30th November 2016

Making money from a blog? How very dare you!

15319448_10157871415520607_2044161852_nLast week, I was scrolling through Instagram and a photo popped up in my feed by a small clothing company in the UK. It was a photo of her family - and in the description, she urged her readers to shop with small, independent companies like her own this Christmas. She said that by doing so, we’d be helping to support her family, put her kids in nappies, and keep a small business afloat that she had worked so hard on for the past few years.

I clicked “like”, because I love the idea of supporting small, independent businesses – and I have done a lot of my Christmas shopping in Dubai that way.

But in a way, the post made me feel a bit sad too.

Why? Because when I wrote a similar post a few weeks beforehand on my blog Facebook page, disclosing that I would be posting a few affiliate links in the lead-up to Christmas (where I earn a small percentage if you click the link and make a sale), I received a spate of unfollows and a handful of quite hurtful private messages.

In one of those messages, the reader told me that I had lost my innocence since I started “advertising” companies. She told me she was unfollowing immediately and she thought I’d like to know exactly why. I care about this blog – and I have worked my socks off to grow it – and I’m not ashamed to say that a few tears pricked my eyes when I read her message.

She – and a spate of others who messaged me or unfollowed my social media pages that day – didn’t think it was right that I should make money from blogging.

It seems almost taboo.

Because unlike those crafters, and fashion designers, and book writers, and bakers, and aloe vera sellers – and pretty much every other person out there ‘selling’ a thing – a lot of people think it is wrong that you should be able to make any money having a blog on the internet. To work hard and help to support your family.

And I don’t really understand it, which is why I have decided to write this post.

Because the passion those small, independent company owners have for their business is exactly how I feel about my blog. I started it in 2014, just 4 months after Wilfred was born into this world. And as he grew – learning to sit, and crawl, and walk, and have incredible toddler tantrums – so did my blog. I’ve grown a gang of the loveliest readers and social media followers online. I have made friends through blogging. And I have gone on to win awards.

But the money thing? Still taboo for bloggers like me, it seems.

On a daily basis, we are entertained by newspapers (funded by sales and advertising), television (funded by TV licences and advertising), magazines (funded by sales and advertising), and films (funded by ticket sales and advertising). All of us are OK with this – as it’s always been this way. We know that journalists, film makers, and TV producers aren’t going to rock up to work for free.

But now there are blogs in this world – and I, for one, think the world is better for them. The people that write them can be totally honest, tailoring what they post to their readers in a way that has never been done before. I read lots of blogs myself – from the amazing escapism offered by The Londoner, to the brilliance of The Honest Mum, to hilarity of The Unmumsy Mum. And I would be genuinely gutted if they stopped doing what they were doing – but in a world where we need actual money to buy actual things, I don’t see why they should be entertaining me for free.

So this post is a virtual high-five to bloggers – who just like those small businesses, work incredibly hard to support their families.

And it’s also a note to my readers to assure you that making the odd bit of money from my blog will not change the way I write, what I choose to post, nor the way I wear my heart on my sleeve and share (probably way too much) with you.

If a post is affiliate, you will notice the hashtag #aff after it. If a blog post is sponsored, you will notice the disclosure ’written in collaboration with…” at the end of the blog post. And if a social media post is sponsored, it will have the tag #collab. This will reassure you that 99% of what I do isn’t sponsored – and as time ticks on, I will only ever work with brands that I would want to shop, visit or try myself – as I’m a Mum, just like you. I know what my kids are going to like and what is going to make my own life easier or more enjoyable. For every opportunity that I am offered, I will turn down two more.

And making that odd bit of money will just give me more time to focus on my blog and (hopefully) make it even better.

And failing that? I could just give it all up and sell aloe vera, I guess…



It is quite possible that I am losing my mind

15310327_10157870607945607_1522030981_nIt is very true that our hearts grow bigger with every child we have.

But the same definitely can’t be said for brains.

In fact, mine seems to be shrinking since the birth of my third child a few months ago – and it’s a sorry state of affairs.

