22nd March 2017

Why we love Baby Sensory Classes…

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

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

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

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

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

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



18th March 2017

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

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

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

How can the agency help you?

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

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

Considering a UK boarding school for your children?

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

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

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

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

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

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

 In collaboration with Boarding Schools and Colleges



16th March 2017

Dubai Nursery Spotlight: Little Champions Nursery

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

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

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The Location

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

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

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Important Details

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 Facilities

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

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

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

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

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Home Cooked Meals

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

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

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General Overview

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

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

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

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

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

 In collaboration with Little Champions Nursery



15th March 2017

Wilfred tries: Classes at Heguru Centre Dubai

Screen Shot 2017-03-15 at 14.05.55If you follow me on social media, you will be aware that Wilfred (my middle child; aged three) has started weekly classes at the Heguru Centre Dubai (located in Apex Atrium Building in Motor City – very close to Extreme Fun, for those that have visited there).

We go together once a week, on his morning off from nursery – and after only 4 weeks of attendance, I’m starting to see a big difference in his concentration, enjoyment, and participation. And to be totally honest, I was a bit sceptic at first – but I am now seeing the benefits, so it’s time to tell you about it!

So what is it all about?

Let me explain. In the 1960′s, Dr Roger Sperry performed split-brain learning studies revealing distinct differences between the left and right hemispheres of the brain. His findings inspired new techniques for enhancing learning by tapping into both sides of the brain. With these scientific principles in mind, Heguru created their own teaching concept for Right Brain Education which enhances learning ability so that children are able to absorb new information quickly and easily.

Now spread internationally, Heguru classes are suitable for kids below the age of 6 – generally those in nursery, pre-school (KG or FS in Dubai), or home school. The methodologies have now won praise globally – and come to Dubai as a tried and tested formula. It is worth noting that the Heguru Centre Dubai is KDHA approved too.

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What happens?

The best way I can describe it is that it’s like a lesson – but at a very high speed. The teachers talk fast, the flash cards are shown for a split second, and the kids get very short periods of time to complete tasks. In the first lesson – of course – the kids are a bit perplexed and barely even start their tasks before it’s time to move onto the next.

As a parent, I found it all quite funny and didn’t think Wilfred would manage to keep up for a second – but as the weeks went on, I noticed his concentrating increasing, his tasks speeding up, and his understanding of the flash cards sinking in.

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Take one particular task, for example, where the kids are shown a pattern of colours for a few seconds and then asked to shut their eyes and visualise it in their minds. After a few more flashes of the pattern on the screen, they are then given a colouring sheet and pencils and asked to mark the colours on each section with a tick (using just the image in their mind, as it is now gone from the screen).  On the first week, Wilfred just wanted to colour the pattern red (his favourite colour). On the second week, he started to understand but still only managed one section. By the third and fourth week, he understood what he was supposed to do and is starting to tick the correct colours. It’s really quite fascinating to see.

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In another task, the children are flashed a number of road signs. One of them is ‘No U-Turn’. Wilfred just stares at the teacher and I have no idea if it’s going in – but in the car last week, he suddenly piped up ‘Look Mummy! No U-Turn! Like in class!’ – so it must be going somewhere!

Let’s keep things real though, as it’s definitely a work in progress. Sometimes he fancies lying down in the classroom and ignoring what’s going on, sometimes he refuses to get up and dance, and sometimes he refuses to do the tasks and colours in rainbow colours instead. But that’s OK, as all the kids in the class are the same – but little by little, I’m seeing him get more involved and get more enjoyment from it too.

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When does it take place?

There are classes throughout the week, both in the morning, afternoon, and at the weekend – and your child will be grouped with children the same age to keep the tasks relevant to age.

If you want to find out any more details – or chat to the team behind Heguru Dubai in person, they will be at the School and Nursery Show this weekend (free to attend). You can find out details about that event here – https://www.theschoolshow.ae/

For all further details, head over to the company’s website here – http://hegurudxb.ae/ – and I will be reporting back after we’ve completed six full weeks with my final thoughts

 

In collaboration with Heguru Dubai



12th March 2017

Currently Loving – March 2017

How is it March already? I can’t believe how fast this month is passing – and on Friday, Mabel will be 6 months old, which beggars belief. HALF A YEAR OLD! Crazy. But March it is – and here is a round-up of the things we have been buying, trying and coveting this month!

