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).



14th February 2017

My Top 10 Travel Essentials – an entry for the Mark Warner Holidays Family Ambassador Scheme

I don’t usually enter blogger competitions, but when I found out about the Mark Warner Holiday Ambassador programme today, my ears pricked up. Let me explain… The company are going to pick 5 bloggers to work with in 2017 – and the winners will get to pick a sunshine or snow holiday to review. Yep, snow. The white stuff my boys have never seen, but so desperately want to. So I decided I would enter and hope for the best.

The first part of the entry process is to create a mood board with my Top 10 Travel Essentials – and as I’ve been meaning to do this for my blog for a long time, I thought you may all enjoy it too. I’ve not gone for swimsuits and wide-brimmed hats (as for us, these things are part of day-to-day life) but I’ve gone for the things that make the actual travelling bit easier. The flights, the car journeys, the waiting around – essentially, the tough bits of traveling. And as a mum who has flown 30 long-haul flights with her kids since becoming a mother 4 and a half years ago, I talk from experience. These things work.

So here goes; my top 10 travel essentials – and please keep your fingers and toes crossed that my boys may eventually get to see snow thanks to Mark Warner (eek!)

trabel

1. Ergo Baby Carrier. I love this carrier, as the weight is taken around your hips (making it much easier to carry heavier babies and toddlers). I couldn’t fly without it – and it comes in very handy for getting around on holiday too, for those times when a buggy just won’t work (and I am imagining a bundled up Mabel in the snow here!) £89.90 at Amazon – shop here

2. YoYo Stroller. This stroller collapses down to overhead locker size with one flick of the wrist. We take it on every flight – and I have used for it for entire summers back in the UK as my only buggy, so it’s pretty efficient when you reach your destination too. It’s not cheap, but Ive had mine for over three years and used it nearly daily – and it’s still going strong, so I recommend it as an investment if you travel a lot. £402 at Smallable – shop here

3. Griffin Headphones. As soon as my boys get onto the flight, I hand over their headphones and they plug them into the inflight entertainment system (if there is one) or their iPads (if there isn’t). These earphones are designed to protect little ears – and the fun design encourages the littlest travellers to wear them. £13.37 at Amazon – shop here

4. iPad. We limit use of iPads at home – but on days we are flying, they have free reign. I make sure that I download lots of educational apps and a few of their favourite TV shows before we fly – and  we have kiddie-safe covers too, just in case they get dropped. Case is £12.99 at Amazon – shop here.

5. Snacks. You can never have too many snacks! And I really mean that, as kids have a tendency to mistake boredom for hunger, so I get asked roughly every three minutes throughout a flight. Having healthy things to hand over like raisins, apples, and dried fruit means that hungry tummies can be kept full and happy when meals are missed or messed up due to time differences too. Oh and if you are flying, sugar-free lollies are great for handing over to little ones just before take off, with the sucking stopping their little ears from popping as you take to the skies

6. Wipes. From plane meals dropped down jumpers, to sticky snacks making sticky hands, to toilet stops when there is no loo roll, I would never travel without plenty of baby wipes stashed in my hand luggage. You simply never know when you are going to need them (and believe me, you always do).

7. Activity Books. I always throw a few sticker and activities books in for the journey – and it usually keeps my 4-year old busy for at least an hour. They are an inexpensive way to pull out a new treat from my bag when they are getting bored – and being lightweight, they are great for stashing in suitcases for the holiday itself too.

8. Spare Clothes. In 30 flights, I have been caught out without spare clothes once – and Stanley had to wear an airplane blanket as a sarong for the rest of the flight (oh the shame). I have never made the mistake again since, as I always make sure I have at least one set of spare clothes per child to make sure we are covered in terms of accidents and mess making. If you have a small baby, it pays to take a spare outfit for yourself too – after all, nappies explode and babies vomit – and it’ll be a miserable journey if you are the chosen one.

9. Spare Nappies. On that note, having far more nappies than you need is a very good idea. Stanley once pooed 4 times on a single flight as a baby (I think it’s something to do with the change in pressure, but I wasn’t impressed). Nappies are lightweight, so stash them in every spare inch of hand luggage space just in case.

