Monthly Archives: May 2017

31st May 2017

10 things to expect when your baby learns to crawl…

18902645_10158801528805607_1012090826_n1. Coffee shops will not be your friend for a while. Coffee is still wonderful – but learning to enjoy it at home / at other people’s houses is recommended. Remember; practice makes perfect – and if your now-moving baby still isn’t a fan of sleeping (yawn), you will have plenty of opportunity to nail the perfect cup at home.

2. Baby toys will no longer be interesting. The best things ever will now be the remote control, your mobile phone, the cat, the dog, anything that belongs to an older sibling, glasses of water, glasses for your face, and old raisins / biscuits that fell down the back of the sofa a few months ago. Hide everything. Or consider investing in a baby cage.

3. Any feelings of broodiness for another baby will now disappear for a while. Consider a crawling / walking baby as Mother Nature’s natural contraceptive. If you are already pregnant, it is very normal to have nightmarish visions about being stuck on the sofa feeding a newborn, while an older sibling wreaks havoc on the house. And nine months later, that is exactly what will happen.

4. The toilet will no longer be your ‘safe place’. They will follow you.

5. If you ever make the mistake of handing your crawling baby a snack, be prepared to still be finding crumbs weeks later. Alternatively, trail behind with a dustpan and brush / mini hoover. Or just trap them in the high chair – every. single. time.

6. Consider filling a kitchen cupboard with unbreakable objects for your baby to quietly empty on the kitchen floor. And then watch as they ignore it completely and make a start on unpacking your fine china instead.

7. You will seriously consider designing a baby outfit made from bubble wrap. Or covering the floor of your entire home in soft padding. And maybe the walls too. But just as you sit down to start designing a prototype, your baby will take their first big tumble and you’ll realise you missed the boat.

8. You will find yourself shouting ‘Noooo!’, ‘Come back!’, “Stay there!”, and ‘‘Wait!’ more than you’d like to. And if you’ve ever owned a dog, the similarities won’t be lost on you.

9. Kiss goodbye to long baby cuddles in bed in the morning. Finding their way to the end of the bed, in order to ‘base jump’ to the floor will be the single most important mission of the day.

10. If a friend suggests a play date in a park, you will laugh hysterically, ask her if she’s mad, and then promptly suggest an alternative venue with four walls, super safe baby gates, and strong coffee on tap instead. And that is the very point when a wild love affair / absolute hatred with soft play areas begins. And you will stay there for the next 10 years.



28th May 2017

6 to try this Ramadan…

Ramadan Kareem everyone!

I’ve been invited to try a few different Iftars and Ramadan offerings over the past few weeks, so I thought I’d round them up in a blog post – with a couple more I plan to try over the coming weeks. They are all quite different, so there should be something for everyone – and whether you are Muslim and fasting or a non-Muslim here in Dubai during the Holy Month, I hope you have a great few weeks ahead!

1. Al Hadeerah Iftar Tent at Bab Al Shams

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I’m a big fan of this hotel, which is located in the desert close to Al Qudra – and the Iftar was very special. Imagine walking along a path lit by lanterns through desert dunes at sunset, to discover a big desert camp, complete with a varied, bustling Iftar buffet – and a giant air conditioned tent to dine in. Not forgetting the entertainment, which is just brilliant (expect dancing, music, camels and horses). We tried it out last week and I was reminded how magical this hotel and restaurant are – you must try it.

From sunset until 10.30pm, throughout Ramadan

250 AED per person  (Sunday to Wednesday)

270 AED per person (Thursday to Saturday)

Visit website here

2. Iftar Menu at Burger & Lobster, DIFC

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At the polar opposite, is the Iftar menu at Burger & Lobster – which offers a very non-traditional (but delicious) Iftar set menu for small groups or larger families. While you enjoy the buzzing atmosphere of this popular restaurant after dark, you can tuck into cheese burgers, mini lobster rolls, soup of the day, grilled lobster and chips, and your choice of milkshakes (and much more). I am booked in to try this Iftar later this week, so keep an eye on my Instagram page for more details!

Until midnight (Sun, Mon, Tues, Wed, Sat) and until 2am (Thurs and Fri), throughout Ramadan

From 119 AED per person

Visit website here

3. Suq Restaurant and Tent at Four Seasons Resort Dubai

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If you haven’t yet visited Four Seasons on Jumeirah Beach Road, this Ramadan gives you the perfect opportunity. The hotel itself is grand and luxurious, with Suq being the perfect restaurant to book for Iftar. Imagine a big buffet of mezze, Arabic fare, Italian dishes, a live barbecue, fresh sushi and Indian dishes. We tried it last month were suitably impressed. Just wait until you try the Kanafeh for desert – I’ve never tasted anything like it and have been thinking about it ever since!

