9th October 2017

One to download: Yo Neighbor

If you live in the UAE, I recommend that you grab your phone and download the app Yo Neighbor immediately – because honestly, I think this is one of the best app launches I’ve seen come to the UAE in a long time.

Let me explain. Yo Neigbor is all about renting out your belongings to your neighbours – so you can list all those items lying around the house that you don’t use very often to people that may need them for a few hours or a few days. You make some extra cash  – and your neighbours get the things they need much more affordably than buying them new.

So how does it work?

Firstly, you download the app and input the area where you live (Arabian Ranches or Jumeirah, for example) – and then you simply take pictures of the items you would like to hire out, upload them to the app, and name your price. People will soon start to see your items pop up in their feed – and they can contact you to arrange pick-up when they want to hire your item.

If you’re the one that wants to hire something from a neighbour, it works exactly the same way. Input your location, pick the category (such as Baby Stuff, Enjoying The Outdoors, or Let’s Get Fit!, for example) and start browsing what is on offer. The app is arranged so that the items closest to you are first in your feed, moving to those further away as you keep scrolling.

I think it’s a fantastic way to make a bit of extra cash when hiring out your belongings or to save cash when hiring things you need yourself, whilst also meeting new people in your community. I also love the fact the app offers UAE residents the opportunity to be more sustainable, given that they can share items, rather than always buying new.

It also works really well if you are in the UAE but don’t know how long you’ll be staying, so don’t want to buy everything new – or if you have just arrived and are waiting for your shipment to arrive.

 

What kind of things can I hire / hire out?

There are hundreds of different things you can hire / hire out, but I’ve listed below some of the categories I think the app works especially well for – those items you don’t need often enough to buy new, but that you need occasionally and wish you had a neighbour to borrow from…

  • Camping Equipment
  • Ladders and DIY tools
  • Baby equipment like cots and toys, for when friends are visiting
  • Barbecues and Outdoor Entertaining Items
  • Kid’s Costumes for dress-up days at school / nursery
  • Sporting Equipment like tennis rackets or golf clubs
  • Musical Instruments for lessons at school

There’s lots more too – so I highly recommend you download the app and have a browse!

Download on iTunes here.

Download on Google Play here.



5th September 2017

Stanley tries: Reading Eggs

At 11 weeks, the summer holidays has been an extra long one for us – and oh my goodness, I’m so ready for both my boys to be out of the house for a while! But that applies to my eldest especially, because he’s always been academic and thrived into the classroom – and entertaining him at home has been really, really hard.

I’ve also worried that with such a long break, he will have forgotten pretty much everything he learnt in the last term – and without the time to sit down and read with him (with his siblings usually sat on my hip or clinging to my legs), I enthusiastically accepted an invitation to sign up for a trial of Reading Eggs.

So what is Reading Eggs?

Available for children to play on both a laptop and iPad, the programme is designed to teach young children essential early literacy skills in a fun and engaging way. Reading Eggs was developed by a team of primary teachers, with over 30 years experience, and is built on recognised learning principles and solid scientific research on how children most effectively learn.

I simply logged in for Stanley with my username and password (he preferred to play on my laptop as it’s usually totally forbidden!) and chose the programme for children aged 3-7 (there’s also a section for those aged 2-4 years and 7-13 years, along with a maths section for 3-9 year olds). Stanley then took it from there – and I’d occasionally lean over to find him flicking the pages of a book, playing puzzles with words, or (the best bit) dancing along to party music when he completed a level!

You can add more than one child to your trial too, which is a big bonus to those of us with younger or older siblings that fancy having a go too.

Did he enjoy it?

He loved every single second – and literally begged me most mornings this summer to have a go. I’m usually quite reluctant about handing over the iPad at home, but I didn’t mind him playing Reading Eggs at all as I knew how well respected the programme is and that it was really helping with his reading and literacy skills.

One element that I loved was that I got regular reports on his progress emailed through to me too – so even if I was busy with his siblings, washing up bottles, or trying to make a dent in the laundry pile while the baby slept, it meant I knew he was completing the stages. If I wanted more information, I just clicked the link so I could see the reading level he was working at too.

Do I recommend it?

Yes – definitely.

To be honest I didn’t really expect to be so impressed, thinking that it might kill a few hours over the summer so was worth the trial. But Stanley enjoyed it so much and I can see the progress he has made in black and white, meaning it’s a far better alternative to the YouTube Kids videos he’d probably be watching if he asked me for a bit of screen time. If you child enjoys playing on an iPad or clicking on a laptop, this is a very reassuring way to know that they are learning too. And with school back now (hurrah), it’s a great way to get them in the mood for learning again too.

Fancy a free trial? Reading Eggs are offering all of my readers a free 5-week trial by registering at this link – www.readingeggs.co.uk/mobam17/

 

 

In collaboration with Reading Eggs

 



3rd July 2017

Eight years ago today, my boyfriend left

I waved him goodbye, walked up the stairs, and sobbed big heavy tears into my pillow.

