Monthly Archives: January 2016

31st January 2016

Dear Wilfred, It was your second birthday on Friday…

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Dear Wilfred,

It was your second birthday on Friday. We watched your face light up as you walked into the lounge and spotted a giant balloon and pile of presents. We watched you smile as you ripped open the paper and heard you squeal when you saw what was inside. At times, I wondered if you really knew what was going on – but when your friends sang happy birthday to you at your party, your shy smile revealed you knew that you were the star of the show.

Two years have passed since you were placed on my chest in that hospital bed. Two years since we met eyes for the first time. Two years since you came into our lives like the little whirlwind that you are. Our adorable, determined, sensitive little boy.

I think you’re going to like being two. It’s one step closer to your brother, who you idolise. You’ll learn new words, get better at climbing in play areas, maybe even get invited to playdates and parties of your own. It’s going to be a good year; the year you turn from a toddler into a little boy.

But what about me? How do I feel?

The truth is that two years feels like nothing - but at the same time, it feels like forever.

I can barely remember what our family felt like before you arrived. You were always supposed to be here; such an important part of who we all are. I’m not pretending it’s always been easy; your stubborn streak has caused me to pull my hair out at times, whilst your physical strength has made my back ache and arms tremble during tantrums. But those arms are more than willing to hug you close until you calm down. Until you get over whatever caused your grief (generally not being allowed a second snack or absolutely, definitely needing exactly what your brother is playing with at that exact moment). Until it passes and my sweet, funny, cuddly little boy returns.

In one sense, I love this age. I love the fact I can chat to you now (an important tool in the “negotiation” process of dealing with a toddler), that we don’t always need a buggy to head outside, and that you can play independently without risk of slipping and bumping your head every few seconds. I find it easier – but most of all, I have loved seeing your character appear.

In fact, we often chat about how we’d like to freeze this moment in time forever; with your funny garbled sentences, mixed up lyrics to nursery rhymes, and hilarious dancing whenever you hear music.

But the flipside is that I miss your baby-ness. I miss your chubby thighs that have slimmed down since you started scooting, climbing, and running. I miss watching your eyes droop and close as you fall asleep with a bottle. I miss hearing your sweet little baby laugh when your brother walks into the room.

And this is the problem with parenthood, isn’t it?

Constantly pining after the past, whilst full of excitement about the future.

And I am excited. I can’t wait to watch you open your stocking next Christmas, to celebrate your third birthday, to start school, to learn to play rugby, to rush down water slides with your friends, and stay up late at the weekend to watch movies and eat pizza as a treat. I can’t wait to see what kind of boy you will become; your interests, your talents, and your passions. I am so excited for all that.

But until then, I am going to enjoy this moment, exactly as you are now. Your shy smile in front of your birthday cake, your sweet little pot belly in pyjamas, and your garbled sentences that make us smile.

The truth is that two years feels like nothing – but at the same time, it feels like forever.

And Wilfred, we are so lucky to have felt forever. So very lucky indeed.

Happy birthday, little man.

Mummy x



30th January 2016

Wilfred’s 2nd Birthday Rainbow Party

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Wilfred turned two yesterday – and after a day celebrating at Emirates Park Zoo (worth a visit if you haven’t been) and opening presents at home, we gathered this morning for a small, but very lovely party to celebrate.

I have some big thanks to say first. Firstly to my friend Elena, who really is the kindest person in the history of the world and not only offered her garden for the morning (a treat for us garden-less folk in Dubai Marina) but sent out an appeal for tables and chairs in her community and drove around gathering them all weekend with her equally lovely husband Chris. She’s a keeper – and we are very appreciative to both of them for allowing 14 sugar-fuelled children to run around their garden all morning.

Secondly to my friend Carol, who loaned us her bouncy castle for the morning. The kids had a ball and there are only a couple of black eyes (both belonging to my boys, of course…)

Also to my friend Simone, who is very talented behind the lens and took photos of the morning so I could share them with you in this post. We all know that professional photography doesn’t come cheap these days, so I feel very lucky to have a friend that happily brings along her camera and snaps away.

We had such a lovely morning, surrounded by our best friends in Dubai – with our youngest guest only 2 weeks old (and not even due for another week, making her a very special guest indeed!) Wilfred says a big thank you for all his lovely presents and to everyone who made an effort to come along on what was probably the coldest morning in the history of Dubai (I exaggerate, but at least the rain held off).