10. Cuddly Toys. Finally, I always let each of the kids take their favourite cuddly toy along for the journey. This does mean you need to have your wits about you (leaving their precious comforter on an airplane isn’t the ideal start to a holiday) but it also means they are far more likely to be relaxed on the journey, sleep on route, and feel settled as soon as you arrive. I always pack a few identical ‘spares’ in the main luggage just in case disaster happens – and (touch wood), I’ve only ever left a comforter on a flight once and he was too young to notice the swap.

So there are my top 10 essentials for travelling with little ones – and I hope it comes in really handy for the next time you head away with the family.  For more information on Mark Warner Holidays, visit www.markwarner.co.uk 



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.

 

 



10th January 2017

My top 10 ultimate buys for new babies…

Third baby in – and I think I’ve finally nailed the mum kit. And by that, I mean that I’ve gathered together the things that really do make motherhood easier. Those clever inventions that cut corners so you can spend more time enjoying your baby. And whilst these aren’t necessarily budget buys (I see another post in that), I can promise you won’t regret investing in any of them. So without further ado, here are my top 10 buys for new mums and mums-to-be – and I’ve included a UK and UAE link for shopping for all of them, so mummies in both countries can make use of my list….

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1. Sleepyhead

In a nutshell: A portable bed for your baby, which you place inside their cot.  

I reviewed this incredible invention here – but it’s essentially a snug bed that you place inside a cot, bed, or other flat surface for your baby to sleep. I don’t know how exactly it works, but babies just seem to love it. It’s like they are being hugged I guess, but whatever the science behind it, Mabel happily self-settles and sleeps like a dream.

UK – John Lewis – http://bit.ly/2j0o0ok #aff

UAE – Sleepyhead GCC –  http://sleepyheadgcc.com

2. Snuzpod

In a nutshell: A bedside cot that allows you to sleep safely next to your baby.

We ended up co-sleeping a lot with Wilfred, as he was just one of those babies that didn’t settle well – so I knew from the beginning of my pregnancy with Mabel that I wanted a bedside cot. I enjoyed co-sleeping with Wilfred, but I always worried about the safety of it – so this would allow me to sleep alongside my baby and get to them quickly when they woke in the night, but they’d have their own space too. Out of all the cots on the market, this was my favourite as it’s big (it should last Mabel until at least 6 months) and it looks really lovely as a piece of furniture. Expensive yes, but I’m pretty sure they will sell on well second hand.

UK – John Lewis – http://bit.ly/2j0m13k #aff

UAE – Mumzworld – www.mumzworld.com

3. Mamaroo

In a nutshell – A baby chair that bounces and sways, just like parents

This chair is quite simply amazing. You plug it in, choose the setting (including car ride, tree swing, kangaroo, rock-a-bye and ocean), and choose the speed. It isn’t cheap admittedly, but I would have palpitations if anyone took it away from me (my babies have never been able to resist sleep when on ‘car ride’ on the fastest setting, which I’ve resorted to more than few times). We used a voucher given to us by work colleagues to buys ours when Wilfred was born and have passed it onto friends when they have had little ones. It’s definitely one of my top baby buys.

UK – John Lewis – http://bit.ly/2j0liis #aff

UAE –  The Baby Boutique – www.thebabyboutique.com

4. The Ergo

In a nutshell – A baby carrier that can be used comfortably as your baby grows

I’m not really a baby wearer as I like pushing my babies in buggies, but a carrier is a necessity when you fly as often as we do – and after trial and error, the Ergo is definitely my favourite. The weight is carried around the hips (rather than shoulders), which means you can use it for longer as baby gets heavier. We had a different carrier when Stanley was a baby and I couldn’t carry him past 4 months without pain in my shoulders – but I carried Wilfred very happily in the Ergo until he was 18 months. Highly recommended.

