26th April 2017

My Top 10 Buys from Linen Obsession

Have you heard about the amazing online linen store LinenObsession.ae? Owned by an expat Mummy like us, you can expect to find bed linen, towels, and accessories for every price point – but with everything very suitable for Dubai lifestyles, especially Mummies.

So when founder Pamela asked me if I wanted to offer my readers a 10% discount on the website (code Mabel10), I jumped at the chance – and to help inspire you, I have pulled together the 10 buys that are currently on my wish list (with links to click through and buy).

Happy shopping – and I really can vouch for the quality of this company. Visit www.linenobsession.ae for a browse.

1. The Hotel Quality Set 

1 Real Hotel

Linen Obsession “Real Hotel” Bed Linen 300 Thread Count Cotton Sateen – from 50 AED

You know when you climb into bed in a hotel room and you dream about your own bed being just as comfortable? According to the experts, it can be – you just need to buy the right bed linen. This affordable set boasts a fantastic thread count and has been personally selected by the Linen Obsession team to be just like a hotel bed. It’s on my wish list.

Buy online here (use code Mabel10 for 10% off)

2. The Pretty Set

2

Christy “Victoria” Bed Linen – from 624 AED

I adore the pastel colours of this floral duvet cover and bedspread – and with 200 Thread Count Cotton Percale, it would feel amazing climbing into bed too.

Buy online here (use code Mabel10 for 10% off)

3. The Kids Set

3

Humming Bird Ice Lollies Kids Bed Linen – from 295 AED

My boys love ice cream and I am very tempted to add this fun print to their collection (ice lollies on one side, colourful sprinkles on the other). It’s great quality too (which is important for little people), with 180 thread count and 100% cotton.

Buy online here (use code Mabel10 for 10% off)

4. The Luxury White Set

4

Henry Christy ‘Luxury Supima’ 500TC Sateen Bed Linen – from 375 AED

I have the bottom sheet in the range on my bed right now – and oh my goodness, it feels incredible! So simple and stylish in its design, with an incredible 625 threads per 10 square cm. I’m not surprised this is one of the company’s best-sellers!

Buy online here (use code Mabel10 for 10% off)

5. The Statement Set

5

Christy ‘Kashvi’ Bed Linen – from 1,250 AED

There’s something I adore about this set by Christy, with its quirky pattern and bold hues. And another 200 Thread Count makes it very high quality too.

Buy online here (use code Mabel10 for 10% off)

6. The Luxury Towels

1 Real Hotel

Christy ‘Supreme’ Towel and Bath Mat Collection – from 75 AED

Need some new towels in your life? You won’t beat these beauties, which are 650 grams per square metre, making them the fluffiest, thickest, and softest towels you’ll ever have the pleasure of owning. I want one in every size!

Buy online here (use code Mabel10 for 10% off)

7. The Stylish Set

7

Christy “Sofia” Bed Linen – from 624 AED

The blues and greens of this floral bed spread are super stylish and on trend – and with the signature Christy 200 Thread Count Cotton Percale, you can guarantee the high quality and comfort too.

Buy online here (use code Mabel10 for 10% off)

8. The Chic White Set

8

Christy ‘Penny’ Bed Linen – from 249 AED

There is something incredibly chic about plain white bed linen – and when it’s this amazing set from Christy, complete with a delicate lace trim, it pretty much wins on the style front. That’s not all, as you are getting 300 thread count too.

Buy online here (use code Mabel10 for 10% off)

9. The Colourful Set

9

Esprit Modern Ethno Bed Linen – from 94 AED

This affordable set from Esprit features the most beautiful colours and on-trend geometric print. Perfect for your bed – or for a spare set. And with 300 thread count per 10cm2, you are getting seriously good value for money too.

Buy online here (use code Mabel10 for 10% off)

10. The Decorative Touches

10

Christy ‘Vibe’ Quilted Pillowsham and Throw – from 150 AED

I have this throw on my own bed and I love it. It’s thick, heavy, beautifully textured, and very affordable – and it can transform your bed in seconds.

Buy online here (use code Mabel10 for 10% off)

For a browse of the whole website, visit www.linenobsession.ae - and make sure you use code MABEL10 to snap up your 10% discount across the whole website! Happy shopping!

Written in collaboration with Linen Obsession



19th April 2017

Dubai Nursery Spotlight: Toddler Town Jumeirah

18034693_10158589945450607_872174627_nThis month’s nursery spotlight is all about Toddler Town Jumeirah – and when I was invited in, I was already expecting good things as this is a nursery close to my heart. After all, my son Stanley was a pupil at the JBR branch for two years when he was a toddler – and the day he left, I was the one in floods of tears in the car park. I loved the warmth of the nursery and the fact it felt like a big family – but I also loved the facilities, extra-curricular activities, and the excellence of the teaching staff.