CURRENTLY LOVING MARCH

1. Magnificent Stanley. I have been coveting these sweatshirts and tees for my children for what seems like forever – and after seeing my friend Coral’s little girl Willa wearing her ‘W’ onesie with pride, I am ready to click ‘order’. They are just so gorgeous! You start by choosing from the range of sweatshirts, tees, onesies, bibs, blankets or towels  - and then you choose the Liberty fabric that you’d like their initial to be in. I am imagining a group shot of mine wearing their S, W and M tops… This is a UK company, but they ship anywhere in the world. Shop here.

2. Mr Tumee. In an ideal world, kids would get all the vitamins and minerals they need from their food – but if you have picky eaters like mine, giving them supplements is a great way to ensure you are supporting their nutrition. I really like the Mr Tumee brand because there’s no added sugar, they are gelatin-free, and they contain 100% natural colours and fragrances (all these things are really important to me – and I’m sure it’s the same for every parent). Kids as young as 2 can take them – and my boys are both big fans. In fact, Wilfred is convinced they are going to make him into a superhero! Dubai mummies can buy them online here – or on the shelves at most pharmacies and supermarkets. Highly recommended by me.

3. Baby Mona. Once in a while, a new kiddie company opens in Dubai that I fall head over heels in love with – and that is definitely the case with Baby Mona. It’s such a beautifully curated collection of interiors, clothing, toys, and accessories – and I have my eyes on several of the pieces for the boys and Mabel. Especially this whale cushion, which would look so gorgeous in Mabel’s new bedroom! This is a UAE company, with delivery available all over the UAE. Overseas shipping may also be possible, so email directly to enquire. Shop here.

4. InstaShop.ae. Oh how I love this app! Simply download InstaShop to your phone (available in the App Store and Google Play), open it up, select your area, and order your groceries to be delivered to your door (usually within 60 minutes of making the order!). I started using the app in my old apartment in Dubai Marina (generally when I forgot lunchbox items and I was already in my pyjamas at 10pm at night) – and I was delighted to discover it is available in my new community too (and almost all communities throughout Dubai, as it happens). You can pay by cash or credit card when your shopping arrives too, meaning you don’t have to stress about heading to an ATM if you are low on cash either. It makes life so much easier – and I’m keen to spread the words amongst all mums in Dubai, as dealing with mid-shop supermarket tantrums when you drag the kids along to do the weekly shop just isn’t worth the hassle. Download it immediately if you haven’t yet tried it out!  Visit the website here.

5. Snapdragon Lifestyle. I’m a long-time admirer of the beautiful teepees created by Dubai brand Snapdragon Lifestyle – and I have my eye on one for the boy’s room in our new house. In the meantime, I treated the boys to a feather headdress each (check out the photo on Instagram here) and they are so beautifully and skilfully made. In fact, we love them so much that we’ve decided they are far too nice to reserve for dress-up and they will take pride of place in their room (until the teepee arrives, that is!) You can shop the whole range from Little Majlis – with colourful teepees, teepee floor cushions, and a range of headdresses. This company really should be top of every Dubai child’s wish list… Shop here.

6. Not All Who Wander Are Lost. This is one of the prints I ordered in my latest haul – and I’m currently in the process of getting it framed to hang up by my front door. As an expat, it just spoke to me, because it’s true isn’t it? And I love the gold foil print (I went for rose gold as you can choose the finish). It’s available from Lovely Decor at Amazon.co.uk. Shop here

7. St Tropez Brunch at Nikki Beach. This Friday, I escaped to Nikki Beach with my three longest Dubai friends (we met when we were all pregnant with our first babies 5 years ago – and we now have 10 children between us!) We didn’t have our kids in tow, the sun shone, and the food and drink was quite simply delicious. The brunch is located alongside the pool in the hotel, with a perfect view of the beach and azure blue sea (Ive never seen the sea that colour in this part of the world!) – and the food works as half table service, half buffet. We had such a lovely time and I highly recommend heading over before the weather gets too hot. I felt like I was in Miami or Ibiza, making it the perfect tonic to city living! Visit the website here.