UK – www.ergobaby.co.uk

UAE – Mumzworld – www.mumzworld.com/en/ergo-baby/

5. Snuza Hero

In a nutshell – A breathing monitor that clips to your baby’s nappy when they are sleeping

I know there is some controversy about breathing monitors, as they can make mothers even more anxious – but the peace of mind I feel when I clip this little monitor onto Mabel’s nappy is definitely worth it. Without it, I’m one of those mothers that wakes up in a cold sweat to check their baby is breathing every 10 minutes – but with it, I can go to sleep knowing this little device is monitoring that she’s breathing at least 8 times in a minute. If she doesn’t, it vibrates gently to rouse her. And if there is still no movement, an alarm would go off to wake us. I’ve used one with all three of my babies from the moment they are born, right up until them being old enough to yank it off (I’ve stopped at around 8 months in the past).

UK – Amazon  - http://amzn.to/2jcv925 #aff

UAE – Just Kidding – www.justkidding-me.com

6. Milkies Milk Saver

In a nutshell – A silicon device you pop in your bra to catch milk when you are feeding the other side.

What exactly is a milk saver? Well it’s a simple silicone device that you pop on the other boob when feeding and it collects all the milk that would usually be wasted in your breast-pad (it’s amazing how much you get, which can then be saved in the fridge or freezer for when you need to do a bottle feed). I’ve used it with Mabel since she was born – and this simple thing has saved me pumping and has therefore been a lifesaver (I hate pumping). Midwives and lactation consultants have all been amazed by it – and I never knew I could love a strange milk catcher thing quite so much.

UK – Amazon – http://amzn.to/2id7Oiq #aff

UAE – Order via Amazon and Shop & Ship (as above).

7. Boppy Pillow

In a nutshell – A cushion to help support your baby during breastfeeding

Talking of breastfeeding, I have been totally reliant on my Boppy Pillow with all my babies. I’ve tried smaller, more compact cushions, but none of them have compared to the Boppy – and I’ve even carried it onto flights (great way to comfortably cuddle a small baby on a long-haul by the way!) I got a really gorgeous cover for mine at Pottery Barn Kids in Dubai, but that’s just a luxury extra that you don’t really need if you are on a budget.

UK – Argos – www.argos.co.uk

UAE – Pottery Barn Kids

8. Aden & Anais Swaddle Blankets

In a nutshell – Giant muslin cloths that can be used for all kinds of different things at home and when you head out.

My first two babies loved to be swaddled as newborns, but not Mabel – oh no, she wasn’t having any of it. She cried and struggled and fought her arms out – and when we finally gave up, boom, she started sleeping through the night at a week old. So as great as these swaddles are for actually swaddling (and they are the best), that’s not actually why I’m recommending them. I’m recommending them as giant muslin cloths, which have so many different uses with newborn babies around the house. Lightweight blankets for warm weather, sick moppers, bottom sheets for the pram basinet, window drapes to block the sun in the car… The list goes on. Basically they are brilliant – and worth the extra money to get the big ones!

UK – John Lewis – http://bit.ly/2j2AdbX  #aff

UAE – Baby Souk – www.babysouk.com/

9. Cuddle Dry Apron Towel

In a nutshell – The best towel for newborns, allowing you to scoop them out the bath and cuddle them without getting soaked.

When I was first sent this to try (thanks Cuddle Dry!) I must admit that I thought it was a bit pointless – but then I started using it, and wow! It’s amazing. You pop it over your head, scoop your newborn out of the bath, and pull them into you in a cuddle. There’s a pocket at the bottom that you fit over their head as a hood to keep them warm – and the towel between you stops your clothes getting soaked (and having two boys that splash a lot in the bath, anything that stops it happening with the baby too is a real bonus!) Highly recommended!

UK – Amazon – http://amzn.to/2idn0vZ #aff

UAE – Baby Souk – www.babysouk.com/

10. Water Wipes

In a nutshell – Baby wipes made from 99.9% purified water for easy nappy changes and healthy bottoms! 

With my first baby, I used cotton wool and water for weeks – and then gave up and started using pure wipes, which made life so much easier. With my second baby, I decided not to take on the meconium and start with the pure baby wipes – cue a horrible weeping nappy rash that made me sob every nappy change. So I wasn’t going to make that mistake again with Mabel and decided to invest in 12 packs of Water Wipes for my hospital bag and early days at home. They are made with 99.9% purified water and 0.01% fruit extracts, making them the world’s purest baby wipes. I love them so much that I have restocked my supplies and will definitely be continuing to use them for Mabel as long as possible.