With this second branch now in Jumeirah boasting impressive amounts of space, I knew I was going to like what I saw. And I wasn’t wrong. Here’s the low-down on what they are offering, split down into sections. And if you like what you see, the link to the nursery website is at the bottom of the page.

The Location

Toddler Town Jumeirah is located in Umm Suqeim, just off Al Wasl Road. It’s very close to Al Manara Road – just around the corner from Safa Park 2 and Splash & Party, if you are aware of their locations. It would take a matter of minutes from Sheikh Zayed Road, making it a convenient spot for those on the morning commute – and is located close to a number of top schools in Dubai, if your little one has siblings attending.

It’s a quiet road, with plenty of parking outside the nursery.

18035615_10158589949205607_1314964456_n

Important Details

The nursery takes babies from 4 months old, right up to FS1.

You can pick the most convenient hours, right from 7.30am to 6pm – and there is a dedicated baby unit to care for the littlest pupils.

If your little one sleeps during these hours, there also several different rooms for them to sleep.

The nursery offers discounts for UAE Nationals, Siblings, and those that pay the year’s fees up front.

There is CCTV throughout the nursery – and parents will be given an individual log-in to be able to keep an eye on their child throughout the day.

There are options for catered lunches, delivered daily to the nursery by a UAE company.

 18035369_10158589946880607_600972181_n

Facilities

The nursery is located in a large, spacious white villa. The inside seems extremely large and airy (plus notably bright and clean) – and the outside areas are just as vast, with further indoor classrooms dotted around the outside. It’s an impressive facility, with huge amounts of space for your little ones to grow and learn.

Inside, you will find wonderfully clean, spacious and colourful classrooms, alongside a library, IT area, two soft play areas, a role play room, an amazing sensory room, a cookery and music room, and an indoor climbing wall.

18035298_10158589947745607_54105648_n 18034878_10158589945575607_1093626903_n 18009826_10158589948555607_1007579785_n

Outside, there is two swimming pools, a water play area, a car track, an outdoor play area, a gardening patch, and a sand pit and sand play facilities.

18009695_10158589947730607_1519742741_n

In fact, the nursery puts so much emphasis on a rounded education for the kids, that they employ a swimming teacher, dance teacher, an Arabic teacher and a French teacher full-time, visiting each class in rotation.

There’s a separate baby unit too (from 4 months old), complete with their own classrooms, sleeping room, and soft play facilities – and see how happy those babies were in that lovely facility, I would have no hesitations about trusting them with Mabel if I had a full-time job.

 18034951_10158589947285607_436122925_n 17965979_10158589948450607_729289272_n

General Overview

Kids at this nursery really are very lucky – and I’ve seen first-hand how happy children can be at Toddler Town. Stanley loved going into nursery every day – and he excelled both academically and socially at the JBR branch. With the same quality of teaching at the Jumeirah branch, coupled with facilities that really are first-rate, I can imagine the children flourishing very quickly.

18035289_10158589946875607_1754062778_n

For that reason, it really doesn’t surprise me that Toddler Town Jumeirah won ‘Nursery of the Year’ at the Mother, Baby and Child Awards in 2016.

It’s a warm, friendly, and really very impressive nursery – and I urge you to take a tour and check it out yourself.

Get in touch for more information – http://www.toddlertown.ae/ or call 04 362 4550 to arrange a tour.

 

In collaboration with Toddler Town Jumeirah

 

 



18th April 2017

My final thoughts on classes at Heguru Centre Dubai

18009230_10158589291200607_1312326789_nIf you didn’t catch my first post about the classes we have been attending at the Heguru Centre Dubai, you can find it here – and it’s well worth a read to understand the concept of these ‘Right-Brain Education’ classes, which take place in Motor City.

Wilfred has been attending the classes every week on his morning off nursery – and we’ve now got to the end of the six-week trial, so it’s time for an update.

And honestly? I am so amazed by these classes and the ways they can clearly help children visualise and think, that I have decided we are going to continue with the classes (despite my collaboration with Heguru Dubai coming to an end). With such a busy work and family schedule, that’s quite rare – but it’s testament to the fact that I really believe in what it’s doing…

18035398_10158589294120607_357766299_n

So why am I impressed?  

So let’s rewind to late 2016, when Heguru asked if I’d like to trial the classes with Wilfred. I had a look into Heguru and was fascinated by the science behind ‘Right-Brain Training’ – but I have to be honest, I was kind of unconvinced it would work. Especially with my wild child, who would much rather spend his time dashing around the garden or a giant soft play.