8. Hamilton Aquatics. The time has come for my littlest boy (aged three) to learn how to swim. He’s more than ready to try, with bounds of confidence in the water – and he’s really excited to swim without arm bands, just like his brother! The company we chose is Hamilton Aquatics, which operate at a large choice of venues (mainly schools) around the city, meaning there is always somewhere close to home. I am so impressed with this company – from the way the assessment could be booked online, to the follow-up email with details of his level, to the way I could then log back online to find the class most convenient to our location. Wilfred had his first lesson last week – and he enjoyed every second. If you have a little person ready to learn, log onto their website to book an assessment. I am confident you’ll be just as impressed as I am! Visit their website here.

9. The Brug. I was contacted by the company behind The Brug a while ago – and I instantly knew they were onto a good thing… The Brug is essentially a rug that transforms into a bag – so you can throw what you need inside the bag for the park, then unfold it all when you arrive. I am always the mum that arrives with 3,000 bags when we head anywhere on mass, so I think the idea is inspired… The product is still at the kick starter stage, but it has already reached its goal – so the good news is that it’s going into production – so make sure you snap yours up soon! This is a UK company, but I think it’s well worth using your Shop & Ship if you are in Dubai (imagine how it’ll transform your trips to the park and beach!) Visit their Kickstarter Page here.

10. Zara Kids. I was waiting for a friend to arrive for breakfast last week – but she was late… And in those 10 minutes, an email pinging into my inbox from Zara Kids, I let my fingers click on the site, and the rest (as they say) is history… I ordered from the UK site to my Shop & Ship – and just three days later, Mabel had this adorable new denim dress, plus 2 broderie anglaise tops (a snip at £3.99 each). I’m still blaming my friend (cough, cough). Shop here.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this month’s selection – and I will post again in April!

In collaboration with Mr Tumee, InstaShop, SnapDragon Lifestyle and Hamilton Aquatics.

 



20th February 2017

We test: Anti Grabbity Balcony Safety Strips

16831632_10158303930435607_303171762_nWhat’s our biggest priority as parents? Our children’s safety, of course – and that’s why living on the 21st floor with an accessible balcony has been a big worry for me for the past 5 years. In fact, I was so terrified that the boys would somehow topple over the balcony, that I completely blocked it off – quite literally, with a large plank of wood that made it impossible to slide open the door. The door stayed locked and they simply weren’t allowed out there, which meant we never got to enjoy the balcony either – and whilst that was well worth it for peace of mind, I often wondered if there was another way.

And in November last year, I found it.

Let me introduce Anti Grabbity; a prickly, textured strip that fits along the top of your balcony railing to prevent hands from grabbing hold.

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Totally ingenious.

After ordering the strips and receiving them to my door a week or so later (the company use a courier company), I tested them by trying to put my whole weight on them. It’s pretty much impossible – it doesn’t hurt when you touch them lightly (so no little hands will be damaged if they reach up to investigate), but they will dig painfully into hands if any weight is applied, meaning they would find it very, very hard to heave themselves up. This – as you can imagine – is very, very reassuring.

For so many families in Dubai living in apartments, they offer the perfect solution to making a balcony safe. The transparent strips are virtually invisible to the eye, meaning your view is never obstructed and the aesthetics of the building aren’t altered – yet the ingenious spikey design will mean little people stay firmly behind the rails.

In fact, the strips are so effective that the company recommend them to hotels too, to prevent accidents on balconies, and to cruise liners, to prevent anyone going overboard – and also recommend them for use inside the home, placing on the top of chest of drawers to prevent little climbers. Now I’m living in a villa, I have quite a dangerous shelf that the boys could climb on over the stairs, so I am going to put a strip on there to stop them pulling themselves up.

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The strips come in three types – curved, semi-curved, and flat, so they will work on any type balcony. And the clever inter-locking design means it will fit any size of balcony (you simply measure the length before ordering) and fixed by either ties (if you have space under the rail to loop it through) or through glue dots (if there is no space underneath). When you receive the strips, instructions to affix them onto the balcony are included – and it’s very, very easy.

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Balconies terrify me – and whilst the boys still weren’t allowed out on the balcony without me, having these strips gave me peace of mind that if they did work out how to open the door to get out there, they wouldn’t come to harm.  And wow – you really can’t put a price on that.

Special Offer – Free Delivery to the UAE for a limited time, for orders over $100.

Head to www.antigrabbity.com to buy online (prices are in Australian Dollars, with prices starting at just $19.95 (about 56 AED).