I considered myself a pretty organised person until baby Mabel came along. Having a second baby tested me for a while, for sure, but I still kept the cogs of the family moving pretty smoothly. I felt a bit foggy and stressed at times, but I definitely wasn’t forgetful.

But since she arrived on the scene, I am a forgetful, absent minded wreck of a woman!

Take this week, for example… My eldest – Stanley, aged 4 – is famous for his lack of communication when I pick him up from school.

“How was school today, Stanley?” I ask.

“Woof!” he replies.

“Did you enjoy your lunch today, Stanley?” I ask.

“Miaow!” he replies.

But on Monday, I didn’t get the usual onslaught of animal noises. After enquiring about his day at school, he turned to me with a cross look on his face.

‘You forgot to put my reading books in my bag, Mummy!” he scowled. “And when my group had their turn to read, I couldn’t join in.”

To say that my heart sank is an understatement. I had forgotten. For the first time ever, it hadn’t even crossed my mind to put those books in his bag that morning. I didn’t even have an excuse – it was the same day they always went in his bag. It’s scrolled in massive letters on a weekly calendar pinned by magnets to the fridge. They were even sat on the dining room table, right under my nose.

But still, I’d forgotten.

“I’ll put them in your bag tomorrow!” I stammered, clutching at straws.

“It’s too late. My group has already done the reading. You keep forgetting things, Mummy.”

Tears pricked my eyes – not because I blamed myself, as I know having a 10-week old baby is a pretty good excuse. But at the thought of him sat on his own while the others read. He loves reading! And he couldn’t join in! I wanted to break down in a sobbing heap right there on the sand of the carpark – but I couldn’t, of course, as I had a toddler to pick up from nursery down the road.

It isn’t an isolated case either. I sometimes forget to change Mabel’s nappy and she screams angrily under I work it out. I forget to put a banana in Stanley’s bag for his fruit snack, when I have done it every day for the last year. I even forgot that he had a National Day parade for parents on Sunday – and when my husband enquired “why were there parents on the school field this morning when I dropped him off?” my heart sank once again.

It seems that having a third child hasn’t just fried my brain, but caused it to explode.

An extreme case of baby brain.

And every time my heart sinks, I make a vow to try harder to remember things. I don’t want to let the kids down. I don’t want them to be the kids with the Mummy that always forgets things. The ones at PE classes without their kit. The ones without their sun hats so they aren’t allowed to play outside. The ones hungry at break time as their absent-minded, baby-brained mother forgot to pick up a banana from the fruit bowl and put it in their bag.

And I’m sure that baby brain will eventually subside. I’ll get more sleep and I’ll work out how to juggle three kids with a busy work life a little more effectively.

But until then, can I borrow a brain please?

I could really do with an extra one – for a while, at least.



29th November 2016

Fun at the Festive Fair – at Toddler Town British Nursery…

15281973_10157866078585607_554998808_nI don’t know about you, but we are starting to feel a bit festive. I bought some candles from Bath & Bodyworks (highly recommend ‘Winter’ if you are looking for the perfect scent), we’ve got the decorations out of storage (not up yet, but it’s a start), the diary is starting to fill up with festive things to do over the next few weeks. And it’s all because we went to the beautiful Festive Fair at Toddler Town British Nursery on Saturday, which definitely made me feel in a Christmassy mood.

I was looking forward to visiting the fair, as I know that Toddler Town does things very well – but I was still surprised by just how lovely it was. Imagine Christmas songs playing, children playing in a winter-wonderland snow park, a petting zoo, carnival games, a queue of excited children waiting to visit Santa, and some lovely market stalls (I managed to sneak a few stocking fillers into my bag when the boys weren’t looking!) My boys had a brilliant time (Mabel slept through it, of course), so I wanted to share a few more photos of the event to get you in the mood for festivities too.