UK – 12 packs at Amazon – http://amzn.to/2iXfIuK #aff

UAE – Deliver 2 Mum – www.deliver2mum.com



21st November 2016

Currently Loving… November

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

currently-loving

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



1st November 2016

7 reasons we loved the 7-seater Chevrolet Captiva…

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

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

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

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2. But it’s not too big

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

3. It drives really nicely

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

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4. It’s safe

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

5. It’s easy to park

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

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

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

7. It looks great

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

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

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



21st October 2016

Mabel tests: Sleepyhead Deluxe

14813613_10157669099185607_1688948676_nI’ve got a lot of reviews to write for the new baby items we purchased before Mabel arrived (from strollers, to cots, to monitors) – but I want to properly test every single one before I give my verdict, which is why it’s taken me this long to get going.

But now I feel vaguely human again and we have the very early stages of what feels like a (*whispers*) routine, I have decided to get started – and I have to begin by telling you about the Sleepyhead Deluxe BECAUSE IT’S AMAZING!

Let me start by saying that it’s very hard to review baby items with confidence – as you simply don’t know what life would be like if you didn’t use it. Would they sleep better / worse? Would they be calmer / easier? You just don’t know. But this is my third baby and so I do have some idea about how the average newborn behaves and sleeps, so I feel qualified to talk about how the things we have purchased have transformed life for the better (or worse, in some cases).

And Sleepyhead has definitely transformed life for the better.

But let’s start at the beginning. What exactly is it? Sleepyhead Deluxe is the first size of Sleepyhead – and it is essentially a safe, cosy dock for babies aged 0-8 months. Or put simply by the brand; “the Sleepyhead offers a safe and comfy spot that lets baby sleep, rest, lounge, play, cuddle, do tummy time and get nappy changes.”

Mabel sleeps in her Sleepyhead every night (which we place inside her Snuzpod, which attaches to our bed – review on that coming soon!) I feed her, pass her to Daddy to be burped and have cuddles, and then we place her inside. And since she was one week old, it’s been as simple as that. She never grumbles or cries – she just goes to sleep.

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I vividly remember both Stanley and Wilfred waking up as soon as we placed them in their Moses Baskets at night. I’d try and rock it with one hand, as I dozed in bed – but it rarely worked and we’d have to start the whole cuddle to sleep / transport to basket process again. I remember feeling so exhausted and exasperated.

But there’s something about the Sleepyhead that Mabel just loves. She feels so snug and secure that I think it’s a bit like being cuddled by her bed. Probably a bit like being in the womb. She’s warm, she’s cosy, and she’s happy.

She sleeps like a dream and has done since the beginning. In fact, most nights (and I’m scared to type this in case I jinx it), she sleeps from midnight to 5.30am straight at just 4 weeks old. She is a very chilled and good little baby – so I am not promising that your baby will suddenly start sleeping through the night if you buy this, but I honestly think it helps in Mabel’s case.

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We use it during the day too. I often dress her while she lies in it – and when she falls asleep on me during the day after a feed, I pop her down in her Sleepyhead in the lounge.

I love the fact it’s so light and easy to transport. In fact, when I fly back to the UK in 10 days with Mabel for a wedding (the boys are staying in Dubai with their Dad), I’m packing it in my suitcase and she will sleep alongside me in the Sleepyhead in my bed.

The safety aspect is one of the most important things for me – and it’s good to know that the Sleepyhead has been rigorously tested and complies with safety standards in the US, Canada and EU. In fact, the Swedish entrepreneur that developed Sleepyhead (one clever, clever lady that I would like to hug) designed Sleepyhead when she wanted to find a safe co-sleeping solution after her first baby was born in 2006. The materials are breathable, the mattress is firm, and the design supports safe sleeping. It’s really very clever.

When she gets bigger, she can graduate to the Sleepyhead Grand (for tots between 8 and 36 months) – and both designs have a range of washable covers to keep the Sleepyhead clean, but also look pretty cool too. Mabel’s grey design is called Silver Lining.

So what do I really think of the Sleepyhead? I LOVE IT – and I just wish I’d had it when my boys were little too.