12th February 2017

Currently Loving – February 2017

Time for another ‘Currently Loving’ post – with things I have coveting, trying, or enjoying this month…

Currently Loving

1) Scamp & Dude. Top of my wish-list this month is new clothing Scamp & Dude. Not only are the clothes totally gorgeous (I have my eyes on several T-Shirts for the boys), but the collection has a fantastic story behind it too. Scamp & Dude was created by Jo Tutchener-Sharp, a former Fashion and Beauty PR, who saw her life change forever in October 2015 when she suffered a brain haemorrhage. She had to leave her children for a lengthy stay in hospital to undergo life-threatening brain surgery – and it was this moment that inspired Jo to create a brand that helps children feel more secure when apart from their loved ones. From something dark came something light – and Scamp & Dude is the result. Shop here (UK company; ships worldwide).

2) Talking Tables. I’m not really into Valentines Day – but if I was going to celebrate, this ‘Love Balloon’ by Talking Tables (available at ASOS) would be top of my wish list. The balloons would look great hung above the table for a romantic dinner – but would look equally good the next day (and weeks that follow, as they last an impressively long time). And the best bit? It only costs £5. There is also a ‘Happy Birthday’ balloon, which makes a really fun alternative to birthday banners. Shop here (UK company; ships worldwide) #aff

3) Little West Street. I recently discovered this beautiful company, which now ships (for free) to the UAE – and after ordering a few bits for Mabel and her new room, these alphabet cushions are next on my shopping list. I’d love an S, W, and M to pop on each of their beds. And if you are in the UK reading this, the good news is that the company ship to the UK too! $25 dollars each. Shop here. (US company; ships worldwide)

4) Greenheart UAE. I ordered from this UAE company for the first time this week and received a box of amazing organic vegetables to my door. The quality of the vegetables is like I have never seen before in the UAE – and after using the vegetables in meals every evening since, I can vouch for the fact that they taste amazing too. I’m constantly hearing good things about this UAE farm – and the truth is that it’s worth all the buzz and more. Shop here (UAE company; delivery to UAE).

5) ‘Inhale & Exhale’ Prints. We moved house last week and so my mind is on home decor – and I have just ordered these prints by company Lovely Decor at Amazon.co.uk. When they arrive, I’m going to take them to Satwa to get them framed (I’m thinking thin gold frames like these pictured). I can find life at home with two crazy boys stressful at times – and these will remind me to find my zen and take some deep breathes when things hot up. From £13.99. Shop here (UK company; ships worldwide). #aff

6) Fairy Platinum Dishwasher Tablets. It’s not usually my style to recommend household cleaning products (zzzz) but I was sent these dishwasher tablets this week and I’m impressed. The package arrived with an invitation to order a lasagna from a Dubai restaurant – and when I ordered, it arrived in a large glass dish (with instructions to pop the finished dish in the dishwasher with one of these tablets). I didn’t make any attempt to wash it before plonking it in the dishwasher – and in the morning, it was sparkling clean. Not a single mark. It was a clever marketing stunt to show how well the tablets work – and I honestly wouldn’t be bothering to tell you about them if I hadn’t been  impressed. Available at supermarkets (UK and UAE).

7) Boden. I always dress my boys in rash vests when we go to the beach as we all have such fair skin – but with so many beautiful little girly swimsuits in the shops, I’ve been so tempted to buy them for Mabel instead. Then I spotted this gorgeous floral rash vest and knickers set at Boden, which will keep her protected without having to sacrifice on the cute factor. I like it so much, I think I’m going to buy it a few different sizes. £25. Shop here (UK company; ships worldwide) #aff

8) Maluco World. I fell in love with the beautiful wooden toys at Dubai company Maluco world at first sight – especially the pastel pretty kitchens, which I’ve snapped up for Mabel’s new bedroom (not that she’s in it yet. I also have my eye on the doll’s buggies, doll’s houses, and gorgeous cloud and star cushions. Worth a look if you like your toys both traditional and well-made. Shop here (UAE company; delivers UAE).