But before I do that, I’ll just mention that the nursery is well worth a tour if you haven’t been before. Stanley went to the JBR location of this popular nursery (which is excellent, by the way) – but with more space to play with, the facilities at the Jumeirah branch are really quite amazing. There’s so much space, both inside and out – and what the kids have to play with there (from outdoor play facilities, to sand pits, to sensory rooms, to soft play zones) is impressive. Scroll to the bottom of this post and you will find their website link to click on and contact details.

So without further ado, here are some more photos of the lovely Festive Fair we enjoyed at Toddler Town British Nursery on Saturday… Happy (nearly) December everyone…

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Visit www.toddlertown.ae for more information – or call 04 452 8080 to arrange a tour. The two nurseries are located at Amwaj 5, Plaza Level, JBR, Dubai Marina – and at Villa No. 20, 21st Street, Al Safa (Al Manara), Jumeirah. 

In collaboration with Toddler Town British Nursery

 



21st November 2016

Currently Loving… November

Wow, it’s a long time since I’ve done one of these posts! I know you all like them, as I usually get feedback along those lines, but they take me such a long time to pull together and baby Mabel and her crazy brothers have been taking priority for the last few months (naturally!) But here we go, I’ve finally done it! So without further ado, here are the things I have been doing, planning, buying and coveting in November…

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1. Jo Jo Maman Bebe Christmas Jumper. Out of all the Christmas jumpers I’ve seen this year, this is my favourite – so it’s the one Stanley will be wearing this year (Wilfred has hand-me-downs from previous years – poor second child!) I just love the simplicity of it – and it’ll look so cute with his jeans and boots when we head home to the UK for Christmas! It costs £22 (worldwide shipping) and you can shop here.

2. Boden Christmas Cardigan. How beautiful is this Robin cardigan by Boden? I think Mabel already has enough clothes for Christmas at home, but I am very, very tempted to add this beauty to her stash. Price starts at £30.50 (worldwide shipping) and you can shop here.

3. Oliver Bonas Initial Hooks. We are moving to a villa soon – and when my sister asked what I’d like for my birthday this year, I pointed her in the direction of these rose gold initial hooks. She  kindly obliged, so now I have a set for the whole family and I can’t wait to hang them on the wall when we move in. They cost £7.50 each (worldwide shipping) and you can shop here.

4. Erin Condren Life Planner. It seems crazy that 2017 is only a month or so away, but it’s true – and that means I need a new diary. And in my humble opinion, there are no better diaries than Erin Condren’s beautiful life planners! They aren’t cheap, but they are so worth it – and with three kids now, I need some planning in my life (i’d forget my head if it wasn’t screwed on, seriously)! I’m coveting this rose gold design (can you tell I’m a bit obsessed with the rose gold at the moment?!). It’s a US company (worldwide shipping, although I’ll be using my Shop + Ship account), with prices starting at $60. Shop here.

5. ExpatWoman and Toddler Town British Nursery Christmas Fair. I am SO EXCITED about Christmas – and I’m kicking off my festive season with a visit to this Festive Fair, held at the Toddler Town Jumeirah Branch this coming Saturday (26th November, 10am-4pm). It looks brilliant! The fair will feature a Santa’s Grotto, Bouncy Castle, Pony Rides, Face Painting, Snow Globe, Petting Zoo, Candy Floss, Carnival Games – and lots of gifts to browse and buy! I’ll be taking the boys down to have some fun, so why don’t you come along too? Stanley went to the JBR branch of this nursery and we loved it – so it’ll give me a chance to have a nose at their Jumeirah branch too! For more details, visit the Facebook Event Page here.

6. Elodie Details. New Swedish brand Elodie Details has arrived in Dubai at Mumzworld – and I have fallen a bit in love. The brand takes things that are usually quite boring (dummies, dummy clips, bibs, muslins, and storage baskets, for example) and makes them very, very pretty – and with prices starting at just 65 AED, it’s great for gifts too (worldwide shipping). Shop here.