In typical second-child-style, Wilfred hangs out with his brother’s friends and their siblings most of the time – so it’s lovely that he got a morning to be centre of attention (even though I’m still not entirely sure he understood it was his party!) I really wanted his party to be simple – like the birthdays I had as a child. Nothing fancy – just cake, laughter, party food, and friends. I think we achieved that this morning, so without further ado, here are a few details about what I ordered and purchased for the day – and below that, the photos of the morning.

Cake: Hummingbird Bakery. Order online here, with delivery to your door.

Decorations: Party Camel (food boxes, cake decoration, party bags, table cloth). Order here.

Party Hats, Balloons and Food: Waitrose

Message Light Box: A Little Lovely Company

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27th January 2016

“Can I breastfeed in Dubai?” and other questions I am frequently asked…

Screen Shot 2016-01-27 at 11.42.43As my blog readership has grown, the messages I receive from readers have increased. I receive at least two messages every day with a question about Dubai – and whilst at the beginning I had time to answer each individually, I just don’t have time anymore. This makes me feel sad – but most of all, it makes me feel a bit rude, as I wasn’t brought up to ignore people when they chat to me. So I’m truly sorry if I haven’t replied to you personally – but I have a solution!

I’ve decided to answer some of the most frequently answered questions through a blog post. That way, your questions are answered – and I can quickly post a link to this post whenever a new message comes in. Genius (I hope).

1 – “Can I breastfeed in Dubai? I’m coming to Dubai on holiday and I’m worried about the decency laws.” 

My usual answer to this question is ‘Of course!’ In fact, the UAE is so pro breastfeeding that the powers that be would like to make it obligatory (terrifying thought for Mums like me that struggled with it the first time, but I digress). I have breastfed in cafes, in parks, in play areas, and in malls – and never once has anyone batted an eyelid. In the early days of being a Mum, my friends and I would gather in cafes with our newborns and at least 5 Mums would be breastfeeding at the same time. So yes, you can definitely breastfeed in Dubai.

However, there is one important thing to note here – you do need to cover your boobs, whether that’s by hooking up your top discreetly or using a giant muslin or breastfeeding cover. To be absolute sure on the laws before reporting to you, I asked Dru Campbell, senior midwife and lactation consultant at Health Bay Polyclinic (and definitely the person to go and see if you need any support or advice in Dubai, Mummies!). She says: “The official word is that breastfeeding is very much promoted in the UAE by health professionals and Government departments.  Women are encouraged to breastfeed in public, as long as they are covered and there is no breast tissue showing.”

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2 – “I want to holiday in Dubai. Where would you recommend to stay with children?”

My favourite family friendly hotel in Dubai is Fairmont The Palm. This is for various reasons – including the fact it has a great kids pool and award-winning kids club, a sandy beach, and menus of yummy, but healthy kids food in every restaurant. In fact, kids under 5 eat for free when ordering from the kids menus in most restaurants – and will get kids-size cutlery, and colouring pencils  to keep them entertained. Interconnecting rooms, babysitters, and child-size bathrobes and amenities are also available. This hotel is located on Palm Jumeirah and most of the big attractions and days out in Dubai are close by.

However, if you’d like apartment-style accommodation, I’d recommend heading down to the JBR area. This is the area where a lot of the 5-star hotels are located – and for good reason, as there’s a great beach, hundreds of restaurants, and kid’s play areas right on your doorstep. Rates really depend on the time of year, so check out Amwaj Suites, Suha Hotel Apartments, and Nuran Marina Serviced Apartments. It’s also worth checking out Airbnb.

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3 – “What can I do with small children when I come on holiday to Dubai?”

I have this one covered in a blog post here – My Top 10 Things To Do With Small Children in Dubai.

4 – “My husband has been offered a job in Dubai. Do you like living there? Is it an OK place to bring up kids?”

I find this a strange question in some respects, as I constantly rave about how much I love living in Dubai and enjoy bringing up my kids here.  But I understand that the question is asked as reassurance – they know I am going to say YES I LOVE IT HERE! which is usually exactly what they want to hear.

I never envisaged moving to Dubai and certainly never thought I’d bring up children here – but here we are and we love it! My boys get to go to the beach every weekend for 8 months of the year (October to May). Our afternoons are spent on scooters in the sunshine and outside in friend’s gardens. And the community spirit and friendliness of the expat community is amazing – we are all in the same boat and people go out of their way to be friendly and helpful. We don’t really have to worry about crime – I park my buggy on the grass above the beach and forget about it until we return 2 hours later, the same goes for scooters outside restaurants (crime does exist here, of course, but there are few threats on the street and we all feel very safe). Staff everywhere are cheerful and friendly and everything is completely focused around families – sometimes to an extreme, as you’ll see children in restaurants, cinemas, and malls late into the night.