From 7pm to 9pm, throughout Ramadan

245 AED per person

Visit website here

4. Arboretum Iftar at Jumeirah Al Qasr

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This Iftar has a bit of everything – a stunning setting overlooking the waterways and sea, a large and varied Iftar buffet of traditional and international cuisine, and lots of extra touches (make sure you catch the henna lady, who draws the most beautiful, intricate designs in what seems like seconds). It’s a grand setting and feels very special – but works equally well for couples and big groups. My sister and I tried it out together a few weeks ago and we spent hours at the table chatting, heading to and from the buffet bar. Recommended!

From sunset, throughout Ramadan

195 AED per person

Visit website here

5. Arrows & Sparrows

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This Iftar sounds amazing – and I will be trying it out very soon (keep an eye on my Insta-Stories). Located in The Greens, this popular bright and airy café has transformed into a traditional and intimate Sicilian restaurant for the whole of Ramadan, complete with a typical Sicilian menu. Mozzarella and Courgette Salad with Brioche, a Sicilian Charcuterie Board, Black Squid Ink Seafood Pasta, Raspberry Cheesecake, Traditional Caprese Salad, plus many other dishes, including a signature creation from the Executive Chef; Crispy Kunafa Burrata with Pistachio Crumbs (it sounds insane – in a very good way!) As a BIG fan of Italian food, I can not wait to try it!

From sunset, throughout Ramadan

Al la Carte prices

Visit website here

And now for something completely different….

6. Ramadan Treats at Softouch Spa, Kempinski Hotel, Mall of the Emirates

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I haven’t been to a spa since Mabel was born and I was very much craving some ‘me time’ and pampering – so when I heard that the 24-hour Softouch Spa at Kempinski Hotel was offering some amazing rates throughout Ramadan, I knew I had to try it. I had an Aromatherapy Massage, which lasts for 60 minutes and costs just 250 AED throughout Ramadan – and believe me, it was wonderful (both the luxurious setting, the brilliant therapist, and the fact I could go any time of the day or night). I’ve listed the deals below, which all come highly recommended by me.

60-minute Aromatherapy Massage – only 250 AED

Book any 90-minute treatment – and get a free mini facial

Spend 650 AED in the spa and enjoy treatments worth up to 1,000 AED (including a full body massage, full body scrub, and either an express manicure or an express pedicure).

(all offers must be booked separately, you can’t tag one onto the other).

Throughout Ramadan, 24 hours a day

Visit website here



19th May 2017

Our family photo shoot with Lidiya Kalichuk Photography…

I have been meaning to share this blog post for a few weeks now, but I wanted time to look through every single photo and choose my very favourite to share with you. Tonight, I finally had that time – and it has been such a joy looking through these photos of my family again.

It was photographer Lidiya’s idea that there should be two halves to this photo shoot. The first at home, late afternoon, with documentary style photographs. And the second in the desert, as the boys ran up and down the sand dunes, just as the sun started to set.

This is the second time Lidiya has photographed our family (for the first shoot, click here). I was so happy with the photos she took in December 2015 that I have them framed all over my house. I really feel like Lidiya can capture the personality of children in photographs – and I was keen to have some updated shots of the boys, but with little sister involved too.

So without further ado, here are my favourite photographs that Lidiya took that day – and to say I love them is an understatement. Now I just have the difficult task of choosing which to frame… Scroll to the bottom for a link to her website.

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Visit www.lidiyakalichuk.com



17th May 2017

Currently Loving – May 2017

So here we are in May. The weather is getting pretty steamy here in Dubai – and we are getting closer to Ramadan, Eid, and the school holidays. I can’t believe how quickly this year has flown by. Mabel is 8 months old today, which means she’s a lot closer to her first birthday than she is to that moment she was handed to me on a hospital bed (sob). I’d like time to slow down now please – but in the meantime, here is what we’ve been buying, trying, and visiting this month…

Currently Loving

1. ’13 Reasons Why’ on Netflix. If you haven’t yet got stuck into this 13-part series, drop everything (except the baby) and park yourself on the sofa. Actually, wait until the kids are in bed, as it’s adults only viewing. And get ready to be sucked into a story that has you gripped from the very beginning. Available now at Netflix here.