9) Zara Kids. There are some gorgeous things at Zara Kids in the new season collection, including these beautiful unisex dungarees. Seriously tempted for Mabel (I’d team them with a pretty floral vest underneath) – but I’d definitely have dressed the boys in them too. £14.99 / 99 AED Shop here (UK and UAE stores)

10) Transguard Living. We moved house last week, which can be a stressful affair – but discovering the new app by Transguard Living has definitely eased the pressure. You download the app from The App Store or Google Play and then choose ‘Fix’ ‘Clean’ or ‘Move’ to book a service. ‘Fix’ includes services including air conditioning repair or service, appliance installation, handyman, painting and plumbing repair. ‘Clean’ includes regular home cleaning services, deep cleaning services, and window cleaning. And if you choose ‘Move’, a representative will get in touch to discuss your booking with a moving team. Booking a service takes a matter of seconds via the app – and the prices are very competitive (a handyman starts at 140 AED per hour, for example). Best of all, however, I can personally verify that the team are incredibly professional and reliable – and we know how valuable that is in a city like Dubai. I highly recommend downloading the app for whenever you need some help at home (services are available 24 hours a day, which means you’ll never be wondering what to do about  a leak in the middle of the night again). For more information, www.transguardliving.com or 800 845.

 

 



7th February 2017

5 reasons why we loved Global Village (especially during Kid Fest!)

16522865_10158235139285607_1586586341_nI’ve lived in Dubai for 6 years now – but I’ve never set foot inside Global Village. I’m not the only one either, as a quick survey amongst my friends revealed that very few had ever visited. So yesterday, after being told about Kids Fest (which is running every day at Global Village until 25th February), I thought I’d bite the bullet and head over with the boys – and after the best afternoon in a very long time, I just wish we’d done it earlier.

We arrived at 4pm, which is the time the park opens, and stayed until 7pm. This gave us plenty of time to wander around the different areas, watch several shows, enjoy lots of the kid’s activities, and eat their pick of food for their dinner – and we got to watch the sun set (which is amazing by the way – the sky is so beautiful!) If your kids are a little older (or better at staying up past their bedtime), the kid’s events continue until past 9pm. We visited on a week day and it was fairy quiet. I was worried about it being too busy and losing the boys, but it really wasn’t. It was very manageable on my own with two boys and a buggy. It’s a huge place with lots of open spaces, so it has to get very busy before you notice the crowds.

So what is Global Village? Put simply, it’s an entertainment park built around a large central courtyard, with each country from around the world (or a good proportion of them) having their own pavilion to sell traditional goods, food and drink. There are also central stages to watch shows, an area filled with fairground rides for thrill seekers, and plenty of street vendors selling food and drink. And during February, Global Village are running Kid Fest – which means you get all of the above, with the addition of regular kid’s entertainment and activities to keep them busy and happy throughout your visit.

So here goes; here are the five reasons why we loved Global Village… And now is the perfect time to head down!

1. There is lots happening for Kid Fest!

Kids would enjoy a visit to Global Village at any time, but with ‘Kids Fest’ running at the park until 25th February, it’s even more fun. All the extra activities are free of charge, including face painters, balloon benders, meet and greets with ‘Angry Birds’, a brilliant bouncy castle assault course (Stanley’s favourite thing about the afternoon), interactive dance sessions, and plenty of different shows throughout the afternoon and evening to keep them entertained.

Then you have all the kid-friendly things that are always at Global Village – dancing fountains, toddler play areas, a little train ride (Wilfred’s favourite thing about the afternoon), and the shows on the main stage (my boys were stood open-mouthed in amazement at the circus show!)

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2. It’s really cheap to get in 

Global Village costs 15 AED for entry (free for children under 3). I think that makes it one of the cheapest things you can do with the kids in this city – and well worth it for a few hours of fun.

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3. The food is amazing

I loved the street with all the vendors – it was like we were walking through a variety of different cities throughout the world. You can opt for fast food instead if that is your thing (there is an area with eateries like KFC), but we wanted to walk down this street and take our pick from what was on offer. Boys chose German Jumbo Hot Dogs With Fries – and I chose a delicious Canadian Lobster Roll. We sat down by the canal with dhows sailing past and ate it as the sun set. It was a really lovely setting and the boys felt like they were having a treat. It’s all very cheap too – their meals came to 50 AED in total, while my lobster roll was 30 AED.

There are lots of fun things on offer for drinks and snacks too – make sure you head into Afghanistan, where a vendor will make pomegranate juice fresh as you wait. And if you like cotton candy, you must visit the China pavilion. A very skilled man will weave pastel coloured cotton candy into the most beautiful flowers and heart shapes. I had trouble trying not to snatch it out of the boy’s hands.