There is one negative here. Despite being tax free, Dubai is insanely expensive. Rental costs, whilst finally starting to come down, are ginormous (my two-bed in London Zone 2 was peanuts compared to this) – plus you have school fees and regular flights home. And whilst you can find bargains if you are prepared to shop around, food is on the whole eye-wateringly expensive (think £5 for a box of cornflakes, £6 for a small punnet of strawberries and £7 for a cauliflower). So if I have one bit of advice to anyone considering moving here – negotiate a contract where accommodation, school fees, and medical insurance are thrown in. Life will be amazing and you will probably even be able to stash money away. You can make it work without those things (we personally get neither accommodation nor school fees) – but my goodness, life would be easier if we did.

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5 – “But how do you deal with the heat?”

Between June and September every year is pretty toasty, admittedly. It will hit at least 40’C every day, but sometimes up to 50’C. Plus it’s humid, so it’s sticky and uncomfortable – and you feel like you’ve jumped in a swimming pool just walking through a car park to collect your car.

However, Dubai is set up for it. We move inside during the summer months and we still have a great time. We have play areas designed like mini kid’s villages, we have dinosaurs in malls, we have cafes with play areas attached, we have kids’ cinemas and theatres, and we have AIR CONDITIONING everywhere!

We can still swim during the summer too – we just go late in the afternoon when it’s cooled down a bit. Early morning trips to the beach are feasible too (although I can never manage to get mine out quite early enough!)

I obviously prefer the winter months (just as those of you prefer the summer months in the UK), but it gives us a great excuse to escape to the UK for a few months over the summer, which breaks up the heat. Lots of my friends do this too – while others opt to take holidays in cooler parts of the world or just enjoy the quietness of Dubai during the summer when we’ve all left!

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6 – “Did you give birth in Dubai? Do you recommend it?”

I had both my boys in Dubai and had great experiences. I didn’t even consider giving birth in the UK as my husband would have missed a good chunk of their newborn days – and that didn’t seem fun or fair.

My first was born at American Hospital and my second at City Hospital (the latter was definitely my favourite). I had a lovely private room both times, with a bed for my husband to also sleep overnight. The staff were brilliant and the 2-3 days I spent in hospital were quite a special experience. I had a TV on the wall to flick through channels, WiFi to update everyone with photos, and visitors could come any time.

I did, however, have some great medical insurance – and this is important, as you aren’t going to get this kind of experience if you don’t. If you are considering having children in Dubai, check your policy carefully first.

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I think that answers all the main questions I am sent. I may well update this post if a few different posts start coming in. And sorry again if you got in touch and I didn’t reply – I hope this makes up for it :-)

 



24th January 2016

My Top 10 Newborn Essentials from DbBabies.com

Screen Shot 2016-01-24 at 13.57.03If you are expecting the pitter patter of tiny feet and haven’t yet checked out DbBabies.com revamped site, you must head online immediately. I haven’t been this impressed by an online baby store in Dubai for a long time. There are so many brands that I ordered and shipped over from the UK when my boys were due, but are now available right here in Dubai!

So here are my 10 Newborn Essentials picked out from the site! And if you are around on Tuesday morning, don’t forget to pop into the Mummy Shopping Morning at the new Mudon store where the team will be unveiling their own Top 10 Essentials for Newborns (and I’ll be there to share some coffee, cake, and chat!)

1. The Car Seat

Maxi-Cosi Cabriofix, Dhs750

Your baby is going to be the most precious thing in the entire world – so making sure that bundle is strapped safely into a car seat is a necessity, right from that first trip home from hospital. I used this car seat for both my boys. It’s light, so you can easily move it around and attaches to most stroller systems with adapters.  I used it for over a year with both my boys, making it my top newborn essential.

Buy here.

 

2. The Stroller

Baby Jogger City Select, from Dhs3,195

If I have one regret from my baby shopping the first time round, it’s that I didn’t buy this stroller – it definitely would’ve saved us a few dirhams when number two came along. I needed it the second time, as it converts into the most awesome double buggy (I spotted my friend with it, who told me that she had been chased down the street to ask the model several times!) Now that my oldest is well past his stroller days, we use it as a single again (it literally takes seconds to add and remove seats). We also have the basinet, which we used during the newborn days – and you can purchase car seat adapters, buggy boards, and travel bags to customise it to your needs.

Buy here

 

3. The Carrier

Boba 4G Babier Carriers, Dhs495

I’ve got to be honest; I’m more of a stroller girl than carrier girl – but once in a while, it’s nice to have your baby close and it can sometimes be easier than lugging around a stroller too (especially when travelling). This carrier ticks all the right boxes and is suitable for children between 7 and 45 pounds.