7. “I Am So Freaking Cold’ Sweatshirt. Sold by an Etsy seller in the States who ships worldwide,  I am really coveting this sweatshirt for my trip back to the UK. I really struggle with the cold having lived in the desert for 6 years now, so it appeals to my sense of humour, whilst also stating the facts. If you feel the cold like me, you should definitely treat yourself – and at just £20.77, it’s affordable too. Shop here.

8. Tots session at Dubai Ice Rink. Wilfred and I had an amazing morning last week at the Tots Morning at Dubai Ice Rink (every Monday, 10am to 11.45am). The sessions are put on for little ones 1-4 years old, where they are protected from the other skaters in their own fenced-off area and assisted by a professional coach throughout. Wilfred was apprehensive when he realised how slippery ice really is, but he soon built up confidence and had a smile on his face for the rest of the day! I really recommend trying it for some festive fun! It costs 90 AED per child/carer duo, which I think it very reasonable too. Visit the website here.

9. Kidore.com. A very cool new website for parents and kids has just launched in Dubai called Kidore.com, with everything from toys, to clothing, to essentials. I have fallen in love with the toy section, which has plenty for birthday and Christmas gift ideas. I especially love this garden tool set (because we will finally have a garden soon!) at 60 AED – and for my slime and goop obsessed boys, this Slime Baff, which will turn their bath water into slime (yuck!) at 35 AED. Perfect stocking fillers! Shop here.

10. The FMLY Store. I’ve long been a fan of my MOTHER T-Shirt by Selfish Mother (now known as The FMLY Store) – and their Christmas range is totally fabulous! Top of my list for the kids is this ‘Off Duty Elf’ sweatshirt for the boys. They cost £20 each, but £10 of each sale goes to Save The Children. And they are super stylish too.  Shop here.

11. GAP Reindeer Hat. This hat is so simple, but so very cute for cold festive days. I really want one for each of the boys to wear on our UK visit – and it only costs £9.95 each. Shop here.



20th November 2016

When Super Granny made a return visit…

screen-shot-2016-11-19-at-22-48-15If you haven’t read my blog post about the time that Andalene Salvesen (aka Super Granny) spent an afternoon with my family last year, you can read the post here. To summarise, she transformed life in my house for the better. Behaviour improved, dummies were thrown away, bottles of milk were no longer relied on, and both children started sleeping through the night the very same night.  Inviting her into our home was, quite simply, one of the best parenting decisions we ever made.

So who is Super Granny? Andalene Salvesen owned a playschool in Cape Town for 8 years and ran a Baby/Toddler workshop for a further 12 years. This exposure to children, along with a passion to help parents (and a ton of self-study) earned her the title ‘Super Granny’. She has now been presenting parenting seminars for the last 16 years, developing a home visit programme to change family dynamics and empower parents.

And it really does work – but fast forward 12 months and things had taken a turn for the worse behaviour wise. Baby Mabel arrived on the scene and Wilfred’s behaviour became challenging almost overnight. Tantrums were frequent, he woke in the night  (for the first time since Super Granny had visited last year) and he relied on his dummy and monkey so much for comfort that he flatly refused to go to nursery if he wasn’t allowed to take them (cue stand offs outside the gates, as that just wasn’t happening). He’s a lovely, sweet natured little boy, who adores his little sister and has never shown her any malice -, but he just felt so unsettled at home. Not only was the behaviour fairly impossible to deal with, but it was pretty heart breaking, as we just didn’t know how to help him.

Added to this was Stanley’s ability to wind his brother up. Cottoning on to how easy it was to make Wilfred flip out (and realising this earnt him ‘the well behaved child’ crown by default), Stanley very rarely helped the situation. It was World War Three at home – and we needed Super Granny back in our life pronto.

Thankfully for us, she is back in Dubai until 15th December – so we made a booking for her to visit us again yesterday.

