Activity day (the best kind of day)

 
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Meg wears Petal & Pup  dress , boys wear Seed Heritage shorts similar  here,  and T’s similar  here

Meg wears Petal & Pup dress, boys wear Seed Heritage shorts similar here, and T’s similar here

My favourite type of day is an ACTIVITY DAY. You know, the type of day where you squeeze in as many things as possible? Preferably at least one big notable activity, and then maybe sandwich it with little ones either side and then you’re making me one happy gal.

Hubby is the opposite. Or maybe he just thinks someone needs the responsibility of calming down my activity day ideas. Our Friday night conversation usually starts with me saying ‘So, I had an idea of what we can do this weekend…’ and then he’ll give me the look. You know the one, that says ‘oh gawddd nooooo’ and he’ll follow it up with ‘Why don’t we just chill this weekend?’

But we all know the saying happy wife, happy life, so yep you guessed it, i usually win that argument. These gorgeous pics hubby took down at Chelsea Beach a few weeks back. Now this was a kicker of an activity day. On the road early in the morning (snacks, bags and outfits all organised the night before for an early departure). We got to the beach super early, and thought it would probably be deserted, but nope half of the peninsula was out for their morning walk. But hey, this made it super fun for the kids with all of the dogs out for a morning splash in the water.

After we’d explored the beach and pier we headed down to Mordialloc to SunnyBoy Beach Club for an early lunch (yep, we were those people waiting for the doors to open at 11.30am #parentlife). Fish and chips all round, babcinos, a sneaky rose, and all with stunning beach views. And after all this we were back on the road heading home by 12.30. And all with plenty time to plan an afternoon activity. Yaaaaaay.

Let's escape for the weekend

 
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Austin and Remy wear oh so cute  Lovestruck the Label  T’s on our visit to Hedgend Maze

Austin and Remy wear oh so cute Lovestruck the Label T’s on our visit to Hedgend Maze

So we had a random few days away last week. Pat really wanted to get away, pretty much anywhere with a pool and after doing a little AirBnB search, we found the last house in Vic with a pool. Yep, I kid you not! And it was in the Yarra Valley and available the next day (cue me running around like a mad person trying to pack).

Although we were pretty much happy to go anywhere in Victoria I’m so happy we ended up here. Who knew there was so much to do in the Yarra Valley? Well probably most people except us, ha! And it only took us an hour from Melbourne to get there.

We managed to squeeze a lot in to our little trip, we hit up Healesville Sanctuary on our way down, went to Hedgend Maze the next morning, then to Yarrawood Estate for a lovely picnic lunch. This was such a great spot if you have kids with you (or even if you don’t). Lots of space to run around and they had balls and games set up all over the lawn (and the rosé was pretty damn good too, just sayin’).

We stayed in The Manager’s House at the Yarra Valley Grand Hotel. You could easily fit two families in here as it is a four bedroom place and the pool of course was the main attraction for the kids! But Pat and I loved that we were connected to a grand old pub (and not just for the rosé this time) the pub had a great outdoor playground, indoor play area, pretty damn good pub grub and a beer garden. Everyone wins!

When travelling with kids you never know how it’s going to turn out, no matter how well planned, so thank goodness our little random getaway was a hit!

Beach Escape

 
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We went up to Castaway Beach on the Sunshine coast over the Christmas break and it was SO lovely. Going away for a beach Christmas has to be the most aussie thing, am I right?

Somehow the very small time change (only one hour) and a very early sunrise meant that the kids woke up about two hours earlier than they normally would at home EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. So we were VERY tired most of the time. Thank F for the pool, beach and fresh salty air because there is nothing like a dip in the water to wake you up properly (and we would have been walking around like the walking dead otherwise).

Castaway beach is a little secluded haven between Noosa and Coolum. We were lucky enough to go away with hubby's family who booked the house through Stayz. If you're after a holiday house for a family or group getaway they're great (think big, beautiful homes!). 