In early 2017, I went to a taster session at the centre – and it was my first glimpse of Heguru in action. Seeing flashcards flashed for a split second, the teachers talking incredibly quickly, the kids only getting 60 or so seconds for every task…. I was once again intrigued, but baffled – but I told myself that I would give it a chance anyway, bring Wilfred for six weeks, and then we could return to the soft play areas instead.

So imagine my surprise when we started the classes and we both started to really enjoy it. It was fast-paced and a bit comical at times – but as the weeks ticked on, I found myself looking forward to it each week. Parking the car outside, walking in the sunshine to class, and then spending an hour with Wilfred as he took part.

17965813_10158589297265607_591952890_n

I started to see some changes in Wilfred after about class 3 – so the mid point in our trial. He started to recognise the tasks that were about to take place – and he was quicker at completing them. He loved the physical challenges the best, like fitting wooden shapes into spaces on paper, tracing letters, and matching colours to a diagram on the wall. But I also noticed him paying attention more as the weeks went on – sat listening intently to a song about a fresh water salmon, trying to sing along to a Chinese song he remembered, and watching the flash cards in silence.

But the real clues that it was working came outside the lessons… When we were in the car and he suddenly blurted out ‘NO U-TURN’ when he saw the sign he remembered from class. When he looked at the pieces of apple on his lunch tray and suddenly stacked them so they looked like three Burj al Arabs… When he was eating a pancake one afternoon, then ripped it up into pieces, laid them on the table, and then blurted out ‘Eurasia, Africa, Australia, South America, North America, Antartica.’ I was truly staggered.

It was like he was getting triggers visually as he went about his day – triggers to remember things, create things, and learn things. The right side of his brain was obviously waking up – and it was really fascinating to see.

18009821_10158589299140607_901878215_n

So what happens now?

Well, I’ve decided we are going to continue and see where it takes us. But not only that, Stanley is going to come along too. Stanley (my eldest child) is quite academic and keen to learn anyway – so I am expecting to see results even quicker.

I’ll be updating you all on how we are getting on every now and again – so keep an eye on my social channels. And in the meantime, head over to the company’s website here – http://hegurudxb.ae/ 

 

In collaboration with Heguru Dubai



9th April 2017

Currently Loving – April 2017

Another month has rolled around, I’ve survived the spring holidays, and it’s starting to get hot (I had that first ‘OMG’ moment when I got back to the car at lunchtime and it felt like a sauna)… This year seems to be whizzing by. But here we are in April – so without further ado, here’s what I have been buying, trying, coveting or hearing great things about over the past month!

Currently Loving

1 – Nordic Fairyland - I’ve discovered the online kid’s store Nordic Fairyland – and oh my goodness, I am so pleased it’s now on my radar! The boys and Mabel now have the softest, most beautiful pyjamas they have ever owned – and not only are they super comfy and gorgeous, but the company that makes them (Sense Organic) only use premium organic cotton, with non-chemical dye. But not only that, they are very much involved in Social Responsibility Campaigns, such as building schools and offering fair working conditions – so you aren’t just treating your kids to some beautiful organic cotton, but you are being socially conscious too (and that feels almost as good as those super soft pyjamas). There is so much I want from this lovely website for the kids from both Sense Organic and equally-wonderful brands Franck&Fischer and Maxomorra. I highly recommend heading online for a browse. Shop here

2 – Mamas & Papas Personal Shopping Service - I tried this service out last month – a service available at all Mamas & Papas stores across the Middle East. After getting invited into a private area by your very own personal shopper for the day, you will chat about what you need for your baby or are confused about (with cups of coffee, which makes it feel like you are chatting to a friend in their front room!) Then it’s time to hit the shop floor (or stay comfy if you prefer – and let the personal shopper do the legwork). My personal shopper on the day really knew what he was talking about and I was very impressed – in fact, I left determined to save up and buy the new pram he had shown me. This is a wonderful service for parents-to-be or new parents in Dubai – and it’s completely free too. Contact your nearest store in the UAE to book – details on the website here.