But as lovely as Andalene is (and she is lovely – don’t expect a stern Nanny McPhee-esque character to walk into your house), I can’t say I was looking forward to her visit yesterday. In fact, I woke up with a bit of a sinking feeling. The truth is that I felt a bit embarrassed that we hadn’t followed her advice to the letter since she had come. She later told me that it always slips after a while, which is why she recommends a refresher every 4-6 months – but as we sat there waiting for her yesterday morning, I was dreading her reaction to seeing how bad the behaviour had got.

But I didn’t need to worry. After a cup of coffee and a chat, she started the same process we followed the first time (post again here) – and to cut a long story short, she worked exactly the same magic.

Or I should say ‘we’ – we worked the magic, as Andalene’s job is to simply show us the tactics to do it. And it’s so easy, resulting in a calmness in the house I hadn’t seen for months. No raised voices, no tantrums, and no arguments. Just two very, very happy children, who have stayed like that since she visited 24 hours ago. Oh and Wilfred’s dummy is gone, without a single tear or tantrum. How amazing is that?!

The best way I can describe it? It’s like someone has come into our house, waved a magic wand, and solved all the problems. I feel like I can breathe again – and there is a permanent smile on Wilfred’s face, which is worth its weight in gold. I highly, highly recommend booking her for a visit if you are finding things tough – you really won’t regret it.

Super Granny is in Dubai until December 15th and she has availability for bookings. She will be back in Dubai again in February. The cost of a home visit on weekdays (9am and 1pm sessions available) is 1,200aed. On weeknights (5pm), weekends and holidays (both 9am, 1pm and 5pm), the cost is 1,500aed. If you live overseas, she also offers home visits via Skype. Book now at www.munchkins.me



17th November 2016

Dear Mabel, you are two months old today…

15058694_10157806426785607_108903357_nYou are two months old today, little one – and it’s all going far too quickly.

A minute ago I had a sleepy newborn – but I blinked and you have turned into a chubby two month old, smiling away and holding your head up on your own. Slow down time, please. I’m not ready for the newborn bit to be over yet. I want to put the brakes on for a while and take time to drink you in.

I want to cuddle after feeds and feel your head loll peacefully onto my shoulder, stare at your  face while you sleep, and watch you lie on your Daddy’s chest every evening as you’re still too young to tuck into bed and leave on your own.

I want it to last longer; the last time with a newborn in the house. I don’t want it to end.

But it will, because you are changing – and whilst that makes me sad in one sense, it is so wonderful to see who you are becoming. You are such a sweet, placid little thing who very rarely cries. You’ve woken up from that sleepy newborn bit now – and you like to sit back and watch the chaos of our family-of-five unfold around you (and with a two year old brother, it has been pretty chaotic at times). You just sit there quietly watching – and whenever you see a face, you break out into a beautiful smile (especially if it’s Mummy, because I am definitely your favourite – let’s keep it that way little one, OK?)

You like car journeys (as long as we don’t stop at traffic lights) and your rocking chair always sends you to sleep at home. We set up your cot mobile last week and you think that’s brilliant! You smile and gurgle and giggle when we switch it on every morning – and your brothers stand over you, jealous that you have your very own toy. You are an amazing sleeper and already sleep right through the night, waking for a feed just before we need to get up. We know how lucky we are, you clever, clever little thing.

You were born at 9Ib8oz on the 97th percentile – but now you are down at the 37th. I was small as a child, so I think that’s probably where you are supposed to be. You are still fed on the boob, but you take the bottle happily. It’s usually breastmilk (which you definitely prefer), but you do get the odd bottle of formula now too (and it always makes you poo!)

You only fit a few of your Newborn size clothes now, but fit perfectly in 0-3 months. I’ve felt sad as I’ve taken the smaller things out of the drawer and stored them away (for what, I don’t know) – but discovering what I have bought you for the next size and getting you dressed in something new always makes up for it.

You look just like your oldest brother as a baby – and at times, it takes my breathe away when I glance at you quickly and see him instead. You have bright blue eyes that seem to get bigger by the day, a dimple when you smile, and dark hair (with just a touch of auburn) that sticks up whenever you have a bath.