2. THE FMLY STORE – Super Kid T-Shirt. There are lots of new designs over at THE FMLY STORE (where I got my Mother T-Shirt, which I wear constantly). My favourite is this SUPER KID T-Shirt, which would appeal to my superhero loving boys. Shop here.

3. Mr Tumee. I’m keen for the boys to get a daily dose of DHA Omega 3, as I have always taken it as a supplement myself. Studies show that it can increase cognitive development and boost overall health – but the supplements that I take are big, hard to swallow and bitter tasting. That’s why I was happy when the boys happily gobbled down Mr Tumees DHA Omega 3 (‘as delicious as gummy bears’ as Stanley reports). Dubai mummies can buy them online here – or on the shelves at most pharmacies and supermarkets.

4. Burger & Lobster. This fab restaurant in DIFC has just launched a kids menu, with burgers and sandwiches, milkshakes, and puddings. We went there as a family a few weeks ago and had a really lovely time (expect colouring pencils and sheets on arrival too, which keeps them happy while waiting for food). The vibe during the day is extremely family-friendly and the staff were brilliant. There’s free valet parking too). For more information, visit the website here.

5. Giggles and Dimples. I’ve fallen in love with the gorgeous kiddie clothes, shoes, and interiors bits from this Dubai-based online store. Think along the lines of leather moccasins, denim play suits, cloud lights, message boards, bunting, and fun cushions. I could shop for hours… And I have been (oops). Visit the website here.

6. Bianca. I had an amazing meal with my husband and sister at Italian eatery Bianca a few weeks ago, which has locations in Box Park and The Beach. Honestly, I haven’t tasted food this good out of Italy. I can personally recommend the Burrata Jars (incredible!) and the Spaghetti Vongole. And I may have had a Nutella Pizza for dessert to check out the quality of the pizza ovens – and I can definitely vouch for the authentic Italian bases too (a hard job, but someone has to do it…) Visit their website here.

7. Clas Ohlson. I stumbled on this store in Mercato Mall a few weeks ago and was blown away by the affordable prices. Especially when it came to lighting, with these gorgeous rose gold table lamps and light fittings costing around 60 AED. I got a rose gold pendant light for our lounge, plus some solar powered fairy lights for our garden. I also raided the kitchen section and got a set of 6 jam jar glasses with straws for only 15 AED each. Visit the website to browse the range and see prices here.

8. Kippins UAE. Mabel and I have fallen head over heels for the sleep comforters and teething rings / rattles by Kippins! They are made from organic cotton and raw beach wood, making sure they are natural and safe for your little ones – and you can choose from lots of different designs. We couldn’t resist the cat – and Mabel literally won’t put that teething ring and rattle down! Shop online here.

9. Privilee. We are big fans of this membership club, which allows us access to beach clubs around the city (and a few in Abu Dhabi too). We were members last summer too and we used it lots – the pools are all chilled, there’s lots of shade, and generally valet parking (so the car stays nice and cool while we are enjoying the facilities). You also get a discount in most of the food and drinks outlets in the hotels (usually around 20%) making it an ideal club to see you through the summer. For details of the membership packages, visit the website here.

10. The Meydan Hotel. It seems like a while ago now, but we went to brunch at The Meydan Hotel when my inlaws were here last month – and oh my goodness, it was the perfect Friday brunch. The kids area was amazing (bouncy castle, craft tables, balloon benders, a full kid’s brunch table, beautifully decorated cookies). And for us? A seriously impressive brunch selection (everything from sushi, to full roast dinners, and everything in between), live music, and a gorgeous view across the race course. Highly recommended. Visit the website here.

11. Tub of Butter. If you haven’t tried this new Sheikh Zayed Road cafe and eatery (just off Al Thanya Street), you must add it to your morning coffee wish list. The breakfast is fantastic, the surroundings light, bright and seriously stylish, and the coffee superb. In fact, as the icing on the cake, you’ll even get your cappuccino with a celebrity face on it. Visit the website here.