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4. The shopping is amazing

Walk into any of the pavilions and you will find stores selling authentic items from those countries. My highlight was Africa, where I found an array of the most beautiful weaved baskets and bags. I snapped up a giant woven beach bag with leather handles for 70 AED (and I probably could’ve haggled lower, but I’m rubbish at bargaining) and a multi-coloured fruit bowl for 20 AED. I need to go back soon, as I have my eye on all the baskets for my new home (literally a fraction of the price I’d find them elsewhere in Dubai). I am also tempted by the pots of pure Shea Butter that a lady rubbed into my hand (I walked away but regretted it later).

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5. Kids get a chance to see the world (without the airfare!)

But I think one of my favourite things about Global Village is the fact you have all these different cultures mixing together and having fun – and the kids can discover about new countries too. Stanley and I had lots of conversations about the different countries we were visiting, their National Dress (as there are plenty of people in national dress milling about the pavilions offering photo opportunities), what kind of food the people ate, the music they listened to, and even their climates (he asked why Afghanistan sold fur coats, for example, which led up to conversations about how cold it can get).

Obviously nothing can beat jumping on a plane and showing your children the world – but failing that, I really recommend heading to Global Village. We will definitely be heading back soon!

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Kids Fest runs until February 25th. Entry Tickets to Global Village include access to the Kids Fest activities. Global Village is open from 4pm-12am Saturday-Wednesday and 4pm-1am Thursday-Friday and on Public Holidays until the 8th of April 2017. Mondays are family days at Global Village. Visit http://globalvillage.ae/en/

In collaboration with Global Village

 

 



16th January 2017

Things I loved about Babies & Beyond!

16117967_10158126095900607_1248774804_nWe’ve come to the end of our two week booking with Babies & Beyond, so now is the perfect time to tell you about the things that I really loved about the company.

To recap, Babies & Beyond is a Dubai company that offers a pay-by-hour nanny service for little ones – right from the early newborn days to pre-schooler years. You book the nurses per hour, with a five-hour minimum booking – and the company will aim for you to have the same nurse every time to make sure your little one is settled and happy. And if you need a long-term booking? Babies & Beyond will offer you a discount to make it affordable too.

So without further ado, here are the things I loved about the company…

1. You can trust the nurses

Just like every mother, I find it very difficult to leave my children with someone I don’t know – but without the luxury of family around to help, what choice did I have when my nanny was away for two weeks and I had work deadlines nipping at my heels? Step forward Babies & Beyond with their fully qualified nurses, all licensed by Dubai Health Authority, with paediatric first aid and life support qualifications. It all reads well on paper – and my experience over the past 2 weeks proves it too. I barely had to give instructions with the two nurses we used – they were baby whispers and that was obvious from the very first day they stepped through my door.

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2. The company matches a nurse to your child

I loved the fact the company match the perfect nurse to your child, based on their previous experience. Babies & Beyond called me for a chat when I first enquired before Christmas and then followed with a questionnaire sent to my email address to get further information. For this reason, they knew Mabel’s age, how she was fed, whether she had a routine, and whether I needed any help with my elder boys too – and once they had the information, they could match me to a nurse that was perfectly suited experience-wise to my baby.  They have nurses with experience in NICU and maternity wards in hospitals, for example, which suit the smallest babies – and they also have nurses with previous experience in nurseries across the region, meaning they are much better suited for toddlers. Thanks to this groundwork before your nurse arrives, you get someone that knows what they are doing before they have even arrived.

3. You can be flexible with your booking

You can book the hours that suit YOU – whether that’s first thing in the morning until lunchtime, a full day when you are at work, or even during the night.  Even if you have a regular booking, you can enquire about changing it / adding hours to suit your schedule and the company will do their best to accommodate. I did this twice during my booking when I realised I needed a few extra hours for a meeting – and the booking was extended by two hours and confirmed via email. Life is unpredictable – and the company really seems to understand this.

4. The nurses are totally focused on your child

This isn’t a maid service – and the nurses won’t spend time cleaning your house during your booking. They are solely dedicated to childcare – and if that seems like an inconvenience, this isn’t the service for you. The company caters to parents who want a qualified nanny to give 100% of their attention to their child – and for me, this was hugely reassuring when I walked out the door. I didn’t have to worry about the nurse missing Mabel’s cries because she was hanging up washing, nor that she’d be too focused on finishing chores to play with her. I knew she would her only priority for the length of the booking – and there is something wonderfully reassuring about that. It’s well worth the money that you pay.