Buy now

 

4. The Bassinet

Babyhome Air Bassinets, Dhs1,599

I didn’t see these specific bassinets when my two babies were born, but I love the idea of there being a panel at the bottom so you can see through to your sleeping baby to check them – this would’ve been especially useful when I was lying in bed at night and wanted a quick peek. They are also light and easy to move around the house with you throughout the day, which is perfect as I’ve always wanted my babies close when they are little.

Buy here

 

5 – The Nappy Bag

Skip Hop – Duo Signature Diaper Bags, Dhs299

When I was pregnant with my first, I didn’t really understand why I needed a new bag to dedicate to nappies – after all, I had plenty of bags I could use! It only took a few weeks of nappy explosions and spilt bottles of milk to understand why I needed one dedicated to baby things only – and this bag by Skip Hop is ideal, with different compartments to zip dirty things away and a travel-sized changing mat for when you’re out and about.

Buy here

 

6 – The Swaddles

Aden + Anais Classic Swaddles, 4 Pack at Dhs280

I tried lots of swaddles with my first baby – but by the time I had my second, Aden + Anais had arrived in Dubai and it was what I used from the very moment he was born. Not only are they gorgeous, with an array of different prints – but they swaddle so easily and perfectly. I also used them as blankets and giant muslins for throwing over my shoulder. An absolute must-have for all new Mums!

Buy here

 

7 – The Sleepsuits

Db Babies – Personalised Baby Sleepsuits, Dhs110

As lovely as it is to fill your baby’s wardrobe with lots of gorgeous outfits before he or she is born, there is only one type of outfit that you really need for the first few months – and that is sleepsuits. Mine wore their sleepsuits day and night for months – and these plain, personalised designs are ideal.

Buy now

 

8 – The Bottles

Dr Brown’s – Blue & Pink Bottles, 2 Pack, Dhs76

Whether you plan to breast or bottle feed, I always think it’s best to be prepared – and I made sure I had stocked up on Dr Browns bottles after taking a recommendation from a friend. Sure enough, my first baby decided to go on breastfeeding strike when he was 5 days old – and I fed him with these amazing bottles until he was over a year old. I highly, highly recommend them, as they have a special anti-colic vent to prevent air getting into the baby’s tummy. I’ve got nothing to compare them to so I can’t say that they made a huge difference, but equally I never had a baby with colic so they are really worth the purchase.

Buy here

 

9 – The Breastfeeding Support

My Brest Friend Deluxe Feeding Pillows, Dhs225

On the other hand, I did breastfeed my second baby until six months old – and having a support pillow was invaluable to all those hours clocked up feeding him on the sofa. It made it so much easier (especially when I wasn’t feeling that confident in the early days).

Buy here

 

10. The Bath Towel

CuddleDry Baby Bath Towel, Dhs245

We love CuddleDry towels in our house. With hoods to keep them snug and warm and the softest texture, they are definitely the best thing to scoop them up in after a bath. The baby version is simple in design – and when they become toddlers, they can choose from a fun range of animal designs!

Buy here

 

DbBabies allows you to create your own wishlist and share on social media, so why not head online and create your own list? As an added bonus, everyone that places a web order in January has the chance to win Dhs500 towards their wish list. Shop online now at DbBabies.com

 



18th January 2016

Things I am Currently Loving – January 2016

Here’s my first Currently Loving selection of 2016 of things I am loving or coveting on the shopping front (for the boys or for me!)

Currently Loving January

1. Long-Sleeve Slumbersac Sleeping Bag. My boys aren’t used to the cold for obvious reasons – so when we fly back to the UK every Christmas, I know from experience that they are going to struggle to acclimatise. I notice this most at night, when they tend to wake up and cry about the strange cold sensation on their skin! So this year, I decided to be proactive and ordered a Long-Sleeved Slumbersac Sleeping Bag for Wilfred, which was waiting for us when we arrived home. It made a MASSIVE difference, as he slept through from the very first night, staying toasty warm  even though the thermometer was plunging. We didn’t bring it back to the UAE as we just don’t need it here, but I ordered the longest one so that it gets use again next year. I really recommend these if you live in the UK or are planning a trip to colder climes. There are lots of different designs, with prices starting at £17.99 (Buy here).

2. Cloud Place Mats. I love these non-slip, silicon place mats, which means less mess on the table (while looking pretty adorable too). They are available at the UAE website Marmarland.com, costing 80 AED each (Buy here).