12. 800 Flower. There’s something amazing about having fresh flowers in the house – and my latest company of choice is 800 Flower. Every bouquet I’ve had is so beautifully arranged – and they last well too, giving a least a week of enjoyment in the centre of my dining table. The new Signature Collection is gorgeous – and so well priced too, with bouquets starting at 325 AED (and delivery throughout Dubai). Visit the website here

In collaboration with Mr Tumee

Also loving… Check out Diy Dry Shampoo



14th May 2017

A love letter to my second baby…

Screen Shot 2017-05-14 at 21.49.51Dear second baby,

You arrived in my life like a whirlwind.

A whirlwind scented like newborn baby, sweet baby shampoo, and whiffs of strong coffee turned cold in my mug.

I thought I knew what to expect. After all, I’d done it all before. But right from the beginning, you taught me that it would be different.

I studied your face, as I cradled you there on my hospital bed. Your face rounder, eyes wider, and lips plumper than I had imagined, along with a shock of dark, black hair. So unlike your brother. So unlike the clone I had imagined growing in my tummy. Everything seemed different – and when you started sleeping long stretches through the night at just a few days old, I knew for certain that you had your own agenda.

It was your brother that made me a Mummy – but it was you that taught me to slow down and try to enjoy it. After all, I couldn’t possibly keep juggling at the pace I had been before. I tried for a while, of course, but I kept dropping balls. That night I plopped the baby monitor in a glass of water in a half-asleep state wasn’t my finest hour. Neither was the time I was running the bath and watching a toddler, when you suddenly learnt to roll – and practiced it expertly, over the side of the bed.

I couldn’t run around any more. Literally. That double buggy took brute force to move from one place to another. But more than that – I couldn’t give you the same things I’d given your brother. Music sessions, swimming lessons, baby massage, sensory classes… All off the agenda, choosing instead to stay at home or join your brother on play dates. His friends became your friends (you barely had any of your own). I felt guilty occasionally – no, I felt guilty most of the time – and I craved some time for just the two of us. I craved the time to cuddle and bond.

But I didn’t need to feel guilty, as I had forgotten you had something your brother never had. You had each other. And when I saw your relationship bloom – like a couple of wild flowers, petals and thorns intertwined – it made my heart jump and sing. Right from that first afternoon, where I watched you crawl after him, howling with laughter as he chased you on his hands and knees – to the little chats you had together as you learnt to babble and talk – to the long conversations you went on to have in your bedroom together as you fell asleep, like two little old men putting the world to rights.

When I was pregnant with you, I worried about my heart being split in two. It didn’t seem fair on either of you to have to share my love. But what I didn’t realise is that the very second you were placed in my arms, my heart would grow again. The same crazy, powerful, unconditional love – all over again, for you.

I don’t know what I expected from being your Mummy – but it probably wasn’t this. I expected your brother all over again. I never expected this little boy, with eyes the colour of a deep ocean, cuddles that wrap right around your heart, a fiery temper, and a sense of humour that has the whole family rolling around the floor. There have been hard times, wonderful times, heart-warming times, and times when I wondered how I was going to make it through until bedtime.

Yes, you arrived in my life like a whirlwind.

And how thankful I am to have been in your path

Mummy xx

Photo by Lidiya Kalichuk – www.lidiyakalichuk.com



8th May 2017

Living with Infertility…

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When I posted about infertility a few weeks ago in collaboration with Bourne Hall Fertility, I was amazed by the stories and responses that came back. I’m happy to admit that I shed a few tears too, reading stories that could so easily have been mind if I was walking in different shoes. And having received dozens of private messages too, I already know for a fact that your stories and words of advice have had such an impact on those going through treatment now. I think it’s so important to keep that rapport open, so I’ve been racking my brain about what else might be helpful – and came up with the idea to speak to a specialist at Bourne Hall Fertility to answer questions that those currently going through infertility may have in their mind. You will find those questions below, answered by Medical Director and Consultant in Reproductive Medicine – Dr. David Robertson. And if you want to go and see a specialist at the clinic yourself, simply mention ‘Mum of Boys & Mabel’ and you will get that first consultation completely for free. Call +971 4 705 5055 to make an appointment.

1. When should I seek treatment?

Most doctors would advise a couple to seek advice if they have been actively trying to conceive for more than a year. If there are any specific problems, such as irregular periods, or if the woman is older, more than 35, they should seek advice earlier.