You fit right in, our lovely little Mabel Beatrix. I haven’t found it nearly as hard to go from 2 to 3 children, as I did from 1 to 2. Experience makes it all easier, I guess – but I know your calm, patient nature makes a big difference too.

It just seems so right; you being here with us. A calming influence on your two nutty brothers. The last piece of the puzzle, fitting so perfectly in the gap we never knew we had.

 You are two months old today, Mabel Beatrix – and how lucky we are to have you in our life.

Love Mummy x



8th November 2016

My birthday breakfast at Arrows & Sparrows, Dubai

It’s been over a week since my birthday now – but with a quick trip back to the UK squeezed in between, I’m only just getting round to sharing a few more pictures of the breakfast I shared with friends to celebrate that morning.

The idea for breakfast came about when I realised I couldn’t do a boozy dinner or brunch this year, due to having a 6 week old baby in tow – and when I heard that Arrows & Sparrows had opened its doors in The Greens, I knew it was the perfect venue to gather together my best girl friends.

The cafe is the latest opening from the team behind Friends Avenue – and as you’d expect, the interior is incredibly stylish, the menu tempting, and the food really quite exquisite (in fact, the plates often look like works of art as they arrive at the table). Arrows & Sparrows is located in Emaar Business Park in The Greens – and with free parking outside for up to two hours, it’s pretty convenient too (I also found out on my birthday that if you visit on a Sunday morning, you can get a coffee completely free too between 8am and 10am – no catch, just completely free!)

I’m a big believer in cake (especially when I’m breastfeeding), so I also wanted to give a quick shout out to the clever lady behind my birthday cake – Sobia from Cake N Cupcake worked to a picture I’d found online (and the boys had decided was ‘the one’) and delivered the night beforehand. The pictures don’t even do it justice as it was so delicious inside – just like a moist, fluffy chocolate gateaux. Thank you Sobia – it was perfect.

So without further ado, here are some pictures of the lovely morning at Arrows & Sparrows – and I highly recommend popping in to try the place out for yourself. I will definitely be back soon.unspecified

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7th November 2016

Becoming a mother of three…

screen-shot-2016-11-07-at-21-22-22It is seven weeks now since Mabel joined us.

Seven weeks of juggling three children.

Seven weeks of getting to grips with breastfeeding, trying to get the kids out the door on time every morning, dealing with toddler tantrums and sleepless nights, and getting used to spending our evenings with a little person snoozing away in our arms again.

Before I sat down to write this post, I was thinking about whether I’d found it easy, hard, or somewhere in the middle to become a mother of three – and the truth is that I keep changing my mind.

There are some nights when I feel like I’ve nailed this mother-of-three lark. All three babies bathed and in their pyjamas when their Daddy gets home from work. Me sat on the sofa breastfeeding, whilst the elder two read books and watch Stick Man on the TV before bed. It’s calm, it’s quiet, and it’s really very lovely. And I feel like Super Woman.

But it’s fleeting.

Because then there are the nights when I have two kids in the bath and a newborn screaming for milk. I pick her up to feed her, but seconds later the toddler yells: “MUMMY! I WANT TO GET OUT!” and I have to detach a hungry baby from me, scoop him out of the water before he hurls himself out, and then ignore her angry cries while I dress her brother, whilst shouting out to the eldest to check he is OK. There is water all over the floor, a shivering toddler on the bed, a screaming newborn in her cot, and a Mummy that has literally no idea which child deserves my attention first.

On nights like those, my husband comes home to a house that looks and sounds very different.

And I definitely don’t feel like Super Woman.

Of course, I never expected things to be any different. I didn’t expect it to be a breeze. I’ve done the 1-to-2 kids thing – and I found it very hard at times. It took me months to get myself sorted into any kind of routine – and I remember nights where I had to choose a child and let the other cry.

But it passed – and I know it will this time too.

I know there will come a time when it feels entirely normal to have three little people in my care. I’ll know exactly how to manage bath and bedtime. I’ll time the breastfeeds for exactly the right time. I’ll run that bath with confidence, knowing I won’t be tied to the bed feeding their sister if they need me.