3. The Julia Donaldson Audio Collection. I bought this as one of Stanley’s Christmas presents and it’s been a surprise hit. We listen to the audio CDs in the car, with the box containing stories including The Gruffalo, The Snail on the Whale, The Troll, Room on the Broom and much more. I got his set from Amazon.co.uk, so if you are in the UAE it’s probably a job for your Shop + Ship account (Buy here)

4. Love Lights Letters. I have been looking for Marquee Letter Lights for the boys’ room for the last year, but I could never find any in Dubai and it was too heavy to ship them over. So I was delighted to discover the company Love Lights Letters, which sells right here in Dubai. I went for the Metal Initial Lights, which are 250 AED – and I’m tempted to head back online and order the star for me! (Buy here).

5. Kids’ Camelbaks.  Dubai baby and kids online store DbBabies.com website has had a stylish new update and it’s absolutely brimming with things I wanted to buy for the boys (seriously, it was hard to just pick one item!) I am going to do some work with the company to pick out my wish list and attend an event next week (so watch this space!) but in the meantime, I am coveting the range of Camelbaks for the boys, which they both take to school/nursery every day – it’s the best collection of designs I have seen available in the city, at 78 AED each. (Buy here).

6. Shoeq Sandals. This is another Dubai company that I have fallen head over heels in love with, having seen my friends wearing their gorgeous sandals. The leather, spanish sandals come in a range of different designs (with little ones for the kids too) and I am definitely coveting the most popular design in the range of silver glitter (the perfect way to add some style to little black dresses or denim). For more information or to order, visit the Facebook Page.

7. Escape Bag. I fly pretty regularly with the kids – and when we arrived back in Dubai a few weeks ago, I was on the hunt for a better shoulder bag as mine just doesn’t cut it anymore with everything we need on board. I have fallen head over heels for this bag by Southwoodstores.co.uk – a UK company that ships overseas for those of us in Dubai. It’s roomy and stylish, which is a winning combination when flying with little ones. It costs £75 (just under 400 AED) (Buy here)

8. Mama Sweatshirt. While I was browsing Southwoodstores.co.uk, I also came across this Mama Sweatshirt, which I need in my wardrobe immediately! It is £45 (235 AED) and comes in sizes XS to XL (Buy here)

9. Smoothie Bombs. I’m a bit addicted to my Nutribullet – not only for making smoothies every morning, but to make and freeze ice pops for the boys too (they think it’s a treat, when actually they are packed with goodness – BONUS!) So when I heard about a new product launching in Dubai called Smoothie Bombs; balls of goodness that can be thrown into the smoothie maker to add extra good stuff to the blend. I went for Raw Cacao (which contain linseed, sunflower seed, almond, raw cacao, desiccated coconut, psyllium husk, black strap molasses, coconut nectar, coconut oil, chia seeds) – and guess what, the boys didn’t notice any difference and gulped it down! For more information on stockists, click here.

10. Emma Bridgewater Personalised Mugs. My sister bought these mugs for the boys for Christmas and they are just the cutest thing! They are ceramic, so we haven’t let Wilfred use his much through fear of him throwing it across the room (always a worry with my wild child) but Stanley has been enjoying his milk in his mug every night. We have a collection of Emma Bridgewater mugs in our cupboard for the adults, so the two little ones look adorable alongside them. They would make a very special gift for a little boy or girl. They cost £17 with delivery only available to the UK. Although breakable, they are pretty well packaged, so you would probably  be OK to order Shop + Ship to Dubai (shop here).

11. Woolovers. Finally, the stylish knitwear company Woolovers.com kept me warm over the Christmas period in the UK (I know everyone thought it was mild, but I was shivering).  I wore this shrug cardigan nearly every day, which was cosy and comfortable – and is also coming in handy on the cool mornings in Dubai at the moment. Better still, I’ve just clicked on the site to discover an amazing sale for picking up some bargains – and if you fancy a browse, delivery is also available internationally (shop here).



17th January 2016

I’d rather be imperfect…

Photo by Lidiya Kalichuk Photography

By Lidiya Kalichuk Photography

If being a perfect mother means I can’t flick on the TV to calm the boys down, I am definitely failing.

If being a perfect mother means I can’t pick up my phone for a quick scroll when they are playing happily together in the park,  I am definitely failing.

If being a perfect mother means I can’t leave my children with a babysitter once a week to enjoy a night out with my husband, I am definitely failing.

And if being a perfect mother means I can’t hand the boys an iPad so my husband and I finish our meals in peace in a restaurant, or switch on the oven to cook fish fingers as I completely forgot to plan something healthier for their dinner, or give them a snack half an hour before it’s ready as I just can’t stand the moaning,  I am definitely failing.