There really isn't much around at Castaway beach, except you know, a BEA-UTIFUL expanse of ocean, sand  and salty air. A quick drive either way gets you to shops and restaurants or if you're a super keen bean you could walk. We were not super keen beans, we were super lazy couch potatoes and basically never left the house. If we did, we absolutely drove, way too hard to lug the two kids on an epic walk. We rented a Nissan SUV through Hertz, complete with a toddler car seat and a baby car seat. It fit all of us, two suitcases and the Bugaboo Chameleon (yep, big!) easily. And I can now understand why people with multiple kids get an SUV!

And I am probably waaaay behind the times, but guess what, Virgin Australia has inflight wifi now! So if you download their Virgin Australia Entertainment app you can access all of their content on your phone (and yes, you probably won't get a chance to see any of it because your kids will be going nuts on all of the movies and cartoons). 

So sadly the holiday is now over and we are back to reality.  So what else to do... but start planning the next one.

The Kid Can Run

 
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Tobi playsuit with roses
Tobi dress with kids and roses
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Pink Tobi playsuit dress
Tobi playsuit with pink roses and toddler
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Wearing:  Romper  by  Tobi ,  Seed PomPom Earrings  ,  Karen Walker  Sunglasses - similar  here  ,  Swarovski  bracelet - similar  here  and  Clinique   Chubby lipstick  in Roomiest Rose

Wearing: Romper by Tobi, Seed PomPom Earrings , Karen Walker Sunglasses - similar here , Swarovski bracelet - similar here and Clinique Chubby lipstick in Roomiest Rose

Just because you take your kids to the best rose garden in Victoria doesn't mean they'll loooove it as much as you do. The Victorian State Rose Garden was CHOCK full of roses, of pretty much every colour. They really did take my breath away. But well Austin.... he wasn't so in to the roses. He was, however, in to running through all of the tracks, and also through the grass and really enjoyed running noisily past all the granny's taking an interest in the roses (sorrrry). He liked getting (too) close to all of the bees hovering around. And also managed to make a little friend to run around with. Geez, the kid sure can run!

He did at least have fun though. And was totally exhausted after. Winning!

The Rose Garden is located in The Werribee Park Precinct, so there is heaps to do in the area - you could pack a picnic then visit The Werribee Zoo or historic Mansion. Yay, for days out!

It's party time... for at least half an hour

 
Wearing:  Tobi Dress  ,  Seed Earrings  ,  Marcus B  shoes -  similar here  , Serra hat -  similar here  , Karen Walker  sunglasses  , Burt's Bees  Lipstick  in 'Sunset Cruise' , Vintage Ipes bag -  similar here  and Swarovski bracelet - similar  here

Wearing: Tobi Dress , Seed Earrings , Marcus B shoes - similar here , Serra hat - similar here , Karen Walker sunglasses , Burt's Bees Lipstick in 'Sunset Cruise' , Vintage Ipes bag - similar here and Swarovski bracelet - similar here

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Before my  Tobi  dress got completely covered in kiddie mess

Before my Tobi dress got completely covered in kiddie mess

Walking to the party like a BOSS because you are OH, SO ORGANISED today. Got the kids, check. The balloons, check. On time? Oh yeah, you know we are! Baby food? Yep! Toddler food? All ready. Spare clothes are sorted and packed. Sunscreen and hats are in the bag. Toys for the kids are aplenty. 

We are the first to arrive and feeling good. So we sit down to a beautiful glass of rose. But we totally forgot the first rule of parenting - don't ever get too comfortable. Too cocky. Too.... much like you are just NAILING the situation. Because inevitably...

The toddler tries to run away. The balloons get knocked off in the process. See ya later balloons. You realise you have got the start time of the birthday lunch an HOUR WRONG. The kids manage to get dirt and/or food all over their clothes (I mean, really, who knows what it is??). By the time everyone arrives you are hot and bothered,  balloonless, with two messy little kids and everyone has missed the DAMN first thirty minutes of when you actually had your shit together. 

