twins Elena! See my comment below! I was devastated we couldn’t go home this summer either :(
Elena, your comment makes me homesick, almost. You mentioned some of the best things about living in Germany! Isn’t it amazing that you can stay home for three years after having a baby??? But I do love it here. I try to pick the best out of both worlds. Maybe we can meet up some time when you are here!!! Petra
I love that you’ve featured a family living in Canada! Nova Scotia is such a beautiful place, and I love what Petra and Jamie have done with their home! Mixing the European style of the home with the Canadian landscape is beautiful!
Kristi | Be Loverly
Thank you for your sweet comment, Kristi!
We traveled through Yarmouth a few years ago on a vacation and I fell in love with Nova Scotia. Your photos have made me fall in love with it all over again!
Awww, Mandi, it is a beautiful place. Come visit again!
Beautiful. Looks so nice. I would love to live on the water!
Thank you, Sherri! I can never get enough of the water.
I love this! I grew up in New Brunswick and after I married my husband I moved to Yarmouth for a year. It literally is where the highway ends! It’s so beautiful and there are so many wonderful people there. Before I even read the post I saw the photo of the lighthouse and recognized it immediately. Port Maitland Beach is one of my faves in the area. Thanks for sharing this – heading over to check out Petra’s clothing website :)
Leanne! It’s Sarah Wiedmaier! So cool to see you comment on something I’m reading! As soon as I saw your name and started reading your comment I knew it had to be you! Clicking the link to your blog confirmed it. I think we read a lot of the same blogs. :)
Anyway, like Leanne, I grew up in New Brunswick, but moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia my senior year of high school. My sister went to college in Yarmouth, and I’ve visited there many times. So beautiful! Fun fact: The song, It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas was written in/about Yarmouth. It is thought that Meredith Willson, (the writer) wrote the song while staying in Yarmouth’s Grand Hotel. The song makes reference to a “tree in the Grand Hotel, one in the park as well…”; the park being Frost Park, directly across the road from the Grand Hotel. I just think that is so cool!
I can relate to Petra a lot! I don’t have the exact story she does, but I’ve lived a bunch of places, finally settling with my husband in the Seattle area, and my family stills live on the east coast. I miss them terribly! If we’re lucky, one of us flies to the other once a year. The thing that has saved me is Facetime (or Skype before that). We get to see each other, which is huge, and feel more apart of each other’s day to day.
Petra, your shirts are great, and thanks for letting us have a peek into your home and life!
Yes, Tanks to FaceTime our Kids See their grandparents almost daily. When Jamie and I met a minute on the phone cost almost $1.50. You had to talk on the phone with a timer!
How neat is that! You’ve lived here! Where are you now? I hope you enjoyed browsing our web store.
Love, love this home…. I’m living with my husband in England, we have both moved here from elsewhere in Europe. Culturally from very different places, too. It has been a learning curve for sure, more so after the children came along. There have been tears more than once over the holidays, not being able to travel as much as we’d like to see our families and not having the easy support system that comes with living close to your family. We have tried hard to create our own culture, traditions taken from our new home land, as well as keeping up with the traditions of our own countries. The children are growing up tri-lingual, it’s hard work and by no means an easy journey, but for us it means the world that they will keep a connection to their parents roots.
I often wondered how it would be if we’d move somewhere where we’d both be foreign. I’m open to anything as I’m already far from home.
And yes, it gets harder when kids are involved. We used to go to Germany twice a year and this is now the second Christmas we are not going. It’s hard. I’m lucky my parents are coming here and we mix German and Canadian traditions.
Hello fellow Bluenosers! I am a Cape Bretoner who went to uni in Germany and is married to a German Canadian, we just moved to Hamburg for the next two years with our two kids. We have a summer house on the water in Baddeck. I just loved this post and now that we have finished the exterior renos, I have lots of good ideas for the interior!
Hamburg is an amazing city, and on the water, too! Let me know if I can be of any help with the interior. It’s sometimes difficult to find certain things in NS. My husband brought the toilet on the plane!
Two years ago my partner and I moved to New Zealand with our two small kids. I’m a NZ-er and he is British. He struggles everyday with being here.
Ps beautiful house. What a wonderful childhood for your children beside the lake
New Zealand, wow! It’s on our places to visit list! Thanks so much for your comment. It’s nice to know that there are others in the same boat.
Petra! So cool to meet you on Design Mom. Although we did not get to Yarmouth we got part way down the South Shore last weekend. Isn’t Nova Scotia magical! I was so thrilled to see Gabrielle feature another Nova Scotian! My home was featured last month.
I adore your kids clothes – beautiful!
Cheers to showing the world our sweet little Nova Scotia!
Lisa, I read your feature as well! And I was thinking how wonderful your house is. It’s the kind of place my husband grew up in. Let me know if you ever make it all the way down here! Petra PS: Glad you enjoyed checking out our shop. Spread the word!
while hubby and i are both americans, we have lived in france (pre-kids), had our daughter in nova scotia (love that rugged rocky coast), and welcomed our son last year where we live now, finland. its definitely hard being on a different continent from the childhood, memories and life that was once who you were, but ive learned that there is no perfect place. ‘the grass is always greener’ feeling will eat you alive. ive found that being patient and open-minded have been the most vital skills (even if im not good at patience :)). ive actively tried to learn more about the new places weve lived, folding into our lives the things we love and trying to better understand the things that continue to feel very foreign. i still get the most sad about the holidays and seasonal times that i miss from ‘back home’, but ive also come to realize that to get ‘back home’, truly, i would need a time machine. things change. place change, just as we change. we are enjoying as much as we can about the country we live in now, and it has felt more like ‘home’ than most of the last several years weve been moving and living. its a nice feeling. hopefully we’ll get to be here for a while, but we are always ready to march if we feel the call of adventure. each place we live finds its way into our hearts and we take a piece with us, for always. it was great seeing the lighthouse pictures, i clicked on this blog entry right away because my heart knew exactly where in the world you are. enjoy, and your kids are very lucky.
I was going through old mails and came across this amazing post from design mom….lovely pics…inspired me to travel and live at different places around the world with my family.