It will pass – and life will get easier again.

But do you know what ‘last time’ taught me?

It taught me that despite the tears, the yells, and the inconvenient breastfeeds, I don’t want it to pass too quickly. Because experience tells me that time will soften my memories and I will look back and realise just how precious this time was.

Hard, yes.

But very, very precious.

Because when it passes, I will miss the newborn cuddles every evening. The new baby smell. The way she jumps when her brothers yell at each other. The tiny sleepsuits. The fluffy newborn hair.  The wrinkles in her skin. The gurning smiles. The flaying arms and legs when I get her changed. The miniature nappies. The squidgy cheeks. The way she sticks out her tongue when she wants milk. The chance to sit in a coffee shop with my little girl, without worrying about her trying to escape a high chair, demanding to eat something sugary, or shrieking the place down during the terrible twos.

I will miss all this – and so much more.

I will miss this time in my life.

So no – becoming a mother of three has not been easy at times.

But yes – it has been worth it.

It has been worth every tear, every juggle, and every moment of feeling like less than a perfect mother.

It has all been worth it – for her.



1st November 2016

7 reasons we loved the 7-seater Chevrolet Captiva…

14494857_1099293233440437_5179997213266301871_nFor the past month, we have been test driving the 7-seater Chevrolet Captiva to see how it works for families with three children (or more). We love this car – so today is a very sad day, as we are handing it back. And that’s not only because life been really easy as a two-car family, but also because we just love the car. It suits us, our lifestyle in Dubai, and our family size so perfectly – and here is why…

1. It fits all our children – and a buggy!

This is the most important thing, of course! There are different ways you can work it, but we chose to put Stanley in the very back (with the seat next to him collapsed down, so that we could fit the buggy alongside him), then Wilfred and Mabel in the middle row. We usually do up Stanley’s car seat by sitting on the boot ledge – but you could access from middle row and lean over if you prefer. When he reaches the age when he can do up his seatbelt, it will be even easier. All the children have plenty of room, lots of leg space, and there is room for buggy, luggage, handbags, and shopping. Impressive stuff!

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2. But it’s not too big

It fits all of us – but it’s still quite a small SUV (when measured against the Tahoe, for example). This suits me, as I want to feel high and safe in my car, but I like it being easy to park and swing in/out of spots.

3. It drives really nicely

I know NOTHING about cars – I mean, seriously (my first question is usually ‘what colour is it?’) – but I have to admit that this car is really lovely to drive. It’s smooth, powerful, and accelerates quickly. The power is down to a 2.4L engine – and that’s always a good thing when you are driving on Sheikh Zayed Road at least  twice a day!

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4. It’s safe

It feels very safe – but more importantly, it is very safe. In fact, it has a 5-star standard in safety tests, with features including Hill Descent Control, Side Blind Zone Alert and Electronic Stability Control (ESC) system. Furthermore, there are 6 airbags fitted to protect driver, front and rear passengers in the event of a collision.

5. It’s easy to park

I loved the fact there is a rear parking camera, with guides to help you swing the middle of a spot. I was driving our car this morning (which doesn’t have them) and I really missed the camera – it’s amazing how quickly you get used to it! The parking sensors are also really useful and make life easier.

6. You can leave the AC on when you lock it

This is a big bonus for me during the school pick-ups – as it means I can leave the engine on, lock the car, head into school, and come back to a cool car. It’s a small thing (and my husband tells me a fair few cars are fitted with this feature) but it’s made a big difference during the warm days of late September and October (especially when you have a newborn baby to put in and out the car).

7. It looks great

OK I know this isn’t hugely important in the grand scheme of things, so I’ve left it until last – but let’s be honest, we all want nice looking cars. And the Captiva is seriously good looking. I often walked back to it in the school carpark and admired it for a while before climbing in.