Well, we almost got it completely right. Let's just say NEXT TIME it will go perfectly. 

New year's nap time

 

I swear parenting is just 80% reverse psychology. Seriously, when you want them to do something there’s no way in hell they’re gonna do it and the second you want them to stop it’s the only thing in the world they want to do.

And it’s no different with sleep, well not when it comes to Austin anyway. When you want him to succumb to sleepy land (hmmm I don’t know, maybe at bedtime and naptime could be a good idea?) he is not having a bar of it but then when we think he’ll wake up (or want him to wake up) he just goes on snoozing without a care.  Aaah, so frustrating!

So, on Sunday we had a fabulous little outing to a Chinese New Year celebration, we chose the location specifically for Austin (hello big festival party). The plan was to get him to sleep on the way to lunch and then probably half way through he’d wake up and get to see all the exciting festivities.  So of course he then slept through the entire thing. Ha, poor kid. Not gonna lie, having lunch and being able to walk around while he snoozed was a bit of a luxury. We could almost forget we even had a kid with us. Well, except for the pram.

And I guess really, he’s none the wiser. Except for waking up with an awesome new rooster balloon. There’s always next year, kid. 

A-maze-ing adventures

 

As far as parks go, this little section of Albert Park Lake called 'Middle Park Community Playground' has only a small selection of trees, basically no lush grass and not a pretty flower or garden bed in sight... but I don't think any of the kids who come here give a flying flap, because it DOES have the hugest and bestest adventure playground. Mazes upon mazes weave around a central area, with wooden towers, crawl holes and sandpits making this one of the funnest parks we've been to.

This fabulous space is a hot spot for kids parties with public bbq's, seating and toilets all in the area. And if your kids have any energy left after all of their running around you could pop over to the lake and let the fun continue. Woo! 

Ahoy there Amsterdam

 
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Amsterdam at Christmas time has to be the prettiest damn thing I've ever seen. You know, not that I've seen it in Summer, or Autumn or any other time... ever... but just take my word for it, it's damn pretty. 

The city itself is super cute, like a large village. And over December there's constant showers which makes a beautiful mist over the whole place. That combined with all of the festive decorations and beautiful fairy lights adorning the whole place makes it feel like Santa is gonna pop around the corner at any given moment.

We stayed in the Jordaan area which was so perfect with a child. Right on the beautiful canal scene and close enough to all of the action but far enough away from the crazy night life.

For most people Amsterdam would make you think of debaucherous nights out, sitting around in 'special' cafes and visiting the red light district (just for a look, of course). So we were happily surprised (yip yip yipee!) to discover there is still HEAPS to do after avoiding all of these haunts, and especially with kids.

We started the fun with a canal cruise by the Blue Boat Company, who do a special kids pack to keep the littles entertained when seeing all of the sights. The NEMO Science museum was AH-mazing; Austin had the absolute best time of his life here. We visited the Dam Square and all of its gorj christmas lights, ate crepes for dinner, hunted down famous apple pie and visited the markets. 

So much fun and so special for our last little European vacay. Thinking the next one will be a fair dinkum aussie affair.

 

London winter lovin'

 

London in winter is cold and damp and dark. The people are grumpy. The days are short and good old witching hour seems to go on forrrever (thank you very much to the sun going down at 3.30pm).

BUT every now and then you get one of those glorious days where the sun is out, the temperature is on the right side of freezing (wooo!) and there are about 100 million autumn leaves to play in. Yep, last weekend was one of those fabulous days. And to top it off with a Lizzy's breakfast was perfection.

Now, if we could just get the weather gods to comply more often Londoners might turn into happy little campers all year round (even in the cold, damp and dark winter).