Buy in the Middle East at Sleepyhead GCCclick here >> http://sleepyheadgcc.com/buy.php

(Sleepyhead Deluxe, from 749 AED. Sleepyhead Grand, from 1099 AED).

Buy in the UK at John Lewisclick here >> http://bit.ly/2eqsuzk

(Sleepyhead Deluxe, from £110. Sleepyhead Grand, from £165).

 

 

 

 



26th August 2016

Currently Loving in Dubai – August

We have been back in Dubai for nearly 4 weeks now (wow, that’s gone quickly!) and there are certain places that have been keeping me sane in 45+’C, with two active little boys and a rapidly growing tummy. There are also things I have been buying for the boys and new baby and the odd moment I have been enjoying myself (not that I am ever really on my own any more, with these kicks to the ribs!) So here goes – the things and places I have been loving in August…

Currently Loving Aug

1. Magnolia Bakery

You may have seen my posts recently about Magnolia Bakery – and if your kids have a sweet tooth, it’s a really lovely way to treat them over the summer holidays (I think you might enjoy it too!) We spent a lovely morning at one of the branches a few weekends ago and there’s just something I really like about the atmosphere in there – it’s like a chilled coffee shop (and the coffee is really good if you haven’t tried it) but with the addition of the most beautiful cakes, desserts, and cookies. So the husband and I get our caffeine fix – and the boys are kept happy with their pastel pretty cupcake. Winner!

Details - www.magnoliabakery.com/locations/

2. Pastels, Al Wasl Road

I had a lovely afternoon at Pastels Al Wasl Road this week, getting ready for new baby, with a cut, colour, manicure and pedicure. I always like a bit of pre-baby pampering, mainly because I have no idea when I will be able to visit the hairdresser again (especially as I plan to breastfeed so will have a baby attached to me for a while at least), but also because (quite vain to admit), I know I will treasure those newborn photos and I don’t want my dodgy roots spoiling them. For my nails, I chose Essie Baby’s Breath; here’s hoping, hey? 
I really recommend this salon on Al Wasl Road – it’s such a peaceful spot to spend an afternoon, with lots of light streaming through the windows, fish swimming around a tank, and the comfiest chairs. Let’s hope it’s not tooooo long before I can make a return visit!

Details: www.pastels-salon.com

3. The Bedouin Penguins by Asma Al Ketbi

I love discovering books written about Dubai – after all, this is where my boys live and I want them to read about it. So I recently treated the boys to The Bedouin Penguins by Emirati author Asma Al Ketbi, which tells the tale of a family of penguins from Ski Dubai heading into the desert to meet a Bedouins and see their way of life. The illustrations by Maitha Al Khayat are beautiful and the story is gorgeous. I recommend buying a copy for your kids – and think it’d make a wonderful gift for handing out at all those upcoming birthday parties too.

Details: 20 AED at Jashanmal Book Shops – www.jashanmalgroup.com

4. Bright Eyez

In the midst of buying a new girly wardrobe for baby number three, I barely noticed that my eldest had shot up and his T-Shirts now looked like crop tops! When we got back to Dubai after 5 weeks in the UK, I knew I needed to get him some new clothes and I stumbled on BrightEyez.ae, where some of the coolest T-Shirts (which I’d previously coveted from the UK and USA) were available with some amazing discounts. I treated both the boys to a few and wish I’d done it sooner. Now just trying to resist buying more!

Shop: www.brighteyez.ae

5. Mamas & Papas

Dubai Mummies, we are in luck – as the online world is finally starting to make life easier for us! And the latest brand to start delivering to our door is Mamas & Papas, who launched their online boutique this week. I made an order on Thursday evening as there were still a few things on my ‘to buy’ list for baby girl (including her record book, which I’m sure I’ll ignore for a few months – but at least I’ll know it’s there haha) – and the next morning I got a phone call and then my order was delivered before lunch. Impressive service!