3. Hayley’s Comet - If you have a little starlet destined for the stage, you’ll be interested to hear that a new term of Hayley’s Comet Acting and Musical Theatre Classes has started today. Located at James & Alex Dance Studios in Media City, the classes are suitable for kids aged 6-18 years, who can join professionally led workshops, vocal training, acting lessons and dance classes all combined in specific age groups. The award-winning classes are taught by top industry professionals – and lead towards a showcase, so you can sit in the audience and feel super proud as they show you what they’ve learnt. I’m not trying to wish away time, but I really wish Stanley was old enough to take part as it’s exactly the kind of thing he’d enjoy. It makes the perfect activity during the hot summer months too, when it’s a bit of a struggle to stay out of soft play areas (my personal idea of hell!) For more details about the classes, email INFO@HAYLEYSCOMET.COM or call +971 (0)4 4470773 for details on how to register – or visit their Facebook Page here (you can also enter to win a term of classes on my Facebook page here!)

4. Mr Tumee Vitamins - I don’t need to worry about forgetting to give the kids their Mr Tumee vitamins each morning – as since we discovered the brand, the boys remind me at the crack of dawn! It’s something to do with the fun flavours and shapes I think, which is fine by me – as I know they are healthy, gelatin-free, and made with natural flavours and colours. With the new school term back in session (and no doubt endless germs queued up and ready to do the rounds), my latest favourite is Echinacea Plus Vitamin C and Zinc. They can be taken for up to 2 weeks at a time, promising to boost the immune system. Definitely worth a try, especially with the change in season coming too. Dubai mummies can buy them online here – or on the shelves at most pharmacies and supermarkets.

5 – Birdies & Bearcubs T-Shirts - Regular readers will know I am a big fan of the boy’s black Mumma’s Boys T-Shirts by Birdies & Bearcubs – so when I spotted the designs in green and blue too, I knew I had to have them. These tees are incredibly popular and fly off the vitual shelves as soon as they hit them (literally within an hour or so) – so keep an eye on the brand’s social media to find out when the next launch will happen. I actually set an alarm on my phone to get mine. I’m that dedicated… Buy online here.

6 – John Lewis Heirloom Collection - How gorgeous are the bits in the new John Lewis Heirloom Collection? From vintage-style rompers for little boys, to old-school cricket jumpers, to ditsy floral rompers – I literally want everything in the collection! I’m sure it’s the kind of things I was wearing back in the 80s (I definitely remember rocking my fair share of ditsy floral and a hand-knitted cricket jumper to match my Dad), so the collection is nostalgia at its finest. You can buy it all online here.

7. Toddler Town - I’ve started a new feature on my blog called ‘Dubai Nursery Spotlight’, where I profile a new nursery in Dubai every month (you’ll find a tab at the top of the page, where each of them will be filed for ease of scrolling through). This month, that nursery is Toddler Town Jumeirah – and I couldn’t be happier, as my eldest son attended the JBR branch and we absolutely loved that nursery. In fact, it felt like family by the time he left and I sobbed proper tears! I got a chance for a sneak peek a few months ago and the Jumeirah location is just an impressive, with tons of space, amazing teachers, a really warm and friendly feel, and just amazingly happy children. I can’t wait to visit the nursery again later this week for a full tour – and I’ll be taking you along with me to find out more. Watch this space – and in the meantime, visit their nursery here.

8 – Bab Al Shams Brunch - Regular followers will know that my mother has been in town this month, helping to entertain the boys and Mabel on their Spring Holidays – and while she was in town, we wanted to treat the whole family to a Friday brunch. We’ve been to stay at Bab Al Shams a few times, but we’ve never taken the kids to brunch and it’s always been on my ‘to do’ list. Not only is the food amazing (with everything from sushi, to grills, to noodles, to curries, to endless deserts, to a fantastic selection for kids), but the entertainment for small people is first rate. Think camel rides, a petting zoo, magicians at the table, juggling clowns, sand art, crazy golf, and a giant bouncy castle. In fact, the boys said it was the best brunch they’d ever been to (and in the interest of this blog, we’ve tried a few!) Make sure you go before the weather hots up too much. Details on the website here.

9. Cover Up Stone Cases - As a working Mummy, my laptop is one of my most loyal companions – so it’s nice to treat it to something every now and again. In fact, I’ve treated it to two new gifts this month – the first to be revealed soon and the second, a real stone case by the online store Cover Up. These laptop skins and phone covers jazz up and protect your tech – but in the coolest way, handcrafted from real slate. There are tons of different finishes and colours – and whilst it seems bit crazy, it’s actually pretty stunning. I went for Marine, which has a silvery finish.  And with shipping to the UK and UAE, it’s available to all of us. Buy online here.