11 things to do with kids in the London summer

1.     Splash in a fountain.

If you’re not near a beach or a pool then the next best thing is to let the kids cool off in a fountain. If you’re not from England this probably sounds like a bit of a strange concept… but the kids love it! The English aren’t shy either, if it’s 18 degrees or higher the kids are getting their kit off and running totally wild. Some of our fave fountains to cool off in are: Granary Square (with fabulous coffee next door at Caravan), Princess Diana Fountain and Jeppe Hein’s Appearing Rooms at Southbank.

Image source: kingscross.co.uk

Image source: kingscross.co.uk

2.     Laze in the park.

When the sun is shining Londoners sure know how to make the most of it. They go outdoors and stay there, setting up deck chairs, picnic rugs, hell they may as well bring the kitchen sink with them. Heaps of parks have a Lido or paddling pool and the kids will be sure to make the most of the ice-cream van waiting at the gates. Some of our faves are Hyde Park (there are so many areas in Hyde Park you could spend several days exploring, try The Princess Diana Memorial Playground or sitting out front of the lake 'The Serpentine'), Alexandra Palace and Clissold Park.

Alexandra Palace

Alexandra Palace

3.     Hide from rain at a museum.

Ok, London gets a bad rap for being ‘rainy’ but we’ve had hardly any rain over summer. The only thing is when it does rain it pours for several days in a row. Perfect opportunity to get out and see some of the fabulous London museums. Some of our faves are: Geffreye Museum, The V&A Museum and the Science Museum. If you check their websites prior to visiting most will run additional programs and events over the summer holidays, so extra fun for the kids.

Geffreye Museum

Geffreye Museum

4. Visit a West End show.

Over summer the Society of London Theatre run ‘Kids Week’ where kids go free to some of London’s top shows. The Lion King, Wizard of Oz, The Gruffalow… the choices are endless.

Kids Week West End

Kids Week West End

5. Get back to nature at one of London’s natural reserves.

Sometimes the best thing for kids is plonking them outside and letting them explore. There are some great spots throughout London. Our faves are Woodberry Wetlands (nothing to do with the great coffee also on site) and Camley Street Natural Park, right near Kings Cross Station. There are a heap more places to visit listed on the Wild London website. 

Woodberry Wetlands

Woodberry Wetlands

6. Go to the Zoo.

The zoo is always a hit with kids right? The London Zoo is huge with themed exhibits, playground areas and of course heaps of animals.

London Zoo

London Zoo

7. Do something touristy.

Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, They Eye… there are so many choices. Or you could jump on the big red tourist bus and see them all.

The Eye

The Eye

8. Visit the beach.

Well you could visit an actual beach (Southend-on-sea or Mersea Island aren’t too far away) but depending on where you are it could be a 1-2 hour journey or even longer which makes it a very long day trip. Sooooo, next best thing visit Beach East! It’s a man made ‘beach’ in Stratford. Basically a HUGE sandpit with paddle pool surrounded by boardwalk games and rides. Gives the littles a beach experience without leaving the city. 

Beach East

Beach East

9. Pig out at the food market.

Now this one may be tricky depending on the age of your kids. If they’re young enough to be strapped in or pushed around, or you trust they’re not gonna make a run for it then perfect! London’s food markets get super busy but for good reason, they’re so damn yummy. The array of fresh produce, yummy meals and shouting vendors is sure to get your kids attention. Our faves are the Broadway Market and Borough Markets.

Broadway Market

Broadway Market

10. Visit a city farm.

There’s a heap of farms across the city all different shapes and sizes, but each one gives the kids a little taste of farm life. Our faves are Spitalfields and Hackney City Farm

 

11. Go to a rave.

Ok, this might seem like an odd one, but it is all the rage (pun intended). Family raves pop up all over London and throughout England in the summer, playing old school tunes for mum and dad while the kids have a blast in the play area with tents and tunnels, crafts tables and ball pools. Not bad while the adults sip on some prosecco. We’ll be trying out a rave by BFLF in October, if you haven’t been to one before come and check it out with us!