2.      What specific tests would you recommend to diagnose infertility?

Firstly, the couple should be aware of the woman’s menstrual cycle – is it regular, what is the fertile time of the month. They can test for this using ovulation kits that are widely available in pharmacies and supermarkets. Once they see a fertility specialist, there are some basic tests that will be done first:

  • A sperm count (semen analysis) for the man
  • Blood tests for the woman, to check her hormone levels
  • An ultrasound scan of the woman’s uterus and ovaries, and a check of her fallopian tubes, to see if there is any anatomical problem
  • Other tests may be needed in particular circumstances

3.       What are my ‘ovarian reserves’ and how does this determine my fertility? What tests can I do to measure this?

Women are born with a finite supply of eggs and, as they get older, the supply gradually reduces. Usually, the supply doesn’t finish until she is well into her forties but sometimes this happens earlier than expected. The doctor can check the egg supply, or ovarian reserve, by measuring a hormone known as AMH (anti-Müllerian hormone) and by performing an ultrasound scan of the ovaries during a period, to check the number of small egg-containing follicles that are present (antral follicle count).

4.       Does smoking, drinking or other lifestyle related factors affect my fertility?

Undoubtedly. Women who smoke regularly have a reduced ovarian reserve and their eggs tend to be of poorer quality than those from women who have never smoked. This is also true for regular heavy consumption of alcohol. These women, if they do get pregnant, also have more complicated pregnancies and their babies are less healthy with lower birth weights.

5.       Should I consider genetic testing?

Genetic testing of embryos during IVF treatment is certainly of benefit if there is a specific disease that runs in the family and it is known that a couple have an increased risk. Many diseases can be detected this way, but not all. There are many conditions where genetic diagnosis is not possible, so it is important to discuss this issue with your doctor.

Some couples would like to be reassured that their baby will be healthy and genetic testing of an embryo may help with this. For example, older women, more than 35 are more likely to deliver babies with genetic problems such as Down Syndrome, and this can be picked up by genetic testing, so that the problem is avoided. It may also be useful for women who have previously experienced a number of miscarriages and increase their chance of having a successful pregnancy.

www.bournhall-clinic.ae

Image credit – http://www.lidiyakalichuk.com/



4th May 2017

Capturing memories with Pretty Paper Studio UAE

18280860_10158663916535607_2110324407_nRewind to the 80’s and 90’s. Remember that feeling of excitement as you picked up a thick wallet of photographs from the printer? The fun of ripping it open and flicking through those photos for the first time? And then the joy of choosing which photos went into albums, taking time to stick them in, and then spending time looking through the pages to remember every moment?

I remember all that – and as much as I love the convenience of the digital age, I miss it. I miss the physical photos and the albums to flick through. I miss grabbing a cup of coffee, choosing an album, and taking a trip down memory lane. So when the lovely team at Pretty Paper Studio UAE(an online store packed full of amazing craft supplies, paper, and stationary) asked if I’d like help creating a photo album of Mabel’s first days in this world, I jumped at the chance.

Fast-forward to yesterday, when I arranged to meet Pretty Paper Studio for a crafty morning. I’d prepared in advance, by choosing the photos I wanted to include in my album – and I decided on capturing those first two precious weeks of Mabel’s life. I really enjoyed the process of sorting through the photos and what I’d like to include – and I definitely enjoyed the moment of being handed the wallet of photos from the printer and flicking through. Even the smell of the photos took me back to my childhood and teenage years!

I met Neelu at Pretty Paper Studio over coffee at Fortnum & Mason (very civilised I know!) – and when she arrived, she came armed with the most exciting crafty bits. I’m a creative person by nature, but I simply never have time anymore to do it – so this was a real treat.

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Most of the items came from a company called ‘Project Life’ – I had never heard of it before, but since posting on my Insta-Stories yesterday, I have found out it has a big fan base (several of my followers were very excited to hear it is now available in the UAE). The premise is really simple too.. You buy an album with clear pockets – and then you choose your accessories. From printed cards that fit into the different pocket sizes, to stickers printed with phrases and motifs, to cardboard inserts that you can write on or use to decorate. It’s like scrap-booking, but a lot easier.

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So then it was time to get crafty – and I had a lovely morning slotting in photographs, embellishing them, and adding hand-written details (with the odd sip of coffee too!) Below are some photos of what I created on the morning – and make sure that you scroll to the bottom for a link through to the online store, where you will find all of this (and a lot, lot more) to start getting crafty and capture your own memories.

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Thank you Pretty Paper Studio for helping me to do this! It was just the prompt I needed to get creative and capture some memories of those precious early days!

Visit www.ppsuae.com to shop  the ‘Project Life’ range yourself.

In collaboration with Pretty Paper Studio UAE