Monday, 3 April 2017

Dear Zoo Trail at London Zoo

On Saturday we were invited to the launch of the new Dear Zoo trail at London Zoo.  To celebrate the 35th anniversary of the childhood classic book by Rod Campbell, ZSL and Macmillan books have created a trail around the zoo where children can collect stamps for all the classic Dear Zoo characters.  

Dear Zoo was one of the first books we bought when Dylan was little and I think we all know all the words now.  I took Archie and Cora with me for our trip to the zoo as Dylan and Finn were both ill and we loved following the trail and finding the stamps for the animals that were too fierce, too jumpy and too grumpy to become pets.

We were really excited to meet Rod Campbell and listen to him read Dear Zoo to the children.  We loved the special birthday cakes and Cora got to wear her Dear Zoo dress (M&S did a lovely range last year).  

dear zoo trail, London Zoo, dear zoo at ZSL London zoo,

The elephants are currently at ZSL Whipsnade rather than ZSL London so our card came pre stamped with the 'too big' box, but the rest of the stations were located by their animal and the children could do the stamps themselves.  The Dear Zoo theme extends around the park and the restaraunts sell themed kids meals as well as having decorations baring the famous giraffe.  It made our visit to the zoo even more special and Archie was so proud to complete his card.  

dear zoo cakes, dear zoo at London zoo

giraffes, London zoo

dear zoo trail at London zoo, London zoo, dear zoo trail

As well as enjoying the trail, we loved the new Land of the Lion area which transported us into the heart of India with a colourful hands-on exhibit surrounding the mighty (and far too fierce) animals. Archie and his friend T loved playing in the vehicles, trying to pedal the bikes and exploring the different areas. 

The zoo is brilliantly designed to keep children occupied and we could break up discovering animals with areas like Land of the Lion to discover, parks to play in and plenty of space to run around. 

land of the lions, London zoo

land of the lions, zsl London zoo

dear zoo trail, london zoo

dear zoo trail, London zoo, ZSL London

The Dear Zoo trail is on from April 1st to April 17th at ZSL London and is included free with your ticket price.  We had the most wonderful (and exhausting) day.
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Friday, 31 March 2017

Me and Mine March

I started the year so much more organised than I finished the last one and I managed all of two months before I gave into disorganisation once more.  March has been the month I tried to catch up again, mastered the to-do list and completed failed at the elusive work/life balance.  

Generally it has been quite quiet with more quiet weekends close to home than anything else.  The bloke had a birthday and we had a lovely Mother's Day seeing my Mum and Dad and my brother and his family - these photos were taken on Mother's Day in my parent's garden.

We are all ready for the two weeks off school which start this afternoon and whilst we have few few concrete plans we are looking forward to some spontaneity and family time. 

This month
Mama is loving getting her sandals back out, lighter evenings, eating creme eggs and brunch outside at the beach cafe.

Daddy is loving his new coffee machine (something that seems to come up far too often), Finn's crazy personality coming out more, cuddles with Cora whilst she still feels like a baby and a big night out with old friends

Dylan is loving doing Easter crafts at school, playing games on the X-box, choosing his own sweets at the newsagents for film night and playing Mummy, Daddy and baby zombies at school with his friends.

Archie is loving building 'battle bots' with his Lego Duplo, dodging lasers and crocodiles on the walk to preschool, not having to wear a coat everyday and his new bunk beds.

Finn is loving playing peekabo with Cora, being out the buggy walking more often, singing the Tiny Tim turtle song over and over and counting things.

Cora is loving having breakfast every day, practicing her pincer grip (mostly on my skin), playing with duplo and playing peekabo with Finn.

And finally, to sum up March here is what a real family photo look like - not a single person looking at the camera!

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Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Cora's Style

When I was pregnant with our fourth baby, I couldn't imagine ever having a little girl.  Whilst a big part of me was convinced that is what I was having, I doubted my instinct constantly as I was a Mama to boys and happy to stay that way.  At every scan they confirmed that I was carrying a baby girl, but I still felt unsure and not entirely comfortable with the idea.

I went shopping for baby girls clothes, but anything pink, frilly or with bows on was a little scary and I stuck to more unisex designs.  I didn't know why she would need dresses and there was no reason that this baby of mine couldn't wear the same bright colours and prints that her brothers did.  When she arrived, she looked much like them, the same squished nose and chubby cheeks with a little bit of dark black hair.  Dressed all in white she looked like a baby, not a girl or boy - just a baby.

As the weeks went by, my fear of girly clothes started to subside, and when Cora was a few weeks old I tried her in something pink.  I wasn't expecting to like it, but it really suited her.  Over the months we have added more pink into her wardrobe, however all the while I am in charge of choosing her clothes she will have a range of colours.  Pink is lovely, but so is yellow and blue and she can look incredibly 'girly' without a single touch of pink or flower on her.

I feel like I am constantly experimenting with her style, trying out new things, different colours or prints on her and I am having so much fun dressing my little girl.  There are so many dresses for girls  that are full of colour or challenge the stereotypes and she has lots of practical dungarees and leggings too.  

As we enjoy the final weeks (maybe days) of having a mostly non-mobile baby, I know that things will change all over again, some of her baby girl dresses will no longer be practical and we will be moving back to rompers and leggings until she is up on her feet.  I am really enjoying the different choices for little girls though as whilst Finn wears a lot of unisex clothing, dresses and skirts were a bit too far for me so it is a whole new section of the shops to explore.