And do you know what? I don’t even care.

Because if sacrificing these things is the definition of perfect parenting, I am happy to fail.

I know that my boys are happy. They enjoy playing with their toys, reading books together, and sprinting along on their scooters in the fresh air. But when Mummy is tired, they are delighted to get to watch episodes of Peppa Pig on a loop, play some educational apps on the iPad, and eat fish fingers, smiley faces, and peas cooked in the microwave for their dinner. And yes, they even get a dollop of ketchup and I don’t care if they eat it first.

These are sometimes the things that keep me sane.

After all, motherhood isn’t easy – but it’s all too easy to start striving for perfection.

I don’t think social media helps. Back in the 70’s and 80’s, I’m pretty sure our mothers didn’t throw insults at each other across the room at baby groups about their parenting styles.

You let her watch three episodes of Button Moon IN A ROW, Sarah?!! Have you not heard that screen time can fry their little minds?! I would personally never do that. What exactly is the point of being a mother?!!!”

No, I’m pretty sure they were too busy discussing the merits of their new teasmades and soda streams – or inviting each other to Tupperware parties, with us kids totally ignored at their feet. And when we were older, we were sent out on our bikes to get some fresh air while they stayed inside, occasionally checking on us through the window (the horror!)

But these days, admit that you take a few shortcuts on social media and a pack of vicious lionesses are waiting to pounce and declare us unfit mothers.

How very dare you consider your own feelings in this thing called motherhood!   

The point is that intelligent mothers know that too much screentime isn’t a brilliant idea, that food generally needs to be healthy, and that sitting all day on our phones while we ignore our brood is pretty barmy. But if these things in moderation get us through a day when the children have already stamped playdoh into the rug, had four potty training accidents, and shown us up at the local baby group by trying to plot an escape, I have no qualms about taking a few shortcuts to make it through to bedtime.

The most important thing is that my boys are happy and healthy, of course – but sometimes when we strive for that, we forget that we have to be happy too.

Happy Mum = Happy Kids.

And that is the definition of perfection to me.



14th January 2016

Why I’ve decided to give my boys organic milk

Screen Shot 2016-01-14 at 11.18.25It’s January – and although I am usually a bit loathed to make resolutions, there is one thing that I am keen to stick to this year and that is feeding the boys a healthier diet. When I’m busy with work, I tend to opt for the easy way out – cooking them the same dishes (usually from an oven, thanks Mr Birdseye) and hoping a portion of fruit for dessert will even it out.

In 2016, however, I am going to make a real effort to feed them a very healthy, balanced diet – as not only is this mega important for their little growing bodies, but I’ve also noticed a real difference in their behaviour when they eat well.

I’m going to share our healthy journey over the next year, with recipes and progress reports – but I’ve already taken a first step by swapping them to organic milk.

Why?

Well, we love milk in our house. It stems back to my childhood, as my Dad worked in the dairy industry in the UK. I visited dairy farms on my summer holidays, went to trade shows to see the cows win rosettes, and drank milk like it was water. I love the taste, believe in its health benefits, and enjoy seeing the boys drinking a cup or two before bed.

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However, it has come to my attention over the past few months that organic milk is the best option, with research showing that antibiotics, hormones, and traces of pesticides can be harmful – and I don’t want that going into my boys at the rate they drink it.

I had read a bit about Koita Organic Milk before, which is available in supermarkets here in the UAE. I loved the story about how the brand had visited cows in several different countries, before finally finding their herd in Italy. They describe their naturally grass-fed cows as ‘happy’ – and I can see why. I’m actually a bit jealous of their life grazing in the Italian sunshine at the foot of mountains, being looked after, and eating delicious food.

Just look how happy they are!

Koita Cows (2) Koita Farm (1)

The fact the cows are so well cared for is definitely central to why the milk tastes so good too. I couldn’t believe the difference in the taste – it’s creamer, purer, and just tastier all round. The boys agree and have been enjoying a mug of milk every night before bed in their new Emma Bridgewater mugs!

Most importantly, I know there are no nasties. Koita Milk contains no hormones, no antibiotics, no pesticides and no stabilisers.

But it’s not the only organic milk on the shelves in the UAE, so why did I pick Koita? This comparison chart explains it (click on the image to expand and read).

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So now the important bit… How much does it cost? Organic food has a reputation for being quite pricey, but Koita Organic Milk has been reduced recently to just Dhs13.50 for 1 litre and Dhs5.50  for 250ml, making it really quite affordable to swap.