10. Freshly Foods - I have lots of job titles – Mummy, wife, chief taxi driver, blogger, journalist, tidy-upper, baby entertainer… The list goes on – and what it all means is that my time is extremely limited. So as much as I’d like to create every meal for the kids (and my husband) from scratch, it just doesn’t happen. I rely on freezer food at least a few times a week to feed them, which is why my ears pricked up when I heard about a company in the UAE called Freshly Foods. This UAE company is known for creating healthy, quality, MDM-free food – which is super convenient too. That MDM bit is important – it means “Mechanically Deboned Meat”, which is actually quite yucky as it means that crushed bones make it into your foodstuff (gross, right?) Freshly Foods very proudly doesn’t do this – meaning if you buy frozen chicken bites for your kids, they are 100% pure chicken breast. Convenient, but healthy – and I am not arguing with that. I’m going to create 4 recipes for kids and adults with Freshly Foods products over the next month – so keep your eyes on my social media accounts. And in the meantime, check their website here.

11. Bounce - We have had so much fun this Spring Holiday – and one of the boy’s highlights was the morning we spent at the trampoline park Bounce trying out one of their famous parties. The boys both got to invite a few of their friends  - and the Mummies got to drink coffee, natter, and take a million photos of their bouncing minis as they had fun. I was seriously impressed with the staff too, allowing the kids to have the most fun possible, but to stay safe while they were doing it (and with the clumsiest three-year-old in the world in my care, that is very reassuring). They bounced, they climbed walls, they threw themselves onto giant cushions, they played tag on a giant network of trampolines – and when they’d used up all their energy, they sat down for a party lunch in a private room. They’ve been asking me constantly to go back, so I think it’s going to be top of our summer hide-out list! For more details, visit the website here

In collaboration with Nordic Fairyland, Hayley’s Comet, Mr Tumee, and Freshly Foods.



6th April 2017

10 things that make us feel unexpectedly emotional as parents…

Screen Shot 2017-04-06 at 22.21.471. Packing tiny clothes away. We are obsessed with our children growing from the moment they are born. Regular weight checks, plotting them on a growth chart, cheering when they reach milestones. Growing is obviously a good thing. It’s obviously what we want to happen. But when the moment comes to pack away tiny outfits into a storage box, we hold each one up and feel like blubbing.

2. Watching performances at nursery and school. Standing on a stage singing (or possibly not singing – it doesn’t really matter) in front of parents shouldn’t be a tear-jerker – but from the moment they walk into the room with their classmates, you seem to have something in your eye…

3. When they tell us they love us. We’re not entirely sure they understand the meaning of the word ‘love’ at their age, but that doesn’t stop us soaking up every second (and shedding a tear or two as we recount the story).

4. When they tell us they hate us. We know they don’t really mean it. We know they don’t understand the meaning of their words. But still – the first time your child tells you they don’t actually like you very much, it stings.

5. First smiles. Rewind to those first delicious moments when your little baby meets your eyes and breaks into a giant smile. It’s the best feeling ever! So why are you wiping away tears?

6. Getting ready to have another baby. We are giving our kiddies the ultimate gift in a new sibling, but as the bump grows and excitement builds, we can’t help dwelling on the fact that our time together as a tight little unit is coming to an end.

7. Their first day at the childminder, nursery or school. You always thought you’d jump for joy and relish the freedom – but when it comes to saying goodbye and walking out the door, you are a crumpled mess on the floor.

8. When siblings begin to bond. It happens slowly – but over time, you notice your children fall in love with the new little person in their life. And then one day, out of the corner of your eye, you catch a moment between the two (or three or more) of them. A tender kiss on the head, a giggle together, a moment playing together. And that is enough to make you sob with happiness.

9. When you are handed your first masterpiece. The moment your little one toddles out of nursery or runs out of school grasping a painting or picture just for you is a momentous one. And who ever thought painted macaroni could give you the feels?

10. Birthdays. Hooray! Another year old older! The day I gave birth! Let’s celebrate! Let’s party! Order the cake! Send the invites! (Where has my baby gone? Blub).



23rd March 2017

Love is…

17439535_10158452800930607_1094468225_nLove is rocking a baby to sleep, while marvelling at the plumpness of her lips and length of her eyelashes.

Love is dressing two small boys with wet hair in their pyjamas and pulling them onto your lap for a story, whilst breathing in the familiar scent of baby shampoo.

Love is creeping upstairs to watch them sleeping, then laughing with her husband as you retail tales of their antics earlier in the day.

Love is looking back through photos on your phone, feeling warm and fuzzy as you flick through shots of gummy smiles, podgy thighs, and silly dances in the garden.

Love is thinking ‘it’s all going too quickly!’. Love is worrying about them 24 hours a day. Love is wondering whether you are doing it right. Love is all of this.

But love is more than this too.

Love is keeping in touch with family and friends, making plans to meet up, commiserating when everyone goes down with the lurgy, and wiping tears when news of baby scans, engagement rings, and newborn cuddles pings on your phone.

