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

Tobi party dress with hat
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Tobi party dress family photo
Tobi dress with balloons and toddler
 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!

The do's and don'ts of Paris with a toddler

 

- Do book your eurostar train tickets to work around, or at least with, nap times.

- Don't do this just one way of the journey. Like we did. The train journey to paris was like a dream it went so perfectly. On the way back I think everyone in the whole train station knew us. You know the 'oh those people again' comments. Yep, that's our child crying at the top of the escalator for 30 minutes. With no shoes on. Pointing at something in the distance uncontrollably. I think he was crying for a reason at first (though we never did figure it out). But by the end I don't think even he knew why he was crying. It was FUN. At least all the staff took pity on us and let us go in the super fast lane to get through. Then again, maybe they were just trying to get rid of us. Don't blame them really.  

- Don't let your kid wake at 330am on your first full day there when you have heaps of activities planned. Actually, I don't really know how we could've stopped this but I do know it was a huge pain in the a**.

- Do stay near one main attraction. That way when you're tired AF (from your toddler waking at 330am) there is one place you can stroll to without any fuss. We stayed just across from the Louvre (A-MAZ-ING) and the huge Tulleries gardens were a massive WIN for the toddler.

- Do eat every pastry in sight. What? You'll probably need the energy to keep up with the toddler.

- Don't worry about the diet. The french paradox will mean you'll probably come home skinnier. Right?

- Do let your kid enjoy the beautiful park surrounding the Luxembourg Palace.

- Don't let him sit on the merry go round by himself. Or at least, be prepared to catch him should he fall (yes he fell, it was traumatic, but he was totally fine). 

- Do book somewhere half decent to stay. We all know you'll be spending way more time than intended indoors with the toddler. 

- But don't make the accommodation too amazing because Paris is so damn good you won't want any excuses to not get out and make the absolute most of it. 

 

Tour de paris

 

We’re slowly realising when you’re travelling with a toddler there is only so much you can squeeze into your day. Our ratio is generally half doing heaps of awesome cool things, the other half doing pretty much nothing while trying to keep the kid happy.

Visiting the Eiffel Tower was definitely in the awesome cool things list from this trip. Despite being Mr. cranky pants for most of the time Austin was totally up for the adventure. In fact catching him so early in the day was all sorts of good because he hadn’t woken up enough to do his usual running away from us trick. And he was all cute and cuddly, which is totally rare.  

We beat the crowds, we saw the sunrise over the Eiffel Tower (so beautiful) and then we had chocolate pastries for breakfast. Pretty damn good.

So in light of our morning going so swimmingly well for once, here are my 5 tips for tricking a toddler into touring:

  1. Get out the door real quick in the morning so they’re unsure what’s going on.
  2. For bonus points wake them up early, this will hopefully stop them from running away from you all morning. Like every other damn day. You might even get some extra cuddles while they're still waking up. 
  3. Make it exciting. ie. use that “isn’t this exciting” voice for everything you do. “Look, we’re getting a taxi!” “Look, a patch of grass!” “Look, the Eiffel Tower!” If you do it enough the excitement will be catchy.
  4. Buy nick-knacky toys from the street vendors. Kids always like nick-knacky toys.
  5. Chocolate pastries for breakfast? Yeah, why not.