Collaborative Post

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Tuesday, 28 March 2017

What Cora Wore // Martha and Hepsie

Whilst I am starting to love pretty little dresses, leggings are still the most practical baby clothing and we have recently discovered Martha and Hepsie.  Cora was sent a pair of their Tally tabby cat leggings and they are adorable, fun and easy to wear.

Martha and Hepsie manufacture everything here in the UK which is something we are really keen to support.  The small design team are based in Sheffield and Devon and their online store sells beautiful products from homeware to stationary to their newly launched baby range.  Their three fun designs come in bibs, leggings (up to 18 months) and blankets and I love how unique and well made they are.  

Cora is a baby desperate to move but not quite sure how and these leggings will take her through the next stages as she becomes more mobile.  Whether she crawls, bum shuffles or walks (and we still aren't entirely sure which she will do first) these leggings will be perfect.  I love the Hetties hedgehog print as well which comes in a beautiful blue. 

They currently have free standard postage on the baby range with code 'BABY' 
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Monday, 27 March 2017

A Spring Weekend

There is something so beautiful about each season and I made the decision when I had children to stop having a favourite, and to appreciate the little things each time the weather changes.  The excitement of snow and frost has gone, Christmas feels like a distant memory and it has all been replaced by blooming flowers popping up everywhere we look, the grass turning a healthier shade of green and that familiar warmth that promises summer is on the way.

I am an outdoor person whatever the weather, but with four small ones some things are just a bit much in the winter.  In the spring it all seems a bit easier, there are so many options, so much to explore and it becomes easier to go out earlier and stay out that little bit later.  

Last weekend in the absense of any plans, we revisited a beautiful local gardens with a museum attached.  We are lucky enough to have lots of local parks, but this one is so clean, dog free and full of things to explore.  I took my camera along to capture some pictures of the bigger boys in their new shoes as Bobux kindly sent us some of their new Kid+ range (they now go up to 7 years!) and I love the images I took.  They capture spring in all it's beautiful glory and the adventures we will be having for the next few months.

quex gardens, quex house

spring photography, daffodil photos, quex gardens

Bobux kid+, Bobux

Bobux kid+, Bobux shoes

The boys love their Bobux shoes because the barefoot soles mean they can really flex their feet as they run and climb.  There are some low hanging branches and trees that are perfect for little adventurers and they kept them entertained for ages.

Inside there is a museum full of animals and artifacts that they love looking at.  The highlight is the interactive room though full of instruments to play and stations to draw at complete with mircrosopes and fancy lights. (If you live locally this is Quex gardens and Museum).  It was a great place to calm down before heading home and there was something for everyone. 

The weather still seems to vary so much daily and there is still plenty of rain but this is what our Spring weekends will look like I hope - full of colour, sunshine and fresh air.  
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Thursday, 23 March 2017

Mother's Day Experience Inspiration

When I was a child, my Dad would always take us out to choose our Mum a present.  We usually went to the local newsagents on our bike and we would pick her a chocolate bar or packet of sweets.  I am pretty sure we went for our favourites in the hope that she would share, but we chose them ourselves and that is what mattered to her.  

We would go downstairs with him in the morning and help make some toast and a cup of coffee and Mother's Day would begin.  As we got older, choosing a gift got harder.  A bar of chocolate no longer seemed enough, but that didn't mean we had great ideas.  I don't think I really appreciated my mum enough until I had my own children though - suddenly picking a gift to symbolise how much she means to me, to all of us is really tough!

Flowers and chocolates are always appreciated, but I like finding a gift that is a bit different (especially as I know that my brother and sister will be buying her something too).  This Saturday (25th) Tesco have an inspiration station in 300 of their stores (I will be popping down to Broadstairs on Saturday to check it out) for some last minute help.  I answered a few questions online and the team helped pick out the perfect gift for my mum and they will be on hand to help anyone who has left it last minute but wants to show their mum just how loved she is.  

22% of people admit they don't know what to buy their Mums (me included) so the help team can choose an experience based on your answers and you can even use your clubcard points to exchange them for your gift.  Many of the experiences encourage us to spend more time with our Mums - and I am looking forward to a day out with my Mum when we go on the Chocolate Delight Workshop that the team picked for us (They totally nailed this one, we are a pair of chocoholics). 

16% of men are sending their partners out to buy a gift for their Mother-in-law (again, me) and I am hoping to find something perfect with the help of the team on Saturday. I have been accruing my clubcard points all year too so it will be a bonus if I can use those.

I can't wait to give my mum her gift on Mother's day and I am thinking of letting the boys all pick something for Grandma from the chocolate aisle in Tesco on Saturday to keep the tradition going.  

Collaborative Post

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Wednesday, 22 March 2017

What the Baby Wore // From Babies with Love

As soon as that crisp winter chill disappeared, we have been down at the beach.  Often still wrapped  up in coats and hats or at least keeping warm in multiple layers, we have been making the most of the sunshine and the sand.   Cora is fascinated by the sand, and loves searching out small stones that I have to quickly remove from her before they make it to her mouth.

From Babies with Love is one of our favourite ethical companies who support orphaned and abandoned children through the sale of their clothes.  They sent us this beautiful crab babygrow which of course felt perfect for a spring beach outing.

Their clothing is made from the softest organic cotton  and is so unisex that it makes a wonderful new baby gift.  

On the FBWL website you can see exactly where the money is going through an interactive map. You can see whether your support is giving a child access to an education, keeping children off the street or helping abandoned babies find a home.  All the garments are made in fair trade factories that have banned child labour and every part of the process from cotton to your child is ethical.

From Babies with Love have a great range including clothing, blankets and toys and the characters are sweet and so unisex.  Check out the From Babies With Love website to read more stories and shop the new collection.

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