Love is connecting with neighbours, making new friends, asking strangers ‘do you need some help with that?’, and sharing smiles of solidarity with other mothers when toddlers decide the supermarket aisles are the perfect place for a tantrum.

This is life. Everyday life. But this is also love.

And we saw that yesterday, didn’t we?

We saw so much love.

We saw strangers help others on the street. Barely any panic – but instead, a truly stoic British calmness as people stood over the injured, comforted the dying, made phone calls to emergency services, and calmed each on the street.

We saw the emergency services there in a matter of seconds, fighting to save lives. Fighting to save every life.

We saw an MP, still in his shirt and suit, desperately trying to save the life of a policeman.

We saw outpourings of grief, of defiance, of solidarity.

But mostly of love.

Love for London. Love for Great Britain. Love for our emergency services. Love for our way of life. Love for each other.

We held our children a little tighter last night. We watched them sleeping a little longer. We made vows to protect them. And we made vows to carry on.

To carry on loving.

And in all of this, do you see any hate?

It isn’t there.

It doesn’t count.

There simply isn’t a place for it.

So today, we keep on loving. Packing our children’s lunchboxes, filming them dance in the garden, smiling at other mothers in the supermarket, embracing the diversity of our world, and knowing that the world will come to our aid if we need it.

Today, we remember those that lost their life, we thank the emergency services, and and we allow ourselves to feel grief.

But we embrace love.

We embrace love and we carry on.

Like always.



22nd March 2017

Why we love Baby Sensory Classes…

17440175_10158447600015607_651619191_nRewind to January 2013, when my first baby was 9 months old. I was looking for something to do with him – to entertain him and to get myself out the house – and I stumbled on Baby Sensory, which had just arrived in the UAE. I’d done a few trial lessons when I was back in the UK when he was a smaller baby and we’d both loved it – it appealed to my own love of textures and colours and he had loved the bubbles, balls, toys and music. We carried on every week until he was 13 months old.

When I had my second baby, I never got round to attending classes. It crossed my mind several times, but I had nobody to look after his big brother – now a toddler – while I was attending. I felt quite sad about that and vowed to head back to classes if I went on to have a third baby.

So when Mabel arrived – now with her older brothers at nursery and school in the morning –Baby Sensory was back on my weekly calendar. We’ve now been attending for a whole term (in the 0-6 month age group) and her face lights up as soon as we step into the room. Just like her older brother did, she loves the familiar songs, the fun props, the lights and the bubbles.

17474752_10158447599310607_1074513539_n

17439774_10158447598220607_954733742_n

I’ve reviewed lots of baby classes in Dubai, but this is the one that I love the most. I just love the way that every lesson is different and so carefully planned out – baby mountains created from mounds of different fabrics with interesting textures for them to crawl over, space-themes with a darkened room and hundreds of twinkly lights for them to watch and hold, underwater themes complete with bubbles, fish and swathes of blue fabric to recreate the water… For me, it beats baby classes where every class follows the same formula – as if I’m bored, I’m less likely to take her every week. And Baby Sensory is anything but boring.

17474749_10158447599670607_981967923_n

Baby Sensory UAE hold classes all over the city for babies under 13 months old – and when they get older, they can join Toddler Sense Classes, which are very similar but include more physical activities.

More details and a weekly calendar is online here –  www.babysensory.ae – and the classes definitely come with the Mum of Boys & Mabel approval!



18th March 2017

Is a UK Boarding School The Right Option for Your Expat Child?

reasonswhyschoolfriendsarefriendsforlife2_1430990228When the UK agency ‘Boarding Schools and Colleges’ got in touch with me (an agency providing advice on UK boarding schools to families living overseas), I knew it would be of interest to a fair number of my readers. After all, educating our children is a hot topic in expat circles – and I know the Dubai/UK secondary school debate is always in my mind, even though it’s a way off for my family (Stanley is about to turn 5).

I’m a big believer in the value of a UK education – especially when it comes to getting into the top universities around the world – and whilst we personally have no intention of still being expats when our kids reach secondary age, I have very close family members who attended boarding school from a young age (aged 8, if my memory is correct) and I therefore I have a very open mind towards this kind of education 

How can the agency help you?

If your family is getting close to secondary age education and you have considered boarding school in the UK, this agency can advise and help you.

The agency know boarding schools in the UK very, very well – and they can make recommendations, offer guidance on the whole process, and advise based on their own visits and experiences.

Considering a UK boarding school for your children?