Long-life carton you say? Well yes – but the brand explained to me that the milk is made in exactly the same way, simply taken to a slightly higher temperature during pasteurization before being bought back down quickly and sealed in the recycled paper cartons. And what I love about the long-life milk is that I can buy it in bulk and store in the cupboard until I need it – meaning I never have to worry about running out of milk again, which is a big bonus to us Mums!

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My only regret is that I didn’t discover it earlier. I wish I’d weaned both my boys onto this milk when they were ready to move from formula/breast milk. It would have given me real peace of mind that I was doing the right thing.

But from now onwards, we’re going organic thanks to those happy cows!

Koita Organic Milk is available in 250 supermarkets across the UAE. You can find it in the long-life milk aisle, with a happy cow on the packaging!  It costs Dhs13.50 for 1 litre and Dhs5.50  for 250mland Kids’ Sizes will come in February 2016. For more information, visit www.koita.com

 

 

 



13th January 2016

10 things I regret doing in my first pregnancy

422948_10151276254515607_2015010708_n1. Thinking he’d arrive on his due date

For 8 months I counted down to that magical date. The app on my phone told me how long I had to wait – and oh, I believed it! And whilst I read online that only 4-5% of babies arrived on their due date and tried to remind myself regularly as the day ticked closer, I simply couldn’t get the date out of my mind. So when it came, went, and my app started counted backwards, I felt totally cheated. Not only was I mega uncomfortable and absolutely ready to meet my baby, but I would have to forget a date that was etched so deeply in my mind I may as well have tattooed it across my forehead.

2. Eating a ridiculously hot curry to try and induce him

So then I had the bright idea to head to a curry house and ask for an extra hot version of my usual curry. Of all the silly things I did in pregnancy, this has to come out top. Not only was my tongue tingling for days, but I spend pretty much the entire next day in the bathroom thanking my lucky stars that it hadn’t induced labour – as my god, it wouldn’t have been pretty.

3. Saving a novel to read after the baby arrived

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. That is all.

4. Drinking gallons of Raspberry Leaf Tea

This takes me back to another pregnancy brainwave, where I read online that drinking Raspberry Leaf Tea was a marvelous way to speed up labour. And oh, I drank it. In fact, in the last few weeks of pregnancy, it’s all I really drank. It tastes like pond water, leaves your tongue furry, and (in my experience) makes no difference to a birthing experience whatsoever. In fact, I don’t even care if it does speed up labour – I’d rather be in labour than drink another cup of that stuff.

5. Writing a birth plan

I was told in my antenatal class that I didn’t necessarily need to write a birth plan, but I went ahead and wrote it anyway. I had grand plans for staying at home for as long as possible, enjoying long baths until I needed to head to hospital, and then having him quickly and easily in a drug-free birth. As it happened, he decided he didn’t really fancy the real world and I was in the hospital, ready to be induced and strapped up to an epidural from the start. I don’t regret a second of the birth, which was perfect for me, but I do regret wasting time writing that plan when I could’ve been reclined on the sofa popping maltesers in my mouth or reading that entire novel without being interrupted by wails (oh, those were the days).

6. Buying too many Newborn clothes

I was very excited about buying outfits for my little boy and I spent far too long browsing malls, bidding on eBay, and shopping online for the cutest things I could find to dress him in. I’d soon amassed the most perfect stash, which I took a lot of pleasure in washing, hanging up, and folding up in the nursery so that everything was ready for his arrival. My mistake, however, was that everything was tiny. So for the first few weeks I had the best-dressed baby in Dubai – but as soon as he grew out of them (just a few weeks later, thanks to an insatiable appetite for milk), he looked like he’d been dressed in a jumble sale, thanks to a mixture of gifts, family hand-me-downs, and items purchased hastily on sprints to the mall in between feeds.

7. And too many newborn sized nappies

And on that note, I also thought babies absolutely, definitely needed Size 1 nappies for at least the first 4 or so months. I thought I was so clever adding a packet to the trolley throughout my pregnancy, until I’d amassed an almighty stash. He wore them for about 5 nights, before they leaked and I was advised to move him to Size 2 – so I stashed them away for baby number two, who only wore a few before he did exactly the same (babies; never trust them for a second).

8.  Spending so much money on maternity clothes

Another thing I splurged on was maternity clothes. After all, 9 months is a long time and I wanted to rock that bump stylishly! And I did wear a lot of them (albeit not all of them, as I realised a few made me look like a walking tent when I got them home) but it wasn’t for 9 months. It was for about 4 months – and then I shut them away in a wardrobe for a few years, before they got another 4-month outing a few years later. If I worked it out cost-per-wear, they are almost certainly the most expensive things I’ve ever worn. I probably should’ve raided the husband’s wardrobe and saved my money for a new set of clothes in a size or two bigger after the birth. I’d still be wearing them now.