Shop: www.mamasandpapas.ae

6. Kaiser Furniture

We’re in the market for a new bed for Stanley at the moment – mainly because his younger brother keeps climbing out of his cot, so he needs to move into the toddler bed Stanley is currently sleeping in (not ideal timing with a baby on the way, but it seems kids don’t work to a timetable). Whilst browsing places in Dubai to buy it, I’ve fallen in love with a German furniture company Kaiser, which is based in Umm Suqeim. Fun designs and seriously good craftsmanship. The pieces are investments, so don’t expect budget prices – but you definitely get what you pay for. How much fun is this monster design bed?

Details: www.kaiserme.com



11th August 2016

My Dubai Back-to-School Shopping List…

Is it the end of August yet? But seriously – I’m more than ready for the school gates to open again now. My boys have been off school and nursery now for 6 weeks, with another 3 and a bit to go. It’s a long time – especially when you are carrying around a gigantic beach ball of a belly and the temperature outside in the high 40’s.

But I digress… The point of this post is to talk about the ways I have been getting ready for the new school term (hurrah) – and the places we have been shopping for bits and pieces for the boys. So without further ado, here are the places I have been shopping to get my boys ready for the new term…

1 – Shoe Shopping

Where I go: Pairs Middle East

When it comes to shopping for the boy’s school and nursery shoes, my first port of call is the footwear store Pairs. With stores all over the UAE, the shelves are full to the brim with the coolest casual sports brands, including Converse, Skechers, Keds, Ralph Lauren, and Adidas – and the shop assistants are very helpful when it comes to finding sizes and picking styles (a breath of fresh air in Dubai, especially when you have kids in tow). Also excitingly for back to school this August, the company are giving away a complimentary school bag (personalised with your child’s name embroidered on it) with the purchase of any pair of school shoes (black and white) – I got these for the boys (see below) and they couldn’t have been happier! I really recommend heading into store yourself.

For more information, visit the Pairs Middle East Facebook Page or head straight into store at Deira City Center, Dubai Festival City, The Dubai Mall, Mall of Emirates, IBN Battuta, Al Ghurair, Marina Mall Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi Mall, Yas Mall, Sahara Center and Mushrif Mall. You can also now shop online at their new website at www.sportlanduae.com/brands/pairs

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2. Name Label Ordering

Where I buy: Ladybug Labels

School uniform isn’t cheap – which is why everything I send to school is labelled to within an inch of its life. That means my name label sticker stash is running short, so I’ve just re-ordered from UAE-based Ladybug Labels. I’ve just ordered the ‘Back to School Pack, which has a selection of classic stickers, large sticker labels, pencil labels, spot labels, and iron-on labels. The sticky labels are all dishwasher safe (and they honestly do last) and I like the fact you can design the labels online too.

Order online at www.ladybuglabels.com

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3. Lunchbox Buying

Where I buy: Mumzworld

My two have had the same lunch boxes for the last few years and they are showing the signs of daily use, with grubby marks and dodgy zips – so I am treating them to new ones this year from Mumzworld. The online store (which has just been redesigned and looks amazing!) has a large selection of different lunchboxes – from spacious zip-up boxes by Beatrix (I love these ones!) to hard protective boxes with colourful designs by Yubo, to bento-style boxes from Bentology. All at good prices too, with delivery to our doors (whoop!)

Buy online at www.mumzworld.com 

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4. Swimwear Buying

Where I buy: COEGA

My two seem to have shot up over the summer – and as a consequence, their UV swim tops look like crop tops and swim shorts look like hot pants (not the best look admittedly). I need to get them some new swimming things for their lessons at school and nursery – and I am sticking to a brand I know and trust with COEGA. There are stores all over Dubai where you can browse and buy the brand – and you can trust that little ones are protected even when in the bright sunshine.

For more information and stockists, visit www.coegawear.com/mobile/locations/

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5. Haircuts

Where I go: Orlando, JLT

My boys had their very first haircuts at Favourite Things in Marina Mall, which has now sadly shut its doors – so I was very happy to hear that employee Orlando (who everyone raved about when it came to haircutting) had set up on his own in JLT. I will definitely be taking the boys here for their pre-school and nursery haircuts in the last week of the holidays and can personally vouch for the service (there are toys aplenty to keep them happy while their siblings are having their turn too).

Kids Salon, JBC1, Cluster G, UB 12, Lake Level JTL. Timings 9am-9pm. Call or Whatsapp 05560 72563 for appointments

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