You won’t be the first, as 27,000 students travel to the UK to study at independent schools every year. It’s a safe, secure environment for your children, which ensures an excellent education for your children.

It isn’t just the quality of the education either, but the excellent pastoral care and extra curricular activities that your child will have access to. I personally love the idea of my kids being able to play outside throughout the entire year, rather than enduring the scorching summer heat throughout their teenage years – and the thought of them playing cricket, rugby, and football all through the year is definitely appealing.

That’s not to mention the extremely strong friendships that boarding school environments offer – friendships that usually last lifetimes.

UK boarding schools are steeped in history and tradition – and I grew up hearing about “old boy” and ‘old girl’ societies that become a real help with our children head out into the job place too.

It is a huge step – and as a mother, I understand that wholeheartedly – but seeing the results of a boarding school education for myself in my cousins (and they will love me saying this), I know it’s a safe, nurturing environment that excellently cares, educates, and prepares them for adult life.

If you are considering it for your own children, head over to www.boardingschoolsandcolleges.com  for more information.

 In collaboration with Boarding Schools and Colleges



17th March 2017

Dear Mabel, you are six months old today…

17327911_10158426069295607_1072781804_nDear Mabel,

You are six months old today.

Half a year.

This morning, our day started at 5am. Your biggest brother woke up – and minutes later, the entire house was awake too. As I lay there, with heavy eyelids and feeling groggy with sleep, I decided to flick through the photos on my phone. I went right back to the beginning of my pregnancy with you – and as I flicked through those photos with sleepy eyes, so many happy memories came flooding back.

A silhouette of a tiny bump in a hotel mirror. The scan pictures with you sticking out your tongue. The note scribbled by my obstetrician that read simply ‘Girl’. The final pregnancy photos, where I cradled my bump protectively in the knowledge it would be the last time I’d feel a baby under my ribs. The first photos of you, staring peacefully into the watery eyes of your Daddy. Meeting your brothers for the first time – you curled and sleepy, they with just-washed hair in their printed pyjamas.

And then the photos since those precious first days in hospital – photos taken almost daily, with eyes that get bluer, thighs that get chubbier, and a dimpled smile that gets sweeter by the day.

You grew so quickly, Mabel. But I’ve done this mothering thing twice before and I was prepared for that. I soaked up every second of the early days. I didn’t allow the pace of life to sweep me away. I sat still for hours, nursing you, holding you, letting you sleep in my arms. I drank in every second of your newborn days – and when you grew, I was ready for it. I was ready to get to know the person you were becoming.

I embraced every little milestone, I enjoyed pulling new clothes out of your drawers when poppers got too tight, and I looked forward to taking your photo as another month ticked over, documenting your change into a little girl.

And what a wonderful little person you have become!

You are still so quiet, so thoughtful, and so serene. You spend most of your time watching your brothers, playing quietly with your toys, or seeking me – your Mummy –  in a busy room. You adore being held, being tickled, being kissed, and listening to me singing songs. You are wary of strangers, burrowing your head into my chest for reassurance. You are happiest at home with your family, rolling around on the floor, practicing sitting in your ring, and jumping happily in your jumperoo.

Soon you will be weaned. Soon you will crawl. Soon you will walk. Soon your hair will be long enough to be scraped into pigtails. Soon you will wave me goodbye on your first day of school. I know it’s coming – I’ve been there before, which is exactly why I’m enjoying every second of these baby days.

I enjoy leaving you in a spot and knowing you’ll be there when I return. I enjoy the fact you still sleep beside me in your bedside cot, so I can hear your breathing as I drift off to sleep. I enjoy your gurgles, your giggles, your chubby rolls, your delicious slobbery cuddles.

I enjoy everything about you.

6 months, Mabel.

Half a year.

It’s not a long time really – but already, I can barely remember life without you. When I look at pictures of the four of us before you were born, the photos seem incomplete. When I think back to holidays, or day trips, or celebrations, I wonder where you were, before realising suddenly you were yet to exist.

We never knew it back then, but you were our missing puzzle piece, the last pea in the pod, the little girl that we’d all fall in love with from the second she was placed into our arms. Everything seems right now, with you alongside us. Neat and tidy. Exactly how it should be. Just so right.

And you know the best bit?

This is just the beginning.

Your beginning.

And I can’t wait for the rest.

Love from Mummy x



16th March 2017

Dubai Nursery Spotlight: Little Champions Nursery

17199180_10158383629575607_88996725_nI have lost count of the times I have been asked to recommend nurseries in Dubai – and the truth is that my knowledge is very minimal, based on the areas I have lived and the facilities my own children have attended. So I’ve decided to start visiting, photographing, and recommending a series of nurseries around the city so I am better equipped to make recommendations in the future – and that starts today with Little Champions Nursery, located in Jumeirah 1. This nursery will suit you if you live or work in Jumeirah or Umm Suqeim, DIFC, Downtown, Business Bay – or any of the surrounding areas.