9. And on breastfeeding clothes

I read somewhere that I needed clothes that made it easy to feed my baby. So I raided stores for a stash of vests, covers, and tops and dresses with various flaps and holes in the right places. When he went on strike and I stopped feeding him at 5 days old, these things were never worn (good job, as I couldn’t work out how the bras worked when deprived with sleep anyway). And when my second baby was born and I did feed him for the first 6 months, I realised that you didn’t need special clothes anyway – you just needed to lift something up or pull something down. You live and you learn.

10. Watching real life births on YouTube

Yep, don’t do that.



Our ‘M is for Mama’ session with Lidiya Kalichuk Photography

When Dubai-based photographer Lidiya Kalichuk Photography got in touch to tell me about her new “M is for Mama” package back in December, I instantly fell in love with the concept. Before our session, Lidiya sent me a questionnaire that asked “What makes you happy as a mother? What do you want to remember?”

After some thought, I filled it in. “Weekend mornings,” I said. “The boys in pyjamas, flour covering the surfaces after we’ve made pancakes together, and late morning strolls in the sunshine on Dubai Marina in hunt of strong coffee.”

Lidiya read through my answers before she arrived on the morning – and as we mixed, ate, sipped, strolled, and scooted our way through our morning, she stood back and photographed it happening.

As far as we were concerned, it was just a normal morning – but I already know that I will treasure what she captured that day forever, long after the boys grow out of those pyjamas and stop volunteering to help me mix pancake batter.

Here are my favourite images from the day – and if you would like to book Lidiya for the ‘M is for Mama’ package yourself, she is offering Mum of Boys readers 10% off her prices. The package includes 40 digital images, as well as a set of 6×4 prints and an album to arrange them and jot down some memories. You can contact Lidiya to request price details and make a booking by emailing lidiya.kalichuk@gmail.com and can visit her website at www.lidiyakalichuk.com

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10th January 2016

Motherhood can be lonely sometimes…

Screen Shot 2016-01-10 at 20.43.15Perhaps it’s because Christmas is over. I’m missing all the shoes lined in the kitchen. All the coats hanging on the back of the door. The sound of the kitchen door constantly opening and closing. The noise, laughter, and energy of a house full of people.

And now it’s just me and the boys, rattling around an apartment all afternoon with nowhere really to go, nowhere really to be.

I think it’s this contrast between ‘the most wonderful time of the year’ and the routine of everyday life that has reminded me that despite never really being alone, being a stay-at-home mother can be lonely.

It’s not like we can’t go out. We have a car. We have friends I could call. But after three weeks of holiday and still feeling foggy from jetlag, we decided to stay in today. Sometimes you have to stay in. Sometimes the kids are too tired and you all need to stay in, even though you know they’ll be running up the walls (quite literally in our case, before crashing back to the floor and screaming about the injustice of gravity).

And so I’ve spent most of this afternoon with packs of raisins in my hand, negotiating with two small children and wondering why exactly Christmas gifts that we lugged back halfway round the world aren’t apparently enough to entertain them for just a few hours just weeks after they unwrapped them…

So I’ve had company, yes.

But I’ve still felt quite lonely.

It seems strange to state that motherhood is lonely at times. After all, I can’t even go to the toilet with a small person breaking in and demanding sheets of toilet paper so he can block up the sink.

But that didn’t stop me breaking into a high-speed 5-minute monologue to the husband the minute he walked through the door, relieved for both adult conversation and the fact another human could listen to an entire sentence, without suddenly throwing himself to the floor or interrupting me to shout ‘SNACK SNACK SNACK!’ before attaching himself to my legs in protest.

The loneliness is something that surprised me in the early days of motherhood.  I expected broken nights and hazy days. I didn’t expect the loneliness that came in hand with days in a giant villa with a tiny baby that, let’s face it, didn’t really do much back then. Nobody warned me about that at antenatal class.

I wasn’t unhappy by any means, but I craved adult company. I craved conversations. I missed my family and friends overseas. I missed pointless chats about last night’s TV while making cups of tea in the kitchen at work.

I’m not complaining and I don’t want anything to change. I adore my boys and I choose to spend most my time with them, despite the fact the extra dirhams would be useful if I chose to work full-time. But with two children under the age of 4, sometimes it’s a bit lonely.

I’m sure that all mothers of small children feel it at some point.

It’s a special, wonderful, memorable time in our lives.

But it can be lonely.

And on that note, I’m just off to talk some nonsense to the husband…