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So thank you Chevrolet for letting us be your guinnea pigs for the last month. I’m just off to convince the husband that we do really need another car – and if he agrees, it’s definitely going to be the Chevrolet Captiva…

For more information, visit http://ae-en.chevroletarabia.com



26th October 2016

Naming baby Mabel…

screen-shot-2016-10-26-at-20-49-14Naming the boys was pretty easy. We decided pretty early in the pregnancies – and that was that. Nothing tempted us away from Stanley or Wilfred, which made the whole naming process pretty easy.

Naming our little girl, however, was harder. So many names had been whizzing around my head for a daughter since I was a little girl – but suddenly I didn’t want any of them. Stanley would’ve been ‘Edie’, but after he went through a (very irritating) stage of watching the UK kids show Balamory when he was a toddler, I couldn’t think about the name without thinking of Edie McCreedy dancing around my TV screen. Wilfred would’ve been ‘Ivy’ – and whilst I still loved it, I didn’t feel like it flowed that well when you said the three names of the children together.

So we were back to the drawing board. I wanted something pretty, but not too flowery. I wanted something that worked equally well if she turned out to be an actress or a prime minister. But most importantly, it had to go with her brother’s names.

Choosing my children’s names has never been about the trend for ‘all things vintage’. I am aware that old-fashioned names like Stanley, Alfie, Archie, Freddie etc are ‘on trend’ at the moment and climbing up the baby name charts, but it’s never been about that for me. It’s been about choosing names that are very British, unique enough to be the only one in the class at school, and easy to spell and pronounce (given that we live in a part of the world that is so culturally diverse). I LOVE the boy’s names and I think we nailed those requirements – I’ve never regretted either of the name choices for a second, so I know we got it right.

And I wanted the same for our daughter.

I had a few more unique names on my list, including Ottilie and Delilah, but my husband wasn’t so keen. I went through a few weeks of really loving ‘Dot’ (Stan, Wilf and Dot are so cute together), but we would’ve wanted her official name to be Dorothy or Dorothea – and neither of us were convinced on those. I loved Ada, Elsie, Thea, Bess, and Florence (Florrie), but we either had close friends who’d used those names for their children or decided they weren’t quite right for a variety of reasons.

So it came down to two names – Mabel and Beatrix. We just needed to work out which way to put them. Would she be Mabel Beatrix – or Beatrix Mabel? I loved both and kept changing my mind. Mabel was my favourite, but I liked the way that Beatrix could be shortened to Bea. I also liked the tie-in with the Beatrix Potter anniversary this year. But still, I kept coming back to Mabel – just so pretty, still fairly unique, but not too flowery either.

It was pretty and sweet for a little girl, but she could be prime minister with that name. We were 99% sure.

Then something sealed it. Our friends back home – some of our very closest – had a little girl and called her Beatrice. So that was that. Our little girl would definitely be Mabel Beatrix – and as fate would have it, we’d still have a little Bea in our life (my husband is now her godfather, as her mother is one of Mabel’s godmothers).

So it was Mabel.

Mabel Beatrix.

I told a few close friends in Dubai to test it out, but otherwise it was a top secret (I love announcing a name and didn’t want to spoil that moment). Those friends that knew told me they loved it. Just before her birth, we told our midwife and she loved it so much she nearly jumped around the room. So we felt even more confident that we’d made the right choice.

Her due date arrived and she was finally born – and as we said her name for the first time earthside, testing out the way it sounded as we gazed into her eyes, it just seemed right.

Since her birth, a few people have asked me if we’ll shorten it. I don’t think we will officially, but part of the reason I love the name is that if combines two of my all-time favourite girl’s names of May and Belle. I’ve already started calling her ‘My Belle’ occasionally, so maybe that will happen. My husband often says Mayby Baby, so maybe she’ll get that moniker too while she’s little. But I think that most the time at least, she’ll just be Mabel – and with just two syllables, I don’t think it’s much of a hassle to say her full name.

Mabel

Mabel Beatrix

We just love it – and I know we always will.