Babies & Beyond Nurses cost 75 AED per hour, with a minimum booking of 5 hours (discounts offered to long-term bookings). Visit www.babiesandbeyond.ae or call 04 278 9832.

In collaboration with Babies & Beyond

 



7th January 2017

We try: Babies & Beyond Baby Care Service

15934803_10158079257840607_983223524_nWhat do you do when you work from home in Dubai and your nanny decides to take a well-deserved holiday? Well after sobbing into your pillow for a few nights (and that’s not far off the truth), you look for alternatives – and that’s exactly why Babies & Beyond have come into my life this January.

The Dubai company offer a pay-by-hour nanny service for little ones – right from the early newborn days to pre-schooler years. And with every nurse fully qualified and licensed by Dubai Health Authority, with paediatric first aid and life support qualifications, I was already impressed by what they were offering on paper, so I decided to go ahead and book for 5 x mornings a week for the first fortnight of the year.

So what happened next? Once I’d got in touch with the company to ask about availability, I received a phone call from staff member Hazel. We chatted on the phone for a good 20 minutes, talking through the ages of the children, what I needed help with, where I lived, and what timings would suit us. And within 24 hours, I was emailed with details of the nurses the company could provide for me – Candie in the first week and Lhean in the second.

The CV’s of both nurses was attached to have a read through and was offered the chance for myself and the children to meet them before my booking began. As I was in the UK until a few days before the booking commenced, I declined the offer of a meeting, but I thought it was a lovely touch for mums feeling a bit anxious about leaving their little ones for the first time. I did enjoy looking through the CVs and was very reassured by both the nurse’s experience and qualifications. A few forms to fill out and sign were also attached, which gave me the chance to give further details about both Mabel and Wilfred so that the nurses would be fully aware of our situation before they knocked on my door. So far, so good – I was impressed.

Fast forward to Monday 2nd January 2016 – and it was Candie’s first day with us. I had both Mabel and Wilfred at home with me that morning and so much work to do after the crazy Christmas period, which was making me feel pretty stressed. I expected to spend at least the first hour or so with Candie, explaining and showing her the ropes – but when she came, I realised I had nothing to worry about.

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Candie was exceptionally good with Mabel from the moment she met her. I talked her through Mabel’s current routine and feeding schedule and she nodded with understanding. I went to show her how to turn on Mabel’s snazzy rocking chair and she told me she’d used one lots before. I then told her about how Mabel likes to lie in her baby gym and how she enjoyed sitting up in her bumbo chair and she nodded along. She told me not to worry about anything and I felt very reassured – so I got to work at my desk.

And it wasn’t just Mabel she was good with, but Wilfred too. She managed to entertain and care for both children that morning so perfectly. At one point I glanced over and she was lying on the floor with Wilfred playing with his Octonauts, while keeping a careful eye on Mabel in her baby gym alongside. Wilfred loved her – and just before I took him out on his scooter in the fresh air for a while, he turned to her and said: “Don’t worry Candie, I’ll be back to play with you again later!”

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A few days later and Candie had Mabel’s routine down to a fine art. In fact, after the craziness of the Christmas holidays, she wasn’t really in any kind of fixed routine – but Candie managed to change that in just 5 days. I was really impressed with her knowledge of newborn babies and their needs. Take one morning, for example, when I heard Mabel grumbling in the bedroom after her nap. I looked up from my desk, wondering where Candie was, only to see them both leave the bedroom together with Candie explaining: “Mabel was just doing some tummy time!”

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I must confess that I am sad that Candie is leaving us, but I can see why she is in demand and had prior bookings – and I already know that Lhean will be just as professional when she arrives for the second week of care. And guess what? I’m no longer stressed about work and I know I will meet my deadlines over the next week, whilst Mabel and Wilfred will be expertly cared for. And you can’t really put a price on that kind of reassurance!

I’ll report back at the end of week two with my overall impression of Babies & Beyond – but in the meantime, keep an eye on my social media for details of how we are getting on!

If you’d like to book a Babies & Beyond Newborn Nurse or Childcare Nurse, simply visit www.babiesandbeyond.ae, call +971 (0)4 278 9832 or email info@babiesandbeyond.ae

In collaboration with Babies & Beyond.