In the post below, you will find sub-headings for location, important details, facilities, home cooked meals, and general overview – so feel free to scroll down to the sections that interest you. There is a link to the nursery’s website at the bottom of the page.

17198018_10158383719795607_253502561_n

The Location

Little Champions Nursery is located on a very quiet, leafy street in Jumeirah 1, just around the corner from City Walk. As I pulled up to the nursery, I was struck by the impressive view of skycrapers in DIFC and Business Bay – just a short hop across Sheikh Zayed Road, which makes the nursery ideal for dropping children off on the way to work in those areas.

You get the benefit of being mere minutes away from them while you at your desk – but over the road in Jumeirah, the children get the benefit of plenty of space, fresh air, brilliant facilities, and lots of time spent outdoors during the cooler months.

17203826_10158383629240607_1611164146_n

Important Details

The nursery takes children from 3 months old, right up to FS1.

You can choose hours between 7.30am and 6pm (and there is a special room for sleeping if your little one still naps during these hours).

All the staff are native English speakers, with a small teacher/child ratio and a nurse on the premises at all times.

The nursery can arrange transportation via school bus, if you are unable to drop your child.

You can choose a catered food package, where your child will receive up to three home cooked and nutritious meals every day (plus snacks). Read down for more details on this!

There is CCTV throughout the nursery and outdoor areas to protect your little ones.

I was very, very impressed by the fees at this nursery – they are the lowest I have seen for a while in the city, for a facility, staffing, and ethos that is extremely good. The nursery are also offering a 10%  flat discount on all the fees, simply by mentioning ‘Mum of Boys & Mabel’ when you enrol your child.

17197984_10158383719835607_962400687_n

 Facilities

Little Champions Nursery is located in a large villa on two levels, with plenty of outdoor space.

Outside, you’ll find a large shaded play area, with slides, climbing frames, play houses, bikes to peddle, and sand pits. Beyond this is a fenced off grassy area, which the nursery uses for sports day and practice. On the other side of the villa, you’ll find a shady area with play tents and picnic benches. The outside area combined is very large and really very nice – imagine lots of shade created by trees gently swaying in the breeze, lush lawns, and the sound of bird song. When I visited, the children were very happily playing outside.

The villa itself is on two levels. On the bottom floor, you’ll find the baby room (such a lovely, cosy space for the littlest nursery members to spend their days), the kitchen and dining room (where the warm meals are prepared), a spacious soft play area for littlies to let off steam, and a few further classrooms with children happily learning.

The classrooms for the elder children are upstairs and I struck by how large they are, giving the kids lots of space to play. These classrooms are located around a central area with a stage (where the nursery hosts regular performances for parents), and a cosy reading area. The office for admin staff is also on this level.

17199019_10158383629760607_1419155885_n 17160758_10158383629725607_1348373169_n

Home Cooked Meals

When I visited on a Thursday morning, the smell of cooking filled the air downstairs – and it really did smell delicious! I had a nose in the kitchen and found a member of staff making a delicious dish for the kids’ lunch.

I was later shown a menu plan and I really was very impressed. Kids that opt in (the price is 1,500 AED per term, in addition to fees) get up to three freshly prepared, home cooked meals a day (dependent on hours). There are also snacks in between these meals. You can expect hearty dishes, with lots of nutritional value – and having seen that menu, I am very confident children at this nursery will grow up with varied palettes, not at all fussy about food.

17238481_10158383719800607_555239414_n

General Overview

I really did love this nursery. Right from the moment I arrived and could hear the happy sounds of children playing outside, to seeing how spacious the facilities were, to feeling a very real warmth and friendliness exuding from all staff.

During my tour, a little girl ran up to the owner of the nursery to give her a hug and a kiss. “I didn’t know your daughter attended!” I exclaimed. “No” she said, “She’s not my daughter. I just love all the children here.” It really did feel like a big family, with every staff member knowing all the children’s names. I felt like I’d stumbled on something very special.

If you are heading back to work – or simply looking for a childcare solution during the week – I can personally vouch for how lovely this nursery is.

17203873_10158383719805607_1726975467_n

** Make sure you mention ‘Mum of Boys & Mabel’ when you enrol your child to receive a 10% flat discount on all fees **

Get in touch for further information – www.littlechampionsnursery.com or 04 344 6420

 In collaboration with Little Champions Nursery