We were 26 and 28 years old then – and we had been living in Blackheath in London with our 10-month old puppy. Our weekends consisted of walking across the heath to the farmer’s market with our dog on a lead, stocking up on food from the various stalls, nipping into the village store for the papers on our way home, and then sitting in front of a roaring fire as the hours passed slowly and lazily. In the evenings, we travelled into London and met friends, laughing, chatting, and drinking wine and cocktails early into the next morning.

We were happy – and I was sure my soul belonged in London.

But he worked in finance – and with the ‘credit crunch’ paralysing the financial industries in the UK, we both decided it was a sensible decision to accept a job he had been offered in Dubai.

It was a mutual decision – and in hindsight, it was the right decision. But I still felt like the world had been ripped out from under my feet on that warm July day back in 2009.

He told me he would give it 6 months and we’d see where we were. I moved in with my parents – furniture in the top of their garage, dog running a-mock in their house, and clothes crumpled in several suitcases. I flew out to Dubai to visit him every other month – and he returned the favour on the ones in between. That six months passed slowly and difficultly – but he didn’t return. I forgave him when he proposed on a sunny day in Greenwich Park with the sparkliest diamond and a view over London that will forever be etched in my mind.

That 6 months turned into 18 months – and we got married on a December day, with our beloved London blanketed in snow. And as January ticked around, I packed those belongings in a suitcase once again, kissed goodbye to our dog on my parent’s doorstep with tears pricking my eyes, and made my own way to Dubai to begin our life as husband and wife.

That was 6 and a half years ago now – and 3 kids and 6 homes later, we are still here.

I often think about our life in London – and my heart aches. But I don’t think it’s aching for ‘home’ – I think it’s aching for the simplicity of life before kids, when my skin was glowing with the benefits of regular sleep, when friends answered pleas to meet up within minutes, and the buzz of London living perked me up far quicker than a mug of strong coffee.

I adored that city and I adored that life – and if you had told me that I’d be living in the Middle East as a mother-of-three in eight years time, I’d have laughed until I was on the floor, then thrown a bowl of cold water over your head to sober you up.

I never had wanderlust. I never travelled the world after I finished university. I never wanted to live anywhere else in the world. Each to their own, but the idea of being an expat just wasn’t appealing to me – so I am as surprised as anyone that I am still here in the desert, bringing up my kids in a 45’C eternal summer and barely stepping out of my flip-flops in nearly a decade.

But I don’t regret the move we made for a second – and whilst my love from London has never waned, my love for Dubai has grown strongly and steadily alongside it as the years have passed. The city that embraced me as I grew three children in my belly, that has given me friends as close as family, that has offered us opportunity after opportunity, and that truly is ‘home’.

The pang in my heart I feel for the London skyline is still there – but now I feel the same for burnt orange desert dunes, for palm trees swaying the breeze, for silver skyscrapers jutting into a flawless blue sky, for starfish and pale pink shells on the shore, for the smell of jasmine in the air on a warm evening, for the sound of crickets when I head outside to my car. And for the people, every colour and every nationality, living shoulder-to-shoulder alongside us. Two cities and two homes.

Eight years ago today, my boyfriend left.

And I will never regret letting him go.



8th June 2017

Why we’ve finally taken out a RSA Home Insurance Policy…

10392193_304633675606_5994875_nIt was 2008 and I was living in Blackheath, London with my then-boyfriend and our dog, when he suddenly dropped the bombshell that he had been offered a position in Dubai. He told me that he was only going to stay 6 months, so I decided to move back into my parent’s house with the dog – and fly out to Dubai regularly for holidays. But 6 months turned into 18 months – and after getting married on a snowy day in Greenwich in December 2010, I thought I better commit to the Dubai thing (given we were married now and all).

So I flew out with a couple of suitcases in January 2011 – and our life as a married couple began in the desert. We rented a flat, bought the bare necessities in furniture from IKEA, and set up utility accounts and phone numbers. But the one thing we never did back then – nor for the 6 years afterwards – is think about taking out home insurance.

And we aren’t alone. Apparently only 6% of UAE residents are estimated to have home contents insurance (source here) – and whilst it’s shocking that the other 94% would have zero to fall back on if disaster struck at home, I am really not surprised.

Because just like us, they probably see Dubai as transient. Arriving with a suitcase, buying second-hand or very cheap furniture, renting places to live rather than buying, and never knowing when expat life will be over and it’ll be time to head back home.

So why did we take out a policy?

After I heard that statistic, it got me thinking. And I looked around our villa at the things we had accrued over the years. The pictures on the walls, the TV, the computers, the cameras, the iPads, the children’s toys, the stacks of books in the bookcase, the growing collection of furniture, rugs, and kitchen equipment. And then upstairs, the clothes in our wardrobes, the shoes, the jewellery, the accessories, the bed linen, the towels… The list went on in my mind – and if, god forbid, we had a theft, a flood or a fire, a lot of it may be gone.

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But RSA Home Insurance is about more than that too – it’s about being covered for emergency accommodation while you get things sorted, if belongings are damaged in transit when moving house, if your door keys are stolen and you need the locks changed, if your deep freezer breaks and you lose everything inside, and much more.

 The extras

You can also add things onto the policy – I added the replacement of lost documents, as I know how expensive it is to replace them (my husband accidently throwing away Mabel’s birth certificate is testament to that).

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And that’s not all, as you can also choose to add the belongings of your domestic staff or additional tenants to the policy too.

And it’s not just at home that your belongings are protected, but those you choose to take out of the house too. So if I took my laptop out with me one day and managed to lose it (even the thought gives me the chills), I would now be covered on our home insurance policy.

How much?

It’s really easy and quick to get a quote. Just head to www.rsadirect.ae/home-insurance and click on ‘Start your home insurance quote’. It took me a few minutes to get my quote, agree to the terms, and click through to pay for it. An email then quickly pinged into my inbox with our policy documents, where they can be filed away safely for if we ever need them.

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Our policy cost 1,035 AED for an annual policy, which I think is fantastic value for the level of cover we have – and really not much when you consider what a godsend it could be, if we had a disaster. Policies start at just a few hundred dirhams, making it really very affordable.

The funny thing is that after 6 years of not thinking we need home insurance, I feel really relieved that we have it sorted!

Head over to www.rsadirect.ae/home-insurance now to get your quote.

In collaboration with RSA Insurance

 



6th June 2017

ORDER YOUR KIDORE FUN FLIGHT PACKS BEFORE YOU TRAVEL THIS SUMMER!

graphic with text inside-finalThere aren’t many areas of parenting where I’d claim to be an expert – but travelling with kids is probably one I’d put my hand up to… After all, since becoming a Mum just five years ago, I have travelled back and forth from the UK to Dubai (and the odd far-flung trip in between) with a frequency that would probably bring most non-expat mums out in a cold sweat. In fact, when we fly back to the UK for our summer holiday in July, it will be Stanley’s 31st long-haul flight, Wilfred’s 16th, and Mabel’s 5th.

I’m quite relaxed about flying in general – but over the years, I have done one thing to prepare – and that is put together activity packs to keep the children entertained when we buckle up in our airplane seats. I’ve spent hours trawling the malls for the perfect additions for these kits in the past – and it’s not only been expensive, but hugely time consuming too.

So when the brilliant online kid’s store Kidore.com asked if I’d like to help collate a selection of Flight Packs for different ages – all at the amazing price of 100 AED all in – I jumped at the chance.

After all, they’d save me time and money as Mum – and they’d save all of you time and money too. So that’s a parenting win in my book…

Each item has been picked for being small and lightweight, meaning the packs are easy to transport in hand luggage – and they are also individually packaged, so Mummy can pull them out one-by-one throughout the journey.

So without further ado, here are the 7 different Fun Flight Packs you can buy for your kids at Kidore.com from today – at just 100 AED. There is a link below each set to click through and order.

Happy flying!

The Baby (0-15 months) – Travel Pack

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Contains: Hard Back “Who Am I?” Book, Pixie Rattle, Mini Wire Beads, Wooden ‘My First Book’, and Small Wooden Car.

100 AED

Click here to order

The Active Baby (15 months – 2 years) – Travel Pack

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Contains: Hard Back “Who Am I?” Book, Mini Wire Beads, Wooden ‘My First Book’, and Small Wooden Car, Handy Block Puzzle.

100 AED

Click here to order

The Toddler – Travel Pack

 The Toddler

Contains: Hard Board Book about a Pilot, Small Magnetic Bead Trace, Crayola Jumbo Crayons, Wooden Maze, Eye Spy, and Small Wooden Car.

100 AED

Click here to order

The Kid – Travel Pack

The Kid

Contains: Crayola Colour by Numbers Book, “The Elves And The Shoemaker” Story Book, Eye Spy, Minions Pairs & Donkey Game, Bendy Pencil and Mega Activities Assorted Puzzles & Colouring Book.

100 AED

Click here to order

The Arty Princess – Travel Pack

The Arty Princess

Contains: How’s it different ‘Spot the difference’ game, Disney Happy Families Card Game, Princess Craft Egg (contains 4 markers, 4 crayons, 2 ink pads, 2 finger pots and 10 colouring sheets), Bendy Pencil, and Magnetic Scribbler.

100 AED

Click here to order

The Arty Superhero – Travel Pack

 Arty Superhero

Contains: How’s it different ‘Spot the difference’ game, Minions Happy Families Card Game, Finding Dory Craft Egg (contains 4 markers, 4 crayons, 2 ink pads, 2 finger pots and 10 colouring sheets), Bendy Pencil, and Magnetic Scribbler.

100 AED

Click here to order

The Tween Swag

Tween Swag

Contains: ‘Wonders of the World’ Book, Origami Paper Folding Book, Hugga A6 Notebook, Bendy Pencil, and Shuffle Pictureka.

100 AED

Click here to order

  

To view the full range, click here

 

 



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



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



18th April 2017

My final thoughts on classes at Heguru Centre Dubai

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

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

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

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So why am I impressed?  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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So what happens now?

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

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

 

In collaboration